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Ariana Grande’s Pig Is Genuinely Good at Instagram
02.08.19

My favorite Instagram influencer is not a Hadid sister, or a comedian that reposts memes, or the star of my most beloved podcast. It’s a tiny pig that belongs to Ariana Grande. Her name is @realpiggysmallz and I love her very much.

When Piggy Smalls first waddled onto the scene, the world — also known as me and a handful of celebrity magazines — had so many questions. Does Ari have to walk Piggy like a dog? Is Piggy really a “teacup pig”? Because according to PETA, those don’t actually exist. How is Ari allowed to keep this pet in New York, where it’s illegal to house certain livestock, including pigs?

There was only one thing we all knew for certain: Piggy Smalls was cuter than all human babies and videos of miniature hamsters eating miniature burritos, combined. “Somehow, this pig is actually very good at posing for pictures?” observed W Magazine in September 2018, with the same incredulous punctuation I’d adopt if I were to order a salad as an entrée.

For months, I kept tabs from a distance, shyly navigating over to Piggy’s page every now and then for a peek at her chubby little belly, her stubby hooves, her very wet nose, before finally succumbing to the follow button. And ever since, like Piggy’s existing army of 619,000, I’ve been totally transfixed.

Piggy is better at Instagram than anyone I know. Her presence is equal parts gripping and soothing, and she seems to gain another thousand followers for it every time I look away. And as someone who’s always struggled with her own Instagram identity (lookin’ at you, over-saturated avocado toast and meandering Stories content), I’ve been nothing short of inspired. Below, I’ve broken down what she’s taught me, just a regular, mediocre-at-social-media user who frequently takes accidental selfies while trying to turn off her morning alarm. Because when Piggy oinks, I listen.

Piggy Smalls Plays to Her Strengths, and Doesn’t Try to Be Everything to Everyone

Piggy has several qualities that are really working for her, pig-wise. She has buggy eyes that urgently scream, “LOVE ME THE MOST.” She has a soft-looking head dotted with patchy tufts of hair, which I wouldn’t be opposed to pressing my nose into for a considerable length of time. Her natural state of existence embodies a sort of chewing/licking motion, punctuated by involuntary squeaks and snorts, and I would pay good money for a subscription-based virtual reality app if it meant I could live inside that noise sequence forever.

 

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‘z::.~€£•••

A post shared by Piggy Smallz (@realpiggysmallz) on

Here’s what Piggy is not trying to be: a makeup artist, a thrill-seeker, a food blogger, a scientist curing cancer, an influencer. One thing that makes Piggy’s account such a joy to follow is this singular focus on her strengths. While I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about whether I should post a photo of myself in a cool hat despite having only one follower who came for fashion advice (hi mom), Piggy knows exactly why I’m on her page.

We Never Doubt Piggy Smalls’ Authenticity

Leandra once posited a theory about “The Authenticity Factor” on Instagram, which speculates that an iPhone photo will often outperform a professionally shot one because it appeals to the core tenets promoted by the Instagram app: “intimacy and personality and creative forthrightness.”

 

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A post shared by Piggy Smallz (@realpiggysmallz) on

Piggy is nothing if not authentic in this respect. Of her 14 posts, you’d be hard-pressed to find any visual cues that imply over-curation. There are none of the costumes, poses or constructed set designs of other popular pet accounts. Images and videos appear to be shot on phones, and unedited. Blurry snouts reign supreme:

Piggy Smalls Gives Us the Real Thing, But She Doesn’t Give Us Everything

Piggy draws us in with her admirable features and authenticity, but she keeps us there with little snippets of information distributed through the periphery of her content. The sound is on in her videos. We can see her crib (or play-pen?) in the background of this thigh shot:

 

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A post shared by Piggy Smallz (@realpiggysmallz) on

These scraps of intel we didn’t even know we were lacking moments earlier suddenly become intriguing. An errant human finger here (is that you, Ari?), a mysterious ancillary voice in the background there. They’re hints that appeal to me like the barely discernible contents of a four-minute pocket-dial voicemail from an ex-boyfriend. With Piggy, the lack of any accompanying or follow-up explanation only heightens her intrigue further.

It’s Convenient for Piggy Smalls to Keep Us Guessing — So She Does

Piggy’s Instagram page is all about content chaos. She has no profile photo, for god’s sake. And her posting timeline is “carefree” at best. After a streak of near-daily posts in late October 2018, followed by a concentrated flurry of posts on November 5, 2018, @realpiggysmallz has since shifted to a random-ish schedule of once-monthly updates.

 

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A post shared by Piggy Smallz (@realpiggysmallz) on

While I wish we were getting to hear her sniffles more regularly, I have to say that this manner of content provision encourages me to proactively seek out Piggy’s page to make sure I haven’t missed any updates. For those keeping track, her most recent dispatch was January 6, 2019:

Piggy Smalls Doesn’t Overthink It

Piggy’s account doesn’t seem to stress the details, such as sharpness or specificity of image (here’s what looks like part of her face, for reference), the repetition of a previous post, or even witty captions. Photos of Piggy are typically accompanied by a range of gibberish, from a single punctuation mark (‘) to a string of characters:

 

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hiujndndnnfndnddnnnndneje j

A post shared by Piggy Smallz (@realpiggysmallz) on

Which has me spending even more time thinking about her page. Is this nonsensical caption practice in place to suggest an insouciant baby pig, scuttling across a keyboard? Or is it there to show us that the account’s human proprietor is just slamming her fingers into keys randomly as she hits “post”? It resembles a Finstagram — only it’s completely public.

But, see? There I go overthinking things. Piggy would never.

Ella Quittner is a writer for Food52, based in New York. You can follow her on Instagram here (though she thinks you’d be better off with Piggy).

Gif by Emily Zirimis.

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