Social Media Influencer or Escort?

 

If you are an avid social media user, you might have read about the now-defunct Instagram account – SgInstaBabes. Started in April 2015, SgInstaBabes features skimpily-clad Singaporean girls in various provocative poses and has around 107k followers.

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On 23 Aug 2018, the founder of SGInstaBabes, Mr Lai Wee Kiat, decided to launch a controversial Patreon membership programme –  in exchange for monthly payments of up to S$5000, subscribers are promised photos of the SgInstaBabes girls in revealing outfits and would be able to join them on private yacht parties.

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Similarity to Social Escort Services

The membership programme has drawn much criticism and disapproval – machiam like online social escort services lor. Lai said the programme, which has 90 members currently, is not a “social escort service”. However, based on the photos that are being posted on the Instagram account and Patreon pages, it does look a lot a like a website promoting “social escort services” leh. For example, if you sign up for the S$5000/month membership, you will be able to party with the at monthly private yacht parties – sounds dodgy right?

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Underage and Exploitation

To make matters worse, some keyboard warriors have also started to question the age of the girls involved. In the same interview, Lai said the youngest SGInstaBabes girl is 14 years old and the oldest is 24 years old. While there is no minimum age for models in the modelling industry, reputable modelling agencies typically have guidelines for underage girls – no lingerie, swimwear or revealing clothing etc. But it seems like that there isn’t any clear guidelines to protect the SGInstaBabes girls, especially those who are underage. In addition, the membership programme could also expose the girls to sexual harassment and exploitation.

There could also be adverse psychological effects for the girls involved in SGInstaBabes. Being at a vulnerable age where there is considerable pressure, from both the media and their peers, to be skinny and model-like. Hence, they might subconsciously face greater stress about their appearances and may feel more insecure about their looks.

Promoting the Objectification of Women (girls)

In response to the all the whoo-haa received, Lai wrote in an Instagram post that his funding initiative using the girls and women is not meant to objectify them. He added that he was “sad that the public can only think that the only purpose of these benefits are sexualisation and objectification” and the “doesn’t understand that it’s an art form”.

This is absurd as what Lai is doing is promoting the objectification of women (or girls in some case) and profiting off images of skimpily-dressed girls. If Lai truly wished to promote an “art form”, perhaps he could have considered photographing the girls with more clothes on?

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While people are criticising Lai for exploiting these girls for profits (in addition to other allegations of being a sexual predator himself), we feel that there is actually a symbiotic relationship between Lai and the SGInstaBabes girls.

Many of these girls are social media influencer or model wannabe, and see SGInstaBabes as a platform to reach to their goals. Being blinded by their aspirations for fame, some of these girls might be willing to do what it takes to be next big “social media star”. While we do not support Lai for his actions, the girls on SGInstaBabes should also take some responsibility for being in this predicament. As they all say, it takes two hands to clap lor. Sigh!