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Girls just wanna have spon: Emily Schuman ripped by followers for “ridiculous” ad for workout equipment
Emily Schuman is an OG blogger. In 2008, she started her fashion and lifestyle blog, Cupcakes and Cashmere, as a way to “document the things she loved.” She quickly became one of the most recognizable and influential personalities in the lifestyle blogosphere and quit her job in media to run her site full-time. In 2010, she designed a bag with Coach and now has a line at Nordstrom. She has written two coffee-table books and her website has a full-time staff of 10, besides Emily and her husband Geoff. In the golden age of blogging, she was an A-lister.
The online landscape is very different now than it was in 2008. Influencers are the new bloggers, and everything is on social media. While Emily and her blogging peers grew their audience through lengthy posts, sometimes multiple times a day, now all it takes is an iPhone and photos with captions to become a fashion influencer. The bar for entry is much lower, and the competition is much fiercer. Bloggers like Emily have had to convert their audiences to new platforms to remain relevant. Not that Emily has been unsuccessful — in many ways she is the model example of this. She has more than half a million Instagram followers and her brand is chugging along just fine.
There are bound to be hiccups, though. And this week, Emily had a big one when she did an #ad for a new at-home company called P.volve. P.volve offers streaming classes and unique fitness equipment to go along with its low-impact training method. One piece of equipment is the p.ball, a rubber ball attached to a band that fits between your legs for glute and thigh work.
Last week, Emily uploaded a video of herself using the p.ball during a at-home workout. The caption read: “Luckily wasn't feeling too intimidated when the only other members of my @pvolve workout class were my cats. 🙃 #ad.”
Emily immediately got completely read for filth by her followers for the ad, which you can watch here. They had two main gripes. The first is that Emily has many times written about how she doesn’t really exercise. She has explained in blogs that she has a “somewhat complicated relationship with fitness” and has said she remains slim due to her “naturally athletic build” and a “naturally fast metabolism,” along with dabbling in intermittent fasting. So followers felt that Emily suddenly shilling an exercise product was extremely inauthentic, a mortal sin for bloggers and influencers.
“Come on Emily!! I’m sorry but this is SO ridiculous. It is soooooo off brand and unauthentic. It comes off like all you care about is making money, no matter the cost or how it comes off,” wrote one.
The second gripe: They thought the video was just plain weird and awkward. Some of the commenters trolled her. (“Ma’am this is the olive garden”...lol.)
I see both sides here. On the one hand, I understand it can be frustrating to follow someone for years and watch them seemingly “sell out” with inauthentic ads for money. Fans highly value the authenticity of influencers: It builds the trust that allows their recommendations to be taken seriously. Also, I think this is a microcosm of a growing trend of frustration about how ridiculous some ads on Instagram are becoming.
On the other hand, it has to be incredibly difficult to build your brand around your life and maintain that brand authentically for more than a decade while simultaneously remaining relevant from a business standpoint. The competition for #ads is incredibly tough, and I’d imagine it is hard to ensure sponcon is also perfectly on-brand all of the time. I bet it has been harder for Emily to jump from blogging to Instagram influencing than we think. We reached out to Emily for comment.
I think we can all agree, though, we are all lucky we have never had to film ourselves doing as awkward a workout as the p.ball machine, and then post it to 500,000+ people.
What happens when your beloved influencer starts...influencing something completely different?
If social media helped convince people to go vegan, it’s now creating a bit of an identity crisis — especially for the people who were at the forefront of pushing the cause.
In 2019, famous vegan bloggers have either been outed or have come forward to say they’re no longer vegan. And the fallout has been explosive and difficult for their followers. Many seem to understand that people can change their diets for health reasons, but others feel flat-out duped.
In the case of Yovana “Rawvana” Mendoza, earlier this year, she was caught eating meat in her private life as she was still proselytizing and profiting off a vegan diet on her YouTube channel. Her fans understandably had trouble with this.
For others, it’s more complicated. Alyse Parker is a lifestyle influencer who became well-known at one point for advocating an all-plant diet and making exercise videos. She recently came out not only as a meat-eater — she announced that she’s on an all-meat diet.
“The Carnivore Diet first came into my awareness when a close friend shared with me all of the benefits that he was experiencing by eating this way,” Alyse wrote. She also said she “woke up the next morning feeling more mentally clear, focused, wholesome, and healthy than I had felt in years.”
The responses to her newfound carnivore diet was a mess. Some fans congratulated her, told her she was brave, voiced their support, and others were...profoundly mad. And took it very personally.
When I reached out and DM’d with two commenters who voiced their anger, they explained exactly what upset them so much about Alyse’s changed diet: Both of them said she directly influenced their own decisions to go vegan.
Nicole Zach, a 20-year-old who lives in Santiago, Chile, told me Alyse was “an inspiration” to her, and after watching her videos, she then “started a successful vegan lifestyle.”
“When she announced she was eating meat again I couldn’t believe it,” Nicole said. “She used to be so devoted to veganism.”
Nicole’s issue, as a fan — or, er, former fan — was how “extreme” Alyse seemed to have jumped from one ship to another. And that she fears because she was so effectively convinced to change her lifestyle, that this might influence others the same way.
“She can do whatever she wants of course, I just hope this change of diet and lifestyle doesn’t affect others. I would hate to see some of Alyse’s followers getting confused and considering eating animals again,” she said.
Another fan named Haley told me she’s been following the influencer since 2014. “Up until [Alyse’s latest Instagram post] I would still reference her and be proud that she inspired me,” said Haley. “However, now I feel as though I listened to a hypocrite.”
Haley said she grew skeptical about Alyse’s motivations after seeing her do “a complete 180” about her lifestyle choices.
“Considering much of her product and basis of her career is on health and helping the environment, I do not think she has a care for anything besides herself,” Haley said.
Both Haley and Nicole said they remain vegan and are happy about their decisions — they’re just let down by someone who they once saw as a heroic figure.
I’ve reached out to Alyse, but did not immediately hear back.
It’s always a sad reality to face when you’re empowered by a message, but disappointed by the messenger. And someone you almost viewed as superhuman now continues to show you they’re...just human. And that they might loosely wield their power of influence. However, it sounds like going vegan is a decision Alyse’s followers are now actively making for themselves, independently, and that’s pretty great.
Until next time — plant yourself at home this weekend, or go meat someone out. Do whatever the hell you wanna do.