CULTURE

Exclusive Interview: Snitchery Discusses Her Blackness, Transparency & Beauty Diversity

Snitchery talks black-fishing accusations and what her Blackness means as a biracial influencer.

Like many beauty enthusiasts, 23-year-old beauty influencer Eleanor Barnes (widely known as Snitchery) found her love for make-up in middle school— "maybe a little too early," she joked.

She continued to foster her interest and skills over the years, though in private. During her suburban North Virginia upbringing, she wasn't focused on building follower counts, not even on MySpace. It wasn't until she attended Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts in 2014 that she innocently discovered social media and its ability to create connections and friendships.

She said, "Okay, if I want to make friends in college...this is the way to do it—I'm going to do the social media route." As a make-up lover and early selfie queen, Eleanor began posting aesthetically-pleasing looks on her Instagram, with perfect lighting and solid background color tones.

"Because I didn't grow up with social media, I didn't know being an influencer was a thing; I didn't know [this] job existed," she said. "I kind of thought people on Instagram who had a lot of followers were just really popular. I didn't realize they were actually making money."

Understandably, this was the thought process of many early users on the Internet. Social media marketing really got started in 2010 when Amazon partnered with Facebook and began using algorithms to suggest products and services to "friends."

During the summer of her sophomore year at Emerson (majoring in Media Studies and Art History), while working in the crafty aisles of Michael's, Eleanor first realized her influencer aspirations and decided to turn a passing hobby into a full-time career. She quickly began making more money than any average 20-year-old college student.

By 2017, she was completely financially independent, creating make-up looks, tutorials, and eventually (as a self-proclaimed "nerd at heart") leaning into cosplay.



The Cosplayer

Dating back to the beginnings of her well-curated Instagram, Eleanor posted make-up looks that were heavily inspired by brightly-colored animated characters.

Eleanor's early talent for dramatic make-up routines naturally collided with her other loves: anime and Disney. She grew interested in cosplay as an outsider, not actually wearing full-blown outfits or going to conventions. However, she took the spark of her small interest and ignited it into a unique make-up style.

Her shift to cosplay was "natural progression," she said. She began stepping into more outfits (including props) in her photos, while still keeping her approach make-up focused. In October 2018, she began doing costume make-up, and her followers' positive reactions were more than what Eleanor expected. Thus, she became an active part of the cosplay subculture of the beauty industry.

She channeled her inner anime enthusiast into creating characters from Studio Ghibli and classic Disney princesses with a modern twist. Her passion and love for anime can easily be seen through her tutorials and detailed looks. When we spoke about what anime means to her, she reflected that many beloved series (HunterxHunter being a fave) returned adults to near forgotten lessons we learned from fables and even religion, like "friendship is important" and "don't underestimate yourself."

"I kind of treat [anime] as modern-day fairy tales, in a way," she said. This love translated to another business venture. Eleanor created her first merchandise collection of hoodies, sweatpants, beanies, and dad hats inspired by Japanese lettering and designs.



The Activist

Eleanor's follower count jumped from thousands to tens of thousands in just a couple of years, helping her solidify fan bases in both the beauty and cosplay communities. But, as the old Hip-Hop adage goes, "mo' money, mo' problems." During her rise, Internet scrutiny rose and an infestation of self-appointed cancel culture police searched for names and profiles to include in popularized buzzwords, and all this eventually caught up with Eleanor.

"Blackfishing" accusations quickly circulated around late 2018, pinning white beauty influencers as perpetrators of using deeper-toned foundations or tanning for longer than necessary, leading them to be regularly mistaken for ethnic women. If this phrase is new to you, look at any Kardashian sisters' early social media photos compared to those of today. More recently, Kim has reawakened the blackfishing conversation with her unveiling of her controversial skincare routine.

Eleanor soon received her own mix of accusations. Given her sudden growth and notoriety and the public's very limited knowledge of her personal and family life, beauty enthusiasts accused the biracial influencer of blackfishing.

"It was weird," she remembered, not understanding the initial accusations. Growing up in a predominantly white suburb of Northern Virginia with her white mother and Black father, Eleanor's experience as "the Black family on the block" was profound.

"I was always the token Black girl," she confessed. Reminiscing about her childhood as a darker-skinned, curly-haired kid, she remembers being asked by a soccer teammate if she was adopted when she was picked up by her white mother. These moments gave context to her experiences of being racially ambiguous in white spaces.

