Instagram is full of bullshit. There I said it.
Don’t get me wrong, the platform is not all bad but the reality is, Instagram is full of people, showing the world a highlight reel of their life, convincing others that they are put together.
And then, there is Hillary Cohen.
Funny, confident and honest, with a zest for life that is truly inspiring.
What started out as a joke, turned into a platform that has more influence than she ever thought possible. Cohen is the face and personality behind the page Unfluential_. Her unfiltered, filtered posts combine humor and real life, in the least poised manner possible.
She actually started this page as a joke, after doing her first makeup tutorial and the feedback was incredible. “I never used to show my face, I hated showing my face, it was always my food or things i bought. I never spoke and I never showed myself, I was too insecure.”
Cohen has struggled with body image issues since she was a child and uses her humor as a defense mechanism so to speak. “I am always hiding the fact that I am taller than everyone else or overweight. I am always masking my insecurities and online my method is this ridiculous persona.”
As someone who is blessed to know this powerhouse IRL, I know that behind the funny girl you see online, is a sweet almost shy soul, “I really am shy, but people do not realize that. I get so excited to be recognized but I get super awkward. When I am behind the camera I can rerecord but in person I get nervous. “
She went on to explain that although some parts of her persona are exaggerated, she always tries to be relatable “When I am washing laundry for the 7th time, I am actually washing the same laundry that's been sitting in the machine all day, for the 7th time.”
When it comes to working with brands, Unfluential adds her very own spin to things.
“At the end of the day, I am still representing brands but the brands I work with, know what type of content they will get from me, they know it will never be a typical unboxing when it comes to my page.”
Cohen believes that her fear of putting herself out there has been overshadowed by the real connections she has made and the impact she has had within her community. She went on to tell me that on days where she doesn't feel so good, she uses a filter “I joke about it but the truth is I use the filters when I don't feel comfortable with the way I look and spin it into something fun."
A little over a year ago, Hillary and Dan welcomed their gorgeous twins Jack and Lola into the world. As a mother myself, I know the fear of projecting your insecurities onto your children.
I got to pick her brain a little and gain some insight into her life as a mom, wife and influencer.
Do you worry more about Lola than Jack when it comes to projecting your insecurities?
Oh 100%. Growing up I had a thin brother and Lola is a little bigger than Jack. I find myself thinking about how this is history repeating itself but I do snap out of it.
She is a baby and she is perfect- they both are. It is just hard being a woman and then raising a young girl when you still have certain insecurities to get over yourself.
Do you find becoming a mom has made you more confident?
Totally! They are also the best accessories ever. We get stopped all the time and I am honestly so proud to be their mom. These kids make me feel beautiful on my worst days. They could care less about what I'm wearing, or how I look, they just love me for me which gives me the extra boost of confidence I always needed.
I know so many moms struggle to “put themselves together” after becoming parents, have you been able to maintain some sort of beauty routine?
I only remember to put foundation on half of my face if that answers your question. Also, I love dry shampoo.
Did you take care of yourself before having kids?
Oh ya, much more than I do now. But never did I ever engage in a 37 step skincare routine, nor will I ever. I have a new love for “air drying” my hair because blowdrying it takes too much energy. But the reality is, as long as the kids look good, I feel like I have my shit together.
Fun fact, I also gained more weight after they were born then during my pregnancy. For the first few months of their lives, as crazy as it sounds, I would forget to eat, then I would binge like crazy, it’s been a struggle if I am being honest.
Have you struggled with this your entire life?
Yes, I never really had those moments with my body where I truly loved what I saw. I was always bigger and was always masking my body.
It’s a constant internal battle of yo-yo dieting and being hard on myself that has really been around ever since I can remember.
I might seem super confident online, but it is something that has been an issue my entire life.
Even after losing 65 pounds, I found myself still feeling like the “fat” girl. I would go into stores and get sizes that were too big on me, because I didn’t believe I was no longer that person.
I feel like I have sabotaged my weight on so many occasions. I made it to ONEderland two times and went off the rails on both occasions.
I do think it is a lot more about how you feel in your skin rather than what you look like.
Do you ever feel like if your body looked different that your life would be different?
I thought about that the other day and I realized I wouldn't have the same “je ne sais quoi” about me if I didn’t have these struggles. I think losing weight and gaining it back is a talent but it also shows that I am capable of losing it, if I really put my mind to it. Sure, I have these ideologies of how my life could have been, it's hard to say what different would really be for me.
Were your parents hard on you growing up when it came to your weight?
Honestly, my dad wasn't around but my mom was.I really love her, and know she only wanted the best for me, but she was hard on me. My entire life, everything revolved around weight and body image. I also had a very thin brother which was hard for me growing up. I didn’t understand why he won the genetic lottery when it came to bodies and I sadly did not.
The reality is that mom did her best. She was a single mom and I have so much love and admiration for who she is. I don’t think she really knew any better. I don’t think the previous generation was educated in self-love in the same way that we are.
I am working on breaking certain generational traumas around weight and body image. It is a work in progress but I do believe I am making strides.
We have time as moms to flip the script and make our kids feel good about all aspects of who they are, including the way they look.
I need my kids to know that food doesn't need to be an issue. The more we are deprived, or told we cannot have certain foods, the more we will rebel. I'm still rebelling over 30 years later. I'm doing my best to stop this cycle around food being the bad guy.
Can we discuss your success a little bit? You are a Knix partner which is huge! How did that come about?
That was the biggest moment of my “influencer” career so far. Being a partner for such an incredible brand has been truly amazing. Knix is a brand that celebrates all bodies, and I'm inspired daily by their content, and other ambassadors.
I need to give a shout out to my friend Jackie Hefter, she really pushed me to start reaching out to people. She gave me the confidence to reach out to Knix, they saw my content, believed in me and the rest is history.
What has this “influencer” experience been like for you so far?
I have made a lot of connections with people on this platform and some of these connections have really helped me grow as a person and has allowed my content to evolve.
So many of my friends are people I met on this platform and I think that's pretty special.
People see me for me, and tell me I have helped them or made them laugh which is a feeling I can't explain.
In my head I’m still the “fat” girl from the west island but the reality is, I am so much more than I give myself credit for.
Everyone loves your husband Dan, how does he feel about this IG world?
He supports everything I do. He has always been my number 1 fan. He has filmed so much content for me. I get my best shots when we are being idiots with each other. He knows how to make me look good and his support is the main reason I have the confidence to put myself out there. He is truly my rock and I am so grateful to do life with him.
Who are the twins more like?
Jack is Dan, he is sensitive but strong and wise.
Lola has my sense of humor but I dont know where she gets her independence from. She is the strongest, most fearless human I have ever met in my life. I learn from my kids every single day.
When you look back at when you mistakenly turned into influential, can you believe what has happened in your life?
I always joke about 10K and it's crazy to think that I am almost there. What's going to happen when I get there? I don't think I'll ever unbox Chanel bags online while applying YSL lipstick, but no matter what the follower count is, I intend to always stay true and relevant to my following. What was a joke, turned into something I love doing and something that has really motivated me to continue pushing myself.