A week ago I would not have told you that I too am listening and learning. But I’m here today to do exactly that. Read this post more than once if you need, because I’m not here to cast stones. Malice has no place on this space.
I’ve been kind of following the influencer/brand/POC stories and to be honest, I’ve felt that too much has been taken from the core issue. Like it’s been watered down. Race that is.
To me, an influencer is like an ad agency. I know there are real people behind it but when you promote products for any kind of payment you’re an ad agency. Actresses get paid to promote brands in ads all the time. Whether they believe in the brand or not. They get paid and that’s the bottom line. I’m not your target market so… Scroll…
The online nasties that ensued made me not want to be a blogger. At all. Because now we all get painted with the same brush. There goes my voice and my reputation. No longer a woman who writes, but a blogger. Dirty word. Guys I looked at some influencers and up and comings and did eye rolls. Literally. We get a choice in everything and what I couldn’t get was how some influencers were inconsistent with their own brands and how they kind of lose the plot after they get noticed.
Humour me for a moment and let’s pretend I’m not a blogger. Because I have been trying to wrap my head around it from many different angles. Through the eyes of a consumer because, Yes, I’m that too. And again I did eye rolls. Here’s where it gets tricky and I sound like my name is McJudgerson. In my mind and the minds of some of the so called “influenced” or “followers”, we’re wondering why are you fighting? Forgive us because we don’t know the full story. No one has explained it in its entirety to us. We don’t all follow the same accounts so we know there’s something and it’s got to do with race. But on the other hand, is it about brands? And how does this benefit me as the consumer? What are you trying to influence me on here? We are confused. Because the message is not clear enough. We see drama. And we didn’t sign up for drama.
Let’s take it a bit further. Influencers in South Africa do not get the respect they deserve. I’m talking about those who work hard at what they do. We see your hard work and efforts. We don’t really get influence by what you’re promoting because we can’t afford to. But many influencers do not know their target markets. They haven’t done research. They don’t know who follows them and for what reason. We are afraid to ask those questions. We promote products that we would never have bought, which is a good thing, but would you have bought it in the first place? The consumer side of this equation sometimes wonders about this. So, still the consumer in me, wonders how much you get paid to do these promos. And how come you’re so lucky to be receiving “gifts” all the time. Then imagine how deflated we feel when we realize that a great many does not get paid in actual money. It’s product exchanges. My mind is whirling. Because money gives me freedom to purchase what I need and not what a brand wants me to use. And if I ever enter the influencer market and settle for product exchanges then it will be for a grocery outlet. My kitchen cupboards must smile at me monthly. And I’m a brand snob and wear fancy pants at times so there has to be cous-cous, salmon, Nomu spice rubs etc. And detergents have to be green products only. We all know that not everyone buys these things. Not everyone can afford to. But we’d like to. And money gives us the freedom to buy it. But having to see someone gifted with items that they wouldn’t necessarily have used does not inspire us to buy it. Remember we see you. Sometimes through you. We don’t sit in judgement, but when you want to influence people then your life and your story from the beginning matters. If we’ve journeyed with you then we’ll have noticed some irregularities. Give us some credit.
Then I did research and scrutinized some accounts. I wanted to fully understand this. I needed to know exactly how deep this ran. WOC with amazing accounts have been short changed. They’ve been denied the slice of pie. Still not very important to me and maybe it’s because I don’t want to be a brand influencer. But I needed to understand this because now women whose integrity I admire started on this band wagon. I wanted to understand why they did. What exactly was I missing. I’m not overly curious by nature but I like making informed decisions and not sit on the sidelines and judge. Some of these women are my people. I didn’t want to address the topic head on with a few role players because it was so heated that I didn’t want to risk being misunderstood. Emotions were volatile. It still is.
