Working Class Influencers: Fighting Discrimination in the 'Posing' Sector
Well-known Instagram influencers such as the Afro and curvy model Nicole Ocran have joined together in unions and associations to denounce the racism and low…
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Although some people still criticize influencers for living off the story, there is no doubt that brands get their money's worth from working with Internet personalities, whose reputations and images are their greatest asset.
However, in an industry that moves more than $11 million and that does not stop growing — the proof is the numerous agencies of influencers that have arisen in recent times — the submerged work and the salary discrimination by gender, race or sexual orientation are more and more frequent.
Encouraged by the powerful influence of the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of influencers decided to join forces and create the American Influencer Council (AIC), a trade association that protects the rights of professional influencers and which has had a more than powerful — in fact, apparently more inspiring — replica in the UK: the curvy model of color, Nicole Ocran, has promoted The Creator Union's (TCU), a union for these freelancers who work for, with, and sometimes in spite of brands.
"It's common that even well-known brands don't allow the influencers to negotiate their rates, don't offer them a contract and don't pay them on time," she told Vogue Business. She claims to have been discriminated against in terms of salary because of her skin color and weight — a size 16.
According to Ocran, who has some 25,000 followers, joining a union benefits above all micro-influencers like her who do not have the protection of an agency or the popularity to shame the brands when they make abusive proposals, since their status as freelancers leaves them totally unprotected — despite the fact that some of them earn thousands of dollars every week.
The model also pointed out the lack of diversity in advertising campaigns and the salary gap that has nothing to do with the number of followers, but with issues that can be completely denounced.
The TCU has joined the American Influencer Council, which in the form of a non-profit think tank ensures that business relationships between influencers and the industry are much more transparent.
However, the creation of the association, which was announced in Times Square, is subject to controversy, as Instagrammers such as Diet Prada accuse it of trying to harm the freedom of competition among influencers, as well as acting with hypocrisy — some of its members have worked with fashion companies known for dubious practices.
The AIC is by invitation only and has a dozen members, including virtual stars such as Danielle Bernstein and Chriselle Lim, although they hope to increase the number to 15.
While unity is strength, the real power of such initiatives will depend on how open they are to adding members to their cause. Beyond their number of supporters, even beyond Instagram 'posing.'
As BLM teaches us, the streets and not just social media are battlegrounds.