You don’t mess with Zoella’s fans unless you want serious attention. The beauty and lifestyle vlogger, who has 7.6 million followers on Instagram and 10.3 million YouTube subscribers, is a big deal amongst young people, particularly young women. So when she posted a Snapchat of herself in bed, part covered by a duvet, mostly clad in a long-sleeved white jersey and a pair of black Calvin Klein pants, The Sun decided to write a story on it. The story? ‘YouTube star Zoella ditches her wholesome image with bedtime Snapchat… of her in her knickers’
The sub-head? ‘Vlogger is beloved by young girls - but they’re NEVER seen her like this’
The piece then made reference to Zoella - real name Zoe Sugg ‘flashing her pants in bed’.
Zoella responded on Twitter, saying: ‘I hope one day we will live in a world where promoting self love & body confidence won't be sexualised or shamed.’
And where she leads, her followers, um, follow. Cue #WeStandWithZoe. Plenty of her fans, both male and female, uploaded photos of themselves in their pyjamas, nighties and the rest. Some pointed out what they perceive as a media-wide double standard which sees papers treating male and female semi-nudity differently:
Others picked up on the fact she’d been wearing Calvin Kleins, uploading photos of their own Calvins, themselves in Calvins or even cartoons of Zoella in her Calvins…all as a sign of solidarity to Zoella for not letting herself be sexualised or shamed.
Zoella’s boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes, also got involved, donning Zoe’s knickers for his own photo of support for her
Zoella's point - that there wasn't much sexual or shameful about her original Snapchat - is a pretty good one. However, comparing Zoella's treatment to, um, other people who have also been sexualised and shamed for wearing less than a full outfit doesn't quite add up. For example, actual Calvin Klein model Kendall Jenner was held up as an example of a double standard, when actually, certain media outlets are just as quick to use similar language when describing her.
It's not to say shaming or sexualising Zoella is fine, it's just to say that this is a routine thing that unfortunately happens to a whole bunch of people, regardless of what they do or don't wear, or even if they're famous or not. Because, as increasing evidence shows there's been a phenomenal rise in underage sexting via services such as Snapchat, it's worth everyone taking a little time to work out what is and isn't appropriate behaviour. While some might think Zoella's selfie is inappropriate, or going agaisnt her role model status, those same people might do well to wonder if sexualising young women against their desires might be part of a much bigger problem.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.