"I was obviously read as Black for 18 years and [realized in college] for the first time I was going to be read as completely white," she said.

In college, Eleanor surrounded herself with Black people and those who looked like her by joining select clubs geared towards Black students and Black women specifically. "For the first time, I felt I was having the culturally Black experience just because I hadn't had the opportunity to have Black friends before," she said. She joined Black and brown organizations on her school campus and attended many protests and rallies surrounding Ferguson and the unjust gunning down of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

"I was approaching these issues as a Black woman because that's how other people saw me and that's how I saw myself," she said.

The accusations of blackfishing eventually prompted the YouTuber to take to her visual platforms to discuss the conversation around her Blackness, and also to open up about her biological background.

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As a racially ambiguous woman of color, Eleanor makes it apparent that she understands the nuance of identifying as a Black woman, while acknowledging that her Black experience is a story that thousands of other mixed people identify with.

"I never want to take more up space than I feel is appropriate and I never want to talk over people, but there is a lack of biracial stories in the media," she shared. After sharing her background, she received literally thousands of direct messages from biracial fans who also felt displaced from their communities - not being Black enough for the Black spaces and being too Black for white spaces.

As part of an industry that favors racially ambiguity, fuller lips, and deeper tanned skin, Eleanor is not ignorant about her position in beauty and makeup spheres.

"I own up to every way that I move through life so privileged in a lot of ways to be read as racially ambiguous and white, but that doesn't change the fact that I wasn't read that way for 18 years," she said. Opening up these conversations, helping some find comfort, and educating others about the nuanced experience of ambiguous Black bodies was not an intentional move for Snitchery, but it was a necessary dialogue that received overall positive reception.


The IG Baddie

The beauty industry is a $600 billion machine that feeds on physical insecurities. Beauty influencers are glittery cogs in this massive system, and they do their part accordingly without deviating too far from the demands of advertising agencies and corporations. While many influencers are choosing to take the "safe" path, participating in dramatic disputes ("We're talking about makeup and [the industry] is 80% drama and 20% tutorials," Eleanor points out) while being coy with their followers about their beauty additives, Eleanor has attempted to be completely transparent with fans about what she does and does not do to enhance her looks.

"Everybody's face is starting to look the same, which is a little scary," she said. "For the average person who is interested in beauty, [there] probably is something damaging about having all of your influences having a very, very similar face, that they've all built and that they all paint on everyday. I don't know if that's the healthiest thing in the world."

While the "IG Baddie look" looks great on camera and video, at one point, Eleanor noticed that the look that she'd been doing for years was no longer fitting her face. The almost plastic-looking aesthetic of being flawless no longer served her.

So she began diving into styles from other time periods and from other countries. On her YouTube channel, which has over 300,000 subscribers, Eleanor began experimenting with what worked best for her face terms of eye shape, cheekbone contouring, and highlighter.

"I think it's silly to think one particular makeup style can be universally flattering on everybody. And we've gotten to a point in Western make-up where only really one style is being presented to us," she said. Through her personal expansion beyond Western beauty norms, Eleanor was able to find more of what works for her; she's dropped almost 50% of her "IG baddie" makeup routines.

"I'm never going to knock anyone's makeup style, but I just realized wearing that much makeup [daily] was not for me," she said. By teaching herself how to do her makeup intuitively, instead of checking Instagram to see what's trending amongst the beauty girls, Eleanor found new looks and trends that fit her face and daily routine more organically and fluidly.


The Future

Eleanor and her Snitchery brand have come a long way from simply using social media as a way to find friends. At only 23-years-old, she is financially independent, an entrepreneur, a caring and compassionate human being and, above all else, a self-aware adult using her platform to spread awareness of mental healthcare, climate change, the importance of voting, human rights and much more.

While there seems to be a standard, popular look that's generally considered normal in the industry, Snitchery is working her way to changing this for the better, allowing everyone to live their truth. More influencers are moving away from fully-covered, face-tuned selfies and are getting back to loving their natural faces (or at least something close).

Thanks to all this, Eleanor has a major future in the beauty industry. With aspirations of reaching the million follower mark on Instagram (which is only months away); she's also in the early stages of development for her own product line.

"[There are] a lot of big holes in the makeup industry that product is not necessarily filling, and I'm going to be the one to do it!" she said.