What cut deep is the fact that many of those who wants to enter the market never get a chance. What cut even deeper is the fact that some of these wonderful women don’t always get assistance from influencers. White and POC’s. Especially POC’s. We are just not always willing to share the pie as we think we are. We don’t hype up everyone and pocket friends are called followers like people are sheep. To be fair, not everyone who calls their folk followers have this thought pattern. I mean IG calls us followers. Also, we follow accounts and give certain influencers more credit they deserve because we hang onto their every word trying to get noticed. Because maybe if they notice us, then we can join the “in crowd”. Admittedly I did this once upon a time and (totally ashamed to say) not one single pity like to a single post of mine. My comments will get a like but is not important enough for a reply. I took the time to respond but you can’t do the same. I see the clique thing so often. And stop that train of thought if you think I’m spitting venom. I’m telling you what an idiot I was, so focus on that but acknowledge that there is truth in what I say. I still comment on bigger accounts and posts that speak to me. I honestly don’t expect replies all the time because when I comment it’s not to get noticed. Your post spoke to me. It offered perspective. You did influence me to buy something but I’m totally going to see if I can get the same shoes or outfit at a cheaper rate Because I spend my money wisely. I don’t comment that though. It’s unnecessary.
Then, POC’s being patronized by privileged individuals started grating me. What the heck?! Are you kidding me right now? Don’t you dare come at me at tell me that these women are being unnecessary. Because if I speak too loudly for your liking, will you tell me that too? Because it’s ok to refer to POC’s as “those people”. I’m not ok with that. I’m certainly not “those people”. I am just people. Good people as a matter of fact. The guy in my road who drinks way too much, but makes sure that everyone’s bins are back in their yards on garbage day is good people. Many people will frown upon him, because not everybody drinks (so we believe our morals are better than his) or our circumstances are better than his. That is not ok in my books and I will call them out as privileged too. Because whether we are POC’s or White, we often believe ourselves to be better than others because they don’t fit our picture of what life should actually be like. Kind of off track but also not. There are many facets to consider.
The blind follower mentality was clear. And I noticed the venom. The comments were loud and clear. POC’s are muted because we don’t want to be seen as loud. Or uncivilized. While it’s ok for privileged individuals to raise their voices about issues, POC’s don’t have that same liberty. Now I’m mad. Mad black woman mad. Don’t you dare tell me I’m not allowed to feel that way because you didn’t come at me directly. The moment you came at “those people”, you came at me. My mom and gran who actually lived the hardships of Apartheid and who are entitled to be in their feels when they reminisce about days gone by. What they’ve been denied.
Online bullying ensued and lots of this left a bad taste in my mouth. There are instigators who sets the flames and then enjoys watching it burn. Saying one thing on one platform and another on another platform. And here I’m thinking “where are your followers”, “do these people not see what you’re doing”? Stop freaking pretending man. More importantly, have fellow bloggers not been able to see this yet either while they hang on those individuals lips. Getting caught up in drama of others making and then getting al the flack.
Really guys, this is not a dig at bloggers. I’m not the blog police, but really???
I’m not a mommy blogger. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even a blogger at all because I neglect my site. I’m supposed to look at numbers and optimize my site. And get a decent amount of subscribers and have people actually read my posts. Or at least care a little about it. I think… And I do care. Just more about my sanity than numbers. Blogging is an outlet for me. Writing is therapeutic. Although I do respect others who do it for whatever their reasons are. We all have different hopes and aspirations. Not everyone has a bucket load of drafts sitting waiting to be edited because life gets in the way or we forgot about it. If you’re a blogger and you do this too please let me know so I can know just how normal this is.
Now there’s a court case looming. I could see something like this happening. The names came as a surprise though. I did not see that coming. The names don’t even display the fire lighters. No real big surprise there. And it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is not over. Remember, an influencer promotes products (like an ad agency) and if a brand is not satisfied with the current agency, they will use another. They will still make money because the consumer market does not necessarily see what influencers are fighting so hard for. And honestly, not many people get influenced by everything they see. Some items people lust after but will never really buy because it’s too expensive. Some products are not even that great. Trust me I’ve tried some of the products on the market way before an influencer received their “gifts” and it wasn’t worth taking a pic of and definitely not worthy of a square on my page. I’m a product junkie and a brand snob. Also, I’m extremely loyal to my rands at the same time.
