Vloggers – The New Role Models?

With YouTube becoming increasingly popular, YouTubers are making a career out of their videos. There are many different channels, and several famous YouTubers who are making a great deal of money out of their hobby/profession. One of the most popular sub sections of these channels, especially with teenage girls, are the beauty channels. People such as Zoe Sugg (more commonly known as Zoella) and Tanya Burr have their own YouTube channels and Vlogs (video blogs), through which they advise teenagers in which makeup products to buy, where to shop and how to do their hair. These popular videos and vlogs are debatable in their usefulness. Most teenage girls tend to find these videos very helpful, and parents may think they are too, since they don’t have to answer the questions they would rather avoid, nor teach their children the way to cover their faces in cosmetics. However, since most people have access to YouTube in some way, it is quite possible that girls are being pressured into wearing makeup too soon. While in many videos these makeup “gurus” stress that they are not professionals and they are not forcing you to copy them, a survey has shown that 80% of girls who watch Zoella videos buy the products she recommends. Of course, even if it was decided that these videos were untrustworthy and inappropriate, their popularity is so extreme that there is not much could be done about it. With around 6 million subscribers and enough money made from her videos to buy a £1 million mansion (in Zoella’s case), these YouTubers are quickly making a profession out of a hobby.

One way these YouTubers are making money is books. On 25th November 2014, Zoella released a fictional book called “Girl Online”. The female protagonist, Penny, is a student in Year 11, who like every teenage girl, has to deal with the ancient problems of relationships, bullies and “agonizing over whether to end a text with kisses or a smiley-face emoticon.” (from an interview in The Telegraph) Like Zoella, she suffers from panic attacks, and also starts blogging about her issues. Tanya Burr has followed suit, her nonfiction book released on January 29th 2015, called “Love, Tanya”. The book contains her advice on, in the YouTuber’s own words, “fashion, beauty, love, friendship”. Because of the increasing popularity of these “celebrities”, industries such as the film industry have taken an interest. Similar YouTubers Dan Howell (danisnotonfire) and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil) have gained cameo roles in the Disney animated picture, Big Hero 6 (released January 2015), as Male Technician 1 and 2. Although the pair were not paid to be in the movie, it undoubtedly increased their popularity.

So are these non-professionals good role models for teenagers to have. Is it right for young people to be influenced so much as such a young age? Many people do consider the YouTubers to be great role models, and aspire to be “just like Zoella” or “have as many followers as Phil”. However the close to famous Vloggers and YouTubers tend to be quite down to earth, even if the subjects of their videos aren’t to everyone’s taste. Recently Zoella took part in the Great Comic Relief Bake Off, which raised money for Comic Relief. The normalcy of these twenty-somethings seems to be what makes them so popular.