Why did Molly-Mae become a beloved influencer for some people of colour in 2020?
Examining what makes this white woman so damn appealing.
Moya Lothian McLean and Editors
22 Dec 2020
What a year it’s been for Molly-Mae Hague. During this time, the former Love Island contestant has become the “people’s influencer” and now has the power to kick off a cross-platform debate with something as innocuous as a post about ice cream.
Her journey is all the more remarkable when you consider she left Love Island under a cloud. Gossip columns called her “fake” and attacked her motives in coupling up with boxer Tommy Fury. Social media abuse followed. But just over 12 months later, Molly-Mae has set – as a recent VICE article put it – the “gold standard for influencing in 2020”. She is a national treasure, at least for those under 30.
But what’s even more surprising and unexpected is how many people of colour have taken to her. Molly-Mae has been described as “single-handedly reinstating” a fragile peace between Black Twitter and their arch-enemies, Fiat 500 Twitter. Her full-handed embrace of Black women in particular has been noted and praised, and people of colour across the board seem to love her.
We wanted to find out why this was the case. So gal-dem went straight to the source and asked people of colour why they were so enthusiastic about giving Molly-Mae their double taps.
“I think she’s very smart”
Molly-Mae’s just a babe and has really good vibes. When I watched Love Island, she stood out because she was really giving the girls LOOKS. Now she’s out of the villa, I’ve been following her on Instagram and YouTube and her personality is jokes. I find her relationship with Tommy very sweet and goofy.
I think she’s very smart – it shines through her social media content strategy. She also stands out because she’s genuinely got great style. Even though it feels like everyone is a fashion influencer these days, a style like hers isn’t easily replicated. I also love that she was playing afrobeats in her Instagram stories.
She’s definitely the people’s influencer – you don’t get five million Instagram followers and a trending giveaway if you’re not.
Vic, 27, Essex
“She doesn’t pretend to be anything she isn’t”
I like Molly-Mae because she’s really just an influencer and completely owns that lane. She doesn’t pretend to be anything she isn’t. She doesn’t pretend to be an activism girl or an expert in anything else other than fashion, beauty and lifestyle and she does it really well. So I believe most of what she’s talking about, and that she cares about it. I’m not really a YouTube person, so I never subscribed to her YouTube channels, but I do really like her Instagram content; I always like and share her stuff.
She’s been called out before, but the older I get, the less I care about this stuff. It feels trivial. Everyone from Ariana Grande [to Molly-Mae] has been accused of trying to appear as tanned as possible. If that’s the trend, then it can’t be escaped. Molly-Mae, as much as she starts trends, also follows them and I think it’s expected from people like her.
There aren’t many other white influencers that I feel the same about, mainly because all of my white faves are people like Dolly Alderton or Emma Gannon, people like that I just really like. White women who are so okay with being white women and they just embrace it. They don’t pretend to be anything else – they’re just white. I love that for them. I honestly believe white people need to be proud of being white, because trying to be anything else is not cute, you do you boo.
Chanté, 24, London
“Her story that caused such an uproar about Italian food was so funny to me”
I think Molly-Mae seems like a genuinely lovely person. I’ve liked her since Love Island but only followed her on Instagram this year after seeing some of her tweets – she’s funny.
Molly-Mae’s Instagram seems to be a true reflection of herself. She’s not trying to convince us she’s got a regular life like other influencers do. Most of the time, she stays in her lane and acknowledges her privilege.
I feel weirdly protective over her; [in 2020] she’s become more relatable. She speaks about things like renting being a waste of money. As a renter myself, who’s had terrible landlords – she’s not wrong.
When she was criticised [for wearing dark foundation], she did acknowledge it and apologised. She did a video with [fellow beauty influencer] Patricia Bright who called her out on it, and she laughed about it.
Her Instagram story that caused such an uproar about Italian food was so funny to me – it clearly wasn’t her intention and the backlash she got for that was ridiculous.
Seema, 28, Portsmouth
“She’s done a great job of embracing a more ‘natural’ self since she had her fillers removed and spoke about self-love”
Molly-Mae gives us girls what we want: pure unadulterated entertainment. From Instagram story hot takes to lavish giveaways, there’s always something going on.
At first I didn’t get the hype to be honest. I’m not a huge fan of reality TV and its stars, but Love Island is my exception. I actually heard about her through Twitter mutuals first and started watching her YouTube videos with my sisters. After that, I was hooked. She’s the only white influencer I like to this degree.
It was her Love Island background that set her apart from other influencers. Watching Tommy Fury fall in love with her was so dreamy – I feel like she’s been selling us this luxury life ever since. She’s also done a great job of embracing a more ‘natural’ self since she had her fillers removed and spoke about self-love. That was nice.
Now I follow her on Twitter and YouTube – I can’t imagine following her on Twitter for some reason.
Muna, 20, London
“Liking her doesn’t feel offensive to me the way liking Kylie Jenner does”
I’m not a Molly-Mae super fan but I do stan her a bit. It started after Love Island – while she was on the show I didn’t have much of an opinion of her. It wasn’t until I was bored one day and watched one of her vlogs that I became a secret fan. I just started noticing more things I liked about her.
She’s really down to earth but it’s also incredible to see the life she has at 22. I feel like I’m watching the kid who can afford the candy store – it’s fascinating to observe. I’m not really entertained by other white influencers and I don’t relate to Molly-Mae either, I just find her fun.
The difference is she doesn’t seem to have crossed a barrier a lot of white influencers have, like blackfishing or fetishising mixed-race kids. Liking her doesn’t feel offensive to me the way liking Kylie Jenner does. Molly-Mae obviously likes a tan but it doesn’t feel like she’s trying to imitate Black women.
Jade, 30, London