“A day in my life in NYC” is a wildly common occurrence on my FYP: all are short-form vlog style videos and almost all are created by fashion students, influencers, or fashion students who are also influencers. And while you could be tricked into thinking it’s a single person whose day you are seeing slightly different versions of, it’s highly likely a rotation of girls who all have strikingly similar features and lifestyles: thin, brunette and (obviously) living in New York City.
Enter: The Victoria Paris Effect.
Coined by writer Kate Lindsay of the Substack account Embedded: “The Victoria Paris Effect” speaks to the growth of a particular aesthetic and lifestyle (and a cool 20-30 video uploads-a-day strategy) exemplified by Victoria Paris. A recent graduate of the New School in New York City, Victoria has seen the development of over a million TikTok followers within five months. Launching an account initially to drive traffic to and promote her Depop store, at this point she is surely a familiar name— or at least a familiar face— for anyone that regularly scrolls through TikTok. There is no escaping Victoria Paris on the FYP and that’s just the way TikTok planned it.
A major component of The Victoria Paris Effect, however, is the notion that she rose to viral stardom quickly and from relative obscurity. Gaining a million followers is no mean feat, let alone within five months. And while TikTok has always prioritised content that feels off-the-cuff and authentic (categories that Victoria’s content certainly fits into), Lindsay convincingly argues that this growth speaks to less wholesome reasons than her being “relatable”, and instead speaks to her thinness, whiteness and being a 20-something brunette afforded the privilege of living in New York City (even if she only does brunch when her brother pays). Lindsay is quick to point out that this is by no means the fault of Victoria herself, but shows an increasingly obvious pattern, one that has been solidified by the growth of a nearly identical creator, Kate Glavan.
Victoria and Kate’s content differ in more ways than one, but it is where they are similar that Embedded, particularly, has picked up on. Despite Victoria’s content skewing more fitness-focused and Kate’s bio establishing that she is “into politics”, the two share striking similarities like their passion for thrifting (for which Gen Z has become known) and the chaotic but consistent documentation of a specific NYC lifestyle. These factors, combined with a similar trajectory, have seen Kate gain over 12K followers since first posting on the 20th May, 2021, three weeks ago at the time of publication, and quickly growing.
In noting these similarities though, both creators are remarkably self-aware. Once having reached the milestone of a million followers, Victoria was hit with a barrage of criticism— to which she responded, “The reason…I blew up so fast is because I’m white, thin, privileged, and live in New York City,” she says, acknowledging content from her home state of North Carolina performed significantly worse because there was nothing to romanticise.
Kate, too, has already acknowledged the connection people are making between herself and Victoria Paris, sharing a TikTok video explaining “If you’re out there on the Internet calling me a rising star for riding a CitiBike or jump roping or because I have brown hair, watch your mouth. I just want to talk about politics okay?”
None of this is to say either creator is lacking in charisma, authenticity or doesn’t deserve their following, but as Lindsay concludes on Embedded, the role of TikTok in the growth of these creators could be speaking to a much bigger problem with representation and privilege. It begs the question of whether this is what TikTok truly believes audiences want to see? And if The Victoria Paris Effect continues, is this exclusively the kind of influencer we will see moving forward? We have seen the same trope span generations, from Sex and the City, to Gossip Girl, to The Bold Type…the fact that the TikTok version of this character is now dressed like Emma Chamberlain doesn’t take away from the fact it is a narrative we have already consumed over and over again— and one that is not bringing any diversity of voices or experiences that we so desperately need to see.
All this is to say, I’m sick of seeing a “Day in my life in NYC”, or at the very least, one dressed up like Victoria Paris.