I’m a 28-year-old ‘football-loving’ guy living in a house with four other ‘football-loving’ guys doing a feature on Zoella.
If that sentence doesn’t yet seem odd, let’s add some context. Zoella (real name Zoe Elizabeth Sugg) is a vlogger (video blogger) who ‘vlogs’ about fashion, beauty and lifestyle. For anyone who doesn’t ‘vlog’ (me!) that means to ‘video blog’. And for anyone who doesn’t ‘blog’ (me!) that means to record experiences, observations and opinions on the internet.
With a little context added we can start to see how surreal this feature could be. It wouldn’t be thought my demographic (the football-loving lad/Neanderthal) would spend a couple of hours a-day watching videos on YouTube titled: My Everyday Make-up Routine, My 2015 Beauty Favourites, Easter LUSH Hall! and Spring Pinks Makeup Look! Yet here I am, a Man Utd supporter who should be dissecting Louis van Gaals dismissal and Jose Mourinho’s appointment. However I am not. Which is probably the biggest compliment I can give Zoe Elizabeth Sugg a.k.a Zoella a.k.a one of the Telegraphs 40 Best Beauty Bloggers a.k.a one of Debrett’s 500 Most Influential People in New Media a.k.a the 34th sexiest woman in the world according FHM 2015…
Zoe Elizabeth Sugg was born on the 28th of March 1990 to Tracy and Graham Sugg and grew up in Lacock, Wiltshire along with her younger brother Joseph Sugg, a vlogger himself- #thatcherjoe (I don’t really know why I put in the hashtag but I’ve seen it done before and sitting here now it feels…technical). Just type thatcherjoe into YouTube and his vlogs will come up (he looks 14 but he’s got more hair on his head than the male side of my family going back to the 18th Century had on theirs combined).
The first time Zoella came to my attention was in a column written in the Saturday Telegraph around the time of her releasing her first novel (Zoe is also a novelist and was an interior designer in a former life). Girl Online follows what happens to an anonymous 15-year-old blogger when her blogs go viral! (I presume she goes to the doctor for antibiotics…)
At the time of the article there was some debate about how much help Zoe had received in producing the story however what grabbed my attention was the little piece of information at the end which stated Zoella’s Huge Boots Haul published on YouTube on February 15th had received over 2.5million views. That number stuck out at me. A woman opening a bag and taken out what she bought from Boots was watched by 2.5million people? I wanted to know why? So I typed in ‘Zoella Boots Haul’ into Google, a video came up, and to my peril, I pressed play.
What struck me first was the look of the video. The image was steady, clear, bright. It looked good. Secondly was the set- the ‘set’ being Zoe sat on the end of her bed lit up with fairy lights. It looked clean, smart and welcoming. The third thing to hit me was the sheer simplicity of the concept. After introducing herself and saying “good morning good afternoon good evening” (watch the video, you’ll get it) then offering ‘love’ to her ‘adoring’ fans ‘Zoella’ (or is it Zoe? We’ll stick with Zoella for the sake of consistency). Zoella began taking each item she had bought from Boots, holding it up to the camera for everyone to see then giving thirty seconds on what made her buy/why she liked the item.
About halfway through (ten minutes of the twenty-minute video) my Neanderthal brain, moving between two thoughts ‘what am I doing’ and ‘she’s hot’ like a very slow game of tennis, started remembering the facts I had read earlier: ‘ten million subscribers of the Zoella Channel’ ‘2.5 million watched this vlog/blog/upload/thing’ ‘the Zoella estate rumoured to be worth 2.5 million pounds’. Why? Why? WHY!?
Whatisthis?why?whatishappening?what?where?when?with?%^$*£fkfldBRAINOVERLOAD- JUST PUT THE FOOTBALL ON!!!!
After I had come back around and the ringing in my ears had stopped I did a little more raking round the Zoella Channel and then a moment of clarity came. All the answers revealed themselves to me. This is an advertiser’s wet dream as well as being a tool that provides a legitimate, effective service to millions of young women.
Not only does Zoella exhibit and explain what she bought within the infinitely complex universe of ‘make-up’ she describes her likes, dislikes, tastes, opinions (a blog basically), but she also starts videos with no make-up on and films herself applying her make-up (a similar process to painting a fine work of art) giving young women clear instruction on how to ‘apply’ properly. Whilst I might not know anything about make-up it’s not hard to judge whether the application was ‘proper’ or not, just see the results. No one would deny she looks good.
I see Zoella as the 2016 underground mentor of young women the same way Tyler Durdan was the underground mentor of noughties young men- ‘Goddamit an entire generation putting on too much lippy, applying too much blusher, wearing too much eyeliner!’
The videos are clear, clever, succinct and honest. And that final attribute is what hooks you. Along with the beauty and fashion vlogs Zoella does a lifestyle vlog, almost like an entertainment series, like Friends, but instead of watching Rachel, Chandler and Joey sitting on a couch in a fake café missing their cues delivering rubbish one-liners, you’ve got Zoe and ThatcherJoe and Alfie (Zoe’s boyfriend and successful vlogger himself) and Tanya Burr all sitting around watching telly, or going out to the cinema, or the Brighton Food Festival, and the sheer honesty that comes out these videos is overwhelming. No need to sit in writer’s rooms for 11 months a year trying to ‘imitate life’, just stick your phone in the air once a week press play and see what happens for twenty minutes.
And it works! To the point where this form of media is relating to the Neanderthal-football-‘lad’. In one of the videos Zoella goes through her pockets and finds a dog poo bag and says ‘if you own a dog you’ll find these bags make their way into every pocket of every jacket and jean you own’, and it’s true! I’m telling you! I used to take care of dogs!!!
From my point of view- a 28-year-old single guy, I should come into this article hating Zoella and everything she stands for (light-heartedness, happiness, fun, sincere instruction) but I don’t. She’s simply too nice. And she’s not a toxic by-product of this selfie/videoing self-obsessed age. She’s a pioneer, a necessity, a beacon on how-to-do-things-right in a misunderstood, misguided, unregulated, challenging world.