Why isn't there a 'Black Alix Earle'? TikTok creator sparks discussion about double standards.

Why isn't there a 'Black Alix Earle'? TikTok creator sparks discussion about double standards.
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Alix Earle, a popular influencer known for her “Get Ready With Me" posts, has nearly 10 million followers on Instagram and TikTok combined. While she is often lauded for her relatable and unfiltered perspectives on beauty and travel, some TikTokers have pointed out that not every influencer is granted the same privileges that she has — specifically her Black women counterparts. Because of this, creators have begun to discuss why there isn’t a “Black Alix Earle.”

On Jan. 27, creator Izzy Eternal (@izzyeternal) posted a video explaining his perspective on the subject, claiming that there isn’t a Black Alix Earle because “Black women are not rewarded for mediocrity and are almost exclusively rewarded for being exceptional.”

According to Eternal, mediocrity comes from a lack of effort and thought, and he points to casual posts from creators that don’t include multiple cuts, filters, glam makeup or wardrobe changes. He argues that the regular "slice of life" videos don’t get consistent traction when coming from a Black creator as opposed to Alix Earle or other white creators.

For example, Black creator Clarke Peoples (@claaaarke), who has nearly 546,000 TikTok followers, posted a video about a day in her life that garnered about 22,500 likes, whereas Earle logged more than 380,000 likes for a video about rearranging her room — resulting in more likes per follower for Earle.

Eternal’s video has over 2 million views and several stitches of Black women creators adding to the conversation.

Sasha Whitney (@thesashawhitney), a SoulCycle instructor and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leader, explained why the need for a “Black Alix Earle” isn’t necessary.

“When we say things like ‘the Black X,Y and Z,’ it almost sets whiteness as the default [and] the standard,” she told Yahoo News in an interview. “We have had these Black women in this space. ... When I say monoracial, unambiguously Black women like Jackie Aina and Patricia Wright, these Black women have been here. They have been doing this. I just think we don’t recognize them in part because of their Blackness.”

Jackie Aina (@jackieaina), with 2.8 million TikTok followers, and Patricia Wright (@patriciabright), with almost 282,000 followers on the platform, are both beauty and lifestyle creators who have been producing content for over 10 years. They are seen as staple creators for many Black women with interest in the space and have massive reaches across several social media platforms.

Some TikTokers have argued that Monet McMichael (@monetmcmichael), a fashion and beauty creator who has over 5 million followers between Instagram and TikTok, fills the role of the “Black Alix Earle,” however that statement might miss the mark for others — including Whitney.

Both McMichael and Earle are highly visible in their space and were both recognized by Forbes as one of the top creators of 2023 — making the comparison between the two an arguably easy one.

“With [McMichael], being lighter skin, it does help,” Whitney claimed. “At the same time, it’s an intra-racial thing, because within the Black community ... colorism is still real, so you have lighter-skinned creators and influencers who are more likely to be supported.”

‘Algorithm systems reflect the biases already present in society’

“Ultimately, Black women vlogging their day-to-day experiences is not perceived as ‘relatable’ to women of other racial backgrounds, despite the fact that Black women are engaging in the very same expressions of womanhood as non-Black women,” Eternal told Yahoo News in an interview. “This is reflected in the general lack of engagement with their posts on social media.”

Black creators have spoken out before about algorithms not being favorable to them, which leads to fewer interactions with their content — and less valuable brand partnerships as a result. Creators of color have spoken out before about the difference in pay and other benefits between them and their white counterparts, even if their followings are similar.

“I really need y’all to understand how f***ed up it feels to be a Black creator giving your all to your content knowing that the algorithms are literally working against you,” Nai Jelee (@theeglamnaija) says in a post. “I’ve seen multiple Black creators recently who have theorized, tested and proved that not only does the algorithm read the color of your skin, but it will also give palm-colored creators more views per likes than if you are brown-skinned.”

Even though all creators might find issues with a certain algorithm, oftentimes creators of color feel more drastic effects.

“Many creators have shared with me experiences with erroneous content violations or suppressed content; creators of color report higher instances of both, particularly compared to their white counterparts,” Brooke Erin Duffy, an associate professor at Cornell University, told Yahoo News in an email. “I'll refer to the insight of scholars like Safiya Noble: Algorithm systems reflect the biases already present in society.’”

TikTok did not respond to Yahoo News's request for comment.

Even with the multiple examples that creators have pointed to as being their version of Alix Earle, the sentiment that they have to work twice as hard to get to the same place was a common theme.

“Despite pioneering cultural trends including (but not limited to) dance, language and fashion, Black women are still never truly considered ‘it girls’ in the social media space,” Eternal said. “But these very same cultural contributions are perceived as relatable when reproduced by white women content creators.”