Labels

Cheater. Transphobic. Predator.

It’s amazing how quickly labels can stick. Practically overnight they can damage your name and reputation, thanks to some lighter fuel known as social media. In today’s digital age, we’ve all become personal brands. From how we dress, what we eat, where we work and live. We’ve spent our lives working on our brands, but one Tweet, YouTube video or Instagram Story can basically wipe out everything you’ve worked for overnight.

Cheater. Transphobic. Predator. In recent weeks, I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines related to these labels.

CHEATER aka Olivia Jade: Olivia is the daughter of Becky from “Full House.” This YouTube personality recently made headlines when news broke about a “Varsity Blues” admissions scandal. Becky and her husband paid someone $500K to get their daughters into USC as crew recruits, even though neither girl is an athlete. Once word spread, Olivia saw her lucrative platform plummet, losing deals with major companies like Sephora and TRESemmé. She’s young and attractive, so she has some time to rebuild her reputation, but this scandal will forever be linked to any future media stories about her.

TRANSPHOBIC aka Lisa Vanderpump: The Queen of Diamonds and Rose, better known as an original cast member on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills found herself going on the defensive after making what many deemed to be a transphobic comment about her castmate Erika Jayne. “Just don’t ask me if Erika’s tucking it under or something like that, because there are some things I can’t lie about.” This line created a stir online, and LVP immediately issued an apology. Many were surprised to see Lisa defending her position as an ally, who regularly participates and hosts parties for Gay Pride and refuses to tolerate gender or sexual-orientation discrimination at her venues.

PREDATOR aka James Charles: When a war broke out amongst online beauty influencers Tati Westbrook and James Charles, I have to be honest … I didn’t really know who either of them were. But millions of others did. This story went into a She Said / He Said disaster that we’re still watching unfold. Tati released a 40-minute-ish video calling out James as a scammer and sexual predator. The reason she put the 19-year-old on blast? Because she has a supplements company and James did a post promoting her competitor. So she then went into depth about how he betrayed her trust and has tried to confuse straight men about their sexuality. After days of back-and-forth videos, millions of people subscribing and unsubscribing to their YouTube channels and Jeffree Star joining the fray, James finally pulled out the receipts to back up his side of the story. Many of the involved parties quickly retreated. While James has gained back a significant portion of his followers, it’ll still be tough to shake off some of the labels thrown at him, especially for those who haven’t been sticking around to see the conclusion of this feud.

Being targeted with labels doesn’t have to make national news to have an effect. Bad mom. Backstabber. Overachiever. Freeloader. People will never stop having opinions about others, or sharing their thoughts about who they THINK you are. Their ONE opinion about your personal brand doesn’t make it true. You won’t always have legions of fans who think of you in a positive manner. You just need to find a tribe that appreciates you and YOUR brand. And when that happens, you won’t be looking back at the haters.

Take a cue from one of the earliest mentors and cheerleaders most kids had in life … Pee-Wee Herman. He knew EXACTLY who he was, and he celebrated his brand and his friends’ brands (Miss Yvonne, Captain Carl, Cowboy Curtis) every day. Be sure to do the same. And when you have those moments of doubt, remind yourself of when Pee-Wee proudly exclaimed his brand to others. “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” Be true to you. Live life like Pee-Wee.

So what’s your personal brand? What labels have people tried to attach to you? And which ones do you publicly share with pride?

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