An Open Letter to Female Influencers: Why the World Can’t Handle Women Who Influence

| Creator Economy

In a world where women like you and I are carving out empires from the palm of our hands, our smartphones as our battle swords, why is it that the sight of a woman confidently building her autonomy through influencer work sparks such outrage and vitriol?

Happy International Women’s day and welcome to another day in the influencer industry, an industry sculpted, nurtured, and dominated by women, grown into a multi-billion-dollar powerhouse on the very premise of achieving freedom and creativity in our work and lives. A career about taking up the space we’ve carved out through sheer grit, creativity, and tenacity. Yet, as we ascend in power, crafting businesses that defy traditional workspaces and shatter glass ceilings, the backlash is still as predictable as it is bitterly ironic.

So, here’s the million-dollar question(s) girls: Can society stomach women who not only take up space but also define its parameters, thriving unapologetically in a domain they’ve masterminded themselves?

Can we live in a world where women reap the rewards of their hard work without the sting of contempt or the shadow of resentment?

Why is it, when women like us take the reins, confidently navigating our careers and influencing on our terms, that the ground beneath us is riddled with traps of disdain and scepticism?

Today we celebrate the achievements and progress of women across the globe so I’m using this airtime to champion an industry, our industry, that has become a pivotal space for women’s autonomy and financial freedom— as well as highlighting the obstacles we face that still try to hold us down.

So, hold my drink whilst I first pull you into a heated instagram debate I recently found myself embroiled in off the back of a popular Manchester restaurant publicly shaming an influencer for reaching out to ask if they were interested in a collaboration opportunity. A debate that swiftly shifted from defending the influencer industry to defending influencers as people in general.

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Or frankly, defending women’s right to operate within it.

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And then ofc defending myself as comments turned vicious and personal once they knew, I too was a woman with influence.Imagine an influencer reaching out to a restaurant with a proposition of promotional content in exchange for a dining experience—a simple, mutually beneficial value exchange. A very common approach, (I’m sure you’ve done yourself) when seeking out brands that your audiences would benefit from or enjoy hearing more about.

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The restaurant did not like being approached to collaborate, no – they didn’t like it at all. This (initially) well-intentioned outreach was met with contempt. Which prompted them to publicly shame the influencer on their stories and in-feed posts, encouraging a sh*tstorm of trolling in the comments – without even replying to her.

This in turn roused the influencer to send a very embarrassing and arrogant response, which I wouldn’t recommend anyone do despite wanting to defend themselves.

However, the palpable outrage from the post comments, was not mainly directed at the influencers reaction to the shaming. More to the fact she was reaching out the restaurant in the first place with comments like, “How dare she ask for free food?” and “it’s begging what you people are doing.”Let’s get one thing straight: This influencer’s DM, no matter how causal in approach, wasn’t begging for a handout; she was offering a service—a trade of influence for exposure.

Yet, here we are, in 2024, still having to argue the legitimacy and value of women-led businesses in the influencer sphere.

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Comments like “They have no respect for small businesses who work hard to make a living” are drenched in irony and ignorance. It’s mind-boggling how these critics conveniently overlook that influencers are women-owned small businesses in their own right, grinding daily to carve out their niche and earn a living. This isn’t just about a free meal (you and I both know we can feed ourselves just fine); it’s about the exchange of value, where both parties stand to gain.

In a barter exchange we get to make content for our audiences, the restaurant benefits from an unpaid advertisement, signposting their biz as a potential place to eat on your next trip to Manchester.  A collaboration offer that, said restaurant, has every right to politely decline if they do not see a brand alignment or have the resources to entertain. But no, it seems easier for the detractors to demean the influencer’s hard-earned clout, confidence and proactiveness in running her small business and potential benefits their promotion could bring to the restaurant.

(And no, I haven’t even touched on the value of the promotional content offered. That influencer would probably dine all month for free for the rate many of us charge to create stories promoting a brand on our channels.)

I do not know this influencer who sparked this debate, nor can i speak for every influencer out there, but what’s clear is this incident puts a glaring spotlight on the covert sexism that women, especially those owning their space in the influencer industry, face daily, disguised as disdain for someone doing their job.

It’s an appalling reminder that, despite the leaps we’ve made towards gender equality, there’s a cavernous gap in respect and recognition for women who dare to pave their own path. It’s as if the concept of a woman commanding her worth and advocating for her business is too radical, too audacious for some to digest.

But I will forever die on the hill defending the value that influences bring to brand marketing that so many ignorantly refuse to acknowledge or accept (because our careers are proof of this). But it isn’t the brands that pay us thousands of pounds for my content and influence, or my followers or you reading this letter I need to convince. It’s the fact that when someone publicly goes after a woman running her instagram business that everyone and anyone harbouring an ounce of misogyny, jealousy and ignorance towards influencers will readily pour fuel on the stake to make sure that women influencers are incinerated.

This isn’t just an isolated event; it’s symptomatic of a broader issue where women’s ventures, especially in digital and creative fields, are trivialised and belittled. Why? Because it dares to challenge the traditional, patriarchal norms of business and success. It’s as though our society can stomach a woman’s ambition only if it’s palatable, demure, and doesn’t disrupt the status quo. Well, fuck that.

The audacity to belittle a woman’s business while rallying behind a presumably male-owned restaurant is not only sexist but glaringly transparent. It’s a bitter pill that unveils how far we have yet to go.

So, to the haters, the sexists, and the wilfully ignorant: Your outrage isn’t about protecting small businesses—it’s about policing and undermining the autonomy and success of women in the influencer industry. It’s about refusing to see women as rightful earners in their domains, about denying them the respect and recognition they’ve worked tirelessly to achieve.

As a woman (influencer or not) people will always try to hold you back, belittle you work or contributions because they are scared and uncomfortable seeing a woman go all in on something she wants.

And every female influencer who breaks barriers and cashes checks for her social currency is not just winning for herself; she’s laying down the tracks for the next woman to come through with even more ease. We’re not each other’s competition; we’re pioneers in a space that we dominate, a space that we own, and rightfully so. The brands know it; the naysayers know it; shiiiit, even the men throwing shade from behind their screens know it—our influence is power, and it’s high time we wield it without apology.

It’s this sentiment that hardens my heart when I get dragged for standing up for my fellow female influencers and industry that’s done so much for me.

To every aspiring influencer reading this, navigating the murky and scary waters of influencer work or any other field: Your work is valid. Your hustle is commendable. And your right to seek fair exchange for your services is non-negotiable. Let the disdain and disrespect be the fuel that propels you further, not the anchor that holds you down. We are not each other’s competition but a formidable force when united.

And to those considering diving into the influencer realm or any venture that sets your soul on fire: let’s link arms and march forward, unwavering in our resolve to carve spaces that honour our worth, respect our work, and celebrate our victories. Let’s transform the narrative, not just on International Women’s Day, but every damn day. Because, girls, our time is now, and it’s about time the world recognises it ✌️✊

PS. If you’re fired up and ready to dive deeper, to stake your claim in this ever-evolving influencer realm, then let’s turn up the volume. Round 2 of The Influencer Launchpad is your ticket to not just joining the ranks but leading the charge and change for your life and how you earn your autonomy and financial freedom this spring. Get on the pre-sale waitlist and step into a community where your dreams, your work, and your ambitions are not just welcomed but championed.

Let this not just be a think piece but a battle cry for respect, recognition, and rights. Let’s stand tall, proud, and unapologetic in our pursuit of autonomy, success, and, yes, influence.