Calling all self-proclaimed foodies and social media gurus: we're taking a deeper look at your icons, leaders, and mentors. That's right, we're talking about Instagrammers

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Jaime Wilson

We (literally) follow these people religiously. We scroll through our feeds every day hoping to catch a glimpse into the lives of the rich, popular, and eternally full. Their mouthwatering photos and trendy lifestyles make it impossible to look away. Don't worry, we get it.

So what's really going on behind the neatly laid out brunch tables and decorative smoothie bowls? I spent a few months working under one of New York City's biggest foodies, and I can guarantee you its definitely not a piece of cake.

The Perfect Shot

The first lesson you learn when entering the world of the Instagrammer is that the food is always going to be cold. Always. The only exception? If it's melting instead.

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Jaime Wilson

Since (of course) it all looks good on camera, there's a certain effortlessness that we see in the world of the Instagrammer. In reality, they'll do just about anything to get that money shot—and standing on tables is most certainly not out of the question. 

Of course, before we get that perfectly instagrammable shot, there are dozens of photos that don't quite make the cut. And you can bet that by the time you get it all just right, that burger is going to be unappetizingly cold.

beef, sandwich, bun
Jaime Wilson

It's All About Who You Know

Time to break out that dirty word that we all hate to love—networking. Unfortunately, this beautifully torturous act of schmoozing and small talk is how most of the foodie scene operates.

Whether you're at a Midtown restaurant opening or a backyard barbecue in Williamsburg, you can guarantee these guys are making and working their connections. For starters, they all know each other, so someone's definitely gossiping about that other b*!?h who caused a scene at the Hamptons house last weekend.

chocolate, hummus, sweet, milk, coffee, cream
Jaime Wilson

The key to being a good Influencer is to know everyone in the business — from restaurant owners to the top PR agents, they know the ins and outs of the entire food scene and everyone in it. After all, how else would they be getting the DL and scoring all that free food?

The Down and Dirty Truth

cheese, wine
Jaime Wilson

Another key to a successful influencer is having "the lifestyle" or, at least, the perceived lifestyle. Fashion bloggers are rarely seen makeup-less, and god forbid you catch a foodie eating... McDonalds?

But alas, they are human. As much as we don't like to admit it, these people have real bodies with real digestive systems that work just like ours. They have to hit the gym to burn off all those calories just like anyone else, and they definitely can't really be eating all 8 of the full meals we see them posting per day.

chicken, bacon, cheese
Jaime Wilson

This brings us to one of the ugliest parts of the foodie world—the leftovers. While they certainly appear to be living a life of indulgence, and in many ways really are, these influencers also rack up a lot of wasted melting ice cream cones and half-eaten burgers.

While some lucky leftovers get packaged up and taken home, too many unfinished meals find themselves deep in the trashcan. And of course, only a handful of interns like myself are fortunate enough to take home doggy bags

Jaime Wilson

Luckily, there are a handful of groups like FEED and The Borgen Project have tried using their social media traction to draw attention to the very food waste and hunger issues that our Instagram obsessions tend to fuel. After all, while a 2-foot-long slice of pizza is awfully appealing, wouldn't it be better if most of it wasn't getting thrown out?

The life of the Instagram foodie is one of style and excess, and our news feeds wouldn't have it any other way. But just like you and me, they're not perfect. In fact, the world of the food Instagrammer is far from it. 

cheese, bun, sandwich
Jaime Wilson

So what did I learn from my months as a real NYC foodie? Make friends everywhere, bring a friend with a flashlight for those low lighting shots, and for the love of god — take the leftovers home!

We can't help but drool over the lives of our beloved social media influencers, and that's no surprise. When we're constantly exposed to enormous, photogenic abundance of food that flows through our newsfeed we become hopelessly drawn in to a culture of indulgence. And you can bet we're double tapping.