Rachel Hollis, best-selling author of Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing and an MLM sales pitch personified, should maybe wash her shoes because she really stepped in it this weekend. It began when the lifestyle influencer-turned-author-turned-motivational-speaker posted a TikTok describing a (totally real, not at all fake) interaction she had with a user on a live who called her privileged for having a house cleaner.
In a video that is perplexingly still up on her Instagram, Hollis says that in one of her lives, “I mention there’s a sweet woman who comes to my house twice a week and cleans,” and if it weren’t obvious enough what the woman’s role is, Hollis elaborates, “She’s my house cleaner. She cleans the toilets.” When this (totally real, not at all made up as a vehicle for her subsequent bragging) user called her privileged for it, Hollis agreed she is “super freaking privileged”, but also, she says as what’s meant to be a sort of gotcha moment, “I worked my ass off to have the money to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets.”
Hollis is the NYT best-selling author of the mega-popular self-help book Girl, Wash Your Face. In 2004, 11 years before her first viral Instagram post that launched her into the public sphere, she married Dave Hollis who, at that time, was working as the director of New Business Development for Disney. He would later become Disney’s President of Worldwide Theatrical Distribution before, in 2018, quitting to become the CEO of The Hollis Co.
When, Hollis recounts, the definitely real commenter, running out of steam and looking to throw one last barb in, then replied that Rachel is not relatable, that’s when things took a turn for the even more bizarre. After a condescending laugh, Hollis asks rhetorically, “What is it about me that makes you think I wanna be relatable?” seemingly forgetting about the massive $3 million empire she’s built off of putting forth the idea that her lifestyle is attainable if you simply do pithy things like “wash your face” and “stop apologizing”.
“No, sis,” she continues, “literally everything I do in my life is to live a life that most people can’t relate to. Most people won’t work as hard. Most people won’t get up at 4am” (to do what, she doesn’t say). “Most people won’t fail publicly, again and again, just to reach the top of the mountain. Literally every woman I admire in history was unrelatable.” Then she sneers, “if my life is relatable to most people, I’m doing it wrong.”
If you haven’t cringed all the way back into your mother’s womb yet, Rachel captioned the video, “Harriet Tubman, RBG, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart, Frida Khalo, Malala Yousafzai, Wu Zetian… all Unrelatable AF. Happy Women’s History Month!”
The backlash was swift. At first, many commenters took issue with Hollis’s flippant characterization of her house cleaner, reducing her to one of the more demeaning parts of the job. Commenters also expressed displeasure at her assertion that hard work directly translates to wealth—ignoring the fact that many people who do get up at 4am (essential workers, people working two jobs, just to spitball here) are not able to build million-dollar empires.
The tone deafness of the post elicited responses from the likes of Rachel Cargle, Austin Channing Brown, and Luvvie Ajayi. Cargle commented, “She. Cleans Your. Toilets? There is so much here that others have so eloquently addressed but I can’t fathom the root of you addressing your housecleaner as the person who ‘cleans your toilets’.” Others took issue with the fact that she was seemingly comparing herself to women like Harriet Tubman. And then people noticed that comments, especially by BIPOC women—most notably, Brown’s and Cargle’s comments—seemed to have been deleted.
On Sunday, Hollis posted an apology that began cavalierly with, “Someday I’ll learn. Not yet apparently—but someday I’ll learn.” Apparently indeed. In the 10-post Notes App screenshot carousel that followed, Hollis made a point that her intention was not to hurt anyone with the video, but writes that “I own that it was and I apologize.” Again, the video remains up on her Instagram.
She then poses the question, “Was my post upsetting because I said I have someone who cleans my house twice a week?” and then goes on to say, “I have a nanny, I have someone who helps with cleaning, I have a team at work who helps to build this business and I think it’s CRUCIAL that I keep talking about it. I could very easily pretend that I don’t have any assistance.” Perhaps if she’d read the critical comments instead of deleting them, she’d know the post was not upsetting because she said she has someone who cleans her house, but because she described that woman as the person who cleans her toilets, refused to acknowledge her own privilege even while seeming to agree that she is privileged, and appeared to compare herself to the likes of Harriet Tubman.
Regarding the comparisons, she writes, “There is NO comparison. To believe that because I mentioned them, I am comparing myself to them is ludicrous.” To recap, Hollis said she aims to live a life that is unrelatable and then lists out a number of influential women (many being women of color) who were also, as she calls them, “unrelatable”. As an author, one would think Hollis would understand how this can read as an implicit comparison.
Then, after shouting out her “team” for helping her build her business, she blames them for her failure to quickly respond, writing that she didn’t initially respond to the backlash, which started on Friday, because “I listened to my team instead of my gut.” She said it was her team who decided to “monitor comments” and said “certain comments had been muted”—such as Cargle’s and Ajayi’s—when the comments actually appear to have been deleted.
This isn’t the first time Hollis has confused the term “apology” with throwing her team under the bus. In April 2020, Hollis posted a screenshot of one of her tweets to her Instagram reading, “Still… I RISE.” Using such a format could make it appear as though Hollis came up with the quote, when in fact, it’s the title of a famous Maya Angelou poem. Hollis got called out back then, notably by Austin Channing Brown, for plagiarizing Angelou. In her apology post, Hollis wrote, “I heard once that the only real apology was one where you don’t make an excuse, and so I won’t,” only after stating, “While I didn’t create or post the graphic, I am the leader of the team that did and so I accept full responsibility for their actions.”
Hollis had been accused of plagiarism before; in 2019 she was accused of plagiarizing a number of quotes on her IG page, stylizing them in her cute branded font and attributing them to herself, when in fact, most were derived from other inspirational speakers. She self-attributed quotes like, “Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please…don’t write the same one 75 times and call that a life –Rachel Hollis” (which is very similar to a popular quote by leadership expert Robin Sharma) and “someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business –Rachel Hollis” (which can be traced back to a 1979 self-help book of a very similar title, or even a RuPaul tweet from 2011). It all just has big “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take -Wayne Gretzky -Michael Scott” energy, except at least Michael Scott had the decency to attribute Gretzsky first.
