French influencer superstar Nabilla Vergara INSTAGRAM / @NABILLA

Is being a fashion influencer even a job? What professional skills are required to post photos all day long on Instagram, showing off one’s last shopping haul or latest skincare product recommendation? I will admit that I can understand that some might find the job of “influencer” futile, and even un-feminist, conveying the image of women whose sole purpose is to make their hair shinier and to buy higher and higher heels. Is this really what women should aspire to in 2021? Are we not trying to make our girls become world leaders, or beat up the lack of parity in STEM? As a bitter boomer might say, are fashion shows and hair salons all we can really do? But, just as reverse psychology advocates the contrary of the desired outcome, aren’t fashion influencers the symbol of female empowerment? Have we been played? Call it strategy, manipulation or genius, all there is to know is that reverse psychology (or in this case “reverse feminism”), is here to take you by surprise. Will those who were thought to be pretty and brainless turn out to be icons of the feminist cause? Be prepared.

“By positing themselves as strong, independent woman who control their image and their business, fashion influencers play on these sexist stereotypes, becoming role-models for a generation which is both animated and trapped by social media”

Using their own voice on a platform that gives them full freedom and is available for livestream 24/7, influencers promote entrepreneurship, body-positivity and the experimentation of new fashion styles. Nabilla Vergara, the French ex-tv reality show star, has all the ingredients to be the perfect scatter-brained influencer. After joining the French version of ‘Love is Blind’ in 2011 at a fresh 17, she became internationally famous in the fifth season of the ‘Angels of TV Reality’ for her overplayed foolishness and her lack of general knowledge. Red leather mini shorts, a bikini top three sizes too small and breast implants that would make Pamela Anderson swoon were her uniform. Fast forward ten years and Nabilla produced her own TV show, published her autobiography, and is now the proud CEO of a beauty brand. Inspired by her idol Kim Kardashian, whom she met in Miami in 2013, the young woman created an empire. Queen of self-deprecation, she has wisely used her image to become one of the most famous self-made women of the country. Muse of Jean-Paul Gaultier, icon of the Cannes Film Festival, Nabilla has made a place for herself in the fashion industry while continuing to fight for causes that are close to her heart.

Gabrielle Caunseil Pozzoli, who has used her platform to open up about endometriosisINSTAGRAM / @GABRIELLECAUNESIL

After sponsoring dozens of orphans through the Imani Rehabilitation Agency, Nabilla is now attacking the polemist and potential 2022 presidential candidate Eric Zemmour who belittled her in an interview six years ago by affirming that she promoted the “culture of emptiness”. Nabilla is now taking her revenge, opposing herself to the revisionist and Islamophobic journalist, defending the right to call one’s child with whatever first name one chooses, even if it does not represent his ideal of a white refractory France. And despite her success, Nabilla stayed true to herself, still playing with her “brainless” label.


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And she is not the only one. Not all have gone through reality tv, and not all have been unfairly judged by the public. Some simply sell a dream life through the Instagram window, but that doesn’t prevent them, on the side, to show their reality. Milan-based Gabrielle Caunesil Pozzoli embodies the perfect, stylish Parisian-in-Italy it-girl, strutting round the Duomo in a flowy dress. But her life is not all about her pretty pictures on Instagram. Suffering from endometriosis, the thirty-one-year-old influencer opened up to the world, raising awareness to this disease which affects 10% of women. In an effort to engage a discussion about women’s health, Gabrielle bared her soul, testifying to the pain she’s had to endure every single day. That did not stop her from becoming a successful businesswoman, founding in 2019 La Semaine Paris, a sustainable fashion brand.

Those influencers are not superficial. Every day, they engage with their followers about entrepreneurship, following one’s dream, thriving in a male-led world, while exposing their weaknesses. They are true, both to themselves, and to the world. Clothes, shoes, and hairstyles might be a female stereotype, but they represent a real business. Subject to experimentation, fashion is the ground to build one’s identity, it is the self that we want to become, or the self that we do not always assume. And by positing themselves as strong, independent woman who control their image and their business, fashion influencers play on these sexist stereotypes, becoming role-models for a generation which is both animated and trapped by social media. Knowing that platforms such as Instagram, which often mirror unrealistic lifestyles, can be a real source of empowerment and financial independence is a message of hope. And that, my dears, is what I like to call reverse feminism.