On Zoella (Love, Not Hate)

I think if you’ve managed to be here, reading my blog, then the likelihood is you’ve heard of Zoe Sugg/Zoella. I have to say, I think she’s great – she’s another example of just the type of person I look up to: she’s made something happen for herself, she has never pretended to be anything other than a real person and she freely shares her struggles while not letting them stand in her way.

When I look back, I realise that I’ve been watching her videos for probably six years now, which is a pretty significant amount of time. Then I look around, and suddenly she’s getting a load of criticism, or people are accusing her of ‘not having a real job’, like that’s even definable these days.

One thing I never understand is why people take issue with vloggers in general for their livelihoods and lifestyles. How is their filming and editing their videos, completely off their own backs, any different from the way an actor makes their living? Or singers? None of them have ‘conventional’ jobs, but for some reason actors and singers are fine, but vloggers aren’t.

Speaking more specifically about Zoe, it’s when she might admit that she’s having a bad day or finding life a bit stressful that it seems like she gets the most hate. “What have you got to be sad about”, “try a real job”, “you should appreciate how lucky you are” and more are all comments hurled in her direction – and I know she’s not the only one. It’s like people think that just because she’s been fortunate in having success, she’s not entitled to feel anything other than happy.

People who have positions in the spotlight like her all have just as much a right as anyone working a standard 9-5 job or anyone else to have a full range of emotions. And I’m not in their positions by any means, but surely it doesn’t take a genius to realise that when it comes to Zoe and everyone else in the vlogging community, with a job as centred on social media as theirs is, they do work pretty much 24/7 because there is no turn off, and they have no ‘home time’.

Let’s just think about it for a sec: Zoe has two YouTube channels. She has her Zoella Beauty/Lifestyle lines. She writes books (whatever your opinion on the ghost-writer tales of her first novel, she’s still written the latest two). She has a blog. She has many a secret project in the lineup at any one time. And she has a near-constant presence online.

All of that involves planning, and thought, and creativity, and effort. People forget that when you see an end product, there are often months of meetings and preparation and designs that have to come before it. While in any given week, she might release one or two videos – which also require planning, filming, editing, styling and time – that’s not going to be all she does in a week. Only she probably knows how much she actually does in any given week.

And let’s be real for a sec: “your job is easy” is a really strange thing to say to someone in her position. Most jobs don’t come with the concept of just having to accept that hundreds upon hundreds of people will be criticising you day in, day out, sending you hate, shaming you and undermining your effort. Most jobs don’t require a constant outpouring of original and personal content.

So really, I salute her. She’s taken a hobby and made it her career, something most people will only ever dream of. She has senseless hate coming her way everyday and doesn’t let it get her down. She shares things like her anxiety and a nerve-wracking trip for her first smear test (which, as a woman, is something I personally loved that she vlogged, and I know many others who appreciated it too) when a lot of people would just avoid talking about it.

If you want to claim that Zoe doesn’t really know what it’s like to work, then I can’t see how you could possibly back that up. If you are convinced her audience is entirely naiive thirteen-year-old girls, believe me when I tell you that is not the case.

Are you a Zoella fan?

Katy x

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