Iced-coffee diets and clique mentalities are in. With the rise of social media “influencers” comes a new wave of toxic trends, most of which mirroring disordered eating and high school bullying. While these stars have been promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, their influence has become lethal.
Haley Morales is a 15-year-old YouTube star from Texas who makes makeup tutorials and other lifestyle videos. She recently embarked on her “Besties Tour” and is known to interact with her fans on Instagram, where she has a sizable following of teenage girls (approximately 500,000 followers, but that number is currently dropping). She has recently been involved in countless scandals, which range from allegedly being drugged to emotionally abusing fellow influencers. While scandals are everyday occurrences for influencers, Morales’ recent scandal proved to be fatal for one fan.
14-year-old Lena, one of Morales’ many fans, reportedly overdosed and died over the weekend after being bullied by her idol. A source close to the victim explained that her mental health was deteriorating before her suicide, but Morales’ words pushed her over the edge.
i am sorry
— haley morales (@haleymmorales) July 30, 2019
Morales quickly took to Twitter, tweeting a quick apology, explaining, “i did NOT drive ANYONE to kill themselves. i called a fan annoying and that the other fan was better than her in a private dm. which was completely wrong. but i didn’t ever want this to happen. this is NOT my fault.” Though the influencer frequently discusses the effect of bullying and “hate comments” on her own mental health, she seemingly plays her own bullying off as harmless.
She continued her rant, reinforcing the narrative that she definitely did not drive a sensitive, suicidal fan to her death by making hateful comments behind her back. Fans and critics alike advised her to issue a formal apology or to just hop off social media altogether, but Morales did quite the opposite. In response to one user begging her to stay off Twitter, she stated, “i’m not getting off. i have goals and dreams. this is my world, and you cannot stop me from doing what i love.”
i am extremely sorry beyond words. i’m in my bed sobbing for you. i’ve been where you have. but you can never fully blame someone for a death dealing with mental health. ill admit i’ve done it in the past and it was wrong of me. never let someone have that much control over you.
— haley morales (@haleymmorales) July 30, 2019
Though she claims that she is not making herself out to be a victim, she repeatedly mentions her own unstable mental health and suicidal feelings. She continues to deflect the blame and sob-tweet, explaining how terrible the situation makes her feel without admitting her guilt in the incident.
Bullying seems to be a common occurrence with new-age influencers. Many of these social media icons are under eighteen and are still in high school—they are still in a clique mindset. There are the beauty gurus at one table, the comedians at the next. The newest wave is made up of aspiring models with a flare for Brandy Melville and thrifting.
YouTube stars Emma Chamberlain, Hannah Meloche and Ellie Thumann were the it-girls of 2018, making up one of the most powerful influencer friend-circles. Their friendship was broadcasted in countless videos and Instagram posts, and it was devoured by fellow teens. But as the months went by, communication between Chamberlain and the other influencers slowly came to a halt. By 2019, the clique had seemingly fizzled out, leading many fans to speculate.
This speculation led fans to believe Thumann and Meloche had caused the rift, which led to a flood of hate tweets towards the girls in turn. After months of drama surrounding the friendship, Thumann finally spoke out in a tweet defending Meloche.
You feel good comparing and putting down a teenage girl? One who I care about a lot? She has deleted the app because of people like you. we ask you to leave us be. We don’t want any part in this. So let us. You are behind a screen continuing to make things hard for Hannah.
— Ellie Thumann (@EllieThumann) July 19, 2019
The broadcasting of drama between these influencers has ultimately led to a new wave of cyberbullying, one eerily similar to high school harassment. Their fanbases tend to mirror their clique attitudes and toxic behavior, though. This ultimately leads to trouble on a larger scale, as their behavior is no longer limited to the influencers themselves.
Fans aren’t just mirroring their behavior socially, though. They’re adopting their influencer idles’ lifestyles all-together. Outside of her famous friendships, Emma Chamberlain is also known for her vintage fashion and coffee addiction. She is a trendsetter, of sorts. What many fail to see is that she promotes unhealthy habits with the influencing of these trends.
The 18-year-old star released a one-size-fits-all clothing line in collaboration with Dote, a company that recently was called out on its racism. Many were unhappy with her products, as they barely fit her, a size extra-small. Their disappointment is understandable, considering most people cannot fit into the clothes (and the fact that she was charging $25 for a scrunchie). The fact that she expects fans to fit into such a small size illustrates her ideal body image and promotes an unhealthy idea for impressionable fans who want to fit their idol’s idea of perfection.
Her unhealthy ideology does not end with clothing, though. Many people view her “coffee addiction” as trendy and have begun to pick up the habit as well. What many fail to see is that coffee is a laxative, especially in such a large amount, and is an effective way to lose weight. One fan even tweeted, “Replacing meals with iced coffee pros: skinny legend.” Essentially, young fans are beginning to view disordered eating/coffee-drinking habits as quirky and trendy.
If being bullied to the point of deteriorated mental health and suicide won’t kill an impressionable teen, being influenced into an eating disorder by unhealthy one-size-fits-all body image and iced coffee will. While the influencers’ intentions might be harmless, their effects are not.
These influencers are influencing unhealthy lifestyles, clique mentality and bullying. Young teens should not be following and idolizing fellow teens with toxic habits. Teens are being attacked online by opposing fan groups and are facing mental health issues. Teens are replacing meals with iced coffee because they think it’s trendy. This new climate is detrimental to the youth, and if it continues, it will take more lives than it already has begun to.
Featured image via Emma Chamberlain