Once again I’m late to the opinion party but I’ve been giving whether or not to write this piece some real thought. To be honest, it’s taken me a while to become a hundred percent sure of what I feel about instagram sensation, You Did Not Eat That. I was crystal clear about my views on the vile Women Who Eat On Tubes but this was slightly trickier. Let’s be honest, we’ve all rolled our eyes at a perfectly styled shot of a brunch laden table groaning with bagels posted alongside an #OOTD snap of someone wearing size 0 J Brands. Or, as the profile’s founder puts it “a pink frosted doughnut in front of an eight-inch thigh gap”. Similarly, the ridiculousness of it all is pretty funny. When I first saw YDNET I lolled, hard because the endless pics of perfectly arrayed sweet treats (1 patisserie + sunglasses + flowers + Vogue = lotsa likes) are both contrived and faintly ridiculous. But having looked long and hard at the profile, and The Cut’s interview with its founder, I feel certain that You Did Not Eat That has definitely crossed the line between amusing and unpleasant regardless of whether Eva Chen and Emily Weiss are “in on it”.
You Did Not Eat That claims to be “speaking the truth in this mixed up world of too many macarons and ice cream cones used as props”, calling for instagrammers to “get real”. But that, my friends, is instagram all over. It’s so far from real. Instagram is basically a platform to embellish, edit and downright lie about all aspects of your existence from home to wardrobe to diet, if you choose to. An awful lot of it’s pretty phoney. Sometimes this is funny, sometimes it’s frustrating, almost always it’s an exercise in personal branding that now extends beyond companies and celebrities to allow anyone with an iPhone to create a “world of brand” for themselves and offer insights into an airbrushed and strategically edited version of their daily lives. But the practice of girls instagramming pics of themselves with ice creams or doughnuts they may or may not have eaten is less about deluding people into thinking they scoff junk 24/7 and miraculously stay sample size – as has been argued in favour of YDNET – and more about raking in the likes. And we all know that pretty pictures, be they of cupcakes and croissants or culottes and Chloé, are instagram catnip. We all know that is how and why a lot of people use instagram, be they the bloggers YDNET’s creator so loathes or a mega brand like Valentino. Trying to “expose” the falsity of certain instagrammers is kind of pointless. Who actually cares if the prettily arranged array of colorful candy got eaten by the person posting the picture? More importantly, why should this be any more offensive and shame-worthy than an equally posed shot of someone reclining on Shoreditch House rooftop wearing borrowed Prada shades, there for the first time on someone else’s membership? This I feel is the crux of the whole argument. The fact that this You Did Not Eat That is primarily based on scrutinising women’s bodies is both what makes it unpalatable to me, and I suspect accounts for its success.
Unlike the ladies featured on Women Who Eat On Tubes some of whom may not even have an instagram profile (I find it as hard to believe such folk exist as you do), You Did Not Eat That swipes snaps from people who have willingly invited the world into their lives, or at the the section of their lives deemed chic enough for sharing. But while these people have willingly opened themselves up for scrutiny, what gives this particular individual the right to “call them out” in such a public and body-centric way? “Calling out” someone you have absolutely no connection to on what they may or may not have eaten based on their body size in front of a global audience is frankly a bit shitty. You Did Not Eat That and the response it elicits taps into the much wider obsession with what women are or aren’t eating which I can’t help but feel is unhealthy for all involved. Just a glance at the captions and comments will show that it’s become rather insidious. One post asked followers to “look at @tatjanamariposa‘s page and tell us whether you think she had Cheetos for breakfast”. I’m sorry but asking hundreds of thousands of strangers to look at another stranger’s instagram and survey her body in order to make a judgement about what she did or did not eat (regardless of whether the shot in question is pretty silly) is just not ok! Then of course it comes to the legions of YDNET followers, leaving endless bitchy comments and tagging high profile instagrammers they happen to follow in the hope their pic will be featured on You Did Not Eat That for everyone to dissect. I wholeheartedly agree that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and many of us, myself included, are guilty of that sometimes. But regardless of whether it started as a bit of a laugh, YDNET has rapidly become a judgement free for all that reeks of bitterness and insecurity and I don’t think telling people to get a sense of humour really justifies that.
I’m really not trying to sound preachy here and, as someone who usually unsuccessfully attempts on occasion, I’m the first to admit the whole perfectly posed food thing has got both ludicrous and formulaic. YSDNET is witty and timely, no doubt about it, but it’s also an example of how quickly social media can turn nasty, especially when it comes to women’s bodies. Maybe the subjects of You Did Not Eat That didn’t eat whatever the offending object was, maybe they did. Maybe as @EliottWestVillage put it, “they run their arse of so they can”. Whatever the reality, I don’t think it’s ok for someone to craft their own social media identity out of judging and inviting other’s to judge that.
That’s about enough from me, what do YOU think?
Love Ella. X