Oh boy... please proceed with caution.
The social media outrage machine is still in perfect working order and the latest casualty is *check notes*... what's a Molly-Mae? Honestly I had no idea who this woman was, so for you guys that don't know she is an influencer who became popular because of Love Island and she is now the Creative Director of Pretty Little Thing all at the age of 22. Impressive right? Well apparently not according to some, she has recently made headlines due to some "controversial" comments she made on Steven Bartlett's podcast, The Diary of a CEO. You can find the full episode below:
(You can find her controversial at 11:47)
I listened to the entire podcast. It would be wrong of me to comment on something that is part of a wider discussion. Having said this though I don't think this is a case of something being taken out of context, whether it's part of this wider discussion or is a sentiment iterated on its own I think the philosophy behind it is pretty clear and simple.
Now a lot of you maybe don't see any issue with what she's said and that I can fully understand. It's just a successful 22 year old essentially saying that we need to make the most of the time we have and if we work hard enough that we can achieve our goals. Now the issue with the social media outrage machine is that people hear about the backlash before they see the thing that is receiving the backlash and because of this a lot of people will already have their pre-conceived opinions on whatever it is they're reacting to because they have already been influenced by hundreds of other people. If I had just watched this interview not knowing that it caused a backlash I probably wouldn't even think twice about her comments and I imagine it would be a similar story with a lot of people. However this isn't me saying that people's concerns aren't valid and after initially thinking there wasn't much wrong with what she said I can understand people's criticisms.
If you watch the entire podcast Molly-Mae very much feels like a 22 year old. I can't say I particularly enjoyed the podcast or found it insightful in anyway, having not known anything about Molly-Mae she is pretty much how I expected her to be. However I can understand that fans of hers would find some enjoyment from it. However with this young age comes some naivety that can be forgiven. If you listen to a lot of what Molly says I feel like there is a lack of self awareness from her which she herself actually alludes to in the interview when she talks about her house being robbed and being an oversharer. Something that stood out to me was when she said that friends are "a waste of time" which makes me think she just doesn't have the right friends. But I digress, all I'm trying to say is that this is something to keep in mind when digesting her comments. She may be mega rich and hyper successful but at the heart of that is still a 22 year old woman. And I know what a lot of you may be saying... "well 22 isn't a child, she should still know better." I'm 27 and I still say stupid stuff. A point she constantly reiterates in the podcast is that she knows she's still learning so I find it difficult to take out a referendum on her character based on one thing she has said.
Now let's actually talk about what she said and why I personally think people's outrage is misplaced. To paraphrase, Molly Mae said that we all have the same 24 hours in a day and if we work hard enough and want something bad enough we can achieve it. This sounds like something taken out of every motivational speech ever. This isn't groundbreaking or insightful in the slightest. We have all heard this in some form before but now people want to get riled up about it? Which makes me think that a lot of people's issue isn't necessarily what was said but in fact, who has said it.
The main criticism lobbied at Molly-Mae is that we don't actually all have the same 24 hours, which to her credit Molly-Mae does semi allude to kinda (when she says she's been slammed before because she didn't grow up in poverty) which makes me think she knows this but in a moment where she tried to empower and seem motivational she got a bit carried away with her words. So people say her words are problematic due to the fact that there are people without the same privilege and opportunities as Molly-Mae who are working their arses off but aren't able to achieve even a fraction of what she has. Is this true? Of course it is. Hard-work doesn't equal success. The equation isn't that simple, in fact there are a lot of variables that need to be taken into consideration. But this does beg the question, can you attain your dreams and be successful without working hard? A lot of you will say no. If you're speaking to someone who is living in poverty or struggling who is working hard, them working hard probably isn't the reason why they're unsuccessful. Actually, it may well be things out of their control. However I think it is a mentality that we should all adopt no matter where we lie on the socio-economic spectrum. But the reality is that it will work for some but not for others. Right? Unfortunately some of us are born into better circumstances than others, and some of us get lucky but just because someone may be more privileged, doesn't mean they didn't have to work hard for what they've got. There's always going to be someone that has it worse than you. The last thing I would do is tell someone living in poverty not to work hard but I also wouldn't tell them that the reason for why they're not successful is because they're not working hard. Does that make sense? And how are we measuring success? There's level to success. Someone making 50k a year is arguably successful, even someone making half that. Being in the top 1% isn't the only way to be deemed as a success.
Take a look at this clip from one of my 50% of one of my favourite YouTube duos who articulates this point perfectly:
How does a privileged person speak about the importance of working hard without being invalidated because of their privilege? I think there's something quite regressive in blindly attributing people's success to their privilege. And this isn't me denying those privileges and the part they play in people's successes but it isn't a good enough reason to discredit people's hard work.
And this attempt at always trying invalidate people who are privileged is very weird to me. A privilege isn't something that can be helped a lot of the time. Most often than not, privilege is just something that is thrust upon you, for example the sex you're born as, the country you're born in, the wealth of your family. But to somehow imply that this means that people are unable to speak on or understand things that don't directly concern them because of their privilege is jarring. We are always talking of ally-ship but how can people do that when we don't allow them to speak because they are talking from a "place of privilege." There are some things as a man I will never be able to experience or identify with when it comes to problems's women face. But this doesn't stop me from understanding women's issues from mere education and speaking to women. In fact this is what we are encouraged to do. Having said this though, the reality is it's all well and good when we stick to the status quo and go with the consensus but as soon as we say something a bit contentious it's "Well you don't understand because you're privileged". And don't get me wrong a lot of the times this can be the case. But not always, and shouldn't be used as our first line of defence. It's an easy out, a quick way to shut down conversation and completely disregard another point of view.
