Culture

The unfiltered world of influencers

02.11.2018 | By LISA HARTLE

Influencers command more attention than some of the most obviously famous people on the planet.

 

The popularity of Alfie Deyes was evident when police had to shut down one of his book signings as the number of fans who turned up far surpassed the number expected – an effect the likes of David Beckham never had.

Photo credits: Lori Young

Fans fly in from around the world to trawl the streets of Brighton hoping to bump into Alfie or his girlfriend – the darling of social media – Zoella.

 Fans watch their influencing idols through screens every day, a window into their lives, from the moment they wake they start sharing their day with the world. Or at least a version of their world.

 It’s hard to imagine why anyone would not want to have an influencer’s life, they have seemingly perfect skin, never seem to have a wardrobe malfunction….and there is always an expensive candle lingering in the background. Let’s not forget the exotic locations they regularly appear in with other fun-loving influencer friends. 

Yes, the world of an influencer seems very appealing indeed. So it’s no surprise that several studies have revealed that becoming an influencer is now one of the most coveted careers for children.

But, of course influencers literally edit the lives they want to share with the world and make it look like it is the norm for them.

Photo credits: Lori Young

How often do you see a pillowcase imprinted with the rebelliousness of last night’s makeup or see a hungover influencer shoving a BLT into their mouths and for me it’s the baths…..every ‘quick snap’ of ‘here’s the bath I’ve just quickly run’, looks like a special team of bath designers have swooped in there and prepared it for the backdrop of the latest Vogue front cover.  Personally, if I get enough bubble bath foam to cover my highest gradients I’m chuffed, let alone have a perfectly positioned plant, candle and a body brush that looks like the hands of an angel are about to exfoliate the skin.

 But in this world of perfection there are some influencers who hold their hands up and say ‘erm actually this really is my life’ and resist hitting the edit button.

 One of those is Emily Hartridge.

Emily has been creating content on YouTube for around seven years and moved into the world of Instagram a couple of years ago.

She first found Internet fame with her YouTube comedy show ‘10 Reasons Why’ – clocking up millions of views a week with her wry look at the world. More recently she has used her platforms to spread awareness of mental health and her passion for boxing.

 Emily says much has changed in the world of influencers since 2007.

YouTube was amazing at the beginning, you kind of had free rein to talk about whatever you wanted. I don’t really pay as much attention to my channel anymore because YouTube changed all the rules, I barely get paid anything, I just do it now for my own creative need really.

Emily says it’s important for influencers to make an effort to share the good and the bad in life. 

I’m just really annoyed because I feel like people [influencers] forget how impressionable young people are. People think that all these people do is go on holiday, everything is perfect and they’re always really happy and it makes me kind of sad that there’s not many other people like me who are talking about actual real-life.

Emily, says she knows Instagrammers who have separate, private accounts where they post the ‘real-life’ material.

 I just find that incredibly depressing, I would never do that. They post things like outtakes of what their life is like, fails of a photoshoot they had whereas I like to show both and I just wouldn’t want to get to the point where I felt like I had to have another platform for my friends. 

 

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The impact the so-called perfection offered by filters on selfies is evident in research from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. The study claims 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons in 2017 saw patients who wanted surgery to help them look better in selfies. Emily says she doesn’t disagree with using filters online (most of us do at some point even if it’s to add a cute animalistic appeal), but it’s the denial of using them that she disagrees with.

I think if you’re doing it and acting like that’s your actual face that’s one thing but if you’re doing it and then talking about how we all use filters and just being more honest about everything, then I think young people will read that and start to realise that’s actually what they look like. 

 

The edited life doesn’t just stop with appearances either, says Emily.

There’s a lot of fake friends on Instagram, I know vloggers who hate vlogging and hate going to these events to talk to other vloggers. I should probably be doing that but I guess I’m more in it for the longevity game.

Emily, who has also trained as a personal trainer, has shared online with her followers the battle she has had with mental health to help raise awareness and fight any stigma surrounding mental illness.

 

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Because I’ve had a nervous breakdown, I really don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s and I think if you have a large platform with a large following, I think you can forget how important that is

 

So, next time you see an influencer post a picture showing a ‘perfect’ roll-top bath with the perfectly sandwiched towels promising the cosiest welcome out of the water, just remember that perhaps they had to sacrifice the water temperature and 20 minutes of their life to make that post.