A couple of days ago I was involved in a really interesting conversation on Twitter, following the recent article on Zoella in The Independent. This article questions whether this Youtube sensation is a suitable role model for children, given that she talks about beauty and make up, and therefore the benefits of altering our appearances. A few of us shared our thoughts on whether a young girl who is now a Youtube phenomenon should be using her platform to encourage young girls to celebrate their natural beauty rather than her usual beauty videos.
The first thought which came to my mind was that the article in question only served to demonstrate once more one woman attacking another. We hear over and over again how women as a whole should support each other and yet so often I read pieces like this which demonstrate the opposite. Quotes like ‘her eyes are enormous’ and ‘she looks like a startled bird’ begin the article with as little integrity as the writer claims Zoella’s videos to have, and throughout the article she claims Zoe is ‘sickly sweet’, ‘flippant’ and exacerbates her followers’ body image issues. She also suggests the Youtuber should do away with her beauty tutorials and use her ‘soapbox’ to speak out about feminism.
During our conversation there were arguments for both sides:
Whilst some felt that the Youtuber should be using her platform to discuss other subjects and make a difference, others felt that she has the right to talk about what wants.
As a blogger I am aware that I have put myself out there for the world to see and judge me. In the same way that Zoella has shared her videos with her audience, I too share my thoughts, feelings and life with anyone who comes across my posts. However I am fiercely defensive of my right to do so – this is my space and I can write what I want within it; if readers aren’t happy about that they can choose not to read. Therefore why should Zoella talk about anything else than she wants to and has always done? If her claim to fame are her beauty videos, tutorials and purchases wouldn’t it be hypocritical of her to suddenly turn around, stop talking about them and start telling young girls not to listen to her previous videos which got her where she was?
It also saddens me to see a young girl, who has struggled confidence and self-worth and yet has overcome this and become a huge success, criticised for doing so. Whether you like her videos and their content or not, there is no doubting that Zoella has gone from sitting in her bedroom talking to a camera to winning awards, attending film premieres and having her own beauty line. Isn’t that inspirational in itself? And isn’t that determination and ambition something we want our daughters to aspire to?
Zoe also works considerably with Mind and has shared her own story about her battles with anxiety. So she is also doing her part for issues that are personal to her. Who are we to state what she should and shouldn’t discuss? Yes she now has a huge platform with which to speak from, but it is her choice to share what she wants.
In my mind we should support these young girls who are building a business from their own initiative and hard work, by doing something they love. Whether it is a topic we enjoy ourselves or not, there is no doubting Zoella’s success is remarkable. And at least she has done it with integrity.