Here’s the thing… There is the next batch of hopefuls wanting to enter the influencer market and they WILL do whatever it takes to tap into that market. Get noticed. Promote the same product 20 other people are promoting and fill our timelines with ads. The joys. And they are frowning upon mommy bloggers wondering what the heck these women are on about because they haven’t made it their business to do proper research. Does the brand they want attention from (or any other brand) notice them? That’s all they’re after. Not thinking about the fact that those “gifts” are creating an illusion and takes away from who they are at the core. Add to that the level arrogance they have each time they get a “follower” notification. And not realizing that sometimes people just enjoy living vicariously through others. I mean why has The Kardashian’s lasted that long. We love reality without too much of reality sometimes.
But we do still crave real
We want to be able to relate and identify with the women who have powerful voices. We grin and bear when they post products that doesn’t interest us. Our ovaries go on overdrive when we see pics of their bubs. We watch them grow and wish we could find a pause button for you so they stop growing for just a bit. We celebrate with you and get excited for milestones. We’re your kids aunts from the Instagram side of the family. We are here for every heartbreak and get into the feels with you. We are your biggest supporters. We love mommy bloggers. I love my mommy bloggers and can relate to many of their experiences. I’ve been there with my kids and I wish that I had a tribe back when my kids were younger. Again, KUWTK gives us that too and they give us a healthy dose of who they are. Damn sailors.
I do however believe that when we use our voices that we are careful about what we put out there. Be real, be raw. But use your words wisely and don’t leave any room for misinterpretation. My kids are here too and they can see what’s happening. Language is such a beautiful thing that we can use to our advantage. You don’t have to tone down for anyone. You don’t have to pussy foot either. Play with your words and make it count.
Sometimes we fight and that’s ok. It’s frustrating when your voice is not heard or you are muted. My advice however is to never ever fight with your heart. Fight with your head. I don’t always back down from a fight and ALWAYS stand up for what I believe in. But I choose my battles wisely and detach from my emotions when I do enter one.
I’m not battle ready and won’t be fighting any battles on or offline anytime soon. In fact I’m not exactly in the mood to battle at any given time. I am however ready to officially stand with the entire mommy blog community and not because of brands or influencer blah blah’s. I’m standing in solidarity for the race issue. The very issue that has escalated into something much bigger than brands. People have started revealing some real ugly truths that doesn’t sit well with me. Not one bit. This is not about me. It’s not about any specific individual either. It’s about the many POC’s who don’t have a voice. Because if we’re not in the room, so many people will not be represented.
To my privileged friends…
Thank you for listening, learning and supporting. Whether you shout it from the rooftops or practice it in real life and not on the interwebs. Even if you’re in the process of navigating this rocky road. Thank you. Rome was not built in a day and right now we all have decades of conditioning to work on.
To all my pocket friends…
It’s a generational curse and it’s up to us to end it. As we navigate a somewhat different path, we too are learning. Like I said, I’m learning too. It took me a week of getting to the bottom of this. Researching, reading and watching different stories and clips to come to this conclusion. I’m glad I did. My mind may not have changed in certain aspects but I have opened myself up to understanding and allowing myself to be educated. To get to the core of it. Inclusivity should be for all and if a certain group tackles one aspect of the race fight then it’s already a start in the right direction. The race issue has many legs to it. We need to eat this elephant bit by bit.
I won’t lie and say I’m the same Celeste I’ve always been. That would mean there hasn’t been any growth. I’d like to say I’ve levelled up in some ways. Don’t worry, arrogance is not a good look on me and the mindset shift has been a good one. Still. This is not about me. This is bigger than all of us. I just really don’t feel like doing this over in 10 or twenty years from now. The time has come. We need to complete what our parents and grandparents started.
There is more to this than just “Mommy blogger drama”.