MICHELLE BATTERSBY: 'A note to every influencer (and those who judge them).'

Last week in an interview, I was described as a "social media influencer". When I initially read the label, it made me squirm. Throughout my career, I have rarely been referred to as an 'influencer', probably because my professional title has been used — but on the occasion 'influencer' is mentioned I am very aware of why it makes me feel uncomfortable.

It is because I know that as soon as that label is put out there, an onslaught of assumptions are going to be made, and I am going to be judged, dismissed, devalued and looked down upon.

Simply, I am going to be taken less seriously than if I had just been called by my job title — tech founder.

When I first saw the reference, I thought about asking the publication to remove the word 'influencer', but I thought, no — I do have an online community, I shouldn't feel like I have to hide from that label — I want to see how this plays out when speaking about an important issue — my struggle with whether I can have children and a career at the same time.

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It seemed that my initial hunch was correct, and upon reading through the comments left on the post, I was shocked. I received more hate and backlash than I have ever experienced throughout the eight years I've existed on social media. My appearance was commented on, my intelligence was questioned and my perspective was dismissed. 


To get specific here — and perhaps I do not need to do this, but I want to make a point. I have done a total of three sponsored posts in my life. I dipped my toe in the water, realised I cared more about the brands I was already employed by and decided to not monetise my community in that way again. 

So when I saw myself being judged for being an 'influencer' it irritated me. Initially, I felt the need to defend myself — establish that I am not be definition an influencer, ask for my job title "tech founder" to be used — but then I realised to be made to feel like I have to distinguish myself as something other than an 'influencer' in order to be taken seriously is entirely the problem. There should not be labels that result in someone being dismissed in this way.

Here are just a few of the comments people said about me: 

- "Is her "job" one of the useless ones? I can't be bothered listening to this woman."

- "Lolllll that's not a job. I'm sure you could leverage a child for "content" yuck I hate the future."

- "Children are more important than the "success of your career."

- "Why does she have no wrinkles" (thank you for this one!!).

- "Red pilled."

- "You should care more about your children than your career anyway."

And that was not even the worst of it.

As I poured over the comments, all I could think was, wow. If my LinkedIn was attached would they take me seriously? If the word 'influencer' was not mentioned, would they have listened to me more?


It got me thinking about the immediate discredit that is dished out in particular to women who are influencers, and how historically, any feminine-labelled work or interests are downplayed and made fun of. 

How many times have you heard people make fun of influencers? How often do we see people hating on women for simply having interests — whether it be losing their mind over their favourite artist or binging their go-to show? Can you imagine being someone who has built a following because people can relate to your, you keep it real, you show up consistently, you are creative, you understand the strategy and power behind social media, and you begin to make money off that following and suddenly you are not taken seriously?

Most likely, you are judged on your appearance daily or anything you say is met with eye rolls and being dismissed because oh, "you are just an influencer" and you don't have a "real job". It is easy, it is less than — that is how people look at influencers.

This issue goes much deeper beyond the influencer label. It highlights the pure hate that people have for women, and the constant pursuit to label us as dumb, frivolous and emotional. Mothers, models, nurses, teachers — the same behaviour applied to influencers has been applied to anything stereotypically feminine for centuries, and it seems it is not changing anytime soon. 

Tell me, what professions held by men lead to them being immediately dismissed, ignored and devalued? None come to mind.


These comments have hit me to my core, not because they have anything to do with me, but because they demonstrate a much larger issue. There are people out there who legitimately not not value women's voices. It is as simple as that and quite frankly, I find it disgusting.

To s**t on influencers is just another patriarchal expression to make a women's work seem trivial, to make our opinions seems emotional and hysterical, and to ignore us and therefore chuck the 'influencer' label on us and boot us out the door.

To the legitimate influencers — my god, I am so sorry. It must be so exhausting, so deflating every time you have an opinion, to have a group of people publicly dismiss you simply because you built an online following. To mock you and not take you seriously because you post your life online, as though your chosen profession removes anything legitimate about you.


To anyone who still judges influencers, I get it. I have judged in the past, based predominately on jealousy and being uneducated about how the content creation world works. But like any person with critical thinking skills, I took the time to research and unpack why I felt the way I did about influencers. 

I realised 'influencer' was becoming a dirty word and society yet again found an opportunity to tear women down, and I could see how my internal misogyny was falling for this false narrative.

So if you are still judging influencers, I implore you to think about what underpins your reactions. Being an influencer is a legitimate career — it is game, it is strategy and it requires intellect to build an online community to a point where you can monetise it. You don't have to agree with every influencer's point of view, you do not have to support them and you can simply unfollow them. 

And in no way am I saying they are all saints — just like in any profession, not everyone is great at it and not everyone does their job ethically. Sometimes people gain opportunity because of nepotism, or they are skilled at creating a persona that exists purely for online consumption. 

Sometimes it is unexplainable how someone got there in the first place, but you do not have to discredit an entire industry of women, shun them, speak down to them and treat them like what they do is less than.

This post was originally published on Instagram, and has been republished with full permission.

Feature image: Instagram/@michellebattersby.

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