Last week, a fashion and beauty Instagram influencer (and self-described artist) named Amra Olević Reyes made the courageous decision to come to the defense of... influencers. “The only people that discredit influencers are those that tried it and didn’t succeed,” she argued on Twitter. Influencing requires an almost impossible plethora of skills since it’s “a hybrid of many jobs,” Reyes explained, adding that she didn’t “wanna hear no influencer slander again.” The complaint about criticism seemed to come from no where: why was she assuming that everyone who dislikes influencers operates out of jealousy?
In a follow-up interview, Reyes told BuzzFeed she was “constantly see[ing] people bashing influencers,” and chose to take a stand.
For whom? Herself, I guess.
“Other beauty/fashion professionals slander our job and make it seem less than.” she said, adding that “most influencers started from the bottom, and had to work their way up with no connections, [it’s] far from privileged. Although it may seem like we have it easy, there was years of struggle that took to even get noticed.” She also stressed the value of influencers, claiming that they “have a huge impact on the market especially. Brands know that, and the general public should as well.”
I’m confident the general public does know that influencers have an impact on the market, if we’re talking about the same general public scrolls through endless Instagram #ad posts a day.
Regardless, Reyes’ defensiveness reminds me of James Charles’s “influencer representation” comment from earlier this year, where he portrayed his personal success as part of a larger movement to legitimatize influencers as actually famous people. In that regard, Reyes is part of a trend among influencers to portray their work as if they are part of a repressed group, marginalized because they’re not treated with the same sort of reverence as traditional celebrity. (Part of this is true: Instagram personalities really could benefit from an A-list celebrity publicist; they’d avoid making these stupid remarks in the first place.)
In reality, influencers are—for the most part—famous, rich, conventionally attractive (in and of itself a “privilege” someone should inform Reyes of) and in the public eye, a position that makes them susceptible to justified fault-finding as well as pointless cruelty. Criticism can be hard to stomach, but it’s part of the price of a public career predicated on fame.
She, and other influencers who feel tired of having to explain what they do all day to strangers, would be wise to take a step back, put the phone down, and continue to enjoy their lives of luxury, one you and I will never get to experience. It’s really not that serious.