Even as Hollis maintains her 1.7 million Instagram followers, some are becoming disillusioned with her messaging. In June 2020, Hollis and her husband announced they had decided to divorce, an announcement that was shocking, considering the couple was dispensing relationship advice mere weeks prior to the announcement. Rachel wrote she and Dave “worked endlessly over the last three years to make this work and have come to the conclusion that it is healthier and more respectful for us to choose this as the end of our journey as a married couple.” Yet in a March 2020 video published to her Youtube channel entitled, “Rachel Hollis and Dave Hollis Check-In on their Relationship”, the couple discuss their relationship—Rachel says, “Our relationship means something so much bigger today” than it did 18 months prior—with no mention of the struggles they were apparently going through. Dave Hollis’s March 2020 book, Get Out Of Your Own Way, includes an anecdote on how he became a better husband. Many of the commenters on the YouTube video express feeling lied to: “I just have to say that I feel duped by these two,” wrote one commenter. “They sold me the curated version of their lives. So much for being ‘real and authentic’.”
Another group Hollis may have lied to? Multilevel marketing consultants. To briefly circle back to Hollis’s brand basically being an aggressive MLM pitch from the girl who bullied you in high school incarnate, Hollis herself is no stranger to multilevel marketing. She has spoken at a number of events for various network marketing companies, including an Arbonne convention in Vegas in 2019, a Beachbody Coach Summit in 2019 (the company’s largest event of the year, for which she was the keynote speaker), and a 2018 Lularoe leadership conference. In an Instagram post following the success of Girl, Wash Your Face, she specifically thanks MLM consultants for helping the book become so successful: “Thank you for hollering at the other girls on your MLM team to read it!” And yet in her 2020 book, Didn’t See That Coming, she bites the very triangle-shaped hierarchy of hands that fed her. She instructs readers to “figure out a way to make… income that doesn’t cost any money to start.” She continues, “I’m positive someone is going to read this and be inspired to head on over to the internet and ask how she can make extra income and then, four weeks later, her starter kit has arrived for the new at-home business she paid $700 to join. Don’t be dumb!” So it’s dumb, unless you’re instructing your downline to buy her book. Ouch.
So far, Hollis’s latest apology is failing to placate critics. Ajayi wrote underneath the carousel, “Rachel, I’m astounded that you missed the point so hard. I’m actually shocked that 5 days went by and you still don’t understand why what you said was so deeply problematic. If you will invoke my name, at least do the work of understanding why you failed loudly and why you have to take accountability. But here you are blaming your team. This lacks integrity and is shameful.” The rest of the comments aren’t much better. One comment, which has over 8,900 likes, reads, “Why do you always blame your team?? They work for you and are led by you.” Another comment with nearly 6,400 likes reads, “Maybe take a look at the comments from the post because it seems you’re still missing the point(s).”
It’s one thing to stop apologizing needlessly for being assertive and taking up space, as women are conditioned to do; it’s another to fail to take actual accountability. Perhaps Hollis needs to stop taking her own advice and start apologizing.
Image: Jim Spellman/WireImage
In 2020, it really feels like we’ve seen it all. This is the year of COVID, murder hornets, bubonic plague, and worst of all, Nickelback is making a comeback. But back to COVID—while the pandemic rages on, lots of places are navigating reopening, with varying levels of precautions in place. In most places, including New York City, stores have reopened their doors in the last month or so, but it’s understandable that a lot of shoppers don’t feel completely comfortable yet, especially when you can buy pretty much anything online.
But if stores are going to spend their resources on having their physical stores open, it makes sense that they want those stores to be bringing in the cash. Now, brands are using their resources to get customers shopping in person again, with big in-store sales and ads announcing their reopening. And Nordstrom is taking things a step further with an interesting strategy to lure customers: in a new campaign, they’re paying influencers to post about how safe the stores feel. Yes, really.
Here’s a sponsored post from Wendy Nguyen, a fashion blogger with over a million followers. Photographed wearing a mask in Nordstrom’s NYC flagship store, she writes in the caption that her visit to the store was “so refreshing,” and that “everyone was wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and incredibly kind.”
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I haven’t been out in months and this visit to @Nordstrom was so refreshing. Everyone was wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and incredibly kind. Even shoppers, strangers as we were, stopped and had meaningful conversations. I think we just all miss the human contact. And miss seeing pretty shoes and bags too 😍😍😍 #nordstrom #sponsored
Nguyen also said that she had “meaningful conversations” with other shoppers, which sounds like my worst nightmare, but sure. I didn’t like small talk before, and I definitely don’t need to chit chat with randos now!
Another influencer, Aïssata Diallo, wrote in her sponsored caption that Nordstrom is “a destination of discovery which you simply cannot experience online.” Lol, the way these people talk about a store makes me glad I’m not a fashion blogger. Diallo noted the sanitizing stations throughout the store, and said she felt “sooo comfortable + safe knowing the safety measures Nordstrom has taken.”
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𝗧𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮 𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗽 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗱> – More than a store, @nordstrom is a destination of discovery which you simply cannot experience online. Store highlights include Nordstrom x Nike (Level 1), the art throughout the store, and the pink Ettore Sottsass Mirror (Level 2) just to name a few! #Nordstrom #Sponsored – I absolutely appreciated the sanitizing stations that was at every corny. It made me feel sooo comfortable + safe knowing the safety measures Nordstrom has taken 🥺🙌🏾
For the new campaign, Nordstrom teamed up with marketing company Captiv8, whose founder Krishna Subramanian spoke to Business Insider about the collaboration. Subramanian sees the campaign as a “natural extension” to previous “social good” initiatives about brands making masks and supporting frontline workers, which seems like a stretch if you ask me. I must be missing what donating PPE to hospitals has to do with being able to buy a new pair of Louboutins in person. Subramanian says the new posts draw on the “trust and emotional connection” influencers have with their audiences, and that they can create “wish you were here” moments that will hopefully drive customers back into stores. So far, Nordstrom is the only brand to employ marketing tactics like this, but Subramanian said that his company is currently working on similar influencer campaigns for other major brands.
