- The OG bloggers were the saving grace when magazines stagnated and were not diverse.
- Unfortunately, discrimination from traditional industries bled over to the digital industry with black women creators getting the short end of the stick.
- Supporting online creators means contributing to their businesses by engaging with and sharing their posts.
- See 33 fashion, beauty and lifestyle content creators to support that are based in the African continent
Before the rest of the world realised representation matters and long before inclusion and diversity became catchphrases, a charmed space existed in the blogging world. It was a potent, sacred and a niche corner of the internet, a fleeting uncorruptable experience of true community.
As my impressionable mind started to relate less and less to the kind of women found in fashion magazines during my high school years, the pull of digital magazine girls became a fittin replacement for my eager mind. These content creators, who are now referred to as the OG bloggers, curated aspirational lifestyle content that surpassed the boxed versions of womanhood found in physical magazines back then.
Through this kind of niche blogger content, I learnt about black magazine girls sporting the iconic red lip with a range of hair types that were not limited blonde, straight tresses.
I religiously camped on Shirley B Eniang’s blog and YouTube page for her famous #ootd looks and binged her hair tutorials for straightened curly hair, which resembled my relaxed hair at the time. I sponged all the fashion terminology from various video creators, adding terms like chic and ensemble to my lexicon. I also felt incredibly affirmed by KarenBritChick’s videos for shopping and styling menswear pieces.
The most significant time on the internet for me was later on with the boom of natural hair bloggers, who also became my introduction to the vloggersphere. As I boycotted hair salons for a few years after my fair share of traumatising experiences at the hands of hairstylists, I got pulled in by what was called the natural hair movement.
Creators like Naptural85 taught me the theory and methodology of dealing with hair oils, Whitney Madueke taught me how to wash and do deep treatments on natural hair. All the braiding styles and updos I know and love now I learned from another natural hair video creator, Sheila Ndinda.
I can proudly say that I am a product of the university of YouTube. From hair care skills to fashion theory to other creative projects I have pursued, I would have not gotten to where I am with these skills without video creators. It is because of this see great value and have much respect for digital creators, from whom we also benefit from.
These kinds of creators who had so much influence on me started their platforms as far back as ten years ago or earlier, have either adapted to the influencer model of creators and bloggers we know today and others, unfortunately, have not. To stay competitive and progress as an online creator, Whitney has branched out into fashion and consulting, Sheila has opened her own salon and Naptural85, also known as Whitney White, started a hair care line.
The generation of video content creators that flourished after the natural hair content are the makeup vloggers. South African creators capitalised on this section of YouTube content with a list of popular beauty creators gaining success. However, a popular sentiment among black South African creators is how difficult it is making money solely from being a video creator and how difficult it is to sustain a living through tools like AdSense.
Besides the challenges of generating income using built-in tools, creators take part in brand partnerships and allow for advertisements to be attached to their content to generate income. This aspect of the influencer marketing business has unfortunately been seen as unfavourable to black women creators specifically.
There are a number of factors that contribute to this but the key culprits can be attributed to existing societal discrimination that has replicated itself online and the other being the algorithms of online platforms.
Labour economist and consultant Andrew Levy succinctly explains pay discrimination in this W24 article: “The first wage discrimination is according to gender, women are routinely discriminated against. The second, around the world – this is not a South African problem, is based on race. So obviously black women have the most difficult time of all.”
This pay discrimination has bled over to the digital industry of online creators. This Forbes article references a study by analytics company HypeAuditor conducted with 1 600 Instagram influencers from over 40 countries, with a following ranging from 5 000 to over 1 million. This study shows that 7% more than their female counterparts for promotions in posts, regardless of tier classification.
Coupled with pay discrimination, many social media platforms have been accused of discriminating against creators from margianalised groups including black women and queer creators, disabled creators and other creators of colour. Lately, many creators and users have accused TikTok of having such an algorithm.
