The CPL Girls logo
The CPL Girls logo. Image: CPL/Instagram
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What goes into becoming the ‘sniper of the day?’

Thanks to social media algorithms, dozens of attractive faces can pop-up on your screen at any time. Pretty people from all over the world can appear in the palm of your hand. But what about the pretty faces in your class? Or ones you pass by on-campus?

Enter CPL Girls and CPL Bros, Instagram accounts dedicated to showcasing beautiful post-secondary students from across Canada. Since 2018, CPL Girls has quickly become an important offshoot of Canadian Party Life (CPL) and will be the main focus of this feature.  

What is CPL and CPL Girls?

CPL is a growing brand aimed towards post-secondary students who enjoy partying, drinking, and all of the craziness attached to it.

Founded in 2016, CPL has garnered half a million followers on Instagram. Their merchandise can be found on many university campuses and students of all years are eager to get featured on the main account through submissions.

CPL also showcases attractive post-secondary students under their offset accounts: @cplgirls and @cplbros, where photos of hand-picked students are featured as ‘snipers of the day.’ With 111,000 and 14,000 followers respectively, the CPL brands have a dedicated following.

Emma said that she followed the account in her first year of criminal justice at the University of Guelph. Her real name is not being used for privacy reasons.

“I thought all my friends followed it. It was just an account I saw around,” she said. “CPL Girls actually reached out to me through a third-party account, asking if they could post my pictures on their account [and I said yes]. A couple of months later, the owner asked if they could post me on CPL Girls.” 

The featured users on the account are named “snipers of the day”, and are selected through a scouting process. A third-party Instagram account scopes out potential “snipers” and reaches out for permission before reposting them to the account.

Many of the featured users don’t follow — or aren’t even familiar with — the CPL Girls account until they’re scouted.

“I’ve seen the page throughout university, but I never followed it or really paid attention to it,” said Fatima Thioye, a recent communications and media studies graduate from Carleton University. “But I got reached out to a couple of months ago [to see] if I wanted to get posted on it. So that’s when I took a look at the page to see more about [them].”

It’s not about the money

The snipers aren’t paid by monetary means, sponsorships, or deals but do gain upwards of hundreds of followers. Some of these followers can lead to greater sponsor opportunities or even potential chances to network.

Clarity Tungatt, a fourth-year University of Ottawa student in accounting, said that being featured on CPL Girls is more of a follower-gaining situation. 

“My second time [being reposted] I got around 500 followers, so it’s a bit of a jump. And as your following increases, a few companies reach out,” she said.

Lack of diversity, eh?

Just from a glance at their Instagram page, CPL Girls presents a common standard of what the average female student should look like: perfect skin, a perfect body, and a perfect vibe. But does this really describe Canadian students?

Of the 547 (and counting) posts to their Instagram account, there are approximately 34 “snipers” featured that are visible minorities. Their brother account, @CPLBros is an improvement but only marginally; out of the 255 posts, approximately 67 snipers are from visible minorities. Both brands appear to feature only able-bodied snipers.

“Recently I have noticed it is mostly the same girls being posted over and over again,” Emma acknowledged. “Which doesn’t really account for like the diversity that we do have, of many different beautiful girls from all the different schools across Canada.” 

“The first thing I noticed when I got posted, was that the Black Lives Matter movement was really in the heat of the moment. So I kind of felt like a token Black girl,” Thioye said. 

“I was like, ‘I don’t mind being posted, at least there’s some diversity’. But when I did get posted, it felt like the perfect time to pick a Black girl to post.”

Chloe, a University of Toronto student in Life Sciences, realized in hindsight that being featured on the account was a good opportunity to inspire impressionable younger account fans.

“When my feature went up and I started following their page, I noticed the top liked comments were like ‘wow finally some diversity on the page’. That led me to investigate further and actually look through the photos.” she said, being of East Asian descent herself.

“For the young guys and young girls that do follow that page, I think it’s really important for them to see that that beauty is not like such a strict mold. It’s not just your stereotypical ‘XYZ’ girl; beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, as well as colours and backgrounds.”  

Unwarranted attention

With tens of thousands of followers on each account, it’s unfortunate to expect unwarranted attention from account dwellers. Creepy direct messages are received and objectifying comments are left below each photo.

Emma recalls seeing inappropriate comments on her post but is grateful for the account owner deleting them quickly.

“At first [when I was] agreeing to it, I was like ‘This is kind of cool to be featured on this account’. But I think afterwards, it almost caused anxiety because it’s so many people looking at you and just judging you off of your pictures,” she said.

Features on CPL Girls can also have repercussions outside of the screen. Chloe, who asked that her last name not be used out of privacy, recalls a terrifying in-person experience during an outing with friends.

“I was at a socially distanced picnic with two of my girlfriends at a very famous park in Toronto, and then guys would come message me. They’d be like, ‘Hey, I’m at this park too. Where are you?’. That scared me a lot.”

In retrospect, it’s evident that the CPL brand is here to stay, becoming established as a corner of Canadian partying culture. Though the account owners are a mystery, CPL Girls is only growing upwards from here. 

Tungatt suggests that CPL Girls should widen their horizons when it comes to improving diversity.

“I think they’re looking for a certain look, but I think it’s just taking more time to find more girls throughout Canada,” she said.

“Growing up I thought the most beautiful person may not have been Asian or whatever, so I hope that younger people can see that beauty comes in all colours and shapes and sizes,” Chloe reiterates. “If that’s my only contribution, I’m very happy.”

The CPL and CPL Girls Instagram account holders did not answer the Fulcrum’s multiple interview requests.