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All it Takes is Honesty: How TikTok Influencers are changing what it means to “Be Real.”

Written By Ayla Brongo, Creative Member

When the internet was conceived (now almost 40 years ago), no one could’ve predicted where it would end up. 2022 is entirely different from 1983, and the content has evolved to match.

TikTok was made by Chinese tech company ByteDance, and was released to the public in September 2016 under the name “Douyin,” which was marketed as a video-sharing social media platform created to rival Facebook and Instagram.

Since then, it has evolved, taking on a new name that we've all grown to love.

Now, we all know people who have gone viral for their dancing. Charli D'Amelio was one of the first to gain fame from this platform, bringing her sister Dixie along with her. But now, the app has a different trend.

Real people are discussing and commenting on real issues.

From the world of mental health to menstruation, people across the globe are opening up their cameras and pressing record.

Nadya Okamoto , a co-Founder of August, a lifestyle period brand working to reimagine periods as a powerful time for women. She graduated from Harvard in 2021 and has gone viral on TikTok for showing how to use her products and speaking on her own experiences.

Her platform is filled with empowering and, more importantly, real messages that encourage women to speak up. Her goal is to normalize the female body and all that they do. She attributes much of her personal success to TikTok, which in turn, has grown the business she’s a founder of.

When looking through Okamoto’s comments on the surface, there is a selection of hate. Her content has been labeled “gross” or even “TMI.” It seems to come with the territory of posting one’s personal life. However, upon closer inspection, there is an abundance of comments voicing support for Okamoto and her bravery in sharing her life with the public. Young girls can see what happens in their bodies and what to do when faced with their first period. Between her collection of videos and photos alike, Okamoto has opened herself up to her audience in an unparalleled manner, and it's only paid off thus far.

Eli Rallo, a University of Michigan alum, started her career writing for The Michigan Daily before transferring over to TikTok full-time. Her platform began making something she coined ‘The Jar’, in which she would make food mixes weekly. Once her page had gained some traction, Rallo began focusing on content geared for women and dating in New York City. Just as seen with Okamoto, Eli Rallo’s comments are scattered with hate, but more predominantly praised by women who relate to her. So much so that Rallo went on to produce a podcast where she exclusively talks about her life and all the gory details. She is unapologetic about her approach to life and her womanhood. Within the confines of 15 second and 2-3 minute videos, she shares snippets of her life that make other women feel heard.

Influencers like this within the media are important to all age demographics. Everyone can benefit from hearing someone speak up about an experience they too, went through. At the beginning of its creation, social media was used to portray a lifestyle to be envious of. Fully made-up faces, luxurious vacations, and the trendiest outfits were all the platforms had room for. Now, there is a new wave of realism that’s taken root. Influencers have begun to preach that it’s okay to be yourself and it's okay to be human. By opening the gates themselves, women like Rallo and Okamoto have inspired thousands of women to be authentic in their daily endeavors, or even create platforms of their own.

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