Written by Kay Gouw
We live in a time where the term “influencer” appears to be overused, everyone claims to be or aspires to be a so called “influencer”. The competition is vast and I understand that not everyone seeks to call themselves so, but what too often occurs is hostility towards these influencers. What happened to supporting each other? What happened to showing empathy? Particularly in a time where mental health is becoming a more openly spoken subject and we see more and more individuals speaking up about their struggles, we should show more compassion.
Influencers (usually) show us the glamorous, aesthetical and successful side of their lives. But one must understand that for multiple reasons, there are deeper emotions and feelings beyond their posts which they might not want to show to their audiences. They don’t owe you anything. And so yes, we are confronted with big smiles and ultimate happiness, but that doesn’t mean it reflects the truth. Looking at your own social media, how many pictures do you have smiling from ear to ear or travelling around the world or even boasting about an achievement or possession? This is normal social media behaviour, if you have the right to post this content so do they.
Now, why is it particularly important to show support and empower women influencers? Even though we shouldn’t discriminate against the gender of an influencer, we have seen that women are more likely to be the target of online bullying. Taking the examples of Ascia al-Faraj and Fatima al-Momen from Kuwait, they have both spoken out about the bullying they receive on their online platforms and they mention that most bullying actually comes from other women from within the Middle East. These two influencers have achieved so much for themselves both professionally and personally and have changed the game for Middle Eastern women. They have both made the Forbes list this year and have respectively worked with major brands across the globe and are both entrepreneurs themselves. Regardless of whether you like them as individual people or not, or you disagree with their life choices, attacking them isn’t the solution. Looking at what they have achieved you must admit that it is quite impressive. Or perhaps you disagree, you have the right to think so.
Drawing back on my mental health point, according to the World Health Organisation one in four people in the world are affected by mental health issues at some point in their lives. Particularly social media influencers suffer in silence. So how can we empower these women influencers?
- Leave a nice comment- Ascia once said in an interview with Anas Bukhash (must watch interview) that “if you think a kind thing of someone and you don’t share it, it’s an unkind thing”
- If you don’t have anything good to say, remain silent
- Try to see the human side of them
- Don’t let them affect you too much, remember, it’s just social media
Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development. Women’s empowerment and achieving gender equality is essential for our society to ensure sustainable development, we need to support women influencers because they face discrimination and obstacles and we don’t want to be offering more obstacles but rather making their path easier.