Although she once proudly declared that she does not give many interviews, this week, yet another podcast episode featuring English social media influencer previous Love Island contestant Molly-Mae Hague has resurfaced, with her views causing uproar on Twitter and online in general.
In The Diary Of A CEO interview, Hague doubled down on the age-old phrase ‘we all have the same 24 hours in a day’, often used in reference to Beyoncé—which is exactly who the influencer compared herself to—and other uber-successful entrepreneurs and celebrities. After acknowledging previous criticism she received, Hague told listeners that it’s still true, there really is 24 hours in a day. Sure, that simple statement cannot be argued with, but as many Twitter users were quick to point out, the C-list celebrity didn’t even bother to acknowledge the wide array of choices she is faced with when it comes to using her time. This is exactly where 24 hours can differ from one person in our society to another. But oh well, Hague chose to ignore those who do not have the privilege she has had, whether that is those caring for family members, victims of discrimination due to race or ethnicity or those who are physically or mentally unwell.
She really did a number at pissing the internet off because Hague is representative of a much larger issue within the new age of influencer culture. Individualism is perpetuated throughout the girlboss narrative which almost feels Thatcherite in its expression. Molly-Mae, although not the only one responsible for promoting the ‘hustle ‘til you make it’ type of working suggested that ‘hard work’ alone is the reason she is currently in a successful position, in her early twenties and earning a six-figure income with a seemingly prestigious job title (for a company that consistently harms its workers and the environment).
It is perhaps a stretch to suggest the 22-year-old, famed for her participation in a crappy reality TV show, rewarded for her conventional attractiveness and socialised in a world that promoted individualism to her, would be able to decipher the ways in which she is promoting a damaging rhetoric around work culture.
There are plenty of young people who have the skills and talent to compete with influencers like Hague for creative roles in the fashion industry. There are many of those same people who are house- or bed-bound with ongoing illnesses, who as much as they’d like to work towards dreams of a career in something they love, are living at or below the poverty line due to inadequate government assistance for disability.
Many of those people will have dropped out of education due to inaccessible schedules or lack of remote learning, and may still live at home in order to receive care. Frankly, when it comes to 24 hours in a day, those living with chronic illness are too ill to even consider much past the next hour of staying alive. Time appears to move slower or inconsistently when you’re constantly sick, an experience referred to by many as ‘crip time’, which asks us to reimagine what can and should be done in a time period. Alison Kafer, a professor in disability studies described in her book Feminist, Queer, Crip that crip time is “recognizing how expectations of ‘how long things take’ are based on very particular minds and bodies. Rather than bend disabled bodies and minds to meet the clock, crip time bends the clock to meet disabled bodies and minds.”
The influencer’s combination of hustle culture and young success CEO story led her to promote (like many before her) a toxic ideal that damages us all, and particularly those who are unable to physically contribute to work, or pursue goals society forces on us. For every hour Hague has in a day, a chronically ill young person may only get ten minutes.
Everything you do requires more energy and more time to complete when your body will not conform to working methods that non-disabled people and workplaces abide by. To assume that anyone can “go in any direction” is to ignore the ways many chronically ill people are defined by their bodies and the (lack of) accessibility in the working world. It is also important to note that work, or more precisely, a ‘career’, is not something all people (including those living with chronic illness) want or need to aspire to. The tying together of physical output with our worthiness will always perpetuate a mindset that is inherently ableist—‘those who work the hardest are better than those who don’t’, even if those who don’t are physically or mentally unable to.
So Molly-Mae, I’ve got one question for you, why don’t you use one of the many hours you have in your day to educate yourself on crip time? It’ll be worth it, I promise you.