While Subramanian said that these types of posts offer “transparent views on retailers that are opening,” I’m not sure I really want to get my safety information from someone who’s being paid specifically to say positive things. Like, do you think the Kardashians actually believe any of the shit they say about Flat Tummy Tea? Everyone knows that advertisements should be taken with a grain of salt, so maybe COVID precautions aren’t a topic where we should be taking the advice of influencers being paid to share a specific message. I completely believe that these influencers felt safe at the store. Fun fact: I’ve been to the Nordstrom flagship recently, and I felt safe too (and I’m not being paid to say it). But when it comes to decisions about going back out in the world and resuming our normal activities, we should probably pay more attention to actual safety measures, and not the influencers on the company payroll.
Images: Roman Tiraspolsky / Shutterstock.com; wendyslookbook, aisattatdiallo / Instagram
If you’ve noticed an influx in influencers “giving away” hilariously expensive, random things (like Pelotons and Hyundais) via Instagram giveaways lately, you probably have some questions. Who’s paying for all these Pelotons during a pandemic? Are the brands involved? What’s the catch? Are there clear and legible legal fine prints? (Maybe that one’s just me.)
Either way, you’re certainly not the only confused one—and Twitter users and influencer watchdog accounts (like Influencers Truth, who now boasts over 14,000 followers) have been pointedly noting that influencers certainly aren’t conducting these
charitable embarrassing giveaways out of the goodness of their hearts. In fact, these “loop giveaways” have caused such a sh*tstorm on social media that Instagram itself has taken notice—accusing some of the influencers involved of violating their guidelines by “artificially collecting followers,” which is spam, according to Buzzfeed.
If you’re not familiar with loop giveaways, here’s a quick rundown: An influencer announces the giveaway, and the grand prize in question—whether it’s a plethora of designer bags, an exercise bike, or even cold, hard cash—could be yours, as long as you follow 60 (sometimes less, sometimes more) of their “closest friends,” (aka other influencers trying to cash in, so to speak, on new followers), all while commenting, liking, and tagging friends along the way. “Comment on my last post for an extra entry!” “Follow all my girls with names like @tayyylinmarieeee!” Occasionally they involve the swiping tool on Instagram stories (which is always slightly tempting, I hate to admit).
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💛 $8,000 Cash Gifting + Charitable Donation! 💛I’m teaming up with @jbsocialcollective to give TWO of you $4,000 cash! My friends at @jbsocialcollective are also committing to donate a portion of this month’s proceeds to DirectRelief.org, supporting novel coronavirus relief efforts. Entering and getting bonus entries for this contest is simple with 3 easy steps that take less than 30 seconds: 1️⃣ Like this photo 2️⃣ Tag a friend in the comments below 3️⃣ Follow @jbsocialcollective and everyone they are following Get a bonus entry for every additional friend you tag below! (Tag each friend in a separate comment) _ Closing: Friday 5/15 at 11:59 PST. The winners will be announced on 5/17 and must be claimed within 48 hours. Detailed campaign rules, eligibility, and procedures are posted on the @jbsocialcollective Instagram feed. By entering, entrants confirm they are at least 18+ years of age and release Instagram of responsibility. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.
Giveaways, when conducted properly and legally, are generally considered a kosher marketing technique. In the influencer world, they’re often done in partnership with a brand, and legal rules are typically presented clearly in the caption of the post, approved or written by a brand’s corporate lawyer. (Because, well, it is the law.) It’s a win-win for all parties involved—both gain some followers, brand awareness, and engagement from the chaos ensued when you tell thousands of people they have a chance to win a new skin care regimen, or something similarly covetable. And the best giveaways either ask for a fun, engaging content opportunity (“post something cute with our hashtag!”) or barely require anything from the followers at all. Maybe it’s a simple, “tag a friend in the comments!” or “repost this in your stories.”
The issue with these loop giveaways is
two- tenfold. For one, the amount of frivolous steps involved is borderline offensive (who has the time?!), which followers find dubious for a few reasons: How can these influencers possibly track every single user’s action to fairly conduct the giveaway? Is it rigged? Does anyone ever even win? It’s also incredibly transparent: We get it, girl. You want followers.
My goal for 2020 is to actually win one of the Instagram giveaways I’m constantly tagging 3 friends in
— sarafcarter (@sarafcarter) January 9, 2020
Secondly, many of these loop giveaways are conducted with no connection to the brand in question. The most visible example has been The Peloton Scandal of 2020 (not to be confused with Peloton-husband-gate 2019). If you need a refresher, influencers were “giving away” Pelotons in droves this spring, causing social media users to ask what the hell was going on, before the brand confirmed they had no involvement with any of the promotions whatsoever. Awk. (“We don’t know her,” they said.)
So, who was paying for these Pelotons, which retail for a little over $2,200 a pop, and why? The answer’s pretty simple: The influencers involved in the loop giveaway split the cost of the item they’re giving away. You could say it’s an ~investment~ in their personal brand: Splurge on a must-have “prize,” tell Instagram users they can win it if they follow you, and get potentially bumped up into another influencer tier overnight. The higher your tier (aka, micro-, macro-, or mega-influencer), the higher and more frequent your brand partnership paychecks typically are. Of course, there are many, many more nuances to this complex ecosystem, but you get the gist. Followers are currency.
Essentially, an influencer who does loop giveaways is manipulating the system by inorganically incentivizing people to follow them—followers they’re gaining not because their content is special or particularly good, but because legions of Instagram users want to win expensive things.
It’s all pretty inauthentic, and it’s also a gatekeeping mechanism, too: If you can’t afford to conduct extravagant out-of-pocket giveaways, and every other influencer can, where does that leave you? Potentially losing out on coveted brand deals, of course. And even if these influencers are splitting the hefty cost of the prize (for example, the $16,000 Hyundai previously mentioned), the ante keeps getting upped by the day. (Pelotons, cars, what’s next—an island previously owned by Pablo Escobar?)
