Digital Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot spent a day with Molly-Mae in Manchester to talk about her new Pretty Little Thing collaboration and why women should support and praise each other more...
Molly-Mae Hague is one of the most talked-about women in the UK this year, with the Love Island runner up proving to be a particularly divisive contestant, subjected to a wave of online hate since leaving the show.
This however proves strange seeing as the 20-year-old social media influencer has not put a foot wrong.
So why has Molly-Mae – the girl’s girl of the 2019 Love Island villa – been victim to such an unprovoked stream of online abuse? I travelled up to Manchester to find out.
With the launch of Molly-Mae’s new Pretty Little Thing collaboration, it’s the perfect time for a heart to heart, and greeting me in her pink silk dressing gown and curlers, Molly seemed happy and relaxed as she talked through the collection and gave me a topknot tutorial.
‘It’s just about having a good hair band,’ she reassured me as she taught me the technique. ‘I’d just say having that good strong hair band that’s not going to snap when you get it up. That’s the worst thing when you get it up to the perfect bun and you get the hairband around it twice and then “ping” it snaps off to the other side of the room.
‘You’ve got to flip your hair upside down, so you get it all right to the top, then bunch it into a pony, then lift your head up,’ she instructed me. ‘Then twist it around, wrap the hair around itself and keep going around. And then once you’ve got it into the position, then you wrap the scrunchie.’
‘That’s it!,’ Molly praised me later that evening when she greeted me at her Pretty Little Thing launch party, over a bubblegum pink frozé and surrounded by fellow islanders, Tommy, Maura, Amber, Anna and Amy.
Watching Molly interact sweetly and respectfully with everyone at the Manchester party, I was painfully aware that hateful comments and articles were soon to come, ripping every move the 20-year-old took to shreds.
I sat down with Molly-Mae to get a sneak peek at her Pretty Little Thing collection, not to mention talk overcoming online hate and analyse the negative connotations attached to the term ‘influencer’.
Talk me through the Pretty Little Thing collection…
I wanted to create a collection that was very wearable and I wanted to show that it’s not hard to make a cool outfit from a few simple components. You don’t need designer labels, you just need a few basic items and you can look stylish and cool. I have always been into tailoring and suits – I prefer that smarter, older and more mature style. So I wanted to create a line in a collection that really represented that, and it really does reflect me and my style. I’ve shown it to a few of my friends and they have all said ‘this is you to a T’. That’s what I’m really happy about – that people can already see that this is my style. I studied fashion for two years and it really is my passion, but dressing isn’t hard – and that’s what this collection is about. It’s about showing that you don’t have to study fashion or be a fashionista to be stylish – you can just chuck on a piece from this collection and look cool and effortless.
I’ve loved Pretty Little Thing for so long and I worked with them before I went into the villa which was amazing so to come out and continue with that relationship and to grow with a brand that I have adored for so long just felt right.
Do you have any favourite pieces in the Pretty Little Thing collection?
There is a leather long-sleeved dress. I wear it with a roll-neck underneath and little black boots which is just me to an absolutely T – I’m obsessed with it. I think it’s perfect for transitioning into the Autumn/ Winter season. A lot of my collection are more transitional pieces. I’m much more of a winter fashion girl than a summer fashion girl so I’m really happy with that in my collection.
What is your fashion staple?
I live in leather trousers – I really do love them. I think a good pair of leather trousers is my staple. I don’t know why but I can chuck a pair of leather trousers on and they just work – they’re always flattering, they go with anything, they’re figure hugging, they’re slimming. I think leather trousers are just the way forward. I’m all for them.
Do you feel that people attach negative connotations to the term ‘influencer’?
One hundred percent. I think that being an influencer, it’s really hard to prove that you are working a professional and real job. People need to get used to the fact that influencing is a real thing, it is a real job. It’s hard to put into words – it’s frustrating because I work so hard and there are no days off.
I moved out at the age of 18, I’m earning really good money from this job and it has enabled me to travel the world. I’ve done things that a lot of people my age could never even dream of doing and it’s because of my job, and people still turn around and say ‘It’s not a real job.’ In the villa, I tried to steer away from that stereotypical influencer outlook, but even still there are always going to be people who say it’s not a real job. I think a lot of people would love to be an influencer – it is an incredible job. And that is where I think it stems from – a lot of people would love to do it so when they see people doing it it’s easier to tear them down.
How have you overcome the online hate?
I think I’ve kind of proved to everyone just from my actions and the way that I’ve been out of the villa that there was just no need for it – I think it was unprovoked and unnecessary. There wasn’t any real reason behind the hate and it didn’t phase me – and I think that’s why it didn’t phase me – because I knew that they were hating for no reason. I did nothing wrong in there, I went into Love Island and I did what the show asked me – I fell in love – and I’ve got an incredible boyfriend. I think people don’t like to see other people too happy and sometimes it does provoke them to bring others down, so I knew that it was more of a reflection on that person than it is on me. And it doesn’t phase me. I think I didn’t need to ‘overcome’ it because I never went under from it anyway.
Have you undergone therapy since leaving the villa?
There was a lot of rumours going around about me having therapy because of the online criticism but that’s just not true. I had one mandatory session which everyone had. I was having my makeup done and eating pizza and everyone was like ‘Molly-Mae’s in therapy’ and it’s just not the case. I haven’t even felt the need to even speak about the taunting – even to my family and friends – because it hasn’t phased me. I just was never touched by the hate.
I watched a couple of episodes back and I couldn’t work out what people were trying to criticise. You can’t be bothered by it when people are just making it up. I think you know going into Love Island that there’s going to be mixed opinions and not everyone’s going to like you, and I knew that so it was absolutely fine.
Do you have any advice for others experiencing online bullying?
I would sit here and say don’t even read it, but I read it. I read pretty much every comment that was about me. I’m lucky that I have thick skin and that it would take a lot to upset me because people literally commented on everything – there were even death threats. But it just didn’t get to me because I’m really confident in myself and I have people around me that are so incredible and believe in me. The comments of someone that I’ve never even met behind a computer just cant get to me. So, other people experiencing online bullying should understand that it’s really more of a reflection on that person than it is on you, and you’ve done nothing wrong. You just need to rise above it.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
I think sisterhood is everything. It’s so important to surround yourself with people that support you and have your back and that you do the same for them. Even when you experience things like trolling or fallouts, nothing will get to you as long as you’ve got a good group of people around you.
Having a good strong group of girls around you is so important. My parents got divorced and it has always been a very girly household so I think going into the villa that really showed for me and I did try to have everyone’s back and bring all the girls together. I’m always there for my friends and hope that they would do the same in return. I think in the villa we all had such great relationships and I made some really, really incredible friends in there.
What is one change you’d like to see for women?
I would like women to stop tearing each other down and to support one another. It’s so sad that there is so much negativity in this world that we live in and when jealousy comes in, it just causes people to speak negatively about others who they don’t even know. I think from my experience of being trolled, I definitely want to speak more about it and how it affected me to help others who are dealing with it, because I know if I didn’t have thick skin it could have really affected me. Some of the things people said about me could really have torn down a more shy or timid person. I’d just love to see us all supporting each other and having each other’s backs and praising each other. It’s important.