I’ve always found my blog as somewhere I can respond to current and popular news, as such I wanted to address an issue which I couldn’t possibly respond to using 140 characters on Twitter.
I’ll begin this post with saying that I’m not what you would call a Zoella fan. I don’t watch her YouTube videos and I don’t read her blog, namely because at 27 years of age I’m not her target audience and also because I simply don’t find her relateable to me as a person, nor would she have been relateable to me as a teenager. That’s not to say that I hate Zoe/Zoella/Zozeebo, because truth be told I’ve never met her. I believe it’s unfair to make personal judgements about a person until you know them or have at least encountered them.
There’s no debating the level of her success. As ever and like all walks of life, numbers speak for themselves and when you’re looking at millions of subscribers, millions of followers, landing up to £25,000 a collaboration for videos and bagging an interview in Vogue, it’s something that’s pretty damn hard to deny.
The simple fact of the matter is that I’m not, nor have I ever been on the level of idolising someone, screaming their name at my computer and setting notifications for new video uploads for someone who I see as essentially as being just like the whole host of YouTubers and Bloggers I follow read: A normal girl with a camera, a love for makeup, an internet connection and a likeable personality.
I respect what she does and find the success she has found through a balance of both hard work, “right time, right place” and clever collaborations mind blowing. She has a clever team behind her who have essentially seen the aspects of “Zoella” that have attracted an audience and amplified that to create this character and brand which has followed through into the branding of her latest range in Superdrug. She’s held as a shining example of what *could* be achieved through blogging (if you had bags of luck and were picked up by a clever agency)
The article by Chloe Hamilton which appeared in the Independent (once you shrugged off the poison pen way in which it was written) did raise some good points, points which would have been appreciated from such an article had it not been a finger pointing witch hunt lead by opening statements which criticise Zoe’s appearance and continue to poke ridicule at the achievements of an “every day girl” done good.
To suggest that Zoe would not be a suitable role model to young girls seem idiotic. At a time when so called role models for teens walk around scantily clad, gyrating on anything that moves and flipping the bird to society whilst glamourising domestic violence and drug taking, would Zoe not be seen as a breath of fresh air for parents to introduce their child to?
The main biting point? Inconsistent messages through Zoe’s sickly sweet branding of girl power (that phrase makes me think Emma Bunton on a sugar high and laughing gas.)
At the Teen Choice Awards 2014 (where Zoe won Best BRITISH Vlogger) she was asked what her one piece of advice would be to to teenagers. “Frett less about their appearance”. She goes on to say “When you’re younger you worry about so many things that you don’t need to worry about like image, appearance” and the fact that Zoe’s channel predominantly features how tos of festival perfect hair or how to apply the perfect red lip or so on admonishes that statement.
To some degree it’s true and doesn’t provide consistency between the statement and what Zoe is “famed for”. Why encourage teenagers not to worry about how they look when you have a channel full of videos which might show the perfect concealer to cover up spots? Should she not be saying “LET THE SPOTS RUN FREE, EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD SPOT”.
As bloggers and women are we not all guilty of that to a degree. As bloggers we tell our readers to love the skin they’re in and to be happy with their body with a post two weeks later about covering up eye bags or a dress which flatters a belly which has seen one too many cheeseboards. Women and girls on the street are guilty of the same thing, a friend may tell you “you can hardly see that pimple, you’re beautiful the way you are” then hand you their favourite concealer anyway.
To provide evidence towards the issue Chloe Hamilton could have picked out a whole number of YouTube stars who (aside from the “startled bird eyes” and “irritating voice”) are also “guilty” of what Zoe is purpose to. The likes of Tanya Burr, Sprinkle of Glitter, Essie Button or Lisa down the road who has ten readers of her blog and most of them are her family. Instead she personally attacked Zoe and laid blame completely at her door for inconsistancies across the whole of beauty/fashion blogging spectrum.
Yes, Zoe could and should use her newfound status as Queen of the YouTube to rally support for more worthwhile causes than a nasty chin outbreak, just like she has been with her recent work with Mind charity. This gives opportunity to address to a wide audience issues which are at the forefront of teenagers mindsor shed some light on deserving charities which smaller YouTube vloggers are passionate about and have worked hard to promote but just don’t have the social punch that Zoe and the like have. Maybe there’s more in the pipeline for Zoe, and for Tanya, Jim, Alfie, Louise and the rest of team who’ve been touched by the hand of Gleam magic, or maybe Miss Hamiltons article may have highlighted this as an area in which the YouTube superstars can ALL focus on. Only time will tell.
Surely there’s also a sense of supply and demand and a why fix it if it ain’t broken mantra? We all know what our readers and our viewers like and what posts get the most hits, which ones bomb and how social media may react to your latest post. The likes of the Independent and the Daily Mail do the same thing and target their content for the biggest exposure and gain so why is “Zoella” (which is essentially a brand and a business which brings home the bacon) any different.
To conclude and address the leading title of the Independents article:
Why would I want a make believe teenage daughter of mine to aspire to be like Zoe Sugg/any other hardworking blogger/vlogger?
To encourage her to write, learn the intricacies of HTML, blog design, image manipulation, photo editing, marketing, promotion, engaging a readership, developing an online identity, becoming social media aware, liaising with brands, gaining confidence in her abilities, staying current and up to date on popular culture and latest releases, develop social interactions and relationships with like minded people while staying gracious and humble.