One of the results of the latest global wave of the Black Lives Matter protests has been a global call for social media users to diversify their feeds to include black content creators and creators of colour across social platforms. This, in addition to supporting black-owned business.
These efforts have been strongly rallied among beauty and fashion creators but have spread across multiple niches and social platforms. Many of us, across topics of interests, would have come across someone sharing social media accounts of creators that are black, that are queer, that are disabled, that are women, as well as names of black authors, black-owned business etc. All this in a move to support and sensitise people to diverse experience.
Extending the support to online creators, specifically, includes contributing to their business. Not all influencers sell physical products, many make money through the social media platforms they use to attract sponsorships and brand partnerships.
PAnd if you are serious about supporting creators in the groups mentioned above, who are not favoured by the algorithms and who are likely to be susceptible in the digital industry’s pay discrimination, there are specific actions that go beyond sharing social media accounts that can meaningfully add to their businesses.
To help increase a creator’s earning potential, and essential supporting their business, the actions you can take to contribute to that. These are just some of the meaningful ways you can contribute to black creators businesses:
1. Follow, subscribe and like the creator’s platform
This is the very first step you can take but without the steps that follow, this may not be as impactful.
2. Opt-in to be notified for new posts
Social platforms like YouTube and Facebook allow you to opt-in on view the latest post from chosen accounts. On YouTube, you can click on the notification icon next to the Subscribe button to keep track of when said creators posts so that their content can be prioritised for you. Facebook gives you the option to turn on notifications for a creator’s post and gives you the option “See First” posts from a creator.
3. Engage with the creators
This step is one of the most crucial and works in tandem with the other steps. According to the Influencer Hub Index for social platforms, user engagement is a determining factor when determining a creator’s earning potential. So, watch the videos, take their polls, respond to the call outs to submit a question, comment and share the posts.
4. Don’t skip ads
Content creator Dimma Umeh gave this tip to her YouTube subscribers. She says in this video, if you want to support a creator, watch the adverts from beginning to end because this increases the chances of the creator generating income from that ad.
5. Spread the word
If you come across a post that you like, enjoyed or find important, share a direct link to that post with your friends, followers and family. It is important to link to the creator’s content rather than sharing a screenshot of a post that is life. Among other benefits, sharing a direct link helps with step three.
For those looking to diversity their social feeds further, I have put together a list of black local beauty and fashion creators based in different parts of the continent.
Dimma Umeh – Nigeria – Beauty and lifestyle
Cynthia Gwebu – South Africa – Beauty and lifestyle
Adeola Ariyo – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Yoliswa Mqoco – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Zuziwe Gcuku – South Africa – Beauty and lifestyle
Joy Kendi – Kenya – Lifestyle
Vongai Mapho – South Africa – Beauty and lifestyle
Two Brown Girls – South Africa – lifestyle
My Empties – South Africa – Beauty
Shirley B. Eniang – Nigeria – Beauty and lifestyle
Cassandra Twala – South Africa – Fashion
Thandi Gama – South Africa – Beauty
Joanna Kinuthia – Kenya – Lifestyle
Pamzokuhle – Fashion and lifestyle
Refiloe Nkoane – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Melody Molale – South Africa – Fashion
Sheila Ndinda – Kenya – Beauty
Travel Girl Boss – South Africa – Beauty and lifestyle
Aphiwe Khambule – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Foyin Og – South Africa – Beauty and lifestyle
TheFruityChapters – South Africa – Fashion
Asiyami Gold – Nigeria – Fashion and beauty
Tshepang Mollison – South Africa – Fashion and lifestyle
Thickleeyonce – South Africa – Lifestyle
Tshepi Vundla – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Natalie Tewa – Kenya – Beauty
Palesa Kgasane – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Nabilah Kariem Peck – South Africa – Fashion
Siya Bunny – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Buhle Lupindo – South Africa – Travel
Yolz Channel – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
Sasha Langa – South Africa – lifestyle
Kay Ngonyama – South Africa – Fashion and beauty
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