One mega magazine, one mega blogger, and one mega misunderstanding…Or was it? Sabrina Mebtouche wades in on THAT Sarah Ashcroft interview…
Unless you were hiding out in a cave this bank holiday, then you would have noticed Twitter explode over Sarah Ashcroft’s ‘How I turned my Instagram unto a money-making business’ interview for Cosmopolitan magazine.
What was seemingly meant to be an innocent interview with one of the UK’s most successful social media influencers to share how she made her blog and Instagram such a success, instead resulted in a massive backlash on Twitter and with Sarah both offending and upsetting some of her most loyal of fans, whilst unintentionally starting a war amongst the blogging community, with many fellow bloggers left feeling disheartened, attacked and offended.
A controversial interview is always going to encourage a sea of strong opinions both defending and attacking the person in question, but nobody anticipated the degree to which Sarah’s interview would rile the blogging community. It only takes a search of her name in Twitter to bring up page after page of tweets, where Sarah has been openly labelled “arrogant”, “big-headed”, “a pretentious twat” and a “stuck-up bitch”.
Controversial the interview may be, considering female empowerment is meant to be at the absolute core of the blogging community, the situation unveiled a little bit more than just Sarah’s honest opinions…it also accidentally exposed a major flaw in the blogging community, leading us to question…
Why exactly, was the blogging community so quick to tear one of their own down?
“Brands know that if I wear their clothes, people will buy it” Many interpreted Sarah’s open discussion of the scale of her influence as arrogant and big-headed, using this as their catalyst to launch their verbal attacks on her.
“I started to realise that my followers are so engaged and care so much about my opinion that brands shouldn’t be telling me what to post – I should be telling them.” You have to question here though, did Sarah really cross that line between confidence and cockiness? Women are constantly encouraged and pushed to aspire to be career-driven, successful ‘girl bosses’ with a need for an entrepreneurial attitude to survive in todays society (particularly in the blogging industry), but perhaps Cosmopolitan’s interview inadvertently proved that although we push and push each other to inspire to be a ‘girl boss’, when a self-confessed ‘girl boss’ proudly acknowledges her own influence and power within the industry, women are not quite ready for this level of honesty and self-awareness. Consequently outcasting one of their own, branding her “an arrogant stuck-up bitch”. Girl power…
Sarah also ruffled a few feathers with her dismissal of blogging itself…“I don’t really blog anymore because we live in a lazy culture, and I know that people can’t be bothered to click a link”, leading many to question whether she was a “real blogger’ as she failed to post on her own blog – ironically, the thing that brought her the success she enjoys today – for a whole 6 months. And whilst thousands of bloggers work tirelessly on producing blog content day in and day out, it is easy to see how bloggers were disheartened by this statement.
But the big’un and the comment which triggered the backlash was Sarah’s comment about there being no more space for bloggers:
“If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think there’s any space for more bloggers in the industry – everyone is one these days. It’s ridiculous.”
Bloggers were livid. They felt attacked and they felt victimised. Some used this as ammo to launch their verbal attacks on Sarah via Twitter, whilst others felt genuinely sad and discouraged by Sarah’s comments. One of the top dogs of the fashion blogging world had essentially just told you to “stop what you’re doing, pack your bags up and trot off home, because there’s no room at the inn and certainly no room for you in this industry”.
Although it may not have been meant it in the way it was perceived, it’s certainly not difficult to understand why many bloggers who are just starting out took those comments to heart and reacted strongly to that, regardless of whether it was morally right or wrong of them to do so. Everybody has to start from somewhere and Sarah’s reference to the amount of people out there with a blog being “ridiculous” hurt a lot of people. Sarah, just like all the other successful bloggers in the industry, was once a young girl with a passion in her to start a blog and nobody deserves to have that excitement taken away from them by somebody they thought was their inspiration and their blogging role model. Sarah herself knows what it’s like to start at the bottom of the blogging industry, so to insinuate that now that she’s reached the top that there’s no room for amateurs down at the bottom of the industry, was unfair.
Predictably, Twitter didn’t have long to wait for the backlash to begin once the interview was out there, with lots of the top dogs of the blogging industry soon making their stance clear, by laughing Sarah’s comments off and using their own social media platforms to encourage their followers to pursue their blogs, highlighting that everybody is their own niche and that there will never be too many bloggers, just like there will never be too many singers, or teachers, or bus drivers.
These successful bloggers with high Twitter followings used their voice to respond to negativity against their industry and to instead spread positivity and inspire their female followers and fellow bloggers. So why then, were so many other women (both bloggers and non-bloggers) so quick to turn on Sarah and use her controversial comment as an opportunity to launch a witch hunt against her and to continually tag her in mean tweets, whilst labelling her “bitchy”? It seems rather ironic, doesn’t it.
Yes, Sarah’s comments upset and disheartened a lot of bloggers, but for an industry which prides itself on female empowerment, sisterhood and building each other up, it does make you question what went wrong last weekend within the blogging community to make them turn on one of their own so instantaneously and viciously. Additionally, whilst the comments were taken in a particular stance, another perspective could have been to see that originality is so key with content these days, which is not breaking news. The blogging community is larger than it was 4 years ago, and everyone strives to create incredible content. Sarah was pushing bloggers to up their game, not pull down the one they’re already playing.
You can’t fight fire with fire and the negativity that radiated from the community throughout this backlash, undoubtedly caused far more harm to one member of that said community than Sarah’s opinions ever could have. There’s nothing positive in groups of girls uniting to publicly slate one of their own and controversial though her comments may have been, Sarah Ashcroft did not deserve to be a part of online victimisation. Female bloggers should be using their online voices and platforms to empower each other and not to tear each other down. So let’s forget this nonsense, brush away the bitchy, and start building each other up again – after all, without the Sarah’s, the Zoella’s, the Tanya’s, blogging would never be the multimillion industry it is today, and as Sarah has said herself since…there’s room for everyone.
Let us know your thoughts!
Written by Sabrina Mebtouche. Check out Sabrina’s blog The Monochrome Chronicles here!