jigs that are up

Seriously, Stop Pretending You Ate That

Photo: youdidnoteatthat/Instagram.com
Spring Diet Week

We see you out there on social media, posing with your comically huge burgers, your face-size cookies and pizza slices the size of your thigh gap. That cookie might be a millimeter from your lips, but you honestly want us to believe that buttery carb made it into your stomach?

The anonymous person behind the new Instagram account You Did Not Eat That sure as hell doesn’t. She’s fed up with the staged photos of  bloggers in bikinis claiming to wolf down gigantic ice cream cones or five-course brunches and so, one regram at a time, set out to play good-natured whistleblower on all those taking photos as though they haven’t denied themselves refined sugar for the last decade. (But, she acknowledges, some people really do eat what they Instagram. It’s caftan season after all.)

She spoke to the Cut about her role as bullshit detector, how she got blocked by Cupcakes and Cashmere, and the formula for Instagram gold (bracelets plus macarons plus Paris).

All right, so, who are you? What’s your name?
Hah, I can’t tell you that. It’s not for any creepy reason; I don’t want it to ever feel like there’s a big, nasty finger pointing at someone. It’s fun just to kind of be “the royal we.”

[Are there] more than one of you scouting Instagram?
Officially it’s just me — for now, but I’ve got lots of friends that are out there helping. A lot of the followers are tagging me everywhere, and we call them our “street team.”

Tell me a little bit about why you started the Instagram account. It’s so funny.
I’ve worked in media and fashion for almost ten years. I feel like blogs have certainly changed everything, you know, in the lifestyle people are presenting — it’s just spiraled into the absurd. All these girls who wear the most expensive outfit that they have — probably borrowed or gifted. They troll the West Village or Venice, or somewhere, [buying] “chic” lashings from different pastry shops, taking pictures in their Valentino Rockstud Stilettos. Ughhh! I call it The Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome: Everybody just says, Oh my God, you look amazing. But nobody’s really actually saying, Get real. And we should.

Was there one specific staging that got you —
That got me all fired up? 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! When you see something so often and you know that there’s a group of people who are kind of rolling their eyes about it, it’s just — it’s time to say something. Frankly, I was shocked when I went onto Instagram and the name was available. It’s just gotten so silly and formulaic.
What’s the formula?
People buy a box of macarons, or doughnuts, or an ice cream. They photograph it in front of some big landmark, like the Eiffel Tower — the trip to Paris is to take pictures across from Ladurée — and there’s always a very calculated stack of rings and bracelets, maybe a French bulldog, and it’s like, Boom, I’ve got a successful Instagram post! I understand why they’re doing it, because it works. They’re getting thousands of likes, but we’re not buying it.

It’s definitely tapping into some weird relationship people have with food and luxury. What do you think that is? Does this count as thin-shaming?
This is not me making some huge social commentary about what size somebody is and what they’re eating. This is more like, Come on, we see the formula. Let’s lift the curtain here on Oz. If you’re a size zero, and you’re frolicking in a tiny bikini on the beach, you probably did not eat the doughnuts that you posed with the sunglasses. It’s just presenting this curated life that’s beautiful and perfect and totally unrealistic. More power to you for rocking that! You look awesome! Don’t lie about how you got there! It’s fine.

What makes for the most offensive kind of shot?
I love this question so much. I think, for me, like 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 other is the aerial table shot, because, l’m thinking of the other two people there that probably want to eat, while you tweak the lighting, and arrange your fringe bag. Just eat! Let them eat.

What kind of comments are you getting?
Every time I have a comment that comes up, I kind of brace myself for somebody that’s gonna be mad. The meanest comment that I’ve gotten so far is, somebody wrote: “I’m pretty sure this account is run by a fat ass.”

Has anybody written back to defend themselves?
I’ve had a couple people be like, “Yes I did eat this.” Like @EliottWestVillage wrote me and said: “I did eat that and I run my ass off so that I can.” And I’m like, “Okay, fair enough! Totally awesome.” I want people to know that it’s fun and done in good spirit. It’s not meant to be mean and hurtful. So many people are in on the joke. There are a lot of bloggers whom I will tease or post about, and they get right in on it. Eva Chen was in on it. So was Emily Weiss — she tagged me in a photo. People can laugh about this and be a part of it.

Some people can’t though. Haven’t you been blocked by a few accounts?
@SincerelyJules, she was the first one. Then Emily Schuman from Cupcakes and Cashmere. If you’re gonna get so upset that I teased you about holding a six-pack of Ladurée in front of the Eiffel Tower with a neon fur wristlet, come on! I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but people take themselves so seriously — I mean, this is fashion blogging.

What is the most common food you see posted on Instagram — macarons or doughnuts?
Doughnuts are trending. Emily Weiss tagged a photo of a beauty shoot with doughnuts in it, and I swear since then it has been like doughnut, doughnut, doughnut. Just make sure it’s pink and frosted and has perfect sprinkles. [Editor’s note: The Cut has also posted beauty products with doughnuts to Instagram, but for the record, we ate them all.]

What is the antidote to the “I ate this” Instagram? How can we stop this?!
I’ve seen some awesome videos of people eating. There’s one of Man Repeller chowing a cupcake. If people want to start the trend of eating videos, more power. But more so, I want people to get away from the formula — you know, take your pictures of your beautiful peonies, but please don’t throw in some macarons. Please.

Seriously, Stop Pretending You Ate That