The beauty influencer who wants to be the hot intellectual, but who is, ironically, not smart enough to know why nobody thinks she’s intelligent…lol.

The beauty influencer who wants to be the hot intellectual, but who is, ironically, not smart enough to know why nobody thinks she’s intelligent…lol.

When someone who has built their career (&yes, I am dignifying the “influencer” with the terminology “career” as models are considered to have “careers” as people who work for the sake of commercial interests as advertisements, and what is an “influencer” but a small-scale advertising and marketing agent, much like models of yore?) around their image laments that they are not taken seriously for their very average intellect, I wonder, wholeheartedly about how their perceived intellect has failed to recognize the irony in their lamentations. 

Picture, with me, will you, a younger-than-average-looking, cute, bubbly Korean-American plopped down in front of a camera she positioned to be pointing at herself slathering dozens of different products on her face in the name of “beauty” while attempting to make a statement (without outright saying it) about how glammed-up, hot girls are smart, too, which means that not only does she perceive herself as hot (obviously, due to her online following, right?), but also, she perceives herself as smart, and she wants to be recognized as such. She also perceives of herself as able to maintain her relevance due to the work of others (as a fast-follower rather than a genuine creator, she outsources the creative aspects of her videos). This combination of her lack of genuine creative skill alongside her out-sized perception of her intellect will be her inevitable downfall. 

It is at the moment when you accept the world’s definition of success that you will fail. 

At first, she wonders aloud about how the viewers of her “books videos” (and no, there are no actual quotes from this “influencer” as I am not about to waste my time rummaging through her intellectually void videos for a second time to gather exact quotes) are definitely different from the viewers of her regular (vapid, beauty) videos. And then, while continuing to paint her face with the dozens or so products, she sort of explains how when she’s all “glam,” people comment in a way that makes her feel like nobody takes her “thoughts” (or attempts at more intellectually leaning content) seriously. 

I, literally, laughed out loud. 

And now I’m realizing that I have little to no idea where to actually begin when attempting to be critical of a thing that really requires no intellectual critique. But alas, I do not want her to “go away,” nor do I wish that she would stop making content. I wish for her success and representation as an advertisement. I just also wish that “influencers,” in general, simply own up to the fact that they’re nothing but ads. I actually had plans to write about a certain white woman who is “trending” rn due to her fraudulent behavior in posing as Latina, but then I realized that I’d be amplifying yet another dumbass white woman instead of shedding light on a fellow Korean-American (although, I am not technically Korean-American, as I am, technically, a transracial Korean).

The only point of this writing is to hopefully help her understand why she cannot be taken seriously, unfortunately, at this point in time. This is not to say that one day she might be considered an intellectual, but today, at this point in time, with her average mental capacities (&I’m not being mean here, since, if you were to watch some of her cooking videos for yourself, her attention to detail is slim, which doesn’t bode well for the longevity of her career and apparel business that contributes to the continued catastrophe that is fast-fashion) I am confident that she could become someone who could potentially have something intelligent to say in the future. 

My point is that she’s providing the proof for her own average-sized intelligence. 

Anyone who has built their career on their image is spending all of their time thinking about their image. This means that this same mental energy cannot be utilized for intellectual pursuits. Yes, she does read (but she includes audiobooks as “books read,” which I cannot tolerate because you do not read an audiobook!), but not only does she read fluff, she largely does not understand what she reads. Her reading comprehension, in fact, is so low that she has a hard time finishing each week’s publication of The New Yorker within the week that she receives them. 

This is the thing that intellectuals know about people who care a lot about how they look—they know that the amount of time people spend doing their makeup, shopping for makeup, selecting their outfits, shopping for outfits, worrying about whether or not a certain makeup look makes them look smart is the exact reason why she is not smart. The entire portion of the video was dedicated to her ruminating about what sort of makeup look will make her LOOK intelligent to the viewers who stumble upon her “books videos” instead of spending that time studying the books she’s going to talk about in a way that will actually make her intelligent. Get it? 

And so no, I’m not being mean, nor am I saying anything particularly damning. I’ve only repeated things she’s shared herself, which means that these things are open to discussion and criticism because she put them out there. And it is this same principle that has put my own opinion of her “out there” for criticism by someone far smarter than me. 

I get it. She desires to be perceived as intelligent more than she actually wants to be intelligent, and I know this through her (failed) attempts to drop knowledge about ideas such as “cognitive dissonance” and “antifragility,” the latter of which I know she knows absolutely nothing about because she’s never once referenced the author or his source material when discussing books, not to mention that her usage of the idea of antifragility in such prosaic and superficial terms proves that she knows absolutely nothing about it. Hint: It is, first and foremost, an economic theory. 

She’s aware of the fact that school was difficult for her, and she’s even proud of the strides she’s made in her intelligence. I’m not here to deride the work that she’s done. I’m merely the messenger attempting to explain to her why nobody will ever take her seriously until she takes herself seriously, which doesn’t mean figuring out a way to look like someone to take seriously but rather, means that she needs to cultivate actual skills that will make other people see her as intelligent. And pointing a camera at yourself as you review consumer goods for the internet is hardly an intelligent pursuit, which again, is why one’s money is not a reflection of one’s intellect. 

