It’s All in a Day’s Work… According to Molly-Mae.
Caroline Thirlwell shares the controversy surrounding Molly Mae's recent comments on The Diary of a CEO.
Image description: 'As an artist I work with mixed media and collage to bring photographs to life using magazine and newspaper cuttings. I made this piece at a time when things were looking especially bleak for women and I wanted to create something bold and colourful to represent our varied voices.'
Walking into my parents’ kitchen this morning I was greeted by the voice of LBC’s Nick Ferrari. Usually, the radio would fade into background noise while I made my morning coffee, but today I couldn’t help but tune in as I heard the words, “Margaret Thatcher with a fake tan”. The orange Tory in question is none other than influencer and former Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague.
According to Miss Hague, her massive success is something anyone can come by if they want it enough - if they work their backsides off as she has. In an interview with Steven Bartlett on his podcast, The Diary of a CEO, she stated, “Beyoncé has the same 24 hours in a day that we do”. In her opinion, “You're given one life and it's down to you what you do with it," and “You can literally go in any direction”. These first few statements could be taken as inspiring words for her followers and listeners, helpful lighthearted encouragement, nothing we haven’t heard before. I wish she had stopped there. Unfortunately, she went on to note, "When I've spoken in the past, I've been slammed a little bit, with people saying, 'It's easy for you to say that, you've not grown up in poverty, you've not grown up with major money struggles, so for you to sit there and say we all have the same 24 hours in a day is not correct'”. Well done, Molly, you’ve recognized the downfalls of your vaguely inspiring yet overly optimistic argument.
Although I commend her for acknowledging the pitfalls of her arguably out of touch advice, she then goes on to dig herself into a deeper hole saying, "And I'm like, but technically what I'm saying is correct – we do…So I understand we all have different backgrounds and we're raised in different ways and have different financial situations, but if you want something enough you can achieve it and it just depends on what lengths you want to go to get to where you want to be in the future." Technically she is correct, we do all have 24 hours in a day! What an extremely insightful point! Maybe I’m not the best person to be making fun of this, seeing as I seem to waste most of my 24 hours watching TV, flicking through Instagram (though unfortunately I don’t get paid for that…), or writing articles about Molly-Mae Hague when I should be writing my dissertation.
So, what did LBC have to say on the matter? Nick Ferrari, whilst giving some very weak devil’s advocate counterpoints, defended Molly-Mae’s statement noting multiple successful businessmen and women who rose to the top out of underprivileged backgrounds. He gave the example of billionaire entrepreneur Lord Alan Sugar, who was brought up in a council flat in Hackney and left school at the age of sixteen. His success, as well as the successes of other examples given by Ferrari, seem extremely impressive, however, they are only examples. Just because a few people have managed to do it by working extremely hard does not mean everyone can afford to. Ferrari asked whether Molly-Mae’s mantra could apply to a bus driver for example. My response to this would be, while most people could decide at the age of 22 that they want to work hard and make a lot of money, in reality, it is a different story for people who are already working hard and only earning enough to get by. Bus drivers probably rely on their job to support themselves and their family; although it might sound appealing to them to quit their job and follow a business venture or do whatever they can with their 24 hours to achieve their goals, this just isn’t realistic.
But perhaps Molly- Mae was right, maybe all it takes for anyone is a little bit of hard work. To round off her inspirational talk she stated, “I’ll go to any length. I've worked my absolute a*** off to get where I am now." I’m sure there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of her seemingly perfect life that I don’t know about, but posting on Instagram and YouTube, spending eight weeks sunbathing in Spain, winning money for finding a boyfriend and consequently earning endless brand deals with fast fashion companies don’t seem to be activities whichever required a great amount of hard work. Good looks and luck maybe, but I think even Lord Sugar would be looking on with envy whilst selling radio aerials for cars out of a van after having withdrawn his £100 of postal savings to pay for this venture.
I do have to cut Molly-Mae some slack, she really would go to any lengths to make money, including exploiting millions of workers in sweatshops owned by Pretty Little Thing, the company she is now Creative Director of. A Sunday Times investigation found that garment workers employed by Boohoo group PLC (the company which owns PLT) were being paid only £3.50 an hour in a Leicester factory, an amount well below the minimum wage of £8.72 for those over 25. This figure is particularly shocking when compared to Molly-Mae’s reported whopping monthly salary of £400, 000 as Creative Director of PLT. Maybe the PLT factory workers should have tuned into Molly-Mae’s podcast, if only they knew they have the same 24 hours in a day, they could be millionaires too!
Louis Staples, a columnist at British GQ, tweeted “Molly-Mae Visiting the Pretty Little Thing Sweat Shop” followed by this photo:
I may be biased, having disliked Molly-Mae ever since she commented that there isn’t any good food in the whole of Italy, and she has “been a lot of times now”, … so she clearly has some authority on the matter. But less trivial things than this have always annoyed me about her, like her endless Zara, Primark and of course, PLT YouTube try on hauls. These are clothes she will wear once for a video and most likely throw away afterwards. As an influencer, should she be promoting such massive wastefulness? I’m no saint when it comes to avoiding fast fashion, and I often give in to the temptation of cheap, bad quality clothes I know I’ll only wear once. But I’m a student, not a millionaire.
I do, however, think it is important to lay my pre-conceptions of the young businesswoman to one side for a moment. Ferrari pointed out that many social media users have defended Molly-Mae arguing for example, “She is simply talking common sense” and, “If you don’t like it just do the same as her”. Conservative columnist and commentator Emily Carver spoke on LBC in support of Molly-Mae. She argued that it seems “snobbish” to say that Molly-Mae “hasn’t worked hard, she just went on Love Island.” In her opinion, Molly-Mae should be praised for having “set out to do exactly what she has now achieved.” She is correct in noting that Molly-Mae already had brand deals and a following on Instagram before going on Love Island, proving that she has to an extent worked her a*** off to get where she is now. Carver tweeted “Left-wing twitter going absolutely mental over Molly-Mae encouraging people to work hard to achieve their dreams. What a bitch.”
Molly-Mae has received a lot of backlash following her comments, much of which has been seen as hateful. As such a public figure, with a hugely influential online presence, these kinds of comments must be very difficult to deal with. However, it is important that we can respond and disagree with influencers. Yes, Molly-Mae’s comments could be interpreted as a harmless aspirational message, if you aspire are to do whatever it takes to make money. But is this always a good thing? Molly-Mae is an extremely successful young woman, no one is trying to deny that fact. My main concern with what she said on the podcast is that she is part of a system that actively suppresses wages, enslaving large numbers of people into poverty and she seems blissfully unaware of this fact.