The oblivious privilege of the Insta-famous
Last month, in a podcast with Youtuber ‘The Diary of a CEO’, influencer and Creative Director of popular fast fashion site ‘Pretty Little Thing ‘Molly Mae Hague quite literally stated that everyone has the ability to be as well-off as her. “We can do whatever we want in those 24 hours in the day” she said, when asked about her success. Oblivious to the fact that the offhanded statement just simply isn’t true. The interview left the internet in uproar, with many bashing the entrepreneur on her heartless comment.
Molly Mae has made her brand on social media, skyrocketing to fame after appearing on the ITV hit dating show Love Island.In her earlier years, she grew up working-class with her sister and parents, who both served as police officers in her hometown of Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Despite her upbringing, she has displayed the same tone-deaf notion that most influencers acquire at one point or another; that everyone else’s lives are like theirs. If they have managed to succeed, surely that should mean that it’s not too hard for everyone else, right?
The whole thing is very reminiscent of the height of the Youtube beauty gurus, who would constantly recommend high-end, luxury goods to their followers. Products like NARS blushes, MAC lipstick and Too Faced mascara were some of the more popular items to peddle. All of which remained out of the price range for a lot of their followers. Yet, they still recommended them. Because what follower didn’t want to be like their idol? Even if they couldn’t afford it.
As someone who is the same age as Molly Mae, I find it amazing at how far she has come in such a short span of time. All the way from being in school, to the Creative Director of a fashion company, in almost five years flat. Compared to everyone else our age, she has done what we never thought possible; to be able to work a position typically reserved for middle aged white men. As much as I’d like to say that this is an over exaggeration, government data shows that only 34.3% of CEOs on boards in FTSE 350 are women. At least the girlbossing is starting to get somewhere.
Her inability to recognise the extreme privilege she has now, does not serve to be the inspirational message she likely intended it to be. Instead it come across as a cold-hearted middle finger to all the people who are unable to take the same fortunate career she had the luxury of entering. It neglects those who cannot take those kinds of advances in career because of race, gender or social status. Not to mention the time restrictions that working class people face. Things like work, travelling to and from work and taking care of relatives/family can very easily turn those 24 hours into 10. If you’re getting enough sleep, then the number drops to 2.
Not everyone has the privilege of being an Influencer. Not everyone has the privilege of being white. Not everyone has the privilege of being the Creative Director of a multimillion-pound company at the almost foetal age of 22. A company which, in 2020, was revealed to be paying its Leicester workers £3.50 an hour. An extraordinary £5.22 an hour less than the national living wage. Talk about irony.
This is not to say that Molly Mae did not work hard for her career, but it is acknowledge that her privilege allotted her access to these opportunities. While she had 24 hours a day to spend on her career, others are struggling to find work that’ll help keep a roof over their heads, or keep their family fed. Meanwhile, systemic racism still lingers within companies and corporations. Too often people of colour are unable to advance as much as they deserve within a company, or not at all. These idyllic views that Molly Mae holds, suggesting that there are equal opportunities to succeed, do not exist. They are delusions – however saddening that truth may be.
All that’s become apparent about Molly Mae, is that her good fortune and prosperity has gone to her head. She’s forgotten how the real world works. Gone are her memories of what it’s like to be working class. Either that or her mind is filled with this naïve fantasy that everyone has equal opportunities to succeed no matter what. Whilst I admire how well she has done for herself, I cannot help but resent how insensitive and ignorant her comments were. Believe me, we’d all love the fighting chance to make something of ourselves and become as successful as Molly Mae. Unfortunately, life is seldom so kind.