We need to stop using ‘be kind’ to let influencers get away with whatever they want

Influencers like Elle Darby and Molly-Mae need to step up and take responsibility for things they have done

This last week has made people call for an end to influencer culture as we know it. Old offensive tweets from YouTuber and influencer Elle Darby resurfaced, where she made comments which she called “racist, fatphobic and homophobic” in a subsequent apology video, saying she was “ashamed and disgusted” in herself.

And then a clip surfaced of ex-Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague on a podcast last month, saying we all have “the same 24 hours in the day”, and “if you want something enough, you can achieve it” – essentially saying people need to work harder. It did not go down well on social media to say the least, with people calling the comments “tone-deaf” and comparing Molly-Mae to Margaret Thatcher. A statement released by her reps acknowledged everyone comes from different backgrounds, said the clips on social media had been taken out of context and Molly had only been talking about her own experiences.

Both Elle and Molly-Mae have lost tens of thousands of followers following online backlash. There has been a lot of chat on social media and people have been calling them out for their individual comments. But some people have tried to stop this happening, saying we all need to “be kind”.

The “be kind” message first gained prominence after the tragic death of Caroline Flack, who had posted a picture to her Instagram account with the caption “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” two months before her death.

Being kind to one another is something the world definitely needs more of, and online bullying is absolutely never warranted or justified, no matter who it’s aimed at. But there’s a big difference between hate, and simply criticising people for mistakes they have made. It’s not right for influencers or their fans to brush off criticism and jump on #BeKind.

Neither Elle or Molly-Mae have posted about the “be kind” movement since their comments surfaced, but many of their fans have. Influencers across the board need to step up and take responsibility for things they have done.

Some of Elle’s tweets from 2011 include “This bus is sweaty and stinks of Indians”, “I just hate Polish people and Indians really” and referring to someone as a “little gay boy”. There are countless more of these offensive tweets, which Elle herself called “racist, fatphobic and homophobic” in her apology video. It’s not right for fans to use #BeKind instead of holding her accountable.

Speaking about Molly-Mae, one Twitter user said: “I’m fed up of people equating genuine, valid criticism to online abuse. It is not the same. That is all I have to say on this, she said some wilfully ignorant things and I hope she holds herself accountable”.

People are quick to brush off influencers as normal 20-somethings who just want to show their lives, and many influencers actively work to keep this “relatable” image. But the truth is that they are constantly to seeking build their influence via gaining more followers and growing their platforms. You have to accept that influencers, especially those like Molly-Mae, hold a lot of power and are now some of this country’s most dominant celebs. With this comes significant responsibility – it’s time for them to step up and take it.

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Featured image via Instagram @elledarby_ @mollymae