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The Instagram accounts poking fun at influencers

The platitudes and gaffes of many content creators feed parody profiles where unethical practices are also highlighted

The Instagram accounts poking fun at influencers
A woman takes an Instagram photo on a beach.Catherine Falls Commercial (Getty Images)
Elena Muñoz

Loved and hated in equal measure, the polarization gripping the world today is also leaving its mark on the universe of content creators. Dedicated followers and irate haters dominate the extremes. In the middle lie profiles like Hazme una foto así (Take a photo of me like this), an Instagram account born during the pandemic with the aim of parodying the most-followed influencers in Spain. What started as entertainment has today turned into an account with nearly 300,000 followers. The paradox is that now Lorena Macías, its founder, is also a content creator.

However, her posts do not share tricks to make money by investing in cryptocurrencies, nor do they reveal the umpteenth garment purchased at Zara. Her posts echo the blunders made by influencers (almost always alluding to female figures) and the brazenness and lack of ethics many accounts display when advertising products. “I started uploading memes to pass the time and suddenly they started to go viral. At the beginning it was spontaneous and unpretentious, but naturally, having always worked in advertising, when I saw that the account was gathering a good group of people, I tried to pull the right levers to make it grow”, says Macías, an advertising creative by profession.

Humor as a tool for criticism

Humorously, but without taking it entirely as a joke, Macías highlights the lack of scruples on the part of those who take advantage of almost nonexistent legislation on content creation to profit by recommending articles without issuing a warning that it is advertising. Or those who resell a product on second-hand platforms moments after having told their audience how much they like it. The account’s followers are, in many cases, regular users of social networks and knowledgeable about the influencers that inhabit them; others are alien to this microcosm of unbridled consumerism. All of them, though, connect with the narrative of Hazme una foto así, and its balance between humor, criticism and reflection. “I think people connect because they’re fed up with posturing, with Instagram’s impostor perfection and, above all, with being lied to. And also because I try to do it through humor, which is a universal and very powerful resource that doesn’t need great context. In fact, the message I get the most is: ‘I don’t know any of the influencers you’re talking about, but I’m pissing myself laughing at how you present it,’” Macías tells EL PAÍS.

Globally, the forerunner that inspired many of these parody accounts is Influencers in the Wild, one of the first profiles to point out the absurdity that sometimes surrounds social media. Created by George Resch (known on the internet as Tank Sinatra) to lift the lid on the lengths to which some content creators go to get the dream photo, it brings together more than five million loyal followers. By decontextualizing the publications and revealing the reality behind the apparent perfection and spontaneity that many influencers seek to sell, it becomes clear that naturalness is conspicuous by its absence.

How are these criticisms and parodies received from the other side of the coin? In the opinion of Sergio Barreda, CEO of the influencer agency Keepers, “the beauty of the networks is the plurality they offer and, therefore, there has to be room for these types of profiles that base their content more on satire or irony, which has always been present in humor; but, as in comedy, the key is always to do it from a humorous point of view and not by resorting to easy criticism.”

Humor is also the hallmark of Models with Sciatica, an account created by Laura C. — she prefers not to give her last name — in July 2020, in which she places the spotlight on the hyper-sexualization of women in the fashion industry. She says that the profile “grew in a totally crazy way in less than 24 hours.” Her feed is made up of images from campaigns or editorials where models appear in impossible poses. The fun is in the text that accompanies each photograph: brief, accurate and sarcastic. The formula is not very new, but it came at the right time. With little expectation, her first post garnered “more than 500 followers in half an hour. In 24 hours, there were more than 20,000. It was crazy,” says Laura in conversation with this newspaper. Since then, her community has exceeded 32,000 followers.

When asked about the potential for controversy as a result of her publications, she says that “by not focusing on anyone” in particular, she has not made any enemies, although “there has been someone who has come in to argue for the sake of arguing, and I don’t waste much time there.” Macías, who has been blocked on Instagram by some of the content creators she has alluded to in her publications, cannot say the same. However, anger is the exception: “It’s not the same for me to parody a gaffe or a memeable pose as it is for me to publicly point out that you are reselling the products that a brand sent you yesterday, because that speaks of your professionalism and your ethics. And that, naturally, doesn’t sit well with anyone,” says Macías, who as a result of the success of the profile has set up her own advertising agency and a podcast to address issues related to the sector from a more serious perspective.

An industry under construction

In Barreda’s experience, not all influencers react the same way to criticism. “Fashion and lifestyle profiles are the ones that are attacked or criticized the most, and, therefore, I think they have the worst time with these types of messages,” he says. “Humor or entertainment profiles take criticism in a different way, less personally.”

Despite its growing visibility, the public calling out of Hazme una foto así has not had too many consequences. “In some cases, brands have contacted me privately to inform me that they have terminated the contract with an influencer as a result of a flagrant catch, but these are very specific cases,” says its founder. “The most significant consequence is that the people who follow me are able to identify these unethical practices, which previously went unnoticed.” In this sense, Barreda says these kinds of profiles can help professionals in the sector to identify bad practices: “We must acknowledge that some of these messages and publications sometimes help us to improve and detect profiles that are not doing well, or campaigns that are not well executed and, therefore, make us keep a close eye on our own. Even so, as in everything, there are profiles that I like and others that I think cross the line. This sector is still very new and we have learned a lot from mistakes.”

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