It was announced last week that the Zoella website, founded by influencer Zoe Sugg, would be removed from the GCSE media studies syllabus after the team shared a post on adult toys. Zoe, who is not the sole content producer for the site, confirmed that the target audience for the website is predominantly 25-35 year-olds.
Zoe also highlighted how despite the mature content on the site, the importance of young people understanding these topics should not be disregarded. It is important that they shouldn’t feel ashamed when discussing topics with sexual themes in their formative years.
There are, however, a number of social media influencers who share content specifically to break down the taboos surrounding sexual health.
The one encouraging South Asian women to talk about sexual health
Tiffany Sequeira, known online as @gynaegirl, is an NHS pelvic-health physiotherapist who took to the world of social media in 2018 when she decided it was time to normalise conversations around sex, especially for South Asian women. Since starting her Instagram account, Tiffany has gained over five-thousand followers.
The positive response to the content on Tiffany’s Instagram page has since allowed her to work with Superdrug on their ‘masturbation is self-celebration’ campaign and to speak on BBC Radio 5 about Gynae Girl.
In many South Asian countries, it is still largely uncommon to accept that sex outside of marriage does happen – let alone sex for pleasure. Tiffany’s aim is to create a safe space for South Asian women like herself to speak openly and confidently about sexual health and wellbeing.
The one for sexual liberation
Hannah Witton, who has previously featured in our ‘Day in the Life’ series, uses Instagram, YouTube and her podcast to discuss all things sex and relationships. Hannah regularly discusses themes such as sex and disabilities, hormones, and contraception. She is even working towards becoming a certified sexuality educator.
It is wonderful to recognise how Hannah’s social media presence has allowed her to embark on opportunities such as publishing two books and becoming ambassador for leading sexual health charity, Brook.
As someone who has suffered with a chronic inflammatory bowel disease since the age of seven, Hannah champions the importance of inclusive sex education. She makes sure that people with disabilities and people of all genders and sexuality feel like they have a voice when it comes to discussions of sexual health and liberation.
The one for people with vaginas
Dr. Anita Mitra – @gynaegeek on Instagram – is a gynecologist with a strong online presence. Anita shares her medical knowledge with her 134,000 Instagram followers, covering topics relevant to people with vaginas.
On her Gynae Geek blog, Anita says : “With the internet flooded by websites and blogs full of poor-quality, confusing information and quite frequently utter nonsense, there is a need for reliable, evidence-based information about women’s health.”
Similarly to Hannah Witton, the response to Anita’s online content has enabled her to publish a book in 2019, titled ‘The Gynae Geek: Your No-Nonsense Guide to ‘Down-There’ Healthcare’.
More recently, Anita has started an IGTV series titled ‘10 things I wish everyone knew about…’ where she shares clear and digestible information on topics including endometriosis, smear tests and PCOS.
The future of influencers as educators
We can see here that there are some great examples of influencer resources in regards to understanding and normalising sexual health, primarily for women. Perhaps as there are more discussions raised off the back of the recent Zoella news, we will begin to see more influencers talking about sexual taboos surrounding men and people who identify in between the binaries of the gender spectrum.
If the traditional educational system continues to remain selective regarding sexual education, influencers could become the go-to for open and reliable information that isn’t being taught in schools.