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I Regret Some Of My Past From A Decade As An Influencer

I Regret Some Of My Past From A Decade As An Influencer

And actually, that isn’t always the easiest statement to make. In fact, it’s taken a lot longer for me to realise it fully than I understand. Nothing about it makes me a bad person, nothing I did makes me a bad person either – actually confronting things about where we all were as a society over a decade ago to where we are now is a positive step. Before we delve deeper – this post covers influencer marketing and not inequality or any sort of racial hatred as I know is a big topic of past deep diving right now. I wasn’t raised to be intolerant, I never was back then and I’m not now. So if you’ve clicked this title looking for that kind of drama, you won’t find it.

Regret can be a harsh word to use. To be honest I don’t think really you should harbour any regrets, but more reflections. There’s just not really a better word to use than the former when describing things you no longer partake in. For me one of my biggest regrets has to be the output I contributed to with fast fashion. I was part of some of the biggest collaborations with some of the biggest fast fashion brands in the world. I helped make some of them what they are (not in a bigheaded kind of way, but as in I was a part of that culture.) To be honest, it plays on my mind every single day. I often worry about the impact I may have contributed to my audience, and in the last few years I’ve completely changed it.

I used to be posted on Missguided’s Instagram page, Boohoo’s page, I even had a front page segment all about me on ASOS once. I would do giant hauls after hauls of more and more clothes, filling my house with more and more fast fashion. The thought of it now makes me feel a bit sick, makes me feel uncomfortable. That’s a good thing – we don’t change and learn without confronting our uncomfortable truths. I used to post continual affiliate links, swipe up to buy this! wow this is on sale! I remember one day I made £600 from giving an affiliate link to a jacket that had gone on sale on Missguided for £3 that I owned and took some cool photos in. It’s addictive. I can see why people do it. If I continued to do it now, I could probably make a lot more money than I do. Actually I can’t remember the last time I did do that – I only send affiliate links now when one of my followers has been kind enough to ask for it to make a purchase. This is such a sweet gesture, but I only make about £2 off an individual sale these days. You know what? I’m not even remotely bothered anymore.

The whole reason I started this blog, youtube, and instagram page, was to be helpful. To be informative. To act as someone who could chat to you about things I had tried, and let you know if it was worth your time or money. I wanted to make sure your spare £5 for the week wasn’t being wasted on something that wasn’t worth your hard earned cash. I still do. I care a lot about that. I love writing about things I love and I’m very passionate about sharing those things because when I know something is good – I know you’ll love it as much as I do. Sharing that brings joy. But with that, and with how fast the output of influencers started to become – it all got a bit too much, too quickly. It’s only now upon reflection, that I realise how far, and how deep I had got sucked into it all.

I think I will feel guilty about my contribution to fast fashion for a long time. I’m glad I realised, and began on a path to change. I wouldn’t want to sit here and say I now don’t purchase any at all – because I do buy new clothes, but it’s far more rare and in-between. I’ve actually only ordered off ASOS twice so far this year since January – and each time it’s only been one or two things rather than eight or nine. It’s now when I need something, and not because I want something. I’ve gotten a lot better at rooting through my wardrobe, or opening up a page and thinking ‘ooh that’s nice!’ to remembering I have something similar from a couple of years ago already and don’t need this new similar one just because it’s new. Sometimes I used to just sit and browse Pretty Little Thing etc, and I can say I haven’t been on their websites hardly at all – and when I do I find it overwhelming almost instantly, and click out. I also gave all of my old fast fashion I didn’t wear anymore away to my friends, family, and to charity. I still see them wearing it now – and that brings me a lot of joy. Nothing from that era has been wasted. I rewear a lot of it now, still.

I don’t think we will recover or eradicate fast fashion overnight. I also think it’s highly unrealistic to expect people to change overnight, too. I wouldn’t want to pass on expectation like that onto anyone else – as much as I don’t want it placed on me. We are a generation slowly undoing all the things we were brought up to love, and do – and that isn’t as easy for us as it is for the young gen, for Gen Z – who grew up far differently to us. What I do regret is being such a huge part of a new influencer culture at the time, that in turn spawned a movement, that encouraged a buy buy buy mindset. It doesn’t just apply to fashion of course, but to beauty, to homeware, to everything. I make really considered purchases now and I love sharing them with you. Nothing is easy overnight, but I do try where I can to purchase from better brands than I did previously. I also try to look for more indie sellers, shops where you can see the real person behind the page. One thing I’ve missed in lockdown is browsing vintage stores, and I want to make more of a commitment to shopping there a lot more in future.

