Of all the people I could have guessed would cause even the slightest bit of controversy at Paris Fashion Week, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain wouldn’t be one of them.
And yet, the 17-year-old has reentered my Twitter timeline thanks to some vocal criticism of her Louis Vuitton- and YouTube- sponsored appearance this week at the acclaimed series of high-profile runways in the capital of France.
There hasn’t really been any mainstream coverage of Chamberlain’s appearance, but she’s addressed it on her on social media accounts.
That second post features her presumably custom-made Louis Vuitton carpet look. The minidress print is reminiscent of generic plastic party tablecloths for kids’ birthdays with a geometric turquoise panel on front, a waist cinching cord, and white fringe shoulders. Chamberlain is also wearing massive, abstract metal earrings, holding a classic Louis Vuitton purse and navy heels that, as Cardi B would say, look like socks.
Her makeup is minimal and neutral, and, in perhaps the largest deviation from her normal attire, Chamberlain has slicked back hair without a scrunchie in sight.
Now, a lot of the condemnation on social media of Chamberlain’s attendance has less to do with her appearance and more to do with her reputation. The general consensus appears to be that she normally looks unkempt, is quote-on-quote problematic, and isn’t interesting enough to score a rightful invitation to such an esteemed fashion display.
The most-liked of the anti-Emma tweets seems to be more liked than the most-liked of the pro-Emma tweets, which doesn’t mean more people dislike Chamberlain than do, or even disapprove of her Paris Fashion Week stint, but it does resonate a little stronger with a public figure who actually made her career via social media than with a traditional celebrity.
This isn’t the first backlash Chamberlain has received, with several YouTube videos like this one going viral for criticizing everything from her Breakout Creator Streamy Awards speech to her High Key clothing line to the way she does her hair.
Personally, I don’t think the intense scrutiny is fair. Chamberlain is still a teenager, and a lot of her detractors probably are too, but calling a 17-year-old out for your perception of her hygiene is pretty clear-cut bullying. The accusation that she fakes having anxiety is unfounded. And calling her a boring, basic ass bitch is just mean.
Chamberlain seems to be a pretty safe YouTuber, in that she doesn’t partake in voicing strong political opinions but she also isn’t offensive to any reasonable person’s standards (and again, let me emphasize, she is a teenager). The tirades against her online seem to almost spring from that combination of clout other people want to capitalize on but a lack of drama.
Either way, I’d argue that Chamberlain didn’t choose to be at Paris Fashion Week. She accepted an invitation from YouTube and Louis Vuitton, two corporations that reward inoffensiveness and promote creators who have wide appeal without a lot of baggage. So if someone wants to get mad about her presence, I’d start with those two targets instead.