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💛 $8,000 Cash Gifting + Charitable Donation! 💛 I’m teaming up with @jbsocialcollective to give TWO of you $4,000 cash! My friends at @jbsocialcollective are also committing to donate a portion of this month’s proceeds to DirectRelief.org, supporting novel coronavirus relief efforts. Entering and getting bonus entries for this contest is simple with 3 easy steps that take less than 30 seconds: 1️⃣ Like this photo 2️⃣ Tag a friend in the comments below 3️⃣ Follow @jbsocialcollective and everyone they are following Get a bonus entry for every additional friend you tag below! (Tag each friend in a separate comment) _ Closing: Friday 5/22 at 11:59 PST. The winners will be announced on 5/24 and must be claimed within 48 hours. Detailed campaign rules, eligibility, and procedures are posted on the @jbsocialcollective Instagram feed. By entering, entrants confirm they are at least 18+ years of age and release Instagram of responsibility. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.
Luckily, both consumers and brands are getting smarter. According to LawyerLookbook.com, “it’s becoming standard practice for brands to insert provisions in influencer contracts prohibiting potential partners from participating in loop giveaways or comment pods.” The reasoning? “The influencer marketing industry is a multibillion dollar business, and brands have lost a fortune to the fraud resulting from fake influence and fake followers—so more brands are spending their money on ‘micro-bloggers’ who may have a lower Instagram follower count, but have an authentic and engaged audience (of actual humans, not bots) and can actually convert sales.” Makes sense.
Instagram users are also fatigued with them, unfollowing these influencers for wasting their time and spamming their feeds, according to a Reddit thread on the subject.
Essentially, loop giveaways have become increasingly taboo and frowned-upon. (Although that hasn’t stopped Bachelor alum Catherine Giudici Lowe from conducting one as recently as May 21.) While the Kardashians (looking at you, Lord Disick), have conducted them for years, this latest bout of bad press—when it came out that the influencers behind the now-infamous Hyundai giveaway were being investigated by Instagram—might be the nail in the coffin for lawless loop giveaways. Because when you’re essentially “buying” followers, refusing to comply with FTC regulations, and potentially leaving your “winner” on the hook for thousands of dollars in taxes for a new “gifted” car (much like the guests in Oprah’s audience), you’ve certainly abused your influencer privileges as far as I’m concerned, and potentially lost the trust of a large portion your audience. When authenticity goes out the window, your affiliate sales might too.
Of course, the frustration with affluent influencers has been exacerbated by COVID-19. From becoming viral human vectors (no pun intended—I swear) like Arielle Charnas, to conducting a loop giveaway under the guise of “doing something charitable” like Vanessa Grimaldi, (former Bachelor contestants need to chill), frustrations with the influencer economy have officially come to a head. This might be the optimist in me speaking, but it’s beginning to look more and more likely that these loop giveaways could finally be over for good sooner rather than later, especially if Instagram ultimately penalizes those Hyundai people. (Inner optimist speaking again: I like to believe that no one is stupid enough to fall for them anymore anyway.)
RIP loop giveaways. We hardly knew ye.
And although you may not have the chance to win the shiny new Hyundai of your dreams via Instagram anymore, at least you’ll be able to scroll through the app in peace, without being bombarded with captions asking you to follow mediocre accounts named things like “Midwestern Momma” anymore. My advice would be to fill your feed with content that makes you happy right now, and support the influencers you feel are authentic and doing good with their platforms—not the ones exploiting people’s insatiable desire for stationary bikes while stuck in quarantine during a pandemic.
Images: vanessagrimaldi30, givethemlala / Instagram; sarafcarter / Twitter
I’m sure it’s all marketing, but I feel like Instagram is Facebook’s good twin. Whereas Facebook lets bigoted memes stay up even after they’re reported, Instagram actively works on ways to improve the community experience, whether it’s rolling out virtual prom features for high school seniors or removing the likes count so users’ mental health doesn’t get so affected by a virtual dick-measuring contest. On Tuesday, Instagram announced new features that aim to help fight online bullying.
One of the new features helps people manage unwanted interactions. If users find themselves flooded with negative comments on a post, Instagram is rolling out the ability for users “to delete comments in bulk, as well as block or restrict multiple accounts that post negative comments.” I can think of at least one influencer who probably wished this feature was put in place oh, about a month and a half ago.
A Facebook company spokesperson said, “Early feedback has been encouraging, and we’ve found that it helps people, especially with larger followings, maintain a positive environment on their account.” Accounts dedicated to calling out celebrities and other high-profile individuals are going to have to work a lot faster to screenshot now, since this feature will be out starting today.
In addition to making it easier to delete comments from trolls, Instagram is also allowing users to highlight positive comments. “Soon,” the Facebook spokesperson said, “we’ll begin testing Pinned Comments.” You’ll soon be allowed to pin “a select number of comments” to the top of your comments thread, similar to how you can pin comments in an Instagram Live. I, for one, cannot wait to use this on my thirst traps. While the pinned comments are currently in the testing phase, the spokesperson for Facebook tells Betches, “we’ll look to roll out globally in the coming weeks.”
Finally, Instagram will soon allow users to choose who can tag and mention them. As the spokesperson explained, “We’ve seen that tags and mentions can be used to target or bully others, so we’re rolling out new controls that allow you to manage who can tag or mention you on Instagram.” With the new feature, you’ll be able to choose whether you want everyone, only people you follow, or no one to be able to tag or mention you in a comment, caption, or Story. The tagging screening will also be available for users to take advantage of starting Tuesday, and I’m hoping that if nothing else, this severely reduces the number of spam Rayban giveaways we all get tagged in.
Overall, these features will help users maintain a more positive community on their pages, and hopefully limit trolling. Now when will I be able to search to see if my crush watched my Instagram Story?? This is great, Instagram, but can we focus now on giving the people what they really want?
