I have been an avid YouTube watcher for years. I love watching vlogs, lifestyle videos, fashion inspiration, and DIYs. But recently, it caught my attention that there’s an issue within the YouTuber space– it is being dominated by “quirky” white girls.
I felt a strong need to talk about the lack of diversity on YouTube after stumbling upon a video from YouTuber, ItzKeisha, called “Where is the DIVERSITY on YouTube?” where she makes commentary on brands choosing to partner with girls that have a specific look and create “relatable” and “quirky” content. Specifically, there is a brand called Dote, which is essentially a mobile mall shopping app. This brand is known for taking their influencers on lavish trips and showering them with free gifts just to promote Dote. Well, if you pay attention to their social media and the YouTubers vlogging their trips, something is very apparent: everyone is white, skinny and making “relatable teen” content. Every trip they invite at least one or two women of color as a diversity token, but they are often left out of photos, isolated from the group and recently, at Coachella this year, the women of color were actually placed in separate sides of the house with less extravagant rooms than the white content creators. I think it’s amazing that these brands are giving these opportunities to people, but that every type of person should be represented because it matters. I want to look on social media and click on a brand that is inclusive of every race and size. I want to see people who look like me, who look like my friends, who look different.
ItzKeisha also talks about how YouTube doesn’t promote creators of color on their social media and recommendations. The issue isn’t that there isn’t a presence of people of color on YouTube, the issue is that they aren’t put on a pedestal like the hundreds of rich white girls that are creating the same content as them. It’s time for YouTube to get with the times and notice that people want representation on their platform. For example, I have always loved the thought of being a YouTuber– I could create content, I could be quirky and fashionable, I could put tons of effort into the creation of my videos, but likely would never receive the same amount of recognition as the YouTubers dominating the creator space right now because I don’t look like Emma ChamberlainorEllie Thumann.
I’m not saying it’s the content creators’ fault, because it isn’t. They can’t help what brands do and don’t do. But they can control who they work with and what they choose to support. It’s not fair that content creators of color likeEris the Planet and Lisa Phanhave to work significantly harder to be seen on YouTube because they aren’t the correct skin tone. YouTube needs to work on their marketing tactics to include more people of color and brands needs to realize that representation matters, and every shade of influencer should be visible and treated equally.