I’d like to think you’ll have noticed, but I do take on less advertising than I also used to. I don’t want to make excuses for past me (and I’m proud of the fact that I never took on an ad I didn’t want to), but I’ve worked myself to a point where I’m not desperate for money to pay my rent without worrying where the money is going to come from. I’ll never judge those influencers who are. I’ll never judge anyone who needs to take that job to help them with their next bill (unless it’s damaging or a toxic product to recommend, of course. No diet teas here, thankyou.) I understand I’m privileged – but only from my own doing over the last decade, from being poor to comfortable – to be able to turn down working with brands that I feel don’t align with you, the consumer in mind. I also have worked to establish a trusted name for myself that I can question a brand behind the scenes without fear of losing my job – that of which I know many cannot. Navigating this whole thing is really difficult for many influencers, and it’s even harder with the eye of judgement hanging over you. I understand what it’s like to experience that from both sides, and that’s why for me I’ve just been gradually changing my output rather than making stone led statements about others wrongdoings over time, or trying to pile on a cancel culture mentality.

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I actually lose followers from time to time now. When I was posting hauls, fast fashion outfits, lookbooks and guides on what to buy – I was gaining like crazy. Thats why I did it more. Now that I don’t, I have noticed more follower loss. That’s okay, I’m at peace with that. Those who followed me for that aren’t getting it here anymore, and that’s fine. But I believe this very reason is why many are still stuck in the cycle, especially if they’ve been doing it a long time and aren’t sure how to get out.

Many people ask me, please can you do videos showing how you rewear things from your old wardrobe? and while yes, I want to do that – I’m also conscious that by actually just highlighting clothing of a certain type, it will inadvertently make people seek out and purchase a new item, similar. That’s why rather than doing any sort of fashion led content anymore… I just sort of… exist. In the clothes that I’m in. I don’t draw attention to them at all really. Nine times out of ten, I don’t even tag the brands on instagram anymore unless I’ve gone out of my way to show a new brand that’s worth your time. And you guys have stopped asking. I think without even realising it – you stopped caring, too. Collectively, we made progress as a team, and while I never until now spoke about my regrets – you actually helped me overcome them. I’m really proud of all 72,000 of us. One of the times I really realised that you guys had noticed, was when someone else of prominence commented on the fact that it was so refreshing to see that I had used the same (my one and only!) Gucci bag in almost every post for several months. I bought this bag half price at a sample sale to begin as it was to be discarded for having an imperfect mark on the front, and I bought it as a lifelong investment because even half price it was bloody expensive! To be praised for reusing a bag I bought for that sole purpose, also made me realise how bad it had gotten that we were so conditioned to seeing a different bag every time an influencer posted.

One of the key points really is – it’s okay to like fashion, to be interested in fashion – to consume fashion. But for me the conflict came with my attitude toward buying it, partaking in it, and as someone in a position of influence, I wanted to change how I contributed to that, personally.

That’s why, while I do regret some of the content I made, some of the terminology I used to sell things to you and some of the things I contributed to that were at detriment to the planet – I knew what I had to change going forward for my own sanity, happiness – and hopefully yours, too. While I do agree that we should question what we see, and we should harness our unfollow button to remove creators we don’t align with, I don’t think we should heavy handedly pile on the cancel culture. I’m also not perfect in this sense of change, and I feel it would be really foolish and harmful to expect influencers to be. To raise them onto a pedestal scale that doesn’t exist. It’s more sensible to remember that those who are even making considered changes are doing it with you in mind, not just as a consumer but as a friend – as part of the community. And that really, no change – especially when considering perhaps a decade of behaviour – can be changed overnight. I’m a firm believer in that if everyone made a small change to one element of their life, the larger scale impact it would have would be astronomical. To expect one single person to therefore change every aspect of their life is unrealistic.

I think a better course of action would be to realise those who perhaps were part of this, and have since eliminated it quietly. It may have been so subtle that you maybe just didn’t really even clock they were doing it. Find those creators, stick by them, support them. Their advertising coin gain isn’t at your detriment anymore. They give a shit about you. I know that, because that’s me. And actually, I don’t now regret telling you that at all.

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View Comments (2)
  • I loved this post. It’s so lovely to see how you’ve grown and started really thinking about your influence and how you want it to be positive for the planet. I definitely noticed how you’ve stopped doing big hauls and admired it. Thanks for speaking up and doing what you’re doing! 😊

  • I read this sat in my room which is semi packed up to move out to my first place on my own. And the clothes I’ve bought as part of that culture (not your influence) of buying often, are encroaching on everything. I’ve sorted them so many times and listed on Depop and there is still too much to still get rid of. But it’s mad thinking about what I’ve spent money on. Looking forward to this new era of your content Zoe and hopefully I’ll be able to shift some of the stuff I never wear and become a better consumer as well.

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