Personalising Climate Change on Instagram

Self-presentation, authenticity, and emotion


  • Helle Kannik Haastrup University of Copenhagen


Climate change, self-presentation, authenticity, emotion, influencer, activism


This article is a comparative study of how three Danish climate celebrities – an activist, an influencer, and a politician – personalise climate change on Instagram. They engage in personal storytelling about the issue in a way that is closely connected to their public presentation of self and their choice of visual genres. The theoretical framework combines theories of social media aesthetics and publics (Serafinelli, 2018; Papacharissi, 2015), self-presentation (Marshall, 2010), authenticity (Enli, 2015a; Marwick, 2015), and emotion in political communication (Wahl- Jorgensen, 2019). The method is a qualitative case study comparing the three profiles and their overall curational strategy for addressing climate change through particular visual genres and how their personal storytelling is based on performing authenticity, emotion, and connecting with affective publics. The analysis demonstrates how personalising climate change can be performed as coping with climate anxiety, feel-good sustainable consumption, or enthusiastic promotion of Danish green solutions.


Abidin, C. (2017). #familygoals: Family influencers, calibrated amateurism, and justifying young digital labor. Social Media + Society, (April-June), 1-15.

Abidin, C. (2018). Internet celebrity. Emerald Publishing Limited.

Abidin, C., Brockington, D., Goodman, M.K., Mostafanezhad, M., & Richey, L.A. (2020). The tropes of environmentalism. Annual Review of Environment and Resource, 45, 387-410.

Ahmed, S. (2004). The cultural politics of emotion. Edinburgh University Press.

Ambo, P. (Director). (2021). 70/30 [Film]. Hansen & Pedersen Film & Fjernsyn.

Bergmann, Z., & Ossewaarde, R. (2020). Youth climate activists meet environmental governance: Ageist depictions of the FFF movement and Greta Thunberg in German newspaper coverage. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 15(3), 267-290.

Brockington, D. (2013). Celebrity and the environment: fame, wealth and power in conservation. Palgrave Macmillan.

Castells, M. (2009). Communication power. Oxford University Press.

Chouliaraki, L. (2013). The ironic spectator: Solidarity in the age of posthumanitarianism. Polity Press.

Corner, J. (2003). Mediated persona and political culture. In J. Corner, & D. Pels (Eds.), Media and the restyling of politics: Consumerism, celebrity and cynicism (pp. 67-84). Sage.

de Moor, J. & De Vydt, M., Uba, K., & Wahlström, M. (2020). New kids on the block: taking stock of the recent cycle of climate activism. Social movement studies, 20(5), 619-625.

DiCaprio, L. [@leonardodicaprio]. (2021). Posts [Instagram profile]. Instagram. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Enli, G. (2015a). Mediated authenticity: How the media constructs reality. Peter Lang.

Enli, G. (2015b). Trust me I am authentic! Authenticity illusions. In A. Bruns, G. Enli, E. Skogerbø, A.O.

Larsson, & C. Christensen (Eds.), The Routledge companion to social media and politics (pp. 212-137). Routledge.

Gerstenberg, S. (2021, February 4). Klimaaktivist og filosof om klimakrisen: “Det ansvar er der ingen, der kan bære”. ALT.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Penguin.

Goodman, M.K., & Littler, J. (2013). Celebrity ecologies: Introduction. Celebrity Studies, 4(3), 269-275.

Guggenheim, D. (Director). (2006). An inconvenient truth [Film]. Lawrence Bender Productions; Participant Productions.

Hammond, P. (2018). Climate change and post-political communication: Media, emotion and environmental advocacy. Routledge.

Hansen, A. (2010). Environment, media, and communication. Routledge.

Hansen, T.B. (2019). Her er de største dansk sustainability influencere, du skal kende. Science

Hearn, A., & Schoenhoff, S. (2016). From celebrity to influencer: Tracing the diffusion of celebrity value across the data stream. In P.D. Marshall, & S. Redmond (Eds.), A companion to celebrity (pp. 194-212). John Wiley & Sons.

Highfield, T. (2016). Social media and everyday politics. Polity.

Horton, D., & Wohl, R.R. (1997). Massekommunikation og parasocial interaktion: Et indlæg om intimitet

på Afstand. MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 13(26), 27-39.

Jacobson, J., & Harrison, B. (2021). Sustainable fashion social media influencers and content creation calibration. International Journal of advertising, 41(1), 150-177.

Johansen, G. (n.d.). Home [YouTube channel]. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Johansen, G.M. [@gittemary]. (2021a). Opslag [Instagram profile]. Instagram. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Johansen, G.M. [@gittemary]. (2021b, June 4). from fashion week to farmers’ market lol I am all too proud at that caption, but the thing is, in [Photograph]. Instagram.

Johansen, G.M. [@gittemary]. (2021c, September 25). saturdays are for farmers’ markets #zerowaste #zerowastefood#zerowastelife #lesswaste #plasticfree#noplastic #eco #gogreen #vega #veganfood #lowimpactmovement#lowimpact #gogreen [Photograph]. Instagram.

