When fashion and beauty is combined with self-empowerment, the result is Ola Johnson. Brighton based blogger and vlogger Ola Johnson is only 25, but is quickly becoming internet royalty. With an ever growing blog and YouTube channel, as well as an Instagram account with thousands of followers, Ola is turning her passion into a career.
Whilst she is primarily thought of as a fashion and lifestyle blogger, she’s a social media star who’s also out to make a difference. Ola is a proud feminist and a body confidence advocate.
There is constant controversy surrounding social media, and social media influencers, particularly amongst the beauty and lifestyle guru community. Cosmo magazine stated that ‘drama in the beauty YouTube community has reached an all-time high’, and many feel that these influencers set unrealistically high standards in terms of appearance and body image.
Studies undertaken by TIME suggest that Instagram often has a negative impact on young adults thoughts regarding their own body image. A respondent to the study said that ‘Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’’.
Social media, especially YouTube, is yet to be free from sexism. Studies show that ‘YouTube has a serious gender gap; women currently form just 17 of the top 100 channels on YouTube.’ A panel at popular YouTube event, Vidcon, highlighted that female influencers in particular feel they don’t want to make videos unless ‘their makeup, hair, and clothing were all perfect for fear of trolling commenters’.
Ola is challenging the stereotypes that exist about the beauty community and is using her platform to spread positivity.
It is evident that the influencer community, and the social media platforms they use, can be controversial and problematic. However a new breed of social media star is emerging; influencers are increasingly using their platforms to promote a healthy body image, and are highlighting that imperfections are ok.
Female influencers are also proving that women can be feminists as well as being lovers of all things fashion and beauty. Ola Johnson is amongst these emerging influencers who I believe are changing the stereotypes that exist about beauty and lifestyle bloggers/vloggers, and are using their platforms to spread positivity.
Ola first began uploading to YouTube around two years ago. She says, “My YouTube channel came first. I came across a Youtuber called Samantha Maria whilst researching hair tutorials and become obsessed with the community.
After around a year of ‘umming and ahhing’ I decided to create my own channel. It started off as a hobby and became a place for me to showcase my creativity.’ Since beginning vlogging and blogging, Ola has amassed over 100,000 views on YouTube and thousands of followers across all her social media platforms.
When asked if she expected to achieve this level of success in the online community, she replied “I started creating YouTube videos based on my personal interests, but it’s so lovely that so many people have come on this journey with me”.
It is often thought that being a social media influencer is a glamorous profession, full of constant excitement. Ola says that “there are some truly glamorous parts of the job; I get to go to amazing parties and work with brands I have always loved”. However, she admits “the reality is that most days I spend all my time in my pjs with my glasses on, replying to emails and editing new content”.
Even though her job is not always elegant, being a fashion and lifestyle creator means Ola has a fierce sense of style, which she says “changes all the time!” Although many have a trademark style, Ola loves to mix up her look.
“I have tried for a long time to fit in and stick to one style of dressing, but the older I get the more I realise that it’s okay not to have a specific way of dressing and just wear whatever it is you fancy on the day. Currently I am leaning more towards the ‘rock chic’ look, but I’m sure that will change by next month’ she laughs”.
As well as having an eye for all things fashion, Ola uses her platform to promote feminism and female empowerment, saying, “Equality has always been important to me”. She says that she first experienced gender-based discrimination when she was managing a small business and was “being paid considerably less than a head chef, who was male”.
To me, feminism is about equality between all sexes. True feminists do not hate men, but support them.
However, Ola points out that the meaning of feminism is often misunderstood in contemporary society. She says, “Unfortunately, many women today consider themselves feminists without the true understanding of equality. To me feminism is about equality between all sexes, which is why I often put emphasis on supporting men. True feminists do not hate men, but love and support them, and understand their needs as much as their own”.
In modern discourse, there is also debate as to whether women flaunting their sexuality can be considered feminist. Ola embraces her female sexuality, proving that women can be advocates of gender equality as well as owning their body and their femininity.
Ola believes that the issues surrounding feminism and female sexuality “comes from our upbringing, where we are constantly told that everything is based on our looks, instead of being told about how to be comfortable in your own skin”. She then adds, “To me nudity and sexuality is the most natural thing”.
Although Ola has now learnt to love herself and her body, when asked if she has ever felt pressured by society to have a ‘perfect body’, she says, “Who hasn’t?” Despite experiencing insecurities, she says, “I have now come to terms with the way I look; I have realised that in the day and age we live in our lives evolve around unrealistic images on social media and the media in general.
I often remind myself that I am only human, and whilst I continue to look after myself, I try to focus on my mental health and gratitude instead of trying to have ‘the perfect body’. Almost everyone, particularly young people, experience insecurities and anxieties regarding their body image and appearance at some point.
Ola offers a word of advice to anyone who is struggling with his or her body image. She says that, “I think that the things that we see as imperfections are often not even noticed by others. If everybody put as much emphasis on being a kinder person as they do on being good looking, it would be a much better world that we get to live in”.
If everybody put more emphasis on being a kinder person, it would be a much better world.
As Ola’s channel and blog are growing, she continues to spread her messages of equality, empowerment and self-love. Many have said that the fashion and beauty influencer community has become somewhat problematic in recent days due to their promotion of an unrealistic body image. Yet Ola provides a refreshing alternative to this stereotype by sharing the message that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s clear that this feminist fashionista has made her mark on the online community, and she is here to stay.
Ola’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCFyCwNFDPfm7jxFWv4ldqsA
Ola’s blog: www.olajohnson.co.uk
Ola’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/iam_olajohnson