Deliciously Stella: How I Became An Accidental Influencer

Bella Younger has decided to retire her hit Instagram alias Deliciously Stella. She writes exclusively about why she made this difficult decision and her quarrel with 'authenticity' on social media for The Debrief.

Deliciously Stella: How I Became An Accidental Influencer

by Bella Younger |
Updated on

My name is Bella. But try as I might, you will definitely know me better as Deliciously Stella. I started my satirical fitspo account nearly three years ago and, just last week, I made the tough decision to finally kill my character. I had been posting as Deliciously Stella for almost three years and love her as I did, my inspiration was starting to run dry.

I would rather introduce myself as a murderer than an influencer in a bar, the word makes me think of narcissism and branding. Of hair extensions or teeth whitening strips, but I definitely have become one. Like it or not.

I am not here to tell you that what you see on social media doesn't reflect real life. We all know that. I was not authentically strapping crunchies to my stomach any more than your favourite fashion blogger was caught pretending to walk past Somerset house. But what happens when you make yourself your brand? Are you really being yourself or are you just giving your followers and the PRs what they want?

I have a lot of followers, get sent free stuff by brands and am sometimes paid to advertise them on my channel. I will not sell you flat tummy tea but booze, crisps, holidays? I've done it all. The first time someone offered to pay me for content I was thrilled. I'd been growing my account for over a year, posting dutifully every day. My USP was that it was just a laugh. I wasn't selling anyone a fantasy life. This was my just reward.

The brand I was collaborating with didn't have time to send me the product so they sent me out to their local store to buy it. When I sent them the footage they weren't happy. I had to go back to the shop and do it again. I knew deep down that the content I was making wasn't that funny. I felt awful about the #ad at the end, but I was a struggling stand-up comedian, being offered enough to cover my rent for three months. I was not in a position to turn it down.

In an ideal world, I would be paid handsomely for being a writer but it's an uphill battle and I have rent to pay. If some #spon keeps the wolf from the door, who am I to complain? Deliciously Stella may have started as a way to make people laugh but the character had become a business and a brand. I tailored the content accordingly. Posting became a bit less fun.

As I got more used to the process, I started emailing brands before I made jokes, checking if they wanted to #collab on the content I was making. If someone sent me something to try I would ask for money to feature them on my account. As long as I could tie the product back to food, I could justify the authenticity of its presence on my account.

Deliciously Stella: How I Became An Accidental Influencer
©Deliciously Stella

'Authentic' is the industry's biggest buzzword. If you're seen to be working with brands in an authentic way you get a free pass. Do I authentically like crisps? And holidays? Yes. Would I authentically be lying in a bath of said crisps on a cruise ship if I wasn't getting paid? No. But it makes great content.

It isn't just the food industry, fashion blogger friends of mine (who shall remain anonymous) have managed to identify outfits and items that get them high engagement and know to feature them more on their accounts. If people like photos of them in tea dresses, they'll post more pictures of them in tea dresses. But what happens when they don't authentically want to wear tea dresses any-more? What if this season, they just love scarves?

This is a business where you live or die by the like and you can't blame people for chasing the engagement or brands that will lead them to bigger deals.

Influencing and sponsored content is a completely legitimate business model. Let's face it - people make money in far more salubrious ways than being a human billboard. But authentic is a word that gets thrown around way too much these days. You wouldn't expect a man renting advertising space to authentically use the brands. But influencers are different. We expect them to really love the brands they're promoting and are ready to vilify them if they are seen to break rank.

I will be the first to admit that I love junk food but I also like courgettes, corgis, jumpers and Harry Potter. If I had posted a picture of a jumper or a dog on Deliciously Stella there would have been uproar.

Being a brand on social media is limiting. We all know that Instagram isn't the same as real life, but I had reached a point where my real life had no place on my Instagram at all. I knew that photos of gin would get 'high engagement' even if it meant heading off to buy tinnies on a Monday morning. I knew that no one would like a picture of my friend's dog or my nice new jumper so I wouldn't post it.

Everybody thought that they knew me, but they only knew what I was presenting to them, a single faceted junk food fiend with a penchant for strapping baguettes to her stomach. I really do live for making people laugh, but I need the freedom to make jokes that aren't only about food.

I'm not saying that I long for an account filled with cherry blossoms and candids. Just a bit of variety. It's time for me to be a little bit more authentic and if it costs me some #spons so be it.

This might be the end for Deliciously Stella but it isn't the end for me. It's the beginning. I am so looking forward to having a normal social media presence. It will include babies, dogs and jumpers galore. And let's be honest, probably still lots of food.

**Follow Bella on Instagram **@deliciouslystella

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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