Who is Justin Bieber?

A philosophical investigation


When I read People’s report this morning that Justin Bieber was popularizing the male crop top by, wait for it, pulling his shirt up at the beach, I realized, mouth agape and hand to chest, that I hadn’t caught up on Bieber in months, perhaps years. How could I have let this happen? I beelined to his Instagram with many a question to tackle. Had he made a habit of pulling up his shirt to reveal his midriff? How are his highlights doing? Is he still working his sexi skater-or-is-it-surferboi look? I wish I could say the 20 minutes I killed scrolling rendered me satisfied. Instead I was left with a far more haunting question: Who is Justin Bieber?

Two weeks ago, Bieber posted the following photo, which hinted at a trepidatious step into normcore.

I like this guy

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

In his caption he claims to “like this guy,” which reveals, perhaps, a newfound sweetness to match his modestly cuffed, are-those-linen pants, sneakers and oversize tee emblazoned with his own name.

Not far behind was the below wholesome moment below featuring Biebs in a tight T-shirt and buzzcut, which would be a great dating-profile pic for a hip, young single dad in my opinion.

Who took this photo? Has he taken up hiking?

I thought I was starting to catch his new, down-to-earth drift until I spotted this photo posted a week prior wherein Bieber opted for a pair of white Vans and black chinos with a striped tee tucked right the fuck in.

Was this snapped post-golf, pre-ride? He has a 40-year-old-holding-on-to-his-youth vibe about him here. I wasn’t sold on this one.

And then I saw this and I was like, wait, fuck a chino tuck, this is good:

My confused attraction to Bieber in the above photo notwithstanding, his camo sweatshorts, schlubby white tee and nerdy glasses tell a tangential but distinctly different story. Not least of which is the fact that he’s Benjamin Button’d back down to 22 or however old he is.

But then, another four weeks back, my taste was thrown into inarguable, perhaps problematic question when I spotted this:

Pictured here is what can’t be older than a teenaged boy with a misguided goatee and oddly baggy track pants. I’m upset. How is this the same person?! Proof, please.

But, as they say, be careful what u wish for, ladies:

The above gem was posted not even a week prior. The very same teenager captured in the very same mirror, but this time, all dressed up as the popular kid for his first day of high school in sunny San Diego, California.

Shit or is he the alt-skater kid who is surprisingly helpful on group projects????

Or the basketball star you’re in unrequited love with?

Perhaps the gym rat who takes more selfies than you?

OR! Did he graduate, go to art school on the East Coast and then move into an communal loft space in the Lower East Side? I don’t know what’s going on but I’m not even that mad.

Not so fast, because ^that same week^ he moved to Brooklyn:

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

We’re only nine months back and we’re at an unprecedented 11 personalities without so much as a loose thesis as to who the F he is now. Please get in touch if you have answers or at the very least cast your vote re: where he ought to channel his energy just in case he reads Man Repeller and wants advice.

Photo by Marc Piasecki/GC Images via Getty Images.

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  • Caitie

    So glad you did this piece – all I could think of when I saw the same “male crop top” article was http://www.manrepeller.com/2016/03/men-in-going-out-tops.html

  • Abby

    Just this morning I was reading an article about hipster evangelical Christian mega-churches and they wrote at length about how Bieber belongs to one that is homophobic and against a woman’s right to choose. What a guy!

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    I wish this article had been around when I was searching for potential thesis topics.

    • Haley Nahman

      I deeply regret it wasn’t

  • What a time to be alive and to be the Bieb.

  • Andrea Raymer

    just 5 minutes before i saw this article i had an unshakeable urge to listen to his music. I think this is a sign.

  • Jenn K.

    I hate to admit how much time I spent studying his crotchal region in the Lower East Side loft picture trying to figure out what exactly was happening there. I still only have questions. Overalls that are worn folded down that have The Great Wave Off Kanagawa painted on the inside of them? And then the straps are purposely worn in the most thigh-chafingly uncomfortable way possible? Am I seeing this correctly? I feel like the whole outfit is some weird optical illusion of hospital scrubs and acid-washing.

    • Sheila T.

      weird pants for sure. it looks like he’s wearing a diaper underneath or something

  • Alexis Thomolaris

    I recently went through an Instagram unfollowing spree and sadly JB was at the top of the list. This is coming from a once DEVOTED member of the belieber tribe. Devoted as in thought that JB would wait for my hand in marriage devoted (did I just a admit that on a public platform?) But he’s changed! And I am consistently bothered by his internet presence lately. He’s just annoying!

    • Sheila T.

      yes! his instagram is so annoying right now

  • Omg, this was hilarious.

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Cristina

    I don’t know but man…. he is fooooooiiineeeeeee. I don’t know why. But he is.

  • A few days ago I saw this tee saying JUSTIN … almost bought it. Didn’t buy it just because I remembered no one cares about my Trudeau infatuation.

    Ah – the wrong Justin I am talking about? I got triggered. :-))

  • Alex S

    In the words of Dwight K. Schrute: “Who is Justice Beaver?”

    • Brooke

      Oh how I miss Dwight Scrute.

  • alien princess~

    i literally love you for this haley

  • Grace Kenney

    I relate to this on such a spiritual level it is unreal. U rock Haley

  • Sometimes I get the impression that everything in the lives of celebrities is a marketing issue. This post reminds me of the one MR shared a few days ago about the change in the style of Selena Gomez. Do these people have their own style or does it all come with the new stylist?

  • Amy Brumbpo Tungus


  • Qarius

    HA HA! This made me LOL IRL. Good work. 🙂

  • Fashionably Sparkly

    CALL THE POLICE! Someone has been impersonating Justin Bieber!

    Fashionably Sparkly

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    OR is he just Kate McKinnon fooling us all?? Particularly in jogging camo shorts photo.

  • Robin

    idek he’s just hot

  • “the alt-skater kid who is surprisingly helpful on group projects”

  • This made me laugh. In regards to who exactly Justin Beiber is, I feel like he is Michael Jackson 2.0, in that he is in the very unique (and imo very unfortunate) position of having very few memories of life before being an extremely valuable commodity everyone feels entitled to a piece of. I really see a parallel there. Maybe I’m taking this all too seriously, but I feel bad for him Whiskey Tango Flat White | Life and style in weird short essays

  • Jeanie

    I’m just peeved that everyone said he was wearing a crop top when he wasn’t! A folded up tank doesn’t count. It’s so normal to do that…

  • A dramatic reading
    • Cory Day Wichman

      its philosophical.. not psychological x.x

  • Cory Day Wichman

    lmao.. funny

  • Karen Aguilar

    He has a terrible taste in shoes, the rest is cool

  • Christel Michelle

    I am so glad I am not the only person who devotes this much time to trying to understand the chameleon that is Justin Bieber

  • Brooke

    THIS is hilarious. Best thing I’ve read on the internet in a LONG time.