A while back, I came across the food world’s answer to Diet Prada, where gastro injustices are called out on Instagram: @YouDidNotEatThat. The page features famous faces and IG influencers who pose with Shake Shack burgers, sushi donuts, Peggy Porschen cupcakes and just about any other kind of confectionary in a pastel hue. (If it’s pink, frosted, and has perfect sprinkles, then you’re guaranteed an extra few hundred likes.)
Want in? It’s simple. All you have to do is delicately clutch a piece of food (please note, it must have an Instagram-friendly aesthetic – see above for inspo), then smile away. You can make eye contact with the camera, pout, shmize. You can look lovingly at your dish of choice – whatever – just make sure you look cute and candid. And remember, the key to perfecting the IG-food-life is pretending you’ve just indulged.
Yes, social media has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that everyone loves to pose with food, but the question is: who is eating what? What faux pas would influencers be committing, what moral lapse would they be admitting, if they were honest about not actually consuming the spread of treats that advances them in their carefully curated feed?
Contributing to food waste and falsely representing your lifestyle on social media are two of my biggest pet peeves (that and slow walkers, drivers who don’t indicate, and people who stand-still on an escalator), so this marriage of influencers who are transforming eating from an activity into an aesthetic really, really grind my gears.
My reasons are twofold. Firstly, for the marketers. How do you sell food to a group of people that social media culture has harassed into a near-universally falsified relationship with your products? Secondly, and much more importantly, for the young women. The followers and fans of these influencers who mentally beat themselves up over not having that same skinny physique, even though they too are eating pizzas every week, and they too indulge in a double-scoop ice cream.
“The lap shots are pretty bad — like a pink frosted doughnut in front of an eight-inch thigh gap is really, really hard to stomach,” the anonymous founder of You Did Not Eat That once said in an interview with The Cut. “A month ago I saw dozens of bloggers swarming a dessert table, taking pictures and spending five minutes merchandizing the sunglasses next to the macarons. Then they walked away and nothing was eaten. It was so contrived!”
They’re selling an unattainable fantasy: you can eat a high-fat, high-carb and high-calorie diet of not-very-good-for-you food and still look like a Hadid sister. And so the mental health problems ensue…
So I’m calling BS on the barrage of perfectly poised treats laden before you. Stop wasting food and thinking your IG feed is more important than the environment, and stop perpetuating the perils and pretences of a fake life. Of course, impressive metabolisms are out there, but it’s time to start feeding our followers something more substantial and real, and a little less Ladurée macaroons and giant cheese wheels of pasta.