People are speaking with such indignation that Molly-Mae didn't have to work for what she has as if we all have an idea of what her day to day life is like. As I said at the beginning, I don't know much about the girl at all, I am not naive to the fact that appearing on Love Island (which some people argue is a bit of an easy way to success) catapulted her career. Of course it did, but who am I to sit here and berate here for taking an opportunity that was given to her. Again, another sentiment we are always taught. Molly-Mae can't help being Molly-Mae. Just as a lot of people often can't help the dire situations they find themselves in. If you're presented with something that can help your career you're going to take it. Yes it can be argued that being on Love Island doesn't require any real skill or talent, but that is not the fault of people who benefit from that system. It's our fault for engrossing ourselves in celebrity culture and binging shows like Love Island.
I can not comfortably sit here and say that Molly-Mae has it easy and everything has been handed to her and she hasn't had to work for it. Numerous people from Love Island are not achieving the success she is and I find it hard to believe that someone who is the Creative Director of one of the biggest brands in the UK didn't have to work even a little bit hard to get there. In the podcast she says she worked hard to get to where she is, whether this is true or not how can I with absolutely certainty say that this is false? So I really do think this is a null argument, if you ask anyone 3 qualities you need to be successful they will most likely say "hard-working" is one of them.
Am I missing something here? Please tell me if I am because I really do not share the outrage. A lot of people's reactions seems more of a personal attack on Molly-Mae than actually refuting what she said. People want to be so obtuse and disingenuous with their arguments, if you have a problem with people gaining fame and fortune from reality TV then that's okay. I'd even say I would agree. But would I then attack and say the people who have profited from that haven't worked hard for what they have? Probably not, because I simply do not know.
Defenders of Molly-Mae of course want to put all the backlash down to her being a woman, Steven Bartlett included. I don't think this is the case personally. I think a lot of Molly-Mae's comments were short sighted and she tapped into something that is a huge political and societal talking point even though she probably didn't intend to. Not to mention that she is part of a culture that a lot of people loathe and envy. We all know the world isn't an equal playing field. Stop saying this like it's some big revelation. It doesn't change the fact that hard-work is a huge component of being successful. What I can appreciate is that at least she attempted to be somewhat uplifting and dare I say there actually may be people out there that take inspiration from it. Would there be a different reaction if this same sentiment was said by someone who actually rose from poverty and wasn't as "privileged" as Molly-Mae? Would you then tell that person that what they said is problematic? You don't have to go far to find plenty of rags to riches stories.
I have no reason to defend this person. I am not a fan, I barely know who she is and fast fashion brands irk me for plenty of reasons. And having said this, it is not lost on me that Molly-Mae is saying all this when fast fashion brands are often slammed for underpaying their workers. Two things on that. I do not look too heavily into how the clothes I wear were made and how much these companies are paying their workers but I am certain that a lot of my clothes do feed into this issue so I will not sit here and hypocritically condemn her for that. Secondly, if you're using this as an attack on her I also hope you're throwing the same shade to the people who actually own the company.
When it comes down to it, we all have our privileges. Some more than others, and these privileges will benefit our lives in different ways. Privilege doesn't automatically mean you don't have to work hard for what you want, of course you can argue that it will make things easier for you but to think about it in such a binary is ironic because you are in fact doing what you are accusing Molly-Mae of doing. Not acknowledging that there's no one size fits all. So maybe a lot of you need to understand that, just like you want her to understand that we don't all have the same 24 hours and hard-work isn't synonymous with success. When you understand that most things in life are a spectrum it really helps you to formulate a balanced opinion on certain subjects. But this vilification of someone, who probably thought she was saying something positive, needs to stop. She is a privileged person that said a privileged thing. You're not going to somehow convince me that this woman is somehow a bad or evil person. A little naive, sure, not heavily articulate, yes I'll give you that, a big raging Tory, no. *Checks to see if she actually is a tory*
One thing I will concede however and something that I have reiterated is that I do not know Molly-Mae that well and people would argue maybe I would have a different opinion if I had a better idea of her overall character. And you might well be right, I can't refute that but I all I can do is give my take on what has been presented to me irrespective of anything else. But if you have legitimate reasons for why you think she's an awful human then please feel free to share them.
I do hope one day though we can all stop concerning ourselves with the lives of all these influencers and celebrities. These people are not infallible. They're going to say things you disagree with or don't like, you don't have to listen or even care about what she has to say. We're all going to be outraged by something else next week. Damn.
Never in my life did I think someone saying work hard to achieve your dreams would cause so much outrage. As always, If I am wrong please let me know. Am I a bad person for not finding offense in what she said? If you actually watch the whole interview something that actually may warrant outrage is that towards the end of the episode Molly-Mae claims that homelessness is something she cares deeply about so it can be asked what she is doing to combat this societal issue. I mean she may be doing things behind the scenes... but I dunno. And with someone who has so much money, influence and power you would think she'd be doing something akin to our boy Marcus.
We can use this whole debacle as a springboard to have real discussions about social mobility, class and privilege but Molly-Mae doesn't have to be crucified in order to do that. It makes me wonder if people actually care about these issues or if they actually just want to take down someone who is "more successful" than them.
Having read all this back I think what this comes down to for me is... I really don't care enough to even feign outrage. Whether Molly-Mae wants to acknowledge people who don't have the same 24 hours as her is really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. She's still going to be rich and we're all still going to be poor.