Is your home cold? You’re not alone. We’re in a cost of living crisis, with soaring energy prices and average household fuel bills set to hit £3,000 next year. Food banks could be forced to close this winter in the face of dwindling donations. It’s “heat or eat” for vulnerable families – and even those on middle incomes are cutting back on using their central heating. But fear not, because an influencer has found a solution.
Lydia Millen, who has 1.2 million followers on Instagram and posts “life and style” content “from the English countryside”, announced in a TikTok video that the heating was broken in her house, so she’d decided to head down to London, check into the Savoy and “make full use of their wonderful hot water”.
Why didn’t the rest of us think of that? Don’t huddle at home, shivering in blankets and the biggest hoodie you own, necking tea and unable to feel your toes. Don’t weigh up whether you can afford to put on the little space heater and get one room to a bearable temperature. Simply sack all that off and stay at a world-famous luxury London hotel, where the cheapest rooms start from £635 per night.
Once she’d shared her incredibly relatable plan, Millen went on to don a Seraphina London dress (£365) and Louboutin boots (£1,295), plus some posh tights and a hairband and perfume – and I didn’t watch the rest because I wanted to crawl into a muddy hole and die.
Influencers gonna influence, you might argue. Lydia Millen has got me – a previous philistine who wouldn’t know a Seraphina London dress if it smothered me – talking about her. And isn’t the point of such influencers to present as aspirational and offer us a window into a fantasy lifestyle we could never afford?
Maybe, though I’ll admit to avoiding the content of anyone who wants to earnestly describe their “capsule luxury accessories wardrobe” like they’re a new Omicron variant. Lydia’s tweed coat, shotgun broken over one arm ready for an afternoon of clay pigeon shooting, referring to a Land Rover as “old girl” vibe is definitely not something I’m the target audience for.
Still, perhaps this was all a misguided – nay, doomed – attempt for Millen to appear relatable. Hey, I’m cold too, just like you mere mortals! In a cost of living crisis, however, while the UK is in recession and so many people are staring down the barrel of a very depressing and miserable Christmas, struggling with debt and cold and hunger and all the serious and awful mental health consequences of that, it just about crosses the line of “too tone deaf to ignore”.
The most egregious bit is probably Millen’s reply to another user, who commented on the influencer’s TikTok video to say that their heating is off because they can’t afford to put it on (an experience that many others will relate to this winter). Millen’s response? “My heart breaks too it’s honestly heart breaking I just hope you know that other peoples realities can be different and thats not wrong.”
The “it’s not my problem if you’re poor” energy is strong with this one. Other people’s realities certainly can be different, but a touch of sensitivity, of thinking before posting, of compassion and the ability to read the room wouldn’t have gone amiss here.
Also, I fundamentally believe Millen is incorrect in her final comment – it is entirely wrong that some people are trapped in poverty, with fewer opportunities and shortened lives, while others have too much of everything.
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It’s obscene. We should all be in the streets, screaming our heads off about it (or usefully campaigning in a quieter and more decorous manner – whatever floats your boat). It’s wrong that a two-year-old died because his home was mouldy and no one would listen to his parents and sort it out. It’s wrong that there are billionaires who could end world hunger but instead decide to buy social media platforms and fire half the staff. It’s wrong that inequality is so normalised in British society now that not wanting kids to starve makes you some kind of dangerous hard left nutcase indulging in the “politics of envy”.
Of course, it’s not all Lydia Millen’s fault. She’s just doing rural toff chic on social media, and getting gifted lots of nice, pretty things. But she should’ve thought this one through.
Sure, it’s another day, another influencer making a tone-deaf statement. From Love Island star and Pretty Little Thing creative director Molly Mae Hague’s comments about how “we all have the same 24 hours in a day” – rightly derided as classist and insulting – to the ultimate influencer Kim Kardashian’s claim, without even the vaguest hint of irony, that “nobody wants to work these days”, these women – sadly – can’t help but reveal their ignorance of how the rest of the world lives.
In her latest video, Millen had made it to her safe haven, the Savoy, apparently on her “annual Christmas shopping trip”. Hopefully the hot water and central heating is up to scratch. Thoughts and prayers.