In an ever-changing and unprecedented time, how long will influencer culture and privilege last?
The term “essential” has been a constant part of our vocabulary lately. Determining what is and isn’t essential has been simple for many, yet a game for some. A game that shouldn’t exist in fact. Arielle Charnas of Something Navy is a fashion and lifestyle influencer based in NYC with a huge following of over one million. She is an influencer in every sense of the word since her career has thrived from sharing every moment in her life, including her COVID-19 diagnosis and journey.
In early March, Charnas began to complain on her Instagram page that she was feeling ill and was afraid she had coronavirus. Her friend, who happens to be a doctor, told her to go in for testing. Here is where the trouble begins to fester. On March 16th, Charnas managed to get tested for COVID-19, amidst the lack of testing available, the difficulty to get tested, and the denials to get tested. By March 18th, she tested positive, stating, “I acknowledge how lucky I am to have had that access” and that she would continue to follow CDC guidelines. She continued to post normally on her feed and stories, like the normal outfit details, TikTok videos, and pictures of herself cuddling her children. By March 26th, she posted a picture of herself in the Hamptons, which has since been deleted. Her behavior, after her diagnosis, caused a great uproar. She then released a statement, which truly felt insincere, in an effort to apologize for her actions and help her followers understand that they recently learned that what happens “after you first test positive for COVID-19, then complete the necessary quarantine, is still unknown.”
According to CDC guidelines, one needs to self-isolate from family and pets when tested positive from COVID-19 to prevent the spread. Charnas packed up her now sick family and nanny and headed over to the Hamptons to not “put others at risk.” Death rates continue to rise each day, as many do not have access to testing and proper healthcare, especially in New York. But Charnas isn’t the only influencer that fled New York in the midst of this pandemic. Naomi Davis, influencer of Love Taza, also packed her family of 7 into an RV and headed west stating they needed “a little more space” but specifically “outdoor space for the kids.” Experts advised against leaving as it is “highly irresponsible” and “not safe at all.” Are we not going to learn from the mass spread and death rates?
For some time before the COVID-19 pandemic, influencers have been under the radar. The concept of “authenticity” has remained in question. Every influencer states the same, they are honest and genuine with their audience, but oftentimes one may wonder how genuine they are. Their paid sponsorship may have lead them astray from their true authenticity. How much longer will followers continue to think that their money isn’t the one talking? The truth is that their “authenticity” is tone-deaf at times. In moments like now, it’s hard to relate to them and their privilege, when there are so many people that are sick and dying.
When this is all over, will there still be a need for an influencer, or would we have learned from our own means of survival on how to live our lives, uninfluenced? When this is all over, will we come out as people that put more emphasis on our needs rather than wants? Will we come out as people that will slow down and focus on what really matters? That is a personal decision, but even if the era of influencers comes to an end, it is difficult to feel sympathy for them when they are benefiting from our own likes. Likes that we give out for our own entertainment. Can these very “likes” save lives? It may not be a drastic end, but soon enough true, inner authenticity to ourselves will takeover. We need to be careful who we appoint as influencers after all.
Sylvina Bravo (@thesylvii)
Director of Lifestyle and Fashion Editor
SHE Magazine USA