To understand what a thirst trap is, let’s dissect the term a bit like the scientists of social media we are.
First, we’ll look at the word “thirsty.” No, it has nothing to do with being physically parched. It refers to needing or wanting something — bad. It’s a desperate kind of desire, often related to sexual longing but it could pertain to wanting anything from compliments to validation to fame.
Thirsty is that creeper who keeps sliding into your DMs telling you how beautiful you are or that dude who texts you “good morning” … Every. Single. Day.
@facebookcomments👩🌾 #farmer#tractor#fy#fyp#fypシ#fb#comment#zmen#lplp#boomer#creeper♬ In BOX me – FB Comments
It’s your match on a dating app who keeps messaging despite the fact you haven’t once responded:
“How’s it going?”
These are perfect examples of thirsty. Full of longing to the point of near-desperation.
As for the term “thirst trap,” in the simplest of terms, it’s a social media post that is meant to attract attention from thirsty individuals. It is posted with the intention of inducing thirst in others.
This is the first kind of trap, and we’ll call it Team Shameless.
On Team Shameless, you’ll see obvious attention-seeking traps where the poster isn’t trying to hide anything. It’s a make-no-bones-about-it approach that says, I’m hot and I want you to tell me how hot I am. These will often be nearly-nude pics that don’t even require a head or face — they could be images of chiseled torsos, and thick booties that are meant to do nothing but elicit your reaction.
The second kind of thirst trap is the type that’s like, omg, whoops! Were my nipples showing the whole time?!? We’ll call this one Team Sneaky. In this “accidental hotness” variety, the poster includes a caption that’s mundane or nonchalant, as though their whole intent was to simply share their workout or an inspiring quote about authenticity.
One of the most epic examples of a Team Sneaky thirst trap is this summertime gem from Martha Stewart, who took a sexy selfie while relaxing in her pool. The caption is all about the dang pool, innocently ignoring the fact that she looks like a billion bucks.
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When it comes to the sexiest 10’s among us, we don’t care if they’re on Team Shameless or Team Sneaky. Their good genes (and sometimes hard work) have earned them the right to parade their assets all over social media.
Why Are Thirst Traps So Popular on Instagram?
The only motivation behind posting a thirst trap is to feed the ego of the person in the pic … or sell some jeans. This leads us to the second part of any good trap: the prey.
A thirst trap is nothing without a thirsty crowd. A successful one will elicit many, many responses from people professing their love/admiration/attraction. Scroll through any comment section to see the predictable ways people respond. There will be a bunch of flame emojis, a marry me here and there, and some creative ones like, What in the pelvic sorcery is going on here?!
The more desperate (or clever) the comment, the more effective the trap.
But here’s the thing: The same way the poster always knows what they’re doing, so does the audience. Responders play along for the fun of it and actually compete to create the most pathetic comment of all. The thirst trap becomes this comical little dance that requires a cheeky predator and a very willing prey.
All of this could explain why Instagram, a platform driven by images (and likes/engagement) has become the mecca for thirst traps. One might argue that Instagram itself is just one giant thirst trap. Why do any of us post pictures, if not for the validation of likes and followers? We’re social creatures. We care what people think of us and we want to hear from the community — it’s in our DNA.
If you share a really hot picture where you look like a baddie and it gets tons of likes and comments, all that validation gives you a confidence boost. Certainly, this is what every sexy celebrity is doing when they post thirst trap content.
Kim K was able to build a whole business on her body because we like to look at it. She’s never gonna talk to us, but we’re all still looking.
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The old marketing adage still rings true. Sex still sells … even for us normies. Think about your most liked Instagram picture ever. You probably looked hot. There’s was a bit of cleavage showing, your lips looked extra-pouty. The crowd went wild … you didn’t hate it either.
Male vs. Female Thirst Traps
Anyone — regardless of gender identity — can post a successfully thirst-inducing photo or video.
Studies have indicated that men and women react to arousing images in very much the same ways, though we didn’t need a study to tell us that. The success of male heartthrobs should prove that thirst traps are an equal-opportunity experience.
All humans are visual (and social) creatures. The human eye is a lazy one that is pleased by and drawn to symmetry — this includes symmetry of a face and body.
Basically, we all have sexual needs, and images are one roadmap we can take to meeting them.
The moral of the story is that literally anyone can create a thirst trap. The most successful ones will cause people of all genders and sexual orientations to mutter, damn, that’s hot under their breath. It’s a kind of hotness that is all-inclusive and unbound by gender norms or social mores.
