Welcome to the era of the ‘hard launch’, Hollywood’s favourite new trend

Welcome to the era of the ‘hard launch’, Hollywood’s favourite new trend

March 2, 2023

Written by Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

Everyone from Lizzo to Em Rata is ditching the Instagram soft launch for a more dramatic affair in the form of an all-out ‘hard launch’.

Name: hard launching

Meaning: announcing your relationship on social media without holding back on the drama – think perfectly posed shots, 10/10 captions and an unapologetic display of your love.

Origin: we’ve got celebrities to thank for this one. Up until this point, announcing love on social media has been all about the soft launch – a hand in the corner of a story here, a couple of ambiguous emojis in a caption there. But recently, we’ve seen a shift. Julia Fox was an early adopter of the trend, but now everyone from Lizzo to Emily Ratajkowski has been getting in on the action, leading the way for us lowly folks to give the trend a go too. 

Wait, so what does a hard launch actually consist of? There are no hard and fast rules for posting a hard launch – you just need to be prepared to ramp up the drama. Take the hard launch of Em Rata’s relationship with comedian Eric André (although according to recent reports, that might already be over). The photo, uploaded to André’s Instagram account, shows the pair posing nude alongside the caption ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’. Not only is there no doubt that the pair are a thing – a key element of the hard launch, I might add – but it’s also hilarious and over the top, perfect for grabbing people’s attention. The surprise element – which Lizzo also achieved with her hard launch grid post announcing her relationship with actor Mike Whyte – makes the whole thing even more of a *moment*. In short, it’s a whole production.

But do people really care about this? If the numbers are anything to go by, yes. The post of Ratajkowski and André has received over 640,000 likes and counting, and it quickly made its way around the internet after it was uploaded.

But I still don’t get it – why is seeing two people together so fascinating? It’s fun! A laugh! Good vibes! It’s not that deep. And after all, the world is a serious place – why shouldn’t we be able to make a big deal out of finding someone to love? 

Is this something only celebrities can do, though? Definitely not. Your hard launch may not get 500,000+ likes, but it’s still a fun way to announce your relationship to the world. It’s also an excuse to get creative and have a laugh with the person you’re dating – and rake in those likes and heart emojis from your friends and family while you’re at it.

So does a hard launch have to happen right at the start of a relationship? Not necessarily. A hard launch is like the 2023 alternative to making things Facebook official – you could be going out with someone for a while before it happens, but it’s a move which lets everyone around you know that things are happening for real. In short, the goal of a hard launch should be to remove any and all ambiguity.

I think I’m starting to see the appeal – although I think it’s healthy to admit that it’s a little bit ridiculous. Sure. But isn’t that what social media should be for?  

Image: Getty/Stylist Design Team

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