Zoe Sugg AKA Zoella: her eyes are startlingly huge, her hair immaculate and her room not dissimilar to the IKEA showroom. Despite some recent controversy, the incredibly popular YouTube star maintains over 12 million subscribers online – preaching to the tween generation on everything from mental health to ‘the perfect smokey eye.’ As the British pioneer of the vlogger movement, Zoella presents an intimidatingly unobtainable image of perfection. She is the postergirl for playing it safe and I think this is dangerous in itself.
Zoella is the anti-Miley. She’s charming, sweet and well-spoken. You’ll never see a picture of her crotch hanging out or her smoking a joint. She’ll never have to explain why she got caught kissing someone thats not her boyfriend or why she got her boobs out in public that one time. Instead, we have a grown, 28 year old woman, doing tutorials on ‘back to school hair.’
‘Be yourself!’ is one of her catchphrases. However, the ‘self’ she seems to represent is one which is infuriatingly bland and unrealistically uncontroversial. The image Zoella projects is one that if you stay home and behave yourself, you can achieve this happy, perfect life with a perfect boyfriend and no real need to go out and get an job in the outside world. Instead – hide behind your computer screen. The more you stay in, the more you limit the amount of uncontroversial content you create.
At the 2014 Teen Choice awards, she told a reporter that if she could give her followers one bit of advice it would be to fret less about their appearance: “When you’re younger you worry about so many things that you don’t need to worry about like image, appearance.” Quite ironic considering her entire career is forged on advising young girls how to spend their pocket money on looking pretty. She wants young girls to worry less but simultaneously is promoting an image of perfection which cannot be obtained in real life terms.
The internet is a scary place, but there is nothing scarier than comfortability. Zoella is both a product and a figurehead of this new age of playing it safe. Today, we preach to young girls that adult actions have negative consequences, so no wonder they turn to the likes of Zoella; who tells them that you can still be famous and still be successful if you avoid all scary situations and spend most of your time in the comfort of your bedroom.
If she done away with the beauty tutorials, using her soapbox to preach something with a little more substance, Zoe could actually become the face of digestible, accessible feminism; but instead, young girls are being taught that staying home and painting your nails is what life should surmount to.
Zoella is unarguably gorgeous and her words are honest, moving and personal to her. No one can blame her for capitalising on her talents – but it is a frightening thought that millions of young women are being inadvertently told to prioritise being pretty, over clever, strong and confident.