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The Unrelatable “Relatable” Youtubers

Before 2018, if you'd asked me if I wanted more relatable content on YouTube, I would've quickly agreed. I mean, who doesn’t want an aimable young adult talking about universal struggles? However, if you ask me now if I watch “relatable YouTubers”, I’d laugh and shake my head vigorously. So what’s changed?

2018 was the rise of a group of young adults, primarily composed of girls, whose brand was to be “relatable” on YouTube and other social media. They sort of replaced the beauty gurus before them that were perfect: beautiful, wealthy, and had seemingly flawless lives. It’s no surprise that “relatable” YouTubers were a breath of fresh air and gained popularity by viewers who wanted to watch girls who were more like them.

Being relatable began with ranting about common girl issues and being awkward (aka being unlike the “popular” girls). It was admitting imperfections, complaining about how broke you are, and revealing struggles with mental illnesses.  It was the antithesis of the perfect beauty gurus.

Admittedly, I took it upon myself to watch Emma Chamberlain (the most well-known “relatable” YouTuber”) last year and loved how raw she seemed to be. The video I watched was just her journey to get her nails done and it was entertaining the whole way through. She was funny, brutally honest, and didn’t present this faux perfect persona. She was relatable and that’s why you liked her. 

Image via “Relatable” Youtubers by ItzKeisha

To fast forward to the end of 2018, relatableness transformed into something else entirely. It became toxic to say the least. Mental illnesses, especially anxiety and depression, became trendy via trying to be relatable. I feel like I’ve seen t-shirts and stickers romanticizing them and have definitely seen a lot of younger people claiming to have one or both of those mental illnesses. It’s not to say that no one can have anxiety and/or depression but rather that anxiety and depression aren’t cool and shouldn’t be treated as fads. 

Image via "Relatable" Youtubers. by common nobody

Another issue with this trend was that the girls loved to say that they were broke when they were receiving sponsorships, commission for promo codes, and money from ads in their videos. They were buying Gucci and other designer brands while also claiming to have no money. Most of their young viewers probably can’t afford those brands; it’s misleading and confusing for viewers to hear them say they’re broke while they’re wearing their Gucci shoes and backpack. 

Image via "Relatable" Youtubers. by common nobody

The last issue that I will mention (though, I’d like to say that I haven’t covered every issue) is that it’s very relatable to claim you have no friends and hate people at school even when it’s not true. YouTubers don’t realize that what they present can hurt someone and R G’s comment on youtube sums it up perfectly, “The thing that mostly bothers me is when they say ‘Lmao I have no friends’ when they're deadass the popular ones at school. I'm really out here with 0 friends and it hurts when they say that. You see their 20 friends in the video and they have the audacity to say they have none.” 

Image via “Relatable” Youtubers by ItzKeisha

Many girls followed Emma Chamberlain’s lead as their brand was also being “relatable” and that became the new perfect-- perfectly imperfect. Being relatable seemed to infect almost every other already established YouTuber as well. The oversaturation of “relatable” content lead to the death of genuine relatableness. By that time, I no longer watched Emma Chamberlain and rolled my eyes at the group of YouTubers who called themselves relatable or quirky. They made me cringe and it’s safe to say that no one would want to watch videos from people who seem fake and glorify struggles for the sake of being “real.” In an ironic twist, this trend had started where it left off: with a group of girls who aren’t relatable due to their perfect lives and money.

Rosalie is a 4th year English major who has a double minor in art and technology and professional writing for multimedia. It is not uncommon to find the Los Angeles native online shopping, working on her creative projects, or dreaming about being Carrie Bradshaw.
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