As a follow-up to The Fate of Food Influencers on Instagram: a take on the decline of certain food and/or lifestyle accounts on Instagram, we’d like to talk about the advent of pretty food: food that serves no real function (it isn’t necessarily healthy, it isn’t a quick and easy DIY meal, it isn’t sustainably sourced) except to look good. And pretty feeds: highly curated lifestyle feeds that border on the unreal.
First I looked at @symmetrybreakfast, an account managed by Michael Zee. According to the account bio, it is “Breakfast by Michael for Mark”, but the concept is in fact much more than that. Apart from being a food account replete with recipes, Michael also runs a blog that goes by the same name where he publicizes exhibitions, collaborations, links to order his cookbook, as well as a diary-like section called Letters from Shanghai. The letters are my personal favourite part. Having all this information on the website means Michael doesn’t have to post it on his Instagram feed. The result?
A perfectly uniformed-looking feed, void of anything that isn’t a symmetrical breakfast.
With 780K followers on Instagram, @symmetrybreakfast is not the most popular food account out there, but they definitely are one of the more interesting ones.
This chart reflects their growth since 2016. It has been slow, but undeniably upward moving. The Co-Founder of Instagram himself is a fan.
“It just shows how you can take the everyday and make it beautiful.” – Kevin Systrom
The account also has quite a substantial global reach, as seen in the chart below.
People from all over the world are interested in beautiful breakfasts, whether or not they intend to replicate Michael’s artistic hand.
Next I perused @leesamantha’s account, a mom who makes food for children. Here I don’t mean children’s food as in mashed bananas or bite-size fish fingers, but rather plating that is aesthetically pleasing to a young mind.
For example, Samantha’s top post this year is a rice-based rendition of Lady Gaga:
This plate is instantly appealing to anyone — no matter the age. Children are bound to dig right in and consume everything, not paying too much attention to details and ingredients. But if you look closely, you will find that the dish actually contains 4 kinds of vegetables, two sources of protein, and rice. This post garnered a 4.6% engagement rate which is 4 times the account’s average.
Tracking Samantha’s audience growth was quite incongruous to what I thought it would be.
Her audience pool has actually been slowly decreasing, the reason behind which escapes me. One possible reason I entertained is that while the food is nice to look at, it is much too tedious to recreate, which makes the content unrelatable for people.
The last account I looked at is the most popular of the three: @taramilktea
My first reaction to her account was more confusion than it was awe: how did she manage to only wear clothes, eat food, and visit places that fit into a specific colour palette? Or was she just severely photoshopping everything?
Even her DUMPLINGS are pastel. Tara seems to be the epitome of ‘do it for the #gram’, and people are here for it.
This is her audience growth from end 2017 till now, and while the increase is not massive, it is still impressive that her follower count is continuing to steadily grow despite the fact that she has been around for a while.
While her engagement rate is relatively sporadic, it is always high — at a low of 4% and a high of 6%. She seems to flit through a colour spectrum as time goes by, and somehow manages to keep to it no matter where she is. Take this picture for example:
Here she is in green, holding a mildly green drink, standing against a green wall with green-painted racks AND green bags of soil. Just before this she posted a picture of matcha buns and lattes (also green), and right after this picture she posted one of green soft-serve ice cream. It’s almost unreal.
These accounts, unlike the ones discussed earlier, are not meant for us everyday Instagram users to emulate. Rather, they are there for us to live vicariously through. Don’t have a pastel pink fur coat to go with your strawberry frappe? It’s fine, @taramilktea has you covered. Don’t have the patience to carve the Three Little Pigs out of Omu rice? Just scroll through @leesamantha’s feed and pretend you did. Uneven pancakes and burnt waffle ends? @symmetrybreakfast did it better than you. Twice.
These are images that are lovely to look at, lovely to imagine. But that is pretty much all they are. Looking for easy and healthy recipes that you can most probably make by yourself? Head on to our examination of The Rise of Vegan Influencers to find out which accounts you should check out.