Which actually brings me to another point about her general lack of intelligence with regards to finance. She continually refers to herself as financially independent. Hmmm…what does that mean? Well, for starters, financial independence is defined by the fact that one no longer needs to trade their time for money. She thinks that because she can name her own hours (like all business owners) she is financially independent. Hmmm. Okay. Well, first off, she is working, “hard,” every day. She doesn’t even work for herself. She has a manager and advertisers for whom she works. She thinks, “But I can choose my advertisers.” Yea, until your numbers droop (when you inevitably age-out of the demographic category into which you currently fit). And if she decides, even for one month, to stop making videos, from where will her income come? Wealth is largely determined by how long you can sustain your current lifestyle without trading a single second of your time for money. Financial independence means that you are wealthy. 

Is she rich? Sure. Does she have some cash stashed away that makes her feel as though she can afford her lifestyle without income? Probably. But she is not financially independent because her expenses are too high, which means that she must pump out videos and content so that she can continue to cover her expenses (and I’m not even going to attempt to break down how her apparel company will fail). She must relegate herself to content creation in order to sustain her lifestyle. So is she rich? Yes. But is she financially independent, fuck no! 

And obviously, smart women can be hot, and there are a lot of hot women who are incredibly smart. Intellectualism, however, is a completely different pursuit, but even among the dowdy intellectuals, there are hot women, and I know this because I’m a hot woman who is an intellectual. But my pursuits have not revolved around my fortunate appearance, because, who cares? My pursuits have been around cultivating my intellect, and so, when someone interacts with me, they’re seeing the fruits of my labor (my intellect), and when someone interacts with her, they’re also seeing the fruits of her labor, which largely revolves around her image. 

At the end of the day, she’s showing up to her intellectual pursuits with a makeup bag and complaining that nobody (except her tween following) is impressed by her intelligence.

None of this matters, obviously. I’m just bored.

‘Beauty & The Blogger’

‘Beauty & The Blogger’

… but don’t think influencing is something to be proud of.

-Bill Maher

(Real Time with Bill Maher, Season 17; Episode 8, 15 March 2019)

 

Imagine with me, will you?, the world in which you live. Perhaps when is the future. Perhaps when is the now. Either way, you plop down in front of a screen, and you scroll through YouTube or VidTube or YouVid, you get the point. You flip through a handful of your go-to channels, and then you browse a bit to see if there’s anything new left to discover. And then, you inevitably end up on the channel of an influencer. You watch this person entertain you with funny, educational, fun, beautiful life. You watch as this person either does a workout or performs some skill or teaches you something cool or shows you something cool or takes you along on some journey or slathers their face in makeup so that they may court jester you through the world of the elite.

The worst of these influencers, to me, are of the beauty variety. And a middle-of-the-road example would be Jenn Im, the beloved, adorable, cute, airy, uplifting, good-vibes-only, Korean-American, beauty influencer. Im runs a strong YouTube channel, has her own hype-clothing brand, collabs—seemingly endlessly—with all sorts of brands, all around the world. She’s living the dream, right? Unfortunately, not so much. The reality of the influencer market is that they are the future middle class.

If you cannot “make it” without a “job” (meaning, if you are incapable of creating work for yourself), you will not, unfortunately, make it very far into the future. Consider how much money it takes to live today, at the level of civility and luxury we all seem to think is middle class. From my perspective, the problem of the disappearing middle class is as much a problem of the actual people who make up the middle class as it is the powers that be who have (essentially) oppressed us. This is not really about that. Nevertheless, the amount of luxury that “middle-class living” demands has inflated the cost of a middle-class lifestyle. Not to mention inflation of the dollar in and of itself. What this means now, is that the middle-class lifestyle has shifted into upper middle class, and the what was the middle class is now lower middle class. What’s truly missing is the middle of the middle class. And so, it seems as if the middle-class lifestyle has disappeared, but really, those who are in the upper middle class are still middle class citizens, even if they do have a million-dollar net worth. A million dollars no longer makes a person rich, if they want to live an upper-middle-class lifestyle, and that’s crazy. Think about that. If you want the semblance of simply keeping up, you need to make more than a few million dollars. This is nearly unattainable for the vast majority of people, and this is why influencing is not something about which one ought to feel pride.

The future that I see includes a still disproportionate distribution of wealth with the majority of it being held by a few hands, but that group will grow. Influencers and content creators, with millions of dollars in hand each year, will fall largely within and makeup most of the middle class along with a few independent business owners and corporate, upper-level management, but they will never rise to the very top. And then, the poorest among us will be left far behind to (essentially) fend for ourselves within our own little, poor world. Economies will rise within the poor, and a few will be catapulted out, up into the middle class, the truly ambitious, perhaps further.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I would say that influencers will never rise to the very top, and you’re also now probably debating whether or not you should become an influencer. First, influencers cannot rise once they are influenced. Once an influencer is influenced, either by catering to their audience or by being bought by companies to promote products, they establish themselves among the service class of the elite. Yea, sure, they are rewarded handsomely, and are even invited to peep into the world of the elite, but do not be confused, they are not part of the powers that be. They are the tools of the entertainment establishment. Be a tool. This is what I’m here to say. Make yourself useful to someone who has money to pay you for your usefulness.

In a world that will—inevitably—be run and operated by artificial intelligence and robots, you will have to have a purpose larger than showing up to work every day. You need to create that purpose. You need to create your work. You need to create your value. Once the table is set, and it will be set very soon, everyone will have to sit wherever they land. The music will stop, meaning jobs will no longer be created for you. Make sure that you’ve found a seat long before that day comes.