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Mignonette Takes Pictures: The Internet’s Sacred Corner of Joy

Joanna Mignonette, the founder of the famed Instagram account, on growing up with pets, starting a blog, and becoming an internet-favorite follow.

by Avery Felman
December 22, 2022
A dog resting its head on a pillow while peaking its head out the window.
Photo: @mignonettetakespictures

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Unless you, like this group of New York City teens, have adapted a Luddite lifestyle, you’ve probably noticed that cute animals are massive on Instagram. When animals appear all cute and cuddly, even the act of looking at them imbues you with wholesome, feel-good vibes. Culturally, we’ve become kind of hooked on this natural high.

Science backs this up, too. Cali Estes, a therapist and celebrity addiction specialist, recently told digital-marketing company Search Laboratory, “Petting dogs has been proven to increase serotonin and dopamine to the brain, and looking in a dog’s eyes increases oxytocin.” She continues: “Simply looking at dogs and pictures of dogs can make a person immediately happy and increase the serotonin and dopamine to their brain, almost creating a drug-like euphoria.” And that’s just dogs, people — imagine what would happen if we add other irresistibly adorable things to the equation?

That’s where Mignonette Takes Pictures comes in. This Instagram account, started by image researcher and collector Joanna Mignonette, has been The Wildest’s social-media obsession during turbulent, sometimes dark, and always confusing times. This account of animal photos and videos is also quite chic, which is why the fashion cognoscenti have sung its praises. “It started as a little diary, and [I used it] to collect ideas and images that I find inspiring and whimsical,” says Lisbon-native Mignonette, of her popular handle’s earnest beginnings. 

Today, Mignonette Takes Pictures boasts more than 800K followers, thanks to her curation of visuals that serve as antidotes to all the things that ail us. This hodgepodge of wholesome photos and videos strung together creates amusing vignettes. Among the wonders you’ll encounter: joyful videos of pets reuniting with their owners, awe-inducing snaps of sheep with heart-shaped markings on their coats, deeply satisfying ASMR reels of perfectly bruléd creme-filled donuts being snapped in two, and a carousel of goofy photos of noted genius Albert Einstein. 

“Cuteness comes to me. I use Pinterest quite a lot,” Mignonette says with a laugh before explaining: “I grew up in a family that always had pets — from birds to cats to fishes. I also spent parts of my life in the countryside, where animals were always present.” These days, she has two British Shorthair cats named Leo and Zoe. 

So, what’s her endgame in posting all these unique, candid shots of adorable pets and slice-of-life curiosities? “Hopefully,” she says, “a smile.” As for what has recently put the biggest smile on her face, she admits: “I do have a soft spot for a video of The Royal Ballet performing Beatrix Potter’s The Tale Of Mr. Jeremy Fisher” — in which the lead appears as a giant, leaping frog. “I find it quite funny and surreal.”

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Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her fiancé and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.