When I was 17, I hosted an ugly sweater party/gingerbread-making contest at my parents’ house. Yes, I was very hip.
I invited many classmates, dressed up in my cutest ugly sweater (excuse the oxymoron) and patiently awaited my guests.
The entire time I was waiting for my friends, I was thinking about the photos we were going to take. Would the lighting be good enough? Did I get the right colours of icing? What about the gumdrops? Will my Facebook friends think I am interesting and fun?
Although it was a nice evening and the company was great, I totally missed the point of having a gingerbread-making contest. I didn’t enjoy the community feeling of being together because I was stressed about what it would have looked like on the outside. My guard never came down.
Looking back at that situation, it’s easy to write off my naivety, cringing at insecure Callie and thinking about how lame I was but before we start bullying me, let’s take a second to analyze what was going on.
Trying to impress the imaginary audience, made up of my social media followers, makes me a product of the world we are living in.
As a society, we spend so much time making fun of social media influencers. I am right there with you, rolling my eyes at models and women promoting god knows what on social media. This being said—maybe it’s time to check ourselves.
No, I am not and never was a social media influencer. One time I did get 76 likes on a picture of a mango, but that’s beside the point. As we continue to develop in the online world, influencer culture rises, and as this culture rises, so does hatred and criticism.
Don’t get me wrong. Selling “skinny tea” and other harmful products that help enforce unhealthy beauty norms should always be criticized. We need to hold the Kylie Jenners and Cardi Bs of the world accountable for this damaging messaging. That being said—is that really what the majority of us are fighting when we criticize Instagram influencers?
Or are we just straight up making fun of (mostly female) influencers for making money from social media?
MEL Magazine writes, “Mocking women who earn a living from social media is easy, because ‘comics’ can rely on two useful audience pre-conceptions: First, that feminized labour isn’t ‘real work,’ and second, that women who leverage their sex appeal for social or economic gain are contemptuous.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is where I have been wrong in the past. In this rare and weird world of social media influencing, women are earning more than men. No, it’s not perfect. There are huge issues with portraying life as flawless, using photoshop and other filters to distort reality because young 16-year-olds think you’re their hero. Let’s stay focused on the harmful aspects of this job, and merely use it as another tool to oppress women.
We like to oversimplify things, but the reality is that a lot of good can come from influencer culture. Not everyone is 17-year-old me, losing track of what’s important.
Some people are out there making money off this platform, so maybe they aren’t the chumps we think they are. Among the toxicity of men and women, lie intelligent, nuanced personalities sharing real stories.
Psychology professor Danielle Wagstaff told BBC, “When we see that other people, just regular people, not necessarily celebrities or traditionally famous people, are living relatable lives – posting about their own body image and mental health struggles – it can help to create a sense of camaraderie, a feeling that ‘I’m not alone, other people understand what I’m going through’.”
So before we criticize the business as a whole, let’s lean in— #notallinfluencers
Graphic by @sundaeghost