Excuse my ignorance but last month I hadn't even heard of Zoella, but now I can't even listen to Radio One without hearing a jingle in her honour - the extent to which this beauty blogger is being hailed as a feminine hero is seriously insane.
There's that much media exposure about this girl, or should I say brand, that you really don't need to read too much to find out she's just moved in with her boyfriend Alfie, has a brother called Joe who also blogs and that Zalfie is now a thing. I don't know what it means entirely but I definitely know it's a thing on MyFace or whatever. Oh, and she vlogs about beauty and sometimes mentions anxiety?
So what is all the fuss about? There's plenty of beauty video vloggers on Youtube, confusing us with their 100 different eyeshadow brushes that you either own but don't know what to do with or have to Google immediately after whilst looking sheepishly at your sole sponge applicator that you use for both light and dark shades, wishing you were just a bit more of a girl. There's also plenty of successful bloggers advising acne sufferers on the best creams and makeup to wear for a natural coverage. Then don't forget the hair styling channels, backcombing their way to Youtube stardom.
These, I don't mind. They're not in my face, telling me what they do is important. If I ever need to know how to do a festival top knot then someone is there. If my mom was to suffer with more angry outbursts of the skin condition rosacea, someone will be there. And that's comforting; to know that in the background, stuff is being made to advise us, maybe teach us a few things and is there at our disposable when the time is right. But Zoella and her fans are preaching. From literally nowhere, so it feels, she has emerged from a pool of foundation and black kohl eyeliner and has been granted the title of 'feminist' and 'role model' with her name projected in stars in the eyes of 'tweens'.
Since when did a woman becoming successful at something make her a feminist? If feminism is about equality of the sexes then maybe we should stop giving ourselves the title of 'feminist' every single time we do or achieve something. If men were to do that, it would be classed as egotistical and self-congratulatory. Zoella has managed to tap into the young, naive minds of teenagers, successfully promoted the ideology of feminine beauty being one covered in a masquerade sprinkled with glitter and has won an award voted for by the very same young, naive minds.
Personally though, the scariest thing to emerge from this girl's desire to vlog derives from the depths of social media. Combine this with the evolution of the digital age, user generated content has become more and more accessible and less and less monitored - yes, yes, which is all great and liberating. But it's also given birth to a generation allowed to run riot in an online world, graffiting their messages in 140 characters and building an army of advocates so large it's impossible to knock them from their virtual throne. Zoella has marketed her service to the right audience and had adopted the right persona; the squeaky clean girl next door who is our very best friend. It's business. Cold, calculated business with clear objectives in mind.
But who has been encapsulated by the smoked eyes and lipstick stained mirrors and do they share the intellect and feminist views that apparently Zoella has in spades? No. The sheer lack of cerebral activity in her followers was made evident in a callous backlash against journalist Chloe Hamilton after she freely expressed her disapproval of the Zoella brand - just as Zoella lovers freely express their adoration. As well as branding her a 'whore', threats were made not only directly to Chloe but also to her family;
I really don't need to say much more other than whoever is responsible for that comment should probably re-evaluate their lives.
Here's my message to Zoella: if you are such a role model who now clearly controls the strings of brain dead puppet followers, maybe teach them about decency, manners and basic respect. Don't accept the title of feminist if you're not prepared to educate your followers on what this actually means. Chloe Hamilton is a successful woman, and the people that have turned to putty in your hands are making threats to such a woman in an act of defence for you. It completely defies any cause for feminism. So instead of posting videos about 'October Favourites', (I refuse to offer a back-link here out of principle, sorry) I suggest you reach out to your subscribers with some awareness about their erratic behaviour. Some ideas for video titles here:
- 'It's Okay for People To Not Like Me'
- 'Don't Threaten Other Women as I'm Trying To Be a Feminist Over Here'
- 'I've Put Myself Out Into The Public So It's Fine for People To Have An Opinion On Me'
- 'I Want To Be Famous so I Need Good Publicity and You Guys Aren't Helping By Slandering Other Successful Women Who Have More Life Experience and Intelligence Than Me'
It's cool, you can have those for free.
So let Zoella be your role model if you wish to endeavour in the world of marketing as I won't hesitate to congratulate her tenacity and forward thinking, but to worship her on the grounds of feminism because she does her hair and makeup on webcam and disperses the footage through online channels is very backward thinking. Us girls are better than that, surely?