Johansen, G.M. [@gittemary]. (2021d, October 7). bringing my Summer essentials into my Autumn ward- rope [sic] like.. the majority of this outfit is second hand, with the exception [Photograph]. Instagram.

Jørgensen, D. (n.d.-a). Posts [Facebook page]. Facebook. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Jørgensen, D. [@DanJoergensen]. (n.d.-b) Tweets [Twitter profile]. Twitter. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Jørgensen, D. [@danj.klimaminister]. (2021a). Opslag [Instagram profile]. Instagram. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Jørgensen, D. [@danj.klimaminister]. (2021b, August 10). Vigtige konklusioner fra @ipcc - Verden har travlt, hvis vi skal bekæmpe klimaforandringerne. Derfor går [Danish flag emoji] forrest! [Video]. Instagram.

Jørgensen, D. [@danj.klimaminister]. (2021c, September 26). It was a pleasure to visit @yale . A big thank you to students and faculty for the very interesting conversations [Photograph]. Instagram.

Jørgensen, D. [@danj.klimaminister]. (2021d, August 4). I dag er det 12 år siden Svend Auken gik bort. Han er savnet. Ikke bare her i Danmark, men [Photograph]. Instagram.

Jørgensen, D. [@danj.klimaminister]. (2021e, July 16). For et par år siden stoppede jeg med at slå græs i haven ved sommerhuset. Ikke (kun) for at slipp [Photograph]. Instagram.

Kjeldahl, E.M. [@EstherKje]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. Twitter. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Kjeldahl, E. [@esthermkj]. (2021a). Opslag [Instagram profile]. Instagram. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Kjeldahl, E. [@esthermkj]. (2021b, July 20). Last evening on our fabulous Italian Interrail trip! I’m going to miss the mountains, the olive trees that split into [Photograph]. Instagram.

Kjeldahl, E. [@esthermkj]. (2021c, May 5). Da ’70/30’ havde premiere, var @selmamontgomery_ og jeg i @ gotv2dk for at fortælle om hvorfor det giver mening for os [Video]. Instagram.

Kjeldahl, E. [@esthermkj]. (2021d, May 13). Klimakrisen er ikke glemt - part 1/4 Der er mange, der gør en masse gode ting for klimaet i deres hverdag [Video]. Instagram.

Leaver, T., Highfield, T., & Abidin, C. (2020). Instagram: Visual social media cultures. Polity Press.

Maares, P., Banjac, S., & Hanusch, F. (2021). The labour of visual authenticity on social media: Exploring producers’ and audiences’ perceptions on Instagram. Poetics, 84, 101502.

Marshall P.D. (2010). The promotion and presentation of the self. Celebrity Studies Journal, 1(1), 35-48.

Marwick, A. (2013, July 8-11). “They’re really profound women, they’re entrepreneurs”: conceptions of authen- ticity in fashion blogging [Conference presentation]. International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, Cambridge, MA, United States.

Marwick, A.E. (2015). Instafame: Luxury selfies in the attention economy. Public Culture, 27(1), 137-160.

Meyrowitz, J. (1985). No sense of place: The impact of electronic media on social behaviour. Oxford Univer- sity Press.

Murphy, P. (2021). Speaking for the youth, speaking for the planet: Greta Thunberg and the representational politics of eco-celebrity. Popular Communication, 19(3), 193-206.

Papacharissi, Z. (2015). Affective publics and structures of storytelling: sentiment, events and mediality. Information, Communication and Society, 19(3), 307-324.

Rettberg, J.W. (2014). Seeing ourselves through technology: How we use selfies, blogs and wearable devices to see and shape ourselves. Palgrave Macmillan.

Robeers, T., & Van Den Bulck, H. (2021). ‘Hypocritical investor’ or Hollywood ‘do-gooder’? A framing analysis of media and audiences negotiating Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘green’ persona through his involvement in Formula E. Celebrity Studies, 12(3), 444-459.

Rojek, C. (2001). Celebrity. Reaktion Books.

Serafinelli, E. (2018). Digital life on Instagram: New social communication of photography. Emerald Publishing.

Street, J. (2003). The celebrity politician: Political style and popular culture. In J. Corner, & D. Pels (Eds.), Media and the restyling of politics: Consumerism, celebrity and cynicism (pp. 85-98). Sage Publications.

Thompson, T. (2021). Young people’s climate anxiety revealed in landmark survey. Nature, 597(7878), 605.

Thunberg, G. [@gretathunberg]. (2021). Posts [Instagram profile]. Instagram. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Turner, G. (2013). Understanding celebrity. Sage Publications.

van Zoonen, L. (2005). Entertaining the citizen: When politics and popular culture converge. Rowman & Littlefield.

Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2019). Emotions, media and politics. Polity Press.

Yin, R.K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.




How to Cite

Haastrup, H. K. (2022). Personalising Climate Change on Instagram: Self-presentation, authenticity, and emotion. MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 38(72), 065–085. Retrieved from