Influencer? SS20

By Jo Phillips

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By J A Hopper

At twenty months, Zariah is an influencer, a supernova on every platform from Instagram to Twitter to Depop, with followers well into six figures. @ZariahsMummy was formerly a stylist, then a fashion PR, before maternity-leaving it all behind the day Zariah was born. She fell in love with her daughter like falling down a well. Since her first hour on earth, Zee has been dressed, posed, styled, uploaded, and like-like-liked, every day without fail for six hundred days. And all with love: with so much care and attention and adulation that it truly embodies the original sense of the word awesome. Awesome like a Himalayan mountain. Awesome like a tropical storm. Awesome like a lion taking down an elephant.

To see one of the thousands of images of Zariah grinning with her tiny new teeth and tawny blonde mane, or batting at her organic hemp elephant, “Effump” (shoddy knockoffs available on eBay, hastily assembled and shipped from Shenzhen) is to feel queasily inadequate, whether you are a mum(preneur), a stylist, an influencer, or, increasingly, just an ordinary person. Ironically, other toddlers are the only demographic immune to Zariah’s enormous sway, though they absolutely lose their minds about Effump: hence the brisk trade in Asian fakes.

Zariah’s small, but she’s big business. The revenue generated by sales of Zariah’s Christmas 2018 pudding beanie alone (from her capsule fashion range in collaboration with Zara Baby) was enough to put her through university, even adjusting for inflation, as and when she chooses to go in 16 ½ years’ time. Her first steps (in that iconic pink-and-red colourblock pinafore dress) were watched on YouTube over one billion times and made the TV news. Meghan and Prince Archie tweeted congratulations: he’s already being touted as a prospective future husband.

Zariah doesn’t care: she’s too busy grasping under the vintage Chesterfield sofa for cracker crumbs before they get vacuumed up. Usually, the cleaning lady’s s too quick, and she’s scared of the hoover. She likes Mummy’s crackers better than the chewy organic crisps Mummy gives her. She likes Thomas trains better than Baby Bunting dolls, but HIT! Entertainment aren’t paying for promotional consideration, so the crying, weeing, fully accessorized babies-for-babies are her featured toy this month: much more on-brand, anyway.

It’s a full-time job being Zee, but Zariah never complains and neither does her Mummy, whose stated mission is to “fully explore the joy of motherhood with my guide, muse and gurgling guru.” And a momentous new chapter awaits! Zariah’s Mummy has recently taken a step back from full-time, hands-on mothering duties, to give Zariah social opportunities with her peers: she’s been enrolled in a five-star rated Montessori nursery (fees very much out of the question) and will be continuing her learning adventure there two days a week from today.

It was a difficult decision for Mummy, but after some intervention from Zariah’s Daddy, who emphasized repeatedly that he would like at least some of his life back please, she was persuaded. Daddy also pointed out that in order to fully monetize Zee’s multiple sponsorship opportunities, grow her personal brand and lay firm foundations for her future, Mummy spending more time on the business side of the operation was essential. Besides, “Zariah deserves a bit of normality too.”

Zariah heard all this, but she didn’t understand it, especially the normality part. But in four hours, when she’s got into a biting fight, eaten chocolate custard for the first time, cried twice, thrown up once, had Effump hurled across the room, made a new best friend and immediately stolen a Thomas train from her, she will.

J.A. Hopper’s stories for Liars’ League (Mothers’ Milk, We/She and Father Figure, featured a vampire cannibal baby, thousands of sentient dolls, and a woman in love with Peppa Pig’s dad. She lives in Cambridge with her four-year-old daughter, from whom she steals all her best ideas.

NYC 1 p3