We can only hope that popular influencers in all industries, from make-up artists to our favorite gamers, can understand and respect their position like Snitchery does, making transparency a requirement instead of an option.

Netflix's You created a phenomenon for binge-watchers everywhere, sparking a conversation around our societal understanding of what we consider inherently good and evil.

You's first two seasons follow bookstore clerk Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley) as he uses murder as a means to get closer to the women he fixates on. In the latest 10-episode season of the show, viewers follow Joe from New York to California where he ultimately meets Love, the latest woman he sets his mind on. Joe finds himself in another calm, calculated, yet clumsy murder spree as he tries to win her affections.

On the promotional tour for both seasons, and particularly on the tour for this latest release, Badgley discussed his connection (or lack thereof) to his character, who is adored by thousands.

In many interviews, Badgley is refreshingly aware of the white male privilege he shares with Joe. In numerous soundbites from the press run, the 33-year-old actor can be quoted probing the question, "How far will we [as a society] go to forgive a white man?"

1. Calling Out Male Privilege on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he expounds on his point. "How patient and willing to forgive we are [as a society] someone who inhabits a body that inhabits mine, [has] the color of my skin, my gender, these sorts of things, these sort of privileges," he said. "And how less forgiving [we are] of those who don't fit those boxes."

Using many press sit-downs and interviews to raise foundationally similar questions, Badgley is clearly utilizing his platform to bring awareness to these privileges and to further examine ideologies that question society's understanding of love and morality.

When speaking, Badgley is noticeably careful not to support the alarming attraction his fans already have to his character. Fans across social media platforms and live show tapings have displayed an overwhelming attraction not only to Badgley, but his sociopathic and narcissistic Netflix persona. In the Colbert interview, he described his struggle to play such a likable person, especially someone who provokes such a "thirsty" reaction in so many people.

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2. Responding to "Thirst Tweets" at Buzzfeed

Because of the open affection for Joe, Buzzfeed invited Badgley to read "thirst tweets" from fans. The tweets ranged from lustful declarations to murderous desires. Aside from tweets aimed to ask about the plot of the show or the potential of a season three, Badgley gave quite a few of them short responses and passed on many entirely.

While Badgley makes it clear in repeated interviews that his responses to probing comments may seem tongue-in-cheek or downright snarky, the Gossip Girl actor has a clear discomfort with the open commentary.

The widespread attraction that many viewers feel for Joe brings to mind similar affections targeting the 1970s serial killer, Ted Bundy. Young woman were also unreasonably attracted to his charismatic charm and smile, even during his trial for the murdering of over 30 women across seven states between 1974 and 1978. Then his story was reimagined and romanticized in 2019 when all-American High School Musical star Zac Efron reawakened the allure of the famed killer by playing Bundy in Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

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3. Killing Off Joe on Entertainment Tonight

Badgley didn't mention Bundy (or other romanticized serial killers, for that matter) in his press run; perhaps he didn't want to offend Zac Efron. On Entertainment Tonight, Badgley was asked what he would like to see happen to Joe, and Penn immediately responded with "death" (which he, of course, laughed off politely).

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4. Talking Justice on Buzzfeed's AM to DM

During his sit-down with Buzzfeed's talk show AM to DM, Badgley elaborates on his realization that Joe is "irredeemable." He toys with the notion that there needs to be justice in Joe's story but not for the fictional character—more so for "the rest of us in the world." Given Badgley's hope that Joe will receive a fair punishment for his murders (whether it be jail, a mental institution, or death at the hands of a failed conquest), the audience should also feel hopeful that there may be a just ending to this story, which ultimately is a tale of a man using today's advanced technologies to invade women's privacy. As viewers, we deserve to see a righteous end to this technological dystopian nightmare.

Badgley shared that he was constantly conflicted when he was not in front of the camera, even though he was essentially doing his job. "I'm a full puppet," he explained with a laugh. "That is the job of the actor, you're a vessel for these things."

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Badgley has been more publicly outspoken during his run as Joe than he was during his five-year run on the hit series Gossip Girl. With age, Badgley has become more self-aware and understanding of his position and platform, and he seems to want to utilize it only for the greater good. Performing a fictional, but also realistic, character like Joe gives him the space to share his understanding of morality and justice. While Joe is seemingly difficult to play, hopefully Badgley will find peace in knowing that his performance has sparked difficult conversations about how society views predatory (white) men.

