You know those girls? The ones who make most of their cash by putting #ad on their Instagram posts? The ones who preach kindness, but set their followers on anyone who dares to call out their crap online? The ones who are obsessed with flat tummy tea-pushing influencers (or worse, ARE those influencers)? The same ones that fetishise their gay male friends and claim to be an LGBTQ+ ally. The same ones that think they’re being progressive by commenting ‘Yaaaaas queen, werk’ on their fat friends’ social posts. The ones who think that hating rape and sexual harassment makes them feminists. Yeah. You people. I see you, and I’m coming for you now. This has got to fucking end.
Influencers. Where do I start with influencers? The name screams smugness. They assume that they have influence. Influencers typically are very young, very rich and very beautiful people who are paid by brands to advertise their products on Instagram. They are toned, tanned, and always happy. Their cups simply runneth over with happiness. Often their posts are captioned with the most dim-witted bullshit you’ll ever read, like, ‘Live, laugh, love’ or ‘Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.’ Their influence, although shallow and ultimately completely pointless, is hooking its tentacles far into the minds and wants of young women. Influencer culture breeds its lies so seamlessly into them — body image standards are through the roof (ohhh my god, I love burgers, so much! I’m a size six but I eat burgers, like, all the time. I love Shake Shack shakes, I just shit them out with laxatives later hun), and their lack of giving a fuck about anything except needing to be in Bali, like, right now, means that young women who follow them end up copping out of actual feminist action and thought. So, influencers… What exactly are you influencing me to do? Hate myself? Go to Bali? Go to Bali and hate myself in Bali? While living, laughing, and loving, in Bali? Get so much Bali sun that I can’t see the haters? Because I’m blinded? By Bali sun? It’s something to do with being white and going to Bali, I’m sure of it. I’m also sure that it’s total fucking nonsense.
The above is a brand of feminism that I like to call cop-out feminism, aka ‘Love Island Feminism’. It’s a kind of wishy-washy, unbelievably lazy but somehow passable strand of allyship. It’s an easy, lovely, neoliberal pill so many of us swallow, and it’ only made worse by influencer culture. It laughably tries to make feminism about buying stuff (you’ve gotta laugh. Oh, to see Emily Davidson’s face). It makes younger women feel like it’s enough to post captions like, ‘Well behaved women seldom make history’, which is so problematic I could just throw my laptop down my own throat right this second, and think ‘Ah, yes, that’s me done for the day. Quoting Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, whom I’ve never even actually heard of but it doesn’t matter because I saw it on Insta. Definitely a feminist. Nobody could doubt it. Yep. Back to ordering my £1 bikini from Missguided.’
One particular feminist issue which really irks me deep, deep into my black and witchy soul is fast fashion. Influencers love some fast fashion. They live and breathe that chemical, synthetic, plastic smelling clothing. They eat, drink and shit out discount codes. Love Island contestants, who all, it seems, become influencers after they graduate from the University of Being Hot and Crying on Television, all find their calling in advocating fast fashion brands. The discount codes. The meet and greets. It’s all. So. Lazy. Fast fashion eats women in developing countries alive. Yes, it provides employment. No, it does not provide safe, reliable or ethical employment. There is a difference. The famous Rena Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka in 2013, which saw 1,134 people, most of whom were garment workers, die as the building fell apart, exposed much of what fast fashion does and does not care about. Hint: they don’t care about women. Extra hint: they do care about money. Last hint: they don’t care about you. Perhaps even less spoken about is the materials these clothes are made of. Pretty Little Thing even has a statement on its American site about the state of the products they sell to you. It reads, ‘Some products on our Online Store from time to time may contain chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.’ But babes, guess who just signed her first major brand deal with PLT? Nation’s Love Island sweetheart, Molly-Mae Hague. Cheap, cute and cancerous. Okay, I’m being contrived, I’ll stop it now. Let’s cut the crappy comedy for a second. These brands and their cutesie influencer minions are absolutely fucking pathetic. And they are not feminist. Likely, they have a t-shirt that reads ‘Feminist’, that was probably made by a woman in a developing country who makes 45p an hour. If you’re a woman who can afford to buy fewer clothes at better quality, which most of you definitely can, don’t make any fucking excuses to me. Don’t pretend to feel sorry for these women, don’t swallow the crap these brands come up with to try and appease people’s questions about their ethics. Stop paying money to them, or shut the fuck up. Your white-saviour tears for these women is an insult to every one of them.
I recently had a run-in with a real life Love Island Feminist on Twitter. I was ecstatic, starstruck, elated to be PERSONALLY TWEETED by one of these cop-outs. Olivia Buckland – oops, sorry, Mrs. Olivia Bowen Buckland – who came second on Love Island 2016 with her now-husband Alex Bowen, unsurprisingly graduated from Love Island to influencing for shitty brands like AX Paris and Miss Rebel pretty much instantly. But, gather round children, her influence runs deeper still; she and her husband’s marriage is, in fact, the key source of her influencing content. She even made her wedding video public on TLC, which, of course, you have to pay for, furthering her lovely, romantic story by marketing it to the absolute brink. When I called her out on the bizarre nature of spinning your entire career around a staged version of your marriage on reality television on Twitter, she replied to me, ‘My happiness, my life. Choose not to watch it :)’. Ah, Olivia. So gentle. Kindness, even in the face of witchy trolls like me. I most definitely will choose not to watch it. Cop-out feminism 101: get your fans to pay to watch your wedding video while crying about how they’ll never have such a perfect soulmate as you have. Love it.
I don’t believe that being a feminist means that you can’t call out other women. I smell bullshit all over that. To me, that strand of jaw-breaking smiles and wishy washy Instagram captions erases the idea that women can be perpetrators of oppression, when boy, we definitely can. Particularly white women. Particularly wealthy white women. Particularly wealthy white women who sign contracts with fast fashion brands who virtue signal their way into millions, while leaving the women behind the scenes way, way behind. Women of the future will see this half-assed crap in their rear view mirrors, flip it off, and carry on driving.