Take those movie posters off the walls. Online celebrities now officially carry more clout than traditional Hollywood stars. And that’s especially true when it comes to female YouTubers and their audiences.
Teens perceive Internet celebrities to be way more authentic, credible, and genuine than actresses in TV or movies. They tend to trust and respect them more too. These online personalities are also entrepreneurs, so there’s something to their success that often feels admirable. Teens see these women as ambitious, inspiring, and creative.
Of course, girls find them super engaging too. Watching YouTube videos of these popular females can feel like you’re hanging out with an old friend rather than watching a faraway star on the big screen.
It sure looks like these online types are becoming yet another kind of role model for our girls. So let’s make sure they’re hitting “subscribe” to the right ones. Here are a few examples …
Inspiring Girls Online
Marley Dias is one of the good ones. A self-proclaimed “book nerd,” this girl made national headlines when she was 11 years old for her campaign #1000blackgirlbooks. Tired of reading stories about white boys and their dogs, she launched an initiative to collect, promote, and celebrate books written by and about black females. She’s a clever writer, she’s super smart, and she’s even been given the opportunity to write an online magazine for Elle. And she’s about to become a published author! Definitely role model material. Read more from Marley here.
Sam Gordon’s following isn’t nearly as impressive as that of some other online stars, Sam Gordon has YouTube footage that definitely is. She got her big Internet break when a highlight reel of her football skills (made by her father) went viral. She’s been playing football since she was 9, starting as the running back on some all-male teams, so she’s not afraid to play with (and against) the boys. Now 14, Gordon has been featured on a Wheaties box – their first female football player ever! – because the company found her to be such an inspiration to young girls.
Just For Fun
Jojo Siwa has over five million followers on Instagram and three million subscribers on YouTube. Like holy cow, this girl is so popular and I just heard about her?! Also known as “Jojo with the Big Bow,” she was first famous for her appearance on Dance Moms, and she always rocks a side ponytail. Now she makes music videos that speak out against bullying, vlogs a ton on YouTube, and sells her trademark bows at Claire’s. Jojo is only 13 and she just signed a deal with Nickelodeon that includes products, music, and live performances. At least for now, Jojo’s brand stands for being one of the nice girls, acting age-appropriate, and having fun.
Sophia Grace was the little girl on Ellen who had us all mesmerized as she rapped “Superbass” by Nicki Minaj? Well, the British Sophia Grace now has her own YouTube channel (shocking, right?) with over two million subscribers. She’s basically used that momentum from when she was younger to make it big, starting with her music videos. And you almost can’t blame her, because the 13-year-old has signed a record deal, made a movie, starred as a judge on a reality TV show for toys, created a singing doll in her likeness, and published two storybooks. Whoa.
Eh, Maybe Not…
Zoella and Bethany Mota. There’s been a lot of press and controversial opinions when it comes to famous vloggers Zoella and Bethany Mota. They’re crazy popular with teen girls and have developed an almost cult-like following. But like any other social media influencers, we have to ask “What’s in it for them?” These women are making a ton of cash by pushing their favorite beauty products on an audience who’ll purchase it almost blindly.
Some of their content is just a bit shallow. Do we really want our girls watching videos of their shopping “hauls”? That’s when the YouTuber brings their full shopping bags on camera to go through what they’ve just purchased. That’s kinda what Bethany is famous for, by the way. Sure, she might be making $40,000 per month doing this kind of thing (and hey, congrats to her for being so savvy), but that’s just not relatable for most ordinary teen girls. It’s the kind of jealousy-inducing stuff we’re trying to avoid.
Zoella has been praised for her discussion of mental health issues like anxiety. However, many find her to be disingenuous (yup I did use that big word aren’t you impressed?) because she always acts so perky and happy on screen. They find fault with the fact that she says girls shouldn’t worry about their looks, while at the same time she is pushing beauty products and doing eyeliner tutorials. And isn’t it a bit weird that a woman in her mid-twenties is making videos about “back to school looks” for girls? Or publishing a best-selling book that all her fans snapped up immediately… when it turns out she didn’t even write it.
Spark the Conversation: Which Internet-famous females does your girl follow? Bloggers or YouTubers, writers or maybe just real celebrities? Find out why they like them and why they value their opinions. What about these girls do they look up to? Do they find them authentic? Share with her the stories of girls like Marley and Sam, who may have made it on the Internet but still focus on their real life goals off-screen. Because getting Internet-famous shouldn’t really be the dream should it?