Student takes selfies under glare of parents’ disapproval to mimic golden hour

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By Sidra Jafri

Every morning is the same for third-year politics and governance student Melissa Martini. She wakes up, lays in bed for a couple of hours and scrolls through her Instagram feed, spending most of her time replying to comments under her latest post.

Martini is known by her Instagram handle @missmartiniiii_. She calls herself an influencer, with her “Happy Hour Army” increasing at a steady pace.

“I’ve already accumulated 42 followers,” she said. “It’s so thrilling.” 

Though a few followers ask Martini about her outfits or background, most of the questions revolve around one topic: her ability to take immaculate golden hour photos. 

Screenshot of an Instagram comments section. Post caption by @missmartiniiii_ reads: Sun bathing at midnight. Comment on post by @notmissmartiniiii_ reads: Wow wow, we got a golden goddess over here. Comment on post by @pattysperks reads: Girl, how the heck are you always taking pics of golden hour at all hours of the day??
Screenshot of the comments section under Melissa Martini’s latest Instagram post. Courtesy: Melissa Martini

Golden hour is a term that describes the golden tint of the Earth’s atmosphere an hour before sunset. Perfecting the technique of taking these photos took up most of Martini’s time during quarantine.

“Only basic people use the sun for golden hour selfies,” she said. “I discovered my own secret method of capturing these photos, regardless of the time of day.” 

Martini is referring to the golden rays emitted by the constant glare of disappointment her parents give her every day.

Before the pandemic, Martini aspired to be a politician and one day become the MP for Oakville, where she lives. However, after the stay-at-home order was first announced last March, Martini went from being a straight A student to having little motivation to submit any of her assignments. 

“Once I became ‘lazy and a disappointment,’ as my parents called me, I got the bright idea to use these characteristics and my parents to my advantage,” she said.

The first time she saw the disappointment on her parents’ faces, their scowl was so blinding that it filled the room with a harsh amber hue. Her first thought was: “Golden hour who?” That’s when the idea to capitalize on this concept struck her.

Though Martini believes her posts on Instagram are “inspiring and trendsetting,” her parents think otherwise.

“I just don’t know what I’m going to do with her. She thinks she’s some hotshot who did something for her followers when really she’s just a hot mess,” said her mother, Vesper Martini.

Her father, who wishes to remain anonymous, refused to comment on the matter, claiming his daughter was too much of an embarrassment to be associated with.

“Their added disappointment is fuelling my business as an influencer. The more they grieve, the more I thrive” 

Martini said she doesn’t mind what her parents think; she believes what she’s doing is good, honest work.

“Besides, their added disappointment is fuelling my business as an influencer,” she said. “The more they grieve, the more I thrive.” 

Avah Reese, an optical physicist at the University of Toronto, said in her 31 years of experience, she has never seen anything quite like this.

“It’s fascinating. The parents’ disappointing glare has to reach a certain decibel that is not scientifically attainable by homo sapiens to emit such a strong light,” said Reese.

A typical parental glare emits a standard 0.0 decibel milliwatts (dBm) to 0.1 dBm. In Martini’s golden hour photos, however, Reese believes her parents have hit -25 dBm with that level of disappointment. 

“To put it in perspective, that’s more powerful than an LED light,” she said.

Martini’s future aspirations are very different now than prior to the pandemic. She said she wants to continue her path as a full-time influencer and hopes to get a sponsorship from Neutrogena sunscreen. Her biggest dream is to partner with a high-end designer brand, such as Gucci, to release her own golden hour sunglasses line.

She aims to begin her journey to success by one day gathering enough fame and fortune to move out of her parents’ garage.

“As much as their disappointment is helping me be successful, it’s also negative energy and I just don’t claim that,” she said.

Martini hopes to continue her business after leaving her parents using the disappointed glares of her professors, classmates and one day, her modelling agency.

“As Queendom Come once said ‘Get that bread, get that head, then leave, peace out,’” she said.

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