How to Take a Thirst Trap Selfie
Before you take your thirst trap selfie it’s key to know your intent. What is it you want to achieve with this photo? Are you going for plain ol’ sizzling hot? Or is this about empowerment? Confidence? Low-key beautiful? Or are you just trying to make your ex jealous?
Pick your poison: Are you Team Shameless or Team Sneaky?
Thirst Trap Threads
Sometimes you know you look great. You just got a glow-up and are totally feeling yourself — this could be prime time to take a thirst trap selfie. Other times, you can just stage it, starting with the outfit.
While there’s the obvious route of nearly-nude or barely-there bikinis, you don’t have to be naked to take a solid thirst trap. In fact, the best thirst traps involve more clothing. A bodycon dress or skinny jeans could work just as well. Men have the advantage of going shirtless and simply donning some boxers or sweatpants that display their, ah, assets.
And there’s always the sneak peek. It’s a bit mysterious and leaves something to the imagination. Let your bra strap show while you sit in your PJ’s and cozy socks.
Sometimes a good setting is all you need to drive home the mood and intent without much effort at all. Some obvious thirst trap places include your bed or a bathtub — private spots that strangers’ eyes rarely get to see. Arch your back in an unmade bed, or fill the tub with flowers and candles for a romantic vibe.
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Don’t be afraid of the normal places either. Thirst traps at the gym are always a fave. Tight workout gear with beads of sweat will accentuate your curves and be surprisingly seductive.
Basic Photo Stuff
And, of course, you’ll want to use all the standard selfie photo tips:
Lighting — Use early, natural light or the golden hour (dusk). The bright afternoon sun can wash you out, and overhead lighting casts unflattering shadows. Make sure your light sources are placed to the side of you in order to highlight the right curves and contours.
Poses — You may not have been blessed with Kardashian curves, but an arch of the back or pop of the knee can help to accentuate (or create) them when the illusion is needed.
Angles — Know your best selfie angles. There’s probably a side of your face or body you prefer, so use it to your advantage. Remember: The closer you keep your phone to your face, the wider and heavier you will look. They may be played out, but mirror selfies are actually very flattering for most body shapes. Be sure to angle your body away from your light source for better contouring.
Don’t forget that a few simple beauty and makeup tactics can help anyone look a little better. At the very least, you’ll want to use a good concealer that will hide blemishes and a tinted moisturizer for a healthy glow.
A cream blush (peach works with all skin shades) will give you a flushed, just-did-the-deed look. Matte lipstick looks good in photos overall, and gloss will lend a juicy, pouty look.
For a subtle glow all over the body, try some oil, or just get your sweat on. As always, to put the finishing touches on any photo, selfie digital makeup apps like Facetune2 can help you edit those pics like a pro.
Thirst Trap Captions
In order to truly convey your intent, the thirst trap captions are key. If you’ve decided to join Team Sneaky, the caption should seem oblivious. Basically, you will comment on anything but the obvious elephant in the room. Write something like, Had a great workout, while you do some deadlifts in a pair of form-fitting shorts. Or Such a beautiful day, while your exposed thong takes center stage.
If that bores you, use a famous quote — something artsy or philosophical. Try Einstein’s theory of relativity while wearing glasses and showing some cleav’.
If you are going to join Team Shameless, just spell it out in the hashtags: #thirsttrap. There’s also #thirsttrappin, #thirstythursday or #thirstrapthursday. See? There’s even an ideal day to post your smoldering pics.
Don’t forget about the classics, either. Felt cute, might delete later. Yeah, bet, Susan. Or the ever-seductive, What would you do if I showed up at your door like this?
From lyrical and sweet to cheeky and self-centered (see: You’re welcome), here’s a little list of some popular captions that could have them flocking to the DMs:
- Who wants to come cuddle me?
- Hey guys, are these shorts too tight?
- Felt cute won’t delete … ever (a sassier variation of the classic)
- Coffee, tea, or me?
- Sexy and I know it
- How you doin’?
Popular Celebrity Thirst Trap Pics on Instagram
These days, “celebrity” is practically synonymous with “thirst trap.” Let’s remember celebrities are in the business. Many of them make money from looking good. If sex still sells, it can be a guaranteed route to stardom and fandom.
Swooning over celebs isn’t going anywhere, and odds are, celebrity thirst traps will only get more risque. While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are some favorite celeb thirst traps on Instagram that are sure to raise your heart rate:
Love her or hate her, Kiki managed to build a flourishing business on that butt. From her early sex tape days to the popular Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim’s curves single-handedly propelled her (and her family) to fame. With more than one successful brand under her belt, her social media presence is as strong as ever. She may very well be the original thirst trap.
