I was originally going to name this ‘In defence of Zoella’ before I realised, Zoella does not need my defence, she has the world supporting her, despite a certain article, which this is being written in response to.
For those of you who don’t know, you probably do, I imagine most of you reading this blog are at least moderately familiar with YouTube, Zoe Sugg, AKA Zoella is a youtuber, with over 6 million subscribers on her main channel, and a further 2 million on her second/vlog channel. She started off with a blog, and in the recent months, her life has blown up, with a 2 book deal, the first of which, ‘Girl Online’, is dropping next month, a beauty line exclusively sold in Superdrug (I can vouch for the quality of the shower gel), as well as an ad campaign featured not only on YouTube, but on television as well as transport in London.
Yesterday, an article, which I will not be linking to, was published, and I have a lot of feelings about it’s content. I wanted to write them somewhere in a, at least slightly, constructive manner. I guess I should clarify this first of all, I am a viewer of Zoe, and have been for sometime. Her videos often become part of my daily routine and something to look forward to in the week. I don’t consider myself a fan of Zoe, simply because I don’t really like to call myself a fan of YouTubers, especially as I make my own videos, I just find it…strange to label myself that way. I understand why people do, but I more so consider myself a viewer of the content these people put out.
However, my view as a viewer does not cloud my judgement. I will still call someone out when they act in a way that I am not comfortable with, or acts in a way that could even be illegal. I think we’ve all seen, especially in the past few weeks, some online stars defended despite their actions and the stereotypes they perpetuated. This, naturally, makes us wary of viewers defending the people they consider role models.
Zoella is a role model, and I firmly believe that. She is a role model to literally millions of teenage girls, and whilst I am definitely in the minority of her viewers, as a 19 year old male, I still consider her one of my personal role models.
Her videos recieve millions of hits, and some, such as her anxiety Q and A, can have a huge impact on people’s lives. Again, this is a reason why she is a role model. She is not afraid to speak against society’s views on illnesses that are simply not visible to the eye. As someone who has suffered with panic attacks, and rather a lot of anxious feelings (bare in mind, I do not suffer with anxiety), it’s brilliant to see someone speak up and discuss what it’s like to experience this obstacle in your daily life, and how, if not overcome it, to not let it control you. Some believe her discussion glorifies mental illness, but I dismiss that immediately. Many teenagers suffer with stress, and anxiety, and as someone who left high school three years ago, I can tell you that was the time in my life when I felt those feelings more than any others. Zoe’s audience is built upon people school age, and thus her discussion of it can make such a difference. I know it would for me personally, if I were currently in school. That’s not to say her videos don’t continue to help me, or anyone above school age for that matter. Furthermore, she now works with the mental health charity Mind, and Zoella related with anything equals massive exposure and success.
The argument that she perpetuates that young girls must feel the need to change themselves to conform to society’s ‘expectations’ is something I am going to also dismiss. Zoe repeatedly encourages viewers to be themselves, act how they wish, and own it. Zoe enjoys beauty, and that is what her channel is, a place to enjoy beauty, a long with a lot more, and guess what? The people who watch ALSO enjoy beauty and make up. Zoe does not pressure people into wearing make up, in fact, she often goes completely make up free on her second channel. Even when comments are not particularly friendly, Zoe continues to be herself, and act in a way that she finds comfortable. It’s hard to find any instance in which she has pressured her viewers into doing something, and that is from someone who has seen almost every single video she has made, in the past 2 years.
I live in one of England’s most famous cities, and Zoe has over 10x the population as subscribers, on her main channel alone. It makes no sense that she’d have this many loyal viewers, if they all felt pressured to live their life in a manner they felt uncomfortable with, due to her.
I have seen first hand how excited her viewers are to have the prospect of meeting her. In fact, I tried to meet her at Summer in the City this year, but the queue filled up immediately with those excited with the chance of meeting and greeting with someone they hold in high esteem. I witnessed how excited her audience is, to be in the presence of her, and it was pretty damn awesome.
I love watching Zoe’s videos, I love Zoe herself, and I am excited to see where she goes in the future, there are surely even bigger things to come for her.
I know this was a bit of a different blogpost, but it’s something that has been majorly playing on my mind today.
Also, ps, if you’re gonna write an article in which you slate someone for making people feel inadequate about their appearance, don’t immediately start said article criticising said person’s appearance. Just a pro-tip. From someone who has never professionally written an article in their life, and knows much better than to do that. And, you know, would never do that anyway because that’s a pretty low and cruel thing to do.