Zoella accused of lying about anxiety to boost viewing figures

Heather Saul
Tuesday 13 December 2016 12:55
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Zoella at a 'Girl Online' book launch in 2014
Zoella at a 'Girl Online' book launch in 2014

Zoella says she has been accused of lying about her experience of anxiety to boost her following online.

In an interview with The Sun, the vlogger, real name Zoe Sugg, described how she has experienced cyber abuse as her profile has grown and following the publication of her debut novel, Girl Online.

“I really wanted to share my personal experience with anxiety through Penny – the main character in my Girl Online series – because I felt it could help others to speak out about it,“ the 26-year-old said.

“Unfortunately, it’s an experience I know about all too well, having gone through it myself in recent years.

“I’ve had comments about being too skinny and that I pretend to suffer from anxiety to boost my subscriber figurers.”

The disjointed first person account moves suddenly from cyber bullying to her trips to the beach in Brighton and defence of playing Christmas music in July. Much of it is dedicated to listing her favourite things: photography, ‘festive tunes’, carrot cake ice cream, in a format similar to her vlogs.

Sugg has seven million Twitter followers, 11m subscribers on YouTube and 10m Instagram followers. Her slickly produced videos are a mix of fashion, beauty and her day to day life with her boyfriend and fellow YouTuber Alfie Deyes. Together, the pair is one of the most influential and well paid YouTubers, having established a huge following among teenage viewers. Sugg, who lives in Brighton, is reported to earn £50,000 per month.

She has blogged about suffering from panic attacks throughout her career. In her first piece about anxiety, published in 2011, Sugg said she had experienced panic attacks for almost seven years. She said her anxiety had become so severe she struggled to leave the house for fear of having a panic attack.

“For a while, I couldn’t even go to a quiet pub for a few drinks. What a boring sod I was. I’d also like to point out, this was around the time we all turned 18 and started ‘properly going out’.

“There have been endless places where I’ve suffered a panic attack. Only when I was at my worst would I walk into a supermarket, or go to someone’s house and panic.

“I would cry, and think ‘I can’t go. I can’t go and see my boyfriend. I’m scared to get on a train. Why can’t I just be normal’.”

In October, Zoella revealed her crippling anxiety saw her turn down the chance to meet Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace earlier in the year.

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