Mac came home one day and asked if she could go the Tina Festival because one of her friends were also going. I had no idea what it was and she explained that most of the Dutch Youtubers would be there. She wanted to meet a Bibi (not me) and Dylan Haegens and give them presents. Who, what, why? Ok, I was owing her a Mama/daughter date so there I go and buy the tickets online.
On 23 Sep at 8:45am we start driving with Mac’s friend and her Mum towards Duinrell where the Festival took place. 2 excited girls on the back and two Mums in front totally ignorant to what was going to be a very horrifying day. At least it was for me.
Once on the festival ground my eyes burned pink. Crowds of small and teenage girls running around with their purses and in too much makeup. I felt really underdressed in my jeans and Chucks and don’t get me started on my hair. And apparently accessories are a must.
To the girls’ disappointment, we didn’t make it to sign up to the Meet & Greet sessions where you had to wait for at least 1 hour to shake the hands of famous Youtubers or Musers (exactly, I had no idea either) and get their autograms. So we spent most the time at the Q&A stage where the internet celebreties would answer questions like: “What is you favourite color?” (3 times at least).
Famous for what? There was a 9-year old girl going by the same name as my nickname Bibi who made the whole crowd go crazy. My daughter told me she was the queen of slime and avidly continued trying to be picked for a question. The queen of what? You can’t be serious! I was shocked – not by the fact that she was making slime videos, but by the way all these young kids were reacting when they saw her.
Between the main stages, lots of merchandise stands were placed strategically. And every Youtuber had their own merchandise. Lots of money was being made from lines and more lines of mothers and daughters, including myself. Even the goodie bags costed something. I had no idea this industry was so big and powerful.
Back home I really had to take a minute or two to digest what I saw and experienced. Youtubers, musers, Musical.ly, LOL dolls, Lisa and Lena, Bibi, Furtjuh, Girly Blogs, Meijse Djamilla, Dylan Haegens – I was intrigued about all these terms and names that I started googling them. The 2 last names were familiar to me. The other ones were a blank and the more I looked into them the more it blew my mind trying to understand how millions of young girls idolised these people who talk about slime, make up, and how to take the perfect selfie. I felt totally out of space.
What I’ve seen worries me for my daughters. If we talk about women empowerment, equal rights, self confidence, and independence Tina Festival is everything but… It makes me scared that young girls are being taught that appearances are everything and that everything is pink. And the scariest part is that they are taught by other young girls who have no idea what the world outside looks like.
I don’t want to sound old fashioned. I guess every parent in every generation had something to moan about their children. Flower Power, Rock’n’Roll, the Beatles, etc… we all heard it: “The young generation is up to no good. When I was young…” Maybe I am just taking on the role of a parent. In fact, I could have done something else with Mac and I could have said no to the LOL doll. Does empowerment start at home? I think so. I want to believe that we are doing the right thing and that we are raising an independent and strong woman. It’s important to let her see different parts of life. We can’t make her stop watching Youtube but we can make her see other things more powerful than slime videos…