Images: Courtesy of Instagram; alex bracken / Unsplash
These days it feels like there’s no group with a bigger target on their back than influencers (aside from white men over 50, of course). There seems to be a new form of entertainment in the form of watching influencers being dragged online, exposed on accounts and forums dedicated to influencer muckraking, and labeled with the scarlet C: COVIDIOT.
We’ve witnessed many influencer scandals before, but our current quarantined status has turned influencer dragging into a digital gladiator ring, with accounts such as @deuxmoi and @influencerstruth exposing influencers and calling out markers of privilege. These markers include private travel (in the case of @tanyazuckerbrot getting criticized for leaving NYC on a private plane in the midst of the pandemic) and promotions of expensive clothing (in the case of @mamaandtata calling an $850 dress reduced from over $1,1000 a “steal” in a since-deleted post). These accounts also feature full dissections of past drama (like that between @ariellecharnas and @amandakloots, who haven’t trained together in years) and family backgrounds, often by culling information via unverified but assumed-to-be-true DM submission. Basically, a special counsel investigation of whose dad can pay for what, but told via screenshots and Instagram story fonts. I know because I’ve been devouring these accounts with a feeling that can only be described as glee, and also some relief that I don’t have extremely rich parents.
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Well as long as @tanyazuckerbrot had a private plane it doesn’t matter that she decided to leave NYC, right? 😏 Keep in mind, this is the same person who openly supported Arielle Charnas on her Instagram page. Two of a kind. #COVIDiot #pagesix #ffactor #covidiots #ariellecharnas #tanyazuckerbrot
In many cases, the criticism is well-deserved but more vitriolic than ever, so my question is: why now? Why this thirst trap? You might argue that it’s the influencers’ own tone-deaf behaviors that are the only cause of the recent draggings, and in some cases you’d be absolutely right. But in other cases, where what counts as a social distancing faux pas is a little bit unclear (the recent Morning Toast controversy over a family rooftop birthday that led them to mute their own Facebook group because of what they called “toxicity” comes to mind), the commenters have still been extra quick to wield their pitchforks with criticisms of privilege and accusations that the person thinks they’re above the rules, a murderer, etc.
If sunlight isn’t the antidote for coronavirus, it certainly is for influencers, because it finally feels like people are becoming aware of what has enabled the influencer industry from the start, which is a bubbly pink cocktail of privilege and entitlement. Or at the very least, people are starting to become unsettled by the status quo. Unlike florals for spring, it really isn’t groundbreaking that in order to become a top fashion influencer, you very likely started with a significant amount of financial subsidy from your family in order to fund the lifestyle required to photograph yourself in high-end clothing, and also that usually with family money comes access to connections. You know, rich people.
None of this is news and has been the reality since influencers became a “thing”. It’s not that hard to have great styles to photograph every day if you’re thin and attractive with a luxury wardrobe and a large bank account attached to it. I’m old enough to remember that’s how the earliest—and to this day, some of the biggest—fashion influencers stood out. I mean, no hate to these people for their given life circumstances, and it’s notable that many have adapted their platforms to spotlight causes and raise money alongside their favorite hair mask recs. Having worked in the media industry for years, I’m also fully aware that being an influencer is a legitimate full-time job, and that money and connections only get you so far. But still, let’s not pretend we hit a triple when we were born on third base, or that we’re just meeting our Bachelor in Paradise co-contestant for the first time when we hooked up in NYC three months ago.
The thing that’s changed is that now swaths of the general population are losing their loved ones and family members, being laid off, living in cramped environments or at home with their parents, dealing with an array of serious life stressors. When that’s your reality, it’s no longer a pleasurable experience to watch someone parade around their generational wealth-funded mansion in a pajama set that cost $200 (but 10% off with code RICHBITCH!), seemingly unaware of (or at least, unaffected by) the mass suffering going on around them. From watching the most boring era of their lives, you see the wealth that allowed these accounts to start and continue with a safety net. A lot of the time, influencers can take the “risks” to go out on their own (i.e. quit their job to become an influencer) that most people never could, and they are hardly risks anyway because in many cases they are well connected enough to ensure success, or at least enough success to convince yourself you did it all on your own.
For the audience, in the absence of having this for oneself, it feels good to be mad about it, especially when one of these privileged individuals makes a misstep that’s insensitive, unsafe, or even objectively wrong. They have it all handed to them, they should be perfectly considerate and self-aware of everything they have! If I were them I would NEVER act this way! There’s a whole showtune dedicated to this feeling: schadenfreude. And we feel it because we’re humans, and humans can be jealous, petty creatures, especially when manipulated by an internet algorithm designed to rile us up because what the f*ck else are we supposed to do, our jobs??
At the same time, as humans we also have a desire for things to feel “fair”, and it’s the extreme contrast between our experiences that may be the source of so much internet anger—especially when everything about this virus and the havoc it is wreaking feels so unfair. We’re more likely to lean into this anger now than ever, when we can’t go about our plans to do things that help us feel like we’re a little better or more aspirational than we really are. When we’re all stripped down to our most basic lives, it becomes obvious that our favorite “relatable” influencer was actually not relatable at all.
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I’m sorry, what? “They took a road trip for some much needed air.” So @kendalljenner traveled 478 miles on a road trip to Sedona because she needed some fresh air? Because LA isn’t sunny and 75 every day and you live in a mansion where you have plenty of outdoor space! They are the epitome of horrible humans. Hey @suns @nba – are you okay with one of your players breaking the rules like that? #COVIDiot #kendalljenner #kardashians @people @usweekly @pagesix @espn @nba
Unlike the average person’s life, it appears on social media that influencers’ lives have barely changed. Same sh*t, different OOTD. Same skin care, different wrinkles (due to the fact that botox is not yet deemed an essential service). It also doesn’t help that they can’t seem to help but continue to post everything they do, when reading the room would be better than reading a Kindle book for the sake of posting it on Insta story.
