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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