Influencer Molly-Mae Hague has been condemned by practically the entire internet after a clip from her December interview on the Diary of a CEO podcast circulated this week. The 22-year-old influencer claimed that “you’re given one life and it’s down to you what you do with it. You can literally go in any direction.”
Molly-Mae’s comments have sparked anger and now the same people that made her famous are tearing her down. Undoubtedly, when claiming she “worked her absolute a**e off” and that “everyone has the same 24 hours in the day”, she truly believed she was being inspirational. But the issue runs deeper and requires acknowledging that social inequality is fact and the playing field is far from level.
Climbing the socioeconomic ladder isn’t as simple as “wanting something enough” when entrenched structural barriers continue to disproportionately impact the social mobility of countless groups of people, specifically ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
A 24-hour day can look very different to people depending on their circumstances, and her comments appear even more tone deaf when considered in relation to factory workers at Pretty Little Thing (the fast fashion company which Molly-Mae was recently appointed creative director of), who have been found during a 2020 investigation to work 12-hour shifts for as little as £3.50 a hour. If, as Hague believes, hard work was the sole requirement for success, those factory workers would be significantly wealthier, and perhaps gaining a salary more comparable to the reported six-figure contract Molly-Mae was awarded by the company. Her fortune is based at least partially on the exploitation of these workers, and she simply doesn’t grasp that her wealth is at the expense of others.
While I compel Molly-Mae to gain some humility, it isn’t fair to put all the blame on her. Followers also have a responsibility.
We elevate people like Molly-Mae, despite being aware that their perspectives aren’t very well informed. Her rise to fame stemmed from a TV show based on flippant relationships, appearances, and brand deals – is it any surprise that this produced a badly formed idea of work ethic? This isn’t a value judgement – it’s an industry and it’s a lucrative one – but it’s not one that is responsible for social commentary. A conversation from the 2018 season springs to mind, in which former Love Island contestant Hayley Hughes claimed she hadn’t heard of Brexit and voiced her concerns that it would mean there would be no more trees. It was entertaining, because realistically no viewer tuned in expecting the islanders to form a developed critique of the intricacies of trade negotiations.
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We need to stop attempting to hold influencers to account for something they were never meant to comment on. This doesn’t mean to say influencers should get a blank cheque, but instead that expectations should be managed. Molly-Mae made an inherently political statement through obliviousness, not a desire to be political.
Right now Molly-Mae is the poster girl for a host of problems in society, but that’s unfair. The myth of meritocracy is very much alive in the UK and we should instead be challenging the system which perpetuates it.