Under the influence
Struggle as you might, you won’t find a more worthless occupation than influencer. It takes a special kind of abysmal turd to even contemplate embarking upon the existence. Typically, they are born with money, looks privilege and, like a child stuck in the polymorphous perversity stage of infancy, believe that the universe is constructed solely around their personal pleasure. The tragedy is that our culture reinforces, aids and abets this belief at every turn. Their obnoxious whims are attended to. Their vacuous dribblings are applauded, liked and shared. Wea hang on their every word. Three inches of leg and a smile and wea are anybody’s.
So understand that while The Savage has absolutely come to bury Rawvana, not to praise her, he saves his harshest criticism for society. You can travel back in time to kill the baby Hitler in his crib but you would be just as well killing the millions who democratically elected him. Rawvana did not just wander down from the hills one day, club in hand, to take the village, shit thoughts and selfies streaming from her iPhone. We¹ invited her in. We¹ created her.
Like a really lame superhero origin story, it all begins in January 2013 when 22-year-old San Diego party girl Yovana Mendoza decides to give her liver a break from the teddy bear spritzer, Cristal and Jägermeister cocktails she’d been bombarding it with for years and take one small step onto the temperance wagon. Three months without booze, fags and the endless validation for being passably attractive the San Diego afterparty-and-fellatio scene provides and Yovana found herself hips-deep in her first existential crisis.
“I began to ask myself questions like ‘Why am I here, what is my purpose here, what is my passion?’” she recalls. A stint at San Diego’s Optimum Health Institute eating berries, drinking juice and writing metaphysical reflections in her journal changed everything. She emerged from the wellness fuck hostel a new woman. Yovana Mendoza was dead and in her place was Rawvana – raw vegan advocate, wellness influencer and San Diego hottie. Veganism would never be the same again.
What began as a trickle, quickly became a flood. Rawvana’s Instagram account was a slick, professional explosion of colour with carefully crafted fruit and veg creations mixing with Insta inspo, yoga poses and bikini shots. Her food was heavily influenced by her Mexican heritage and when she expanded her empire onto YouTube it was on two channels, one Spanish language, one English. She was sincere about spreading her beliefs.
Those beliefs weren’t just restricted to lifestyle. She had connected with God and who could blame her? The Almighty seemed to be smiling on her. He had blessed her with gifts abundant – a cute smile, a sweet disposition and a cracking little rack. She looked like Ariana Grande’s sister, like Arianna but more accessible with no need for spray tan. Social media floaters piled onto her Web 2.0 properties. By October 2013 she had a combined audience of 20,000. This was just the beginning.
Every day was a new adventure. As urine-soaked cabbage Tim Shieff would later, she embarked upon a dangerous, unnecessary and medically worthless 25-day water fast. Juices, salads and smoothies were the order of the day on her YouTube channel and on Instagram she looked like she needed to get the smile surgically removed from her face. She opened up about her eating disorder and was lauded by her ever-growing tribe. All those questions about her purpose and her passion were now answered. She passed 1 million followers in 2018. She began selling e-books, videos and a $99 Weight Loss and Detox Kit. Wellness was her niche and it treated her well. Being Rawvana was now her full-time gig.
She was only the fishmonger’s daughter
It all fell apart in the space of about two seconds. In March 2019, Vana took a trip to Bali to soak up the sun, post some inspo porn and GTFO. The decision would change her life. a vlogger who will remain nameless (as nobody seems to know her name¹), uploaded a brief video of herself, Rawvana and a few other orbiter dopes enjoying a Bali seaside brunch. Hey, wave to the camera Vana! Vana dutifully obliges but what’s that brief unmistakable gesture she makes with her forearm, almost as if she’s hiding what’s on her plate? That looks like the remains of an appetising seafood platter. Those two little bits of halibut steak definitely don’t look raw and absolutely don’t look vegan. Her followers’ love quickly turned to hate.1 The jig was up. Fishgate had begun.
Sometime later, Rawvana uploaded an emotional video admitting that she had been eating fish and eggs for the last two months. It seems that after her imbecilic 25-day water fast, Yovana’s periods had stopped. Like any sane person, she put it down to her vegan diet and not, say, her psychotic dehydration fetish. Her doctor diagnosed SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and told her it was perfectly healthy to continue with the vegan diet as long as she took antibiotics. This was a problem for Rawvana. Like many mentally subnormal food fad dipshits, she is against antibiotics because they are not natural. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, she said, quoting Hippocrates like so many bozos before her2. And so, the egg and fish onslaught began.
It was a humbling teachable moment for our girl. It was time for the famously tolerant and accepting vegan online community to rally round and offer their support. LOL, jk. Those fuckers made absolute mincemeat of her. They gave her the kind of beating one of Mel Gibson’s girlfriends can expect when she says “you know, I think on balance the Holocaust probably happened.” On the one hand, this is fair enough. You live by the filtered image, you die by it. On the other hand, telling this dumb broad to kill herself and messaging her mother that she should never have birthed her daughter is taking it a little far. You have to feel some sympathy for her. She made her name on a platform that makes money from promoting misery through unrealistic body and lifestyle images and that image was fatally shattered.
What are we to take away from all of this? Firstly, and most obviously, it is the necessity for veganism as a concept and a movement to have science at its heart. How many more of these Gwyneth Paltrow wellness turds are we going to have to wipe up after they crash out of a diet and lifestyle they never understood in the first place? Whether it’s Tim Shieff, Raw Vegan Ginger or Rawvana’s Fishgate it is always their catastrophic, dangerous, piss drinking, water fasting bullshit that does for them and it’s the movement that suffers. If your blog mentions energy, detox, superfood or any of those other lackbrain wellness buzzwords you are very likely doing it wrong.
Then there’s the question of Rawvana’s eating disorder history. It has been asked before3 why so many ED survivors end up promoting veganism and the trend argues for greater awareness and perhaps even early intervention. When even that maniac Raw Vegan Ginger admits to being orthorexic you know that something is afoot. Veganism comes with a moral dimension and if you come from, say, the bulimic mindset where food is the enemy it is easy enough to see how a recovering bulimic might be attracted to a lifestyle where certain foods are considered sinful. Only a deeply dumb bag of shit would claim that veganism causes eating disorders but it is worth knowing how behaviour that looks very much like veganism is actually a mutated disorder playing itself out.
Playing with Fyre
And so, we circle round to the whole idea of influencer. How did wea allow this depravity to happen? Influencer marketing is what happens when people stop thinking and base all their decisions on their feels. It ruthlessly creates an emotional need then offers to satiate it, for a price. Traditional marketing does the same but this is a purer, more potent, more deadly strain of that particular virus. Its defining calamity is the Fyre Festival – a bacchanalian mirage on a magical island with ivory beaches and hammocks made of cotton that turned out to be a Ballardian hellscape on a Bahamian fuckpit with shit-strewn beaches and mattresses that were rotten. People paid up to $100,000 to partake in an ordeal reminiscent of The Fall of Saigon, Americans clambering over bodies to get on the last chopper out.
Rawvana may have killed more fish than fin rot but she is merely a symptom of a wider sickness. The fish rots from the head. We need to reaffirm some fundamental truths. Influencer marketing is