Who’s Alix Earle? I want to be Alix Earle. These questions and statements have been asked recently as the Monmouth County New Jersey girl turned University of Miami TikTok influencer has blown up on the platform. Earle has been in hot water recently over her Mielle hair oil controversy and participation in the Tarte Dubai brand trip. Many have wondered how the marketing major has reached her success of the blue check mark and rapidly growing fanbase. However, one central question has been consistent with her rise to stardom, “why is Alix Earle famous?” Many have tried to answer this and Alix has admitted that she does not understand why she’s in the position. But the question that impacts Black women the most in the discourse surrounding the rise of the Jersey Shore native is, “Who is the equivalent to the Black Alix Earle?”
Why the Discourse?
As new influencers rise to change the game of how we view social media content today, one trend has stayed consistent. The “idk why I’m famous” chill and laid back “popular” girl turned influencer has been on the rise since Emma Chamberlain. Influencers who are very candid in sharing their lives online with minimal to no editing style and showcasing their lifestyle. This phenomenon is not new and as social media influencing has become a career, time and time again have we seen a recycled version of this influencer.
But Earle is different, her candid daily vlogs at the University of Miami and get-ready-with-me routines for darties and sorority events opened her up to a demographic that is an untapped influencer market: college middle to upper-class white women. Earle herself comes from no hard background as her TikToks from her Monmouth County home showcase all we need to see as the general public. She’s your average American girl who is said to be very nice on and off the camera which is rare for influencers in this day and age. In her comments and video critiques of her content, fans will say that they can “relate” to Earle and all the things she showcases on TikTok.
But the question I asked myself as a Black woman who grew up on the Jersey Shore as well and enjoyed her content was, “why do Alix Earles’ videos not relate to me?”
The Double Standard
Storytelling online is not a new phenomenon and with the rise of TikTok, short-form videos sharing a glimpse into someone’s life allows the audience to get to know who they’re following. Earle has mastered this tactic and shares her stories about getting blacked out at parties and sharing her funny moments at influencer events. But Black TikTokers, especially in higher education, have to be cautious about what they post online. My favorite influencers on social media have discussed perception and the way that Black women have to curate their content to be marketable for brands that could potentially pay them less or not give them offers at all due to their general public image. As Black women within society today not only are we judged by our skin color, but our actions in everyday life as we are seen as “more aggressive” due to racist stereotypes that date back to slavery.
This affects Black girls who potentially could be in the same spaces as Earle from making similar content like hers in becoming successful in it. Not only does the storytelling aspect create a barrier for “realness” between the audience and its creator, but the audiences are not always being reached due to the algorithm.
In 2021, Black TikTokers went on strike after millions of white creators profited and created careers from dancing on the platform and not crediting the Black creators of the dances. This same notion remains true today and Black TikTokers from the beauty to comedy space has seen a decline in their videos being pushed out due to the shadow banning certain words or their pages just all together.
Black influencers are also subjected to not receiving the best treatment from the platforms they prop up or businesses they support. Influencing goes hand and hand with marketing and selling us as consumers’ products. Sadly, Black influencers have been lowballed in payment for showcasing products to their audience.
According to journalist Brianna Holt from Insider, “a 2021 study, Black creators make 35% less than white creators.”
This severely puts Black creators who are trying to create a living off of this career at a disadvantage for making content creation their top priority and can also knock them out of the box for accepting potential brand trips or other opportunities due to financial hardships.
So, Where is the Black Alix?
If I have not said anything important in this article, the main point is … There is NO Black Alix Earle. Alix Earle is her own person and her career is taking off and going in its direction. Black women do not deserve to be subjected to the comparison of anyone of any other race and work twice as hard every day to be taken seriously on social media. This statement erases years of work that Black lifestyle and beauty content creators have put the work in every day to showcase the Black community daily.
This Black History Month, I implore all audiences to diversify the content they watch and find POC creators that can relate to them. Having a diverse group of content creators that you see daily will allow you to broaden your horizons and see other people’s perspectives on topics that can affect you. In the collage down below are some of my favorite Black women influencers who are making a difference on TikTok.
Monet McMichael is a Rutgers Nursing grad turned social media influencer known primarily for posting POV, beauty and makeup videos on her @monetmcmichael TikTok account.
McKenzie Taylor is a Howard University Student who creates social media content on TikTok and Instagram documenting her lifestyle and beauty continent.
Key better known as @barbiebrains on TikTok is a UPenn Student who creates beauty and day in the life/study with me content online.
Danessy Auguste is a college influencer who shares her lifestyle as a babysitter/college student and her story as a Haitian Black woman in America.
Ve’ondre Mitchell is a mixed Transgender woman who shares her life story and educates her followers on the LGBTQIA+ community and intersectionality.
Clarke Peoples is a Columbia Law student who showcases her social life with work balance as she juggles law school and influencing.
Awa Sanneh is a college influencer known for her eclectic fashion sense and candid videos about her personal life through sharing her life story with others online.
How do you feel about the “Black Alix Earle” statement? What influencers do you watch on TikTok and Youtube? Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, to share!