Victoria Sidwell wasn’t born an Instagram influencer.

She didn’t enter this world kicking and screaming because she craved the rattle of a selfie stick and her first words weren’t “for the Gram”.

No, Victoria Sidwell is yet another fine-polished product of our modern culture, our revolutionary beauty industry and the hierarchy of wealth that has been put in place based on looks.

As for the rest of the babies born in May Day hospital during 1994, not all of them dedicated their mid-20s to building an Instagram following.

But for the ones who grew into their teenage years obsessed by hair, nails and cute outfits, and flourished into adult life realising that money was to be made through gawping men, the Instagram life was there’s for the taking.

Influenced by shows such as Love Island and inspired by the concept of making money through hobbies, everyone born in the 90’s dreams of making it as an Instagram influencer.

Instagram - Victoria Sidwell

Instagram – Victoria Sidwell

So what is an Instagram influencer?

Surprisingly, Vic-Vic takes to this question with ease and explains that the laborious duty of dissecting what she actually does as an Instagram influencer is a common theme for any Saturday night on the town.

The 25-year-old is adamant that an influencer is your “everyday kind of girl”. The girl who has built a social media presence through their own time and commitment, collaging their life and style before realising that enough people in society found their image worthy of a like and a follow.

From there, brand and businesses scout and locate trending people on Instagram, asking if they will collaborate in exchange for payment fees, free products, or both.

An influencer is an everyday person. I wouldn’t class celebrities as Instagram influencers, they’re just celebs being paid to post something. For me, I get approached by brands who think that I fit their image. I’m an extension of their brand and I’m being used as part of their advertising scheme by promoting their products. That’s basically what Instagram influencing is.

The “everyday girl” look

Instagram has come under heavy scrutiny over the past five years, accused of causing severe mental health issues with ‘picture perfect’ woman at the tip of every index-fingered scroll.

Shows such as ITV dating series Love Island has reinforced these notions of beauty, with the UK’s most-watched reality TV series casting only the most beautiful 20-to-30-year-olds in the country.

And this can make Victoria’s words a little difficult to digest. The use of “everyday girl” spills from lips perfected in a surgery, and that’s matched with a boob job and £2,000 teeth composite veneers. 

Is this look the “everyday girl” of 2020?

I hate to say it, but I do feel like it’s fashion and beauty brands who are pushing these select images of how woman should look. I do wonder whether I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t had my boobs done, lip filler and all of that. I guess it’s a harsh reality of today.

Follow Victoria Sidwell on Instagram under @victoria.sidwell

Instagram - Victoria Sidwell

Instagram – Victoria Sidwell

But at least Vic is honest and open about her image, grateful for not only her health and looks but her role as a Senior Event Project Manager, which allows her to travel extensively while investing in cosmetic procedures.

It’s a far cry from the fitness industry, where these Instagram influencers plague the platform with their unachievable bodies, blatantly covering up the use of steroids in order to gain mass followers.

Nobody minds how you look, so long as you’re honest about it.

How to be an Instagram Influencer

Interviewing via FaceTime, the chat nearly cuts off as Vic’s weekly social media allowance start beeping and the phone attempts to shut down.

On a busy Insta week, she’s repping 30 hours of solid social networking, split between 20 hours on Instagram, seven working hours on FaceTune and a cheeky three hours on Hinge.

I spend a lot of time on Instagram – but you have to. It’s not just posting pictures but the constant effort of commenting on other peoples photos, following the right people and being active – that’s how you get noticed.

The constant barrage of likes and comments is sure to take a toll on mental health, and Vic doesn’t shy away from the fact that Instagram has both positive and negative effects.

She believes that becoming an Instagram Influencer is on par with celebrity status and only those who are strong-minded should think about diving into the industry.

I completely understand the negative effect of social media. If you’re having a bad day and you see some really pretty girl on Instagram then you’re going to think “why don’t I look like that”, and things can spiral out of control. 

But I’m in a good headspace and dealing with negative comments is just part of the Influencer role. My mindset is always “why do they feel like they have to be negative” and “why do they need to say something hurtful” rather than feeling like the victim.

Instagram vs Reality

Vic helps to make it clear that not everyone posing on Instagram is a fame-hungry, camera-obsessed, self-absorbed and obnoxious Dbag. Which is refreshing to hear.

In her case, adding to the Gram was always one of her favourite hobbies, mixing a love for photography with experimental fashion. So when brands came knocking and requested to pay her for modelling outfits, the marriage was a match made in a Lark-filtered heaven.

But Vic also laments the fact that she rarely looks as glamorous as she does on Instagram. For starters, she’s completing the interview in slippers and pyjamas.

Holiday photos are prepped and planned, with one single picture envisioned long before a casual frolic on the beach.

People need to understand that how someone looks in an Instagram photo is not how they look across the whole day. The shot of me on in a red bikini; I knew I was going to the Maldives and I’d need some extra Christmas content. So I bought a festive red bikini and preempted that I’d upload the photo around Christmas Day. Everything is planned.

Follow Victoria Sidwell on Instagram under @victoria.sidwell

Instagram - Victoria Sidwell

Instagram – Victoria Sidwell