People are suffering right now, and they’re craving the connection that social media once promised us. We don’t want discount codes (although discount codes happen to be influencers’ most material contribution to my life), we want real human contact and empathy. Since no businesses are open, it’s become so much easier to appreciate nature, just being outside in sunshine and open air, having a simple interaction with friends and family we haven’t seen and still can’t hug. That’s the page it feels like most people have gotten on, while many influencers appear to be on another planet. Or maybe just on their private flight from Palm Beach to East Hampton that they just couldn’t help but flaunt for the hate-views.
This article has been updated to more accurately reflect the nature of @deuxmoi’s content
Images: Rob Kim/Getty Images for Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet; influencerstruth / Instagram
As we’ve seen time and time again, celebrities and influencers don’t really know what to do with themselves right now. Most of them are just losing their minds with boredom in their palatial homes, but some of them just can’t get their sh*t together. Most of us have now been social distancing for well over a month, but certain public figures have still traveled major distances during that time. Some of them have had good reasons, while others have been more questionable, but all I know is that I would not want to get on a plane right now.
For some, it’s a matter of staying on vacation a liiiiiittle too long. I mean, we all remember how Kristin Cavallari and her family were chilling in the Bahamas for nearly a month. And this week, Tom Brady was spotted working out in a closed public park in Tampa—despite the fact that he was in Costa Rica with his family when the CDC started tightening guidelines.
But while those travel decisions are certainly questionable in the current climate, we need to talk about some influencers who have done exactly what we’re not supposed to do right now. Of course, the most-dragged public figure during all of this has probably been Arielle Charnas, who famously left NYC to go to the Hamptons after testing positive for COVID-19. From her attempt to cover up the actual timeline, to her comically bad apology, she’s the worst offender here. But she’s not the only influencer who’s f*cked up in the past month.
On March 28th, Naomi Davis (aka Love Taza), an NYC-based blogger and mother of five with almost half a million Instagram followers, posted this picture of an RV. In the lengthy caption, she explained that her family had left NYC the day before to head “out west so we can have a little more space.” Okay, hmm. She further explained that the family had been “diligent about self-quarantining”, and by choosing an RV, they would be able to cook and sleep there, so they wouldn’t be exposing anyone else.
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***PLEASE LOOK FOR MY UPDATE IN MY COMMENT BELOW.💛*** If you zoom into this photo in front of that big old white thing (which is the top of an RV Camper), you’ll see our family of seven as little dots just a few moments before driving out of New York City yesterday (Friday). My heart is breaking for what is happening in New York where I live and around the world right now. And after two full weeks in the apartment, we made the family decision to drive out west so we can have a little more space (namely some outdoor space for the kids) for a little while. While we’ve been diligent about self-quarantining and social distancing in New York City, we want to make sure we still stay away from others during our trip (even though no one in our family has had any symptoms, you could always be asymptomatic). For this reason, we decided to rent an RV in order to avoid hotels and people and just eat and sleep in the RV on the way. Hopefully a little change of apartment scenery will be just what we need – for everyone’s physical health, for my headspace which is spiraling lately – and for our kids’ own mental health. This situation is serious everywhere and I am sending my love and prayers to you wherever you are. More on my stories. 💛 (and photo from our friends who caught us packing up on the street outside an apartment window and texted us! Thank you so much for this photo, Weinbergs!)
While I totally understand what Davis says in her caption about mental health, the situation we’re dealing with right now is bigger than any one person. Of course her family wanted “a little change of apartment scenery,” and guess what? SO DO I!!! But the thing is, if you’re carrying the virus, no matter how careful you try to be, there’s simply no way to travel across the country without potentially exposing other people. Does the RV not need gas sometimes? Will the family of seven never need to stop for groceries? I get that their intentions are good, but as tough as it is, right now is the time when you just need to stay in your apartment.
Many of the comments on Davis’ post were critical of her family’s decision to leave the city, with people begging her to listen to government advice against traveling. Interestingly enough, the family has yet to return to NYC, but they haven’t been in their RV, either. According to comments on Davis’ post from Easter, it looks like the family is in Utah, and they’re definitely inside someone’s house. Good job, you officially failed at quarantining!
Another influencer who didn’t quite get the point of quarantining is Alissandra Maffucci, aka Inspiralized. On March 30th, just a few days after Naomi Davis left New York City, Maffucci also got sick of being stuck at home in New Jersey. She peaced out to Florida with her husband and two kids, two days after the CDC specifically told people in the tristate area to refrain from nonessential travel. Needless to say, her decision (and her detailed posts about it) sparked backlash, and she ultimately spoke to The New York Post about her family’s decision to head south.
She told the Post that, because her family lives in a high-rise building with “hundreds of people,” they “felt like lives were at risk.” Okay, yes, as someone who is also quarantining in an apartment building in an urban area, I can agree that this is stressful. Maffucci talks about how even things like getting deliveries and taking out the trash are potentially exposing them, and that’s true. But that doesn’t mean leaving is risk-free.
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She continued digging herself deeper, telling the Post that “I think our decision is actually saving lives.” Okay girl, I’m just not buying that, and I’m not the only one. On her posts about her family’s move, the negative comments started pouring in, ultimately causing her to limit comments on some of her posts. Referencing this decision, Maffucci told the Post, “I do not welcome negativity. I got a lot of criticism from people saying I am promoting something that the government is saying don’t do. What I say is that we are all individual adults.” Wow. That’s basically the same line spouted by anti-vaxxers and people attending these social distancing protests, and I can’t wait to see how that works out for them.
But mommy bloggers aren’t the only notable people who have broken quarantine protocols on social media. Late last month, Vanderpump Rules star Lala Kent went on a “quarantine road trip” for her fiancé Randall Emmett’s birthday. Emmett shared lots of pictures of the the RV he rented as a birthday present to himself, saying that he was “gonna drive it out into the wilderness”. I don’t have a complete itinerary of where they went, but he posted from an RV campsite in Malibu, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t fit any definition of “wilderness.” As we saw with Naomi Davis, some people seem to think that renting an RV is the perfect solution to traveling during the pandemic. But like I said before, there’s just no way to drive across the country without making potentially harmful contact with others. You just can’t, and at a time like this, why would you even try?
