“I’m Not Political.”
Is quite possibly the trendiest phrase you’ll see in influencer + blogger groups every other month. Typically, it pops up after a disastrous marketing campaign or after the pumpkin-in-chief calls our neighbor’s shithole countries, or possibly during a social outcry against a particular “ism”. I would bet you a trillion dollars, that when a massive current event occurs, you can scroll through your feed and see absolute fluff on your favorite beauty, style, and travel bloggers social profile.
Now, don’t me get wrong, I sincerely adore the fluff, it’s super cute. But what isn’t cute, is the concerted effort to ignore what isn’t pretty in the beauty, style, and travel blogging sphere.
Honestly, it boggles my mind when influencers + bloggers (specifically American) refuse to engage current trending issues and instead continue to post with a business as usual mentality. I’m not saying that your favorite blogger needs to become a social justice keyboard warrior, but the purposeful silence does more harm than good.
The reality is that everything we do is political. And, let’s be clear that being political, no longer centers around a stagnant discussion of democrats versus republicans, but has turned into a millennial catch-all for social issues, current events, basically anything that makes people uncomfortable and prone to a different opinion.
From supporting local businesses versus mega-chains to choosing beauty products based on animal testing, to shopping second-hand or swiping up to buy from Ivanka Trump’s clothing line to deciding on where to travel next or WHY you’re not traveling to a specific region. In fact, the conscious choice to remain silent is in itself political.
Are you hearing me?
From what I’ve seen, the reigning excuse of “I’m Not Political” amongst influencers is based in the reluctance of rocking the boat and staunch refusal to share anything more real than an issue with body positivity. To share anything political stems from a fear of hurting their personal brand, of alienating followers, and due to potentially losing brand work.
I’m not unsympathetic to that fear but I don’t find it a viable reason to nurture silence. As a peer, I’m finding it harder and harder to relate to peers who refuse to acknowledge what’s happening in the world. Who seem to revel in their neutral stance when it comes to discussing social, racial, cultural, and political issues. Why should I have to countenance your tepid silence and screenshot your post? Instead, I would much rather have the opportunity to know where an influencer stands versus finding out later they were never for me. Why not use your platform to amplify your voice, as in a turn of allyship, use your platform to amplify the voice of others. What are you using your influence for?
Your very existence is political.
A recent example is with Aimee Song’s response to the lack of diversity/inclusion with Revolve (and other brands), which she attributed to the lack of well known Black/Latina/South East Asian influencers While I vehemently disagree with Song’s reasoning, I can respect that out of all the influencers (who attended the trip) she actually responded. Although problematic, her public stance was needed to lead a further discussion on colorism and lack of opportunities for bloggers of color within the beauty & style space. Important to note, this happens tenfold in the travel, lifestyle, parenting blog realms as well. Also, important to note, WOC are very real demographic and brands would do well to pay heed.
We doth protest not enough.
Believe me, I get it. It’s fucking hard to put yourself out there.
Some days I wake up, wanting to put my wokeness on snooze, and call in Black. Like can the world just chill for 5 minutes, please?! It’s draining and sometimes my mental health is so tightly wound that, it feels like the dystopian version of Street Fighter. But instead of Chun-Li winning, ignorance slams me to the ground over + over again, eventually landing a TKO. 2 out of 3 times. There is a dissonance between our realities.
So how do we combat it? Especially when it’s easier to maneuver around moral outrage with a placid check-in the box of an MLK JR quote about love + unity (seriously can you NOT!). It’s uncomfortable to stand in the wave of dissent. It’s hard. Life is hard. And I’m totally over your silence, by your indifference, and acquiesce to accepting tyranny. So say something.
Feeling judged? Good.
This is a time to be alive, present, and vocal. We’re living in a time where local news anchors clapback to racist viewers and CNN contributors can refute false news of their colleagues. So why should it be any different in the blogger realm? It’s time to toss away the boring excuse of “I’m not political.” Because it’s a tone-deaf copout in this ever-evolving climate of change and accountability. You want us to ride with you to your women’s march? Well, stand with us as we counter-claims that would rather erase us. I’d much rather know what my peers are thinking on the random occasion versus seeing another outfit post against a graphic wall.
With great power [influence] comes much responsibility.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my “solutions” on how to authentically engage social issues + noteworthy influencers to follow.
Let’s discuss in the comments below:
What do you think? Is it the responsibility of influencers to use their platform to discuss social issues?
What MLK JR quote could you do without? Or wish, was used in the proper context?
What influencers do you want to hear from?
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