Over the past month our lives seem to have been speeding up - maybe it’s the same for everyone, everywhere! For us, mostly it’s because Pacha has so many things going on at once and I guess we’re having to start to get a little more ‘serious’ about her choices for her future.
About a month ago, just after her 14th birthday, a representative from Coca Cola’s marketing company contacted Pacha through her instagram page (it now has over 10K 'followers' - take a look at @pachalight) and asked her to consider ‘collaborating’ on a marketing campaign. Pacha has been identified as a ‘social influencer’. I had to look up the definition because I didn't even know what that meant!
We were both in a bit of shock. This was big. Of all the companies to approach her, this one - one of the most ubiquitous global brands who have made billions of dollars from selling sugary drinks - came knocking on her door.
(I had a cacophony of images bouncing around my head; the empty coke can I found in the deepest part of the Borneo jungle – two days walk from anywhere, the fully loaded coca cola truck meandering through the dirt trails into the Amazon jungle just as that black liquid oil was pumped out of the Earth from the most precious forests, the knowledge I had of the company's privatization campaigns – basically forcing local communities ‘buy’ their own water in plastic bottles, he human and workers rights abuses, but oh the delicious taste of a cold bottle of that soft drink after walking for two hours up hill in the hot, sticky tropical forest, the gigantic flashing lights of billboards in mega cities, the small billboards and posters plastered in the last outposts of human civilization all around the world...yep, it brought up a lot for me!)
We were curious about what a 'collaboration' actually meant. We found out that basically Pacha would be given cash for posting a photo on her instagram that, in a subtle, ‘authentic’ way, endorsed a new flavour of their soft drink.
I am so grateful that Pacha and I still talk and share everything and we could use this as an opportunity to talk about identity and the message that Pacha was promoting through her choices and the images she posts on social media. It is a huge responsibility for someone so young – with the social pressures around her strongly promoting a more consumer oriented lifestyle, or one where young girls are only of value for their ‘prettiness’ or ‘sexiness’.
Even though we have very little money and scrape together whatever we have to make sure she has the opportunity to follow her dreams – promoting soft drinks is simply not part of the way we live.
This is part of the reply she sent to the marketing company:
'Mum and have been talking a lot about this and we've decided that it is not the right time to do a collaboration with Coca Cola right now.
I guess I'm just getting to know myself and what type of influence I might be having through Instagram. It's pretty important to be true to myself and what I really believe in and as we don't really drink soft drinks in my family - it doesn't seem right to promote them.’
It's both exciting and daunting to think of Pacha as a ‘Social Influencer’. Most importantly it is a journey that Pacha has to navigate herself (hopefully with me sitting beside her, supporting her all the way!). It’s time to step back and hold her up in the air ready to fly on her own wings…I’m slowly getting ready to let go…
|Pacha's greatest joy right now - surfing.
|Opening new doors...(photo by Bacon photo)