Influencers and Pretty Privilege.
Have Influencers on social media platforms, ambassadors of consumerism and materialism, helped or hurt intersectional feminism? Are the infographics these part time milquetoast activists share actually effectively addressing inequality? It seems like a disproportionate amount of influencers are all style no substance- proving the proverb, and empty barrel makes the most noise.
Influencers have no qualms wearing clothes made with child labor in brutal garment factories or exploiting labor from the global south, but for their audience members their appeal is escapism, entertainment and banal content. However, no matter how low quality their DIY vanity project may be, influencers have perfected profiteering off their parasocial relationships with their followers.
These tactics of bare minimum social interactions, of parasocial relationships dependent of physical attraction, only work for conventionally attractive people. It seems they let their selfies do the talking as they use their looks as a crutch for their personality, or lack thereof.
Using your attractiveness, genetic lottery and appearance to gain traction and is actually the antithesis of feminism. Unfortunately, this pretty privilege influencer grift reminds me of a compilation of women who have hosted FOX news over the years. In short, Roger Ailes had a type. When people on social media overlook substance for sex appeal- we end up with anti-meritocracy, shallow and vapid influencers who, to put it nicely are not judged by the content of their character.
Before influencers were praised for their looks, there were avon women and flight attendants. Careers that hired based on appearance rather than skill. People with pretty privilege can use their physical conventional beauty to open doors to many opportunities including brand deals and PR.
Tiktok, for example, completely embraces Dory twitter account, JLaws pizza moment, boyfriend sees me with no make for the first time, I’m-hot-validate-me, swing and a miss satire conceited content. It attempts and fails to make self-absorbed, image obsessed, superficial content cute by disarming itself but comes off vapid and shallow. Some conventionally attractive person with the 1,000 yard stare.
Again, I want to emphasize this “I’m hot pay attention to me” even if satirical regresses back to old school sexism and misogyny where thin able bodied women are praised for their appearance and their attractiveness directly correlates with their agency (or lack thereof).
The more attractive men find you, the more proximity you have to their power. If men desire you, you have some bargaining chips. Similar to how racism and xenophobia continue to divide the working class. Just as discrimination has segregated the working class, creating barriers to certain opportunities, pretty privilege and desirability politics divides women, those who men lust after, who fit ableist, colorist and fatphobic requirements are let into the VIP section while their sisters are turned away.