I recently came across an online article in The Independent about (apparently not good) role model Vlogger Zoe Sugg, mainly known as Zoella on YouTube. When reading this I was alarmed to how this was even allowed to be called journalism, and how it even passed an editing process to be published online. My assumption now is that anyone –at all- can write for the Independent online blog, apparently name calling is acceptable if the controversy of it gets enough Facebook shares and conversation brought up on it. So in a way my frustration to this blog post, is annoyingly helping to promote it. GAH.
I don’t know what prompted me to read the article in the first place as my YouTube history only consists of How to Sculpture, lyric videos, Beyoncé and no signs of Zoe Sugg. I admit I have never heard of Zoella before reading the blog ‘dissing’ her for being a bad role model. So some may say my commenting on this is naïve and I should probably see what I am defending before doing so. But I’m not; in fact I may watch her videos after posting this blog because the contents of her videos are not the point. The point is we are living in a women hate women society. And it is exhausting.
The article starts off with a mockery of a fairy tale description of Zoe and another dig at her YouTube name, Zoella. However, all I picked up was anger and bitterness from the writer. I am baffled at the idea that we have to take a side on this ridiculous battleground, girly and narcissistic or bitchy and opinionated. There is no happy medium and there is no escaping the name calling, dirty looks and pointed fingers especially for those in the lime light. I just don’t understand this love to hate. That initial judgement we all make when first encountering another woman, judging how much of a threat she may be. We’re in constant competition but in all fairness who the hell is winning? If you don’t want to be portrayed as “weak” and feminine that is most incredibly fine, if you don’t want to wear makeup (ever) and don’t want to spend ridiculous money on uncomfortable shoes and clothes that is more than fine. Don’t do it! But don’t ridicule those that do. Overcoming gender stereotypes doesn’t begin by victimising those that fit them, we have to embrace that we have the choice to fit them or not.
Relating back to the article, throughout it implies Zoella to being hypocritical of having Makeup Videos on YouTube however also being an ambassador for Mind (a mental health charity) where she has spoken out about her anxiety and tells her young followers to not focus on their appearance. Apparently, because she promotes wearing make-up in her videos her advising her younger fans that ‘appearance isn’t everything’ is no longer valid. But this is ridiculous; we cannot blame a firm society issue on one person. It is no surprise that makeup can manipulate your face to look ‘different’. It can highlight features and hide others. And I am going to openly say that yes makeup does make the majority of people, majority of the time look ‘better’ -you may disagree or find a better word for ‘better’.
I personally never wear make-up on a day to day basis however I do wear it occasionally. And I do feel ‘prettier’ when wearing it. Yet, I still have self-esteem issues regarding my appearance. I still feel that pressure to wear makeup but at the end of the usual day, I don’t. If I was a public role model, I too would promote appearance not being the forefront concern, if I got my fame on how to apply makeup correctly or good hairstyles for summer etc. I wouldn’t feel hypocritical for promoting a healthy body/self-image. Is there a secret guidebook on what certain person can promote this and those that cannot? If you wear makeup, talk about makeup and (shock horror) like makeup this must inevitably mean your own self-esteem issues and positive position to encourage a healthy outlook on appearance is now useless. I would suggest a face wipe and eye make-up remover and maybe then the ‘pretty’ girl’s point of view will be heard. You can’t be ‘into your looks’ and ‘into your own opinion’ at the same time.
I then went on to read people’s comments on the article and some were refreshing, a lot were the everyday troll however some were really angry towards Zoe implying she has no right to claim she has anxiety as she is this all smiles and all giddy girl on YouTube. Apparently, some learned nothing from the sad news of Robin Williams’s death. No matter how easily they may hide their anxiety, depression or other mental illness it doesn’t detract the fact these people are suffering with this. It is brave for Zoella to openly talk about what she is going through and then doing something positive with it. If this is a bad role model then I really don’t know what we expect from each other as humans. Some went on to say how it’s frustrating to see Zoe talk about her anxiety and self-image when she is ‘prettier than them’ and making them feel worse about themselves. I have to say this is your own insecurities placed onto her. No matter how beautiful someone may be we cannot say their beauty disallows their own self-conscious feelings to not be true and real.
I wanted to be mad at the writer however I understand that she is frustrated towards the ridiculous beauty standards within our society which are enforced within every medium possible. But she has placed her anger the wrong way and to the wrong person. Mocking and victimising Zoella doesn’t solve this social issue.
“Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter.” –Mean Girls
NB: Mean Girls one of my top five faves