Many people outside of the hot girl tribe are confused about the actual definition of the now popular mantra.

The term went viral after being rapped at the beginning of Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion's single "Cash Sh*t" featuring the equally charismatic and bubbly rapper Da Baby. Megan has turned her carefree, fun-filled lifestyle into a blueprint for forward activism for the Gen Z generation and has made it look so effortless in the process.

The 24-year-old rapper has exemplified what it means to be a hot girl in her day-to-day social media antics and sightings in various cities. The hot girl lifestyle has very little to do with sexual exploration (while that can be up to each hot girl's prerogative) and more to do with a continuous upward trajectory of positive energy and growth. The mantra boils down to a concise concept: having fun and living your best life.

A Real #HotGirlSemester

While the Houston-native climbs up the music charts, she still wants to have as much fun as possible while doing so; but Megan makes it apparent that it's not always playtime. With Generation X and Generation Y (AKA Millennials) understanding student debt all too well, Generation Z (including Megan) are also feeling the blunt force of debt more than ever. Currently, the student loan debt now stands at a staggering $1.41 trillion, according to Investopedia.

As a college student herself, the Gen Z artist understands the weight of getting classwork done at all costs. Megan empathizes with what it's like to cram those final papers and exams in at 11:59 PM on their due date, doing the same in between photo shoots and after parties. She majors in Health Administration at Texas Southern University, where Meg Thee Stallion has been transparent about simultaneously being a student and a nation-wide superstar. In an interview with Billboard late last year, she humbly discussed one of her professors pointing out "The Stallion" alter ego.

"Only one of my professors right now knows that I'm like a whole rapper. She followed me on Instagram, and when I came to class she was like, 'Megan, so you got a little alter ego!' I was like, 'Oh my god. Don't follow me!'"

The Vegan Lifestyle

Since she's been in the spotlight, Megan has spoken openly about her dietary choices. She initially transitioned to vegetarianism but became a vegan after researching the treatment of factory-farmed chickens and cows.

In an official report released July 2019, the Plant-Based Food Association (PBFA) and the Good Food Institute reported that plant-based vegan foods have increased in popularity over 11% in the last year, turning veganism into a $4.5 billion industry. "The plant-based meat category alone is worth more than $800 million, with sales up 10 percent in the past year," the report reads. "Plant-based meat now accounts for 2% of retail packaged meat sales."

This increase can be partially attributed to Millennials and Gen Zers being more health conscious of the environmental benefits of veganism and plant-based diets than their predecessors. Megan, along with many other vegans, are doing their best to get others to join in on the movement. She even tried to convince fellow rapper, Chance The Rapper, to make the change by challenging him to eat more broccoli (which he struggled to do) after losing a bet.

Eco-friendly Hottie Movement

Following her veganism movement, Megan began to advocate for a more holistic, environmentally-friendly lifestyle. She often tweets tips, helping her followers become "eco-friendly hotties" with simple life hacks, including using recyclable bags, reusing water bottles and food containers, and pushing followers to stop eating meat (or at least less of it).

Last June, the "Sex Talk" rapper put her words into action and hosted a beach clean-up in California with fans. She posted a now-deleted Instagram live urging fans to "come in y'alls bikinis and we gonna go clean up some sh*t, you know what I'm saying?"

Hundreds of fans attended the beach clean up at the Santa Monica Pier. This event was a powerful use of platform and display of community that more celebrities should embrace, especially because causes such as climate change and environmental destruction will affect our Earth for years to come. While these events may seem minuscule in the face of mass, corporate-level disasters we're facing, it's hopeful to see the next generation (including the popular celebrities) caring enough to do something about it.

Respect Thee Stallion

Megan is still new and is already becoming a recognizable name in music, standing her ground alongside other male and female artists in her genre. With her infectious smile and joyful approach to life, Megan noticeably gets along with everyone from fellow rappers and Hip-Hop moguls to political voices.

Artists who stand for their causes and understand the intersectionalities of their platforms will be able to influence the next generations much more significantly than politicians who are talking "at" them and not "to" them. The fact that artists such as Cardi B, Beyonce, and Megan Thee Stallion are standing by important, generation-shifting causes will motivate young adults and politicians alike to pay attention to societal issues which can hopefully spark greater change.