Unsurprisingly, some of the bigger names in Bachelor Nation have also made some very questionable travel decisions of late. Remember at the beginning of all this, when we couldn’t go an hour without hearing from Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown’s Florida-based Quarantine Crew? That was fun while it lasted (though I’m not sure it ever technically counted as quarantining), but Hannah left a few weeks ago. Matt James shared on his Instagram story that Hannah and her friend Marshall drove home to Tuscaloosa on April 1st, in order to “ride this thing out with their families.” Like I said before, this is an understandable desire, but the timing seems less than ideal.
But other Bachelor stars have made even more questionable decisions. As we’ve discussed, Peter Weber has been with Kelley Flanagan in Chicago since late March. He flew there from California around March 27th. If this had been some sort of emergency, or essential travel, that would be one thing, but considering that Pete was texting another woman two days before, I think he could’ve just stayed with his family in LA. And then, last week, Reality Steve reported that Victoria Fuller had traveled to Iowa to spend the week with Chris Soules. Flying across the country to hang out with a dude?? In this pandemic??? Look, I have guys I DM with that I’d love to see right now too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to put myself and others at risk!
Obviously, there’s nothing fun about the situation we’re in right now, but things aren’t going to get any better if we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. Of course I’d rather be on the beach right now, but I’m not about to go to Florida and potentially harm a million other people just because. Also, I don’t want to go to Florida because like, Florida, but that’s a whole separate issue. For now, just stay at home, and try to stay as sane as possible.
Images: Sean Zanni / Contributor / Getty Images; taza, inspiralized, randallemmettfilms / Instagram
So now that we’ve all been in isolation for a few weeks, we’ve pretty much lost our f*cking minds. Which means people are starting to do a lot of weird sh*t that usually we would not tolerate for one second, but under the circumstances, is now considered normal. It might be totally fine for literally everyone to post their homemade banana bread on their Instagram story, but that doesn’t mean I’m interested in seeing every step of your morning routine. Enough is enough—here’s all the sh*t you’ve got to stop doing during quarantine.
Going Live On Instagram
I’m not sure how so many people got the confidence to go live on Instagram so often, but I really wish they hadn’t. What could you possibly have to talk about that is so interesting that I deserve to get a dozen notifications telling me you’re going live? We’re all living the exact same f*cking lives right now. Plus, I’ve accidentally tuned into enough of them to know that no one’s watching anyway.
Not Knowing How To Use Zoom
Me: I just did this really hard online escape room
Coworker: you mean our company Zoom meeting?
— sarafcarter (@sarafcarter) April 13, 2020
We’ve been at this for weeks now, and you still can’t tell whether you’re on mute or not? Please, for f*ck’s sake, just figure it out. Every extra minute spent on a Zoom call because a vacuum was drowning everyone out or because Karen went through her entire presentation before realizing no one could see her screen, is a minute we could’ve spent getting drunk all by ourselves in our own homes on a weekday at 10am.
You know what all the single people quarantining alone asked for? Definitely not for every couple to post their first picture taken together. That’s actually maybe the last thing we could’ve ever wanted. And don’t get me started on the push-up challenge. We’re only a month or so into this thing, and I really don’t want to know what weird sh*t everyone’s going to be posting on Instagram because of a hashtag by the time this is all over.
FaceTiming Without Warning
Just because everyone is technically “available” at all times now doesn’t mean that we’re all prepared to show ourselves on camera without notice. A lot of the rules we usually live by may be out the window right now (or maybe forever? Who the f*ck knows), but if we let everything go by the wayside, society will crumble altogether. So yeah, you’re still gonna need to give a heads up so we can all put on clothes and hide the pile of snacks we were eating before you called.
The Exercise Craze
The workouts I’m not doing starter pack pic.twitter.com/555exXSwsW
— sami fishbein (@samifish1) April 12, 2020
Listen, I get that exercise is like, “good for you,” and we’d all probably go totally stir crazy if we don’t do some sort of regular physical activity. But somehow suddenly everyone is a personal trainer qualified to share their full workout routine every day? Count me the f*ck out. If you want to build a quarantine booty, good for you. If I want to build a booty shaped dent in my couch, that’s my business. And let’s get rid of this whole “don’t gain the quarantine 15” bullsh*t. What your body looks like at the end of this mess should not be the biggest concern.
“If you don’t leave quarantine with a new side hustle, a finished novel, or a new business, you wasted your time.” B*tch, we are in CRISIS. Anyone who manages to fold a single item of clothing during this entire time period deserves to be celebrated for their productivity.
Acting Like An Influencer
It’s not a “set.” It’s a sweatsuit you got at Kohl’s.
— Jared Freid (@jtrain56) April 11, 2020
Sure, post a picture of the sourdough you just made, since apparently, we’re all bakers now, and I can maybe handle a post of your “fit of the day.” But that is where the line is drawn. No one asked to see your morning routine, a time-lapse of your workout, or your mildly embarrassing TikTok dances. We did not all become influencers just because we suddenly have no one to talk to but our phone camera.
Hanging Out With Your Friends In Person
If you’re seriously still doing this sh*t, I just wanna talk. Like, have you not been on the internet once in the last month? ‘Cause that’s the only explanation I have for why you’d think it’s still okay to go over to your friend’s apartment, meet up for a group hang at the park, or have someone over for “6-feet-apart drinks.” When everyone’s still in quarantine a year from now, we’re all looking at you.
Obviously, we’re all going
a little crazy totally f*cking nuts, but that doesn’t mean that everything we live by as a society should fall apart. You weren’t an influencer before, and you’re certainly not one now, so let’s all just calm down and try to keep a little bit of our dignity for when we have to start facing each other in person again.