In this oldie but goodie, KK impresses with her cheeky cleverness. She’s eating noodles while topless with a caption that reads, “nudels.” Okay, go ‘head, Kim.
Kim K’s little sister isn’t just riding her coattails — she’s holding her own as an iconic personality, and ultimate thirst trap. With over 280 million followers on Instagram, Kylie Jenner is the most followed woman on the platform. In 2019, Forbes dubbed her the world’s youngest self-made billionaire from a combination of assets and her wildly popular Kylie Cosmetics line. As for thirst trap status, let’s just say pictures like this help to sell a lot of makeup.
We love Ri-Ri’s songs, her style, and her lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty. This award-winning songstress has always been a bit edgy and super sexy. It seems only fitting that her personal style would translate to a sultry sleepwear line. Rihanna exudes steamy confidence and it’s safe to say she leaves everyone a little thirsty.
Bella Hadid is a bonafide supermodel. She graces the runways and magazines in high-style fashion. Friend to Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber, she’s a socialite with a sexy, yet understated Insta account. Well, it’s usually understated, but not always.
Friend to Bella Hadid and married to Justin Bieber, one is left wondering, how does a girl get so lucky? Her pics are low-key sexy, yet capable of sending followers to the brink of desire.
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Best-known for his stripper role in Magic Mike, Channing Tatum continues to be an A-list actor and sexy thirst trap. His Insta is a mixture of relatable content combined with macho-man hot stuff. If your day needs a pick-me-up, check out this saucy shower pic.
He rose to fame as a boy-next-door heartthrob in High School Musical, but this hottie seems to get spicier with age. Have you seen those arms? His Insta is dotted with random traps here and there to remind us that he’s still got it. He’s a bit edgier now, but still gives us all the feels with his pretty-boy good looks.
Known for his roles in action flicks like Thor and The Avengers, Chris Hemsworth is a muscled, handsome man. His Insta is loaded with photos of him doing sexy, athletic things or just plain looking like a snack.
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Okay, Jason Derulo’s role in Cats may have been a flop, but this singer/dancer makes up for it in other ways (meow). This famous picture was eventually taken down by Instagram for being a bit too much, but Derulo found a clever way around it. And we’re so glad he did.
With a 12-year age gap between them, Iranian model Asghari is best known for his love affair with pop icon Britney Spears. Still, this personal trainer/model/actor is yummy to look at in his own right. With one of the best bodies around, and a jawline to die for, the guy doesn’t take a bad pic. In this one, he reminds us to be humble while displaying his chiseled abs in pure Team Sneaky style.
TikTok Thirst Traps
Of course, Instagram’s rival TikTok boasts plenty of thirst traps in video form, and often we’ll see jokesters making fun of the process, since TikTok is the perfect medium for parody. Some of the comedic videos are so hilarious and sexy that we are left confused. Thirst trap or not?
User @sampson_parker is irreverent and almost angry as he makes videos of himself doing mundane things like eating and vacuuming. He’s mad hot, always shirtless, and often in gray sweatpants. He never says a word and chooses some of the best commenter’s clever puns to display on his videos. In a delightful twist, he almost seems disgusted by his own thirst trap status.
@ashleyinreallife#stitch with @bradley.thor I don’t know what happened😲 #funny #sundayfunday #thirsttrap #htx #itsajoke♬ original sound – Ashley
Comedian Leenda Dong blatantly makes fun of thirst trap content, preferring to zero in on the sillier aspects of these kinds of posts. In this one, she helpfully offers a sock to a young man who seems to be missing one.
Of course, many of us don’t get off on just hot bodies. Stuff like this can definitely make our jaws drop, too. Who needs a thirst trap when you’ve got a man who can repaint a room?
Final Thoughts on Thirst Traps
Social media has a way of making us feel insecure about our looks. When we see photos of people who seem to possess qualities we think we lack, we often feel compelled to fake it. Is that healthy, though?
The thing is, no matter who you are, you can definitely produce a drool-worthy thirst trap. Successful thirst traps aren’t just for gym enthusiasts or Kardashians. There is no singular way to feel and show off one’s photo pose. In fact, a person’s quirks and confidence levels are often their sexiest features.
When scrolling through social media, it’s helpful to keep in mind that a thirst trap is one-dimensional at its surface. It doesn’t display the subject’s flaws — or even their greatest attributes. Thirst traps only express a single aspect of human sexiness. However, with the right pose and look you can show off how confident you are. If a thirst trap makes you feel strong, confident, sexy, attractive, or just playful, then by all means.