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The influence of social media

My first discovery of Women Don’t Owe You Pretty was on an Instagram post. Up until that moment, I had a lack of knowledge surrounding Florence Given as an influencer, alongside her involvement in feminism, illustration, and writing. Due to this been her first book, I had not previously heard of her. However, upon further research, and as a result of social media, I saw that she had a large online community that praised her for her activist work and the feminist beliefs that she projects daily throughout her platform. Upon seeing the book review on Instagram, I found there to be many comments explaining how the book had changed the perspective for many readers, and that it as worth the read for others who were wanting to gain a wider understanding. The reviews spoke about the way Given’s non-conventional and modern approach was revolutionary for future generations. From that moment on, I found every other post appeared to be discussing the book, alongside how it was a new must read for all women. Without these online comments and publicity towards the book itself, along with Givens already established Instagram following, I do think that there would have been less of an interest, as not many people would have purchased the book if they were unable to go online and discuss it with others. Also, many individuals may have had the same experience as me and only found the book through the use of Instagram, therefore showing that without the social media app, the book would not have reached the same amount of publicity as it did.

There appears to be a sense of gratification, where individuals will buy a book just to parade it around online, to show that they are up to date with modern literature and are willing to promote life-changing work that upholds revolutionary ideas. Therefore, if this were not possible, I feel as though less people would feel the need to go out and purchase the book as they would not receive the same attention. I do believe that the success of Givens work was made possible because of this ideology surrounding online praise, therefore social media does have an effect on contemporary literature as a whole. It enables a wider target audience to be reached, as a result of online discussions and sharing these amongst friends and followers. While also enabling authors to focus on genres that would have previously been disregarded, such as self-help books.

Alongside this, the topics which Given discusses are ones that are intensified as a result of online ideologies, such as body confidence and self-esteem, as readers are becoming more obsessed over looks as a result of the comments they receive of others. Therefore, Givens has been able to use social media to her advantage when creating Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, knowing who her target audience is due to her previously acquired large online following.

The same can also be said for other self-help books that have risen through the use of social media, such as Vex King’s ‘Good Vibes. Good life[1]which appears to follow the same approach as Given, by providing detailed and insightful advice on everyday issues, such as body confidence, self-esteem and discussions based upon the law of attraction. Again, King uses his online platform as a way to publicise his work, by interacting with his followers and allowing them to have some involvement throughout reviewing the book itself. In the same way as Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, I discovered Vex King’s book through the use of social media, after seeing many posts that had persuasive comments, describing it as a must read for all adults. Upon reading the book, straight after Given’s work, I found that there was a huge influence from social media in both books, from the very beginning.

From the first page of Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, Given’s Instagram handle is placed in plain view, under a paragraph emphasising her title as Cosmopolitans’ influencer of the year 2019[2]. Although this does highlight positives throughout Givens activist career, I feel as though it can be simply seen as a promotion of her social media accounts, to help receive more attention towards her platform and therefore increasing popularity. It is as though the whole book is orientated around online opinions, which help to fuel its success and gain the interest of new readers. King also has a similar approach in his book, encouraging readers to use the handle – #VexKingBook on their accounts, which he claims is so that he can like the pictures they upload. However, it also provides more advertising for the readers own followers, due to intrigue of checking the hashtag and seeing posts favouring Good Vibes, Good life. Given also follows this approach as the hashtag #WomenDontOweYouPretty gained over 1,000 posts on Instagram, catching the eye with bright colours and gaining more publicity[3]. With this in mind, it raises questions as to whether or not Given and King have simply published their self-help books as a way to actually provide help for the younger generation, or if they are trying to fit in with the contemporary introduction to social media, while providing a simple token gesture to raise publicity? Either way, it is easy to see that Women Don’t Owe You Pretty has had its claim to fame as a result of the contemporary society that exists. Given has clearly chosen to expand upon relevant issues that are mentioned in other female orientated books and articles, such as ‘Who I Am, Really: Char Ellesse[4]and Lisa Erikson’s  ‘Chakra Empowerment for women: Self-guided techniques for healing trauma…[5]which allow her to gain the attention of many female followers due to her attention towards topics that they can relate too, and thus spreading by word of mouth through online gossip.

[1] King, Vex. 2018. Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is The Key To Unlocking Your Greatness. Hay House UK; Illustrated edition.

[2] Petter, Olivia. 2019. “Meet The Illustrator Who Wants You To Dump Your Boyfriend”. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/florence-given-interview-instagram-influencer-dump-him-illustrations-a9002236.html.

[3] Scott, Maisie. 2020. “Five People Reflect On Women Don’t Owe You Pretty – The Mancunion”. The Mancunion. https://mancunion.com/2020/10/02/five-people-reflect-on-women-dont-owe-you-pretty/.

[4] Spiller, Lara. 2021. “Who I Am, Really: Char Ellesse”. The Nue Co. UK. https://uk.thenueco.com/blogs/journal/who-i-am-really-char-ellesse.

[5] Erickson, Lisa. 2019. Chakra Empowerment For Women. Llewellyn Publications.