Images: fizkes / Shutterstock.com; sarafcarter, samifish1, jtrain56 / Twitter
I obviously don’t need to tell you that coronavirus is a big f*cking deal at this point. Flights are cheap AF, Coachella got postponed six months, and most of you are probably reading this from the comfort of your bed thanks to work from home policies being implemented. While you may or may not be stressing about how the disease could affect you personally, to quote Kourtney Kardashian, there’s people that are dying. But in any time of crisis, we can count on one group of people to be completely tactless: influencers! And of course, coronavirus is no exception.
Naturally, coronavirus has been a hot topic on social media, and the memes are fire. But influencers really just don’t want us to have nice things, so now we have to suffer through… coronavirus-themed thirst traps. Lord Jesus, fix it.
For our first example, we have none other than classic problematic YouTuber Logan Paul. (Not the one who is/was married to Tana Mongeau—that’s Jake.) You might know Logan from the controversy surrounding the time he accidentally filmed a dead body in a Japanese forest. Fun times. Well, back in January, Logan posted a shirtless pic of him and some female friends wearing gas masks on a private jet, with the caption “f**k the corona virus.” Oh boy. At the time, the virus hadn’t spread nearly as much, but there were already thousands of confirmed cases, and over 200 deaths. This is pretty much what I expect from Logan Paul, but it’s not a great look.
Around the same time, this German fitness influencer, Fitness Oskar, posted a picture that honestly makes me want to throw up in my mouth. Not because of the masks, which are just purely stupid, but his gigantic f*cking arm! Is this a Photoshop fail, or could this man smother me with his bicep in approximately 2.5 seconds? I hate to use this word in 2020, but I am shook. But also, the making out with the masks on is a big f*cking yikes. I just hate everything about this.
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CORONA-VIRUS | Wir beten, dass es endlich gestoppt wird 🙏 Dieses Bild hat sich tatsächlich mehrmals so abgespielt. Auf öffentlichen Plätzen küssen @healthy_mandy und ich uns nur mit Mundschutz. Wir haben keine Angst vor dem Virus, aber wir tragen dennoch, wie ca. 90% der Menschen hier in Thailand die Masken, um uns nicht anzustecken. Unseren Urlaub genießen wir trotzdem und hoffen, dass dieses Elend bald gestoppt wird! Wir bekommen täglich sehr viele Fragen zum Virus: „Kann man überhaupt noch nach Asien reisen?“ „Sollte ich meinen Urlaub absagen?“ „Haben die Menschen vor Ort Angst?“ „Wie wird hier mit der Katastrophe umgegangen?“ Diese Fragen, und viele mehr, haben wir nun in einem YouTubevideo beantwortet, welches ich euch in meiner Story verlinkt habe. Was denkt ihr über das Virus? Habt ihr Angst? Tragen die Menschen in eurer Stadt auch Mundschutz? Denkt ihr die Situation wird jetzt in den Griff bekommen oder wird sich das Virus weiter ausbreiten? Schreibt eure Meinung in die Kommentare, sie würde mich sehr interessieren. (P.S.: Kein Photoshop) #corona #coronavirus #virus #kiss #kuss #asien #asienurlsub #thailand #phuket #palmen #palmtree #beach #strand
In the caption, Oskar says that he and his fiancée only kiss in public when they’re wearing masks, and that they didn’t stop the masks from letting them enjoy their vacation in Thailand. Okay, so first of all I’m not sure I understand the purpose of the masks in the first place, but also like, you could just not kiss in public? This might be a shock to some people, but PDA isn’t a requirement for a happy relationship.
In the time since these posts, the coronavirus situation has gotten a lot more serious, so naturally you’d think influencers would now be using their platforms to spread vital information about how to stay safe. LMAO, if you actually would think that, you clearly don’t know influencers. Just a few days ago, life coach and “good vibes” influencer Barrett Pall posted a gym locker room selfie, urging his followers to go about their lives, and “avoid the panic, the trolls, and anyone who has continuously existed in fear and negativity.” Sounds good. I’ll tell that to all the old people who are scared to leave their houses right now! Pall ended his caption with #byefelicia, which sends a really strong message to coronavirus that it’s not welcome here. Good work, I think COVID-19 is really scared!
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I’m not letting the #coronavirus stop me from doing anything, and you shouldn’t let it either according to most cdc and expert reports. Continue to take standard and normal precautions: wash your hands, if you’re feeling unwell then stay home or go to the doctor, and be mindful when around people who are more susceptible. Avoid the panic, the trolls, and anyone who has continuously existed in fear and negativity. Some people just love to get worked up. #needleeffect #gay #byefelicia #swimmer
Barrett Pall isn’t the only influencer to recently make light of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks in Australia, there’s been a shortage of toilet paper as people have stocked up in case quarantines become necessary. Influencer Ali Baxter took it upon herself to use the shortage as an opportunity for a cute caption, and then plugged her discount code for an athleisure company. Love that business mentality.
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Just out here looking for some toilet paper🧻🧻….. Anyone else?😂seriously tho! 📸 @dayslikethesephoto Wearing @ryderwear NKD Collection- use ALI10 to save! . . . . . . . . . . #ryderwear #dayslikethese #teamryderwear #ryderwearwomen #ryderwearathlete #sydney #northernbeaches
It appears that many influencers are thinking about the potential shortage of toilet paper, but thankfully, they’re not letting it interrupt their thirst trap game. California-based influencer Troy Pes, who apparently isn’t familiar with the concept of shirts, put it perfectly when he said, “Take all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer that you want but not the selfie mirrors.” Wow, I know I’m inspired. In tough times like this, you have to stand up for something, and selfie mirrors are definitely a noble cause.
As the situation with coronavirus continues to develop, what will influencers around the world do? If we all end up trapped in our houses, they might be running low on inspirational shots of themselves at the beach, but at least they can take mirror selfies from the safety of their own homes. During these uncertain times, make sure you’re keeping the influencers in your thoughts and prayers, because it’s really tough to figure out how to position your thirsty content when there’s a global pandemic happening. Who said these people had no talent?
Images: fitnessoskar, loganpaul, barrettpall, ali.baxter, troypes / Instagram