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About Molly-Mae Hague’s podcast comments… why does being a female influencer lead to so much backlash?

The former Love Island star’s appearance on The Diary Of A CEO podcast has led to some controversy, but is it all down to lack of experience, age and stereotypes?

Written by Rachael Nichol
Published 14.01.2022

It’s no secret that former Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague has had a bit of a moment recently. From becoming Pretty Little Thing’s (PLT) youngest creative director to landing several clothing deals with major brands and launching her own fake tan brand, Molly-Mae has achieved much more than your average 22-year-old.

But with age comes experience, maturity and wisdom. I’m sure you’ve seen Molly-Mae in the headlines over the past few weeks as she has come under fire recently following her appearance on Steven Bartlett’s The Diary Of A CEO podcast and was branded ‘tone deaf’ and ‘privileged’ by many.

WHAT SHE SAID

Speaking on the podcast with the new Dragon’s Den star, Molly-Mae said: ‘When I’ve spoken about that in the past, I have been slammed a little bit, with people saying: “It’s easy for you to say that, you’ve not grown in poverty, you’ve not grown up with major money struggles, so for you to sit there and say that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s not correct.”

‘And I’m like, but technically what I’m saying is correct. We do. So, I understand that we all have different backgrounds and we’re all raised in different ways and we do have different financial situations, but I do think if you want something enough, you can achieve it.’

‘TONE-DEAF’

It goes without saying that what she said was wrong. Her comments were very naïve, patronising and ignorant. I don’t doubt for one second that Molly-Mae isn’t a hard grafter or good at her job.

Still, not everyone is lucky enough to have the same opportunities or is fortunate enough to get the lucky break she has had since being on Love Island and with her 1.6 million social media followers. Some people work three jobs a day, burning the candle at both ends, or live on the streets ‘who want something enough’ and have ‘the same 24 hours in a day’, but can only ever dream of living the same lifestyle as Molly-Mae.

It comes across as particularly hypocritical when the PLT’s creative director’s colleagues work in a ‘sweatshop’, apparently only paid £3.50 an hour. Even on her vlog episode behind the scenes at PLT, when Molly-Mae is told she’ll be working a 12-hour shift, she reacts: ‘Oh, 12 hours? I’m going to be on the floor like this by 1am!’ But of course, that could simply be down to her jokey nature. She is, after all, only young.

MEDIA FRENZY

Of course, the biggest culprit in this is the press, who were quick to jump on the bandwagon to get page views. The only thing this really leads to is many people having biased opinions without actually knowing the full story by actually listening to the full podcast. With the shortened quote, ‘everyone has the same 24 hours in a day’ plastered around without mentioning the context behind it, it’s no wonder Molly-Mae received the backlash she has.

The amount of trolling aimed at Molly-Mae is disgraceful and cruel. At 22, we have all said and done things that we regret. When will the media learn to stop and recognise that we are all human?

Many men in the spotlight have expressed similar messages of working hard to achieve their dreams, which Molly-Mae has only really repeated here, and yet they haven’t received any backlash. The Diary of a CEO podcast host and Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Steven Bartlett has come to Molly-Mae’s defence and revealed that he’s ‘had male guests say what she said. No one cared.’

Steven went on to say that he’s ‘become very aware of the double standard that successful women face.’ And it’s so true. Men can flaunt their success, flashy cars and watches, but women seem to have to watch what they say and hide their success to avoid criticism.

PATRIARCHAL PIGEONHOLING

Then add into the mix that being an influencer and a former Love Island star comes with some massive stereotypes. From being seen as having an ‘easy job’ to appearing to have everything handed on a plate, Molly-Mae is immediately tarred with the brush of privilege simply from how she has risen to her fame. I must admit, I was quick to assume that Molly-Mae had come from a wealthy background myself and that she had never done a proper day’s work in her life. But this isn’t the case; her success didn’t just happen overnight.

Molly-Mae wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her parents worked as police officers while she grew up. When she was a teenager, her passion for modelling began when she won Miss Teen Hertfordshire and was named World Teen Supermodel. She then attended the Fashion Retail Academy in London for two years to become a fashion buyer for a large business.

But with an ever-growing – organic – social media following of 170,000 at that point, she suddenly decided to relocate to Manchester at 18, after noticing the city’s explosion of fast fashion brands. She focused on her social content creation whilst working as a part-time lifeguard before entering the Love Island villa.

She also mentions this in the podcast, which many papers fail to include in their scandal-mongering: ‘Watching my parents have an ordinary life terrified me a bit. It was a bit petrifying, this thought of “I don’t want to grow up in this house and, when I’m old in my rocking chair, tell my grandkids I had this really ordinary life and ordinary job and ordinary income” I reckon I started feeling that way from around 15.’

Again, this is another example of the lack of maturity used in her language and her inexperience in speaking to the media. Obviously, these comments could offend many of us who are content with having an ‘ordinary’ life, as well as those who can only dream of a life as blissfully ordinary as growing old with children and grandchildren around you. But I do admire Molly-Mae’s ambition to get herself out there and seek a better life. She gained 170k followers through her own social content creation before going on to Love Island, and has continued to build her own brands to create a personal source of income, rather than receiving a salary from other businesses. But undoubtedly, Love Island has played a big part in helping her.

AT THE END OF THE DAY…

It’s safe to say that Molly-Mae’s mission to go onto the podcast to empower other women was misinterpreted due to the way she expressed herself. While I understand where she was coming from – yes, technically, we do all have the same 24 hours in a day – it’s unfortunately not just down to our ‘choice’ of how we spend that time.

But I do think, for those fortunate enough to be able to make a choice, a part of Molly-Mae’s comments ring true. On the one hand, we could spend hours of our day watching a Netflix series or going out partying. Or, we could use those same hours to join a course to help us to reach our professional goals, or stay in and save money to open that business we’ve always wanted to own.

In life, whatever our circumstances, we can choose to sit back and watch it pass us by, or we can take it by the horns and do all we can to make it better. Molly-Mae is an example of that. She did, I think, have good intentions for her comments on that podcast. But however, she said what she has said – and now apologised for – will an endless stream of trolling the 22-year-old help level out the overt imbalances within our society? No.

 

Yes, Molly-Mae needed a little educating on how her comments have offended many people. But that can still be achieved without any nastiness. Uplifting, celebrating and supporting successful women in the limelight – even when she made a bit of a blunder – will only ever help more and more women from all walks of life aspire to greatness. Which, really, is what this whole scandal has all been about, isn’t it? Let’s educate and encourage each other to reach our own personal goals without trying to tear each other down.

 

Always be kind x

 

 

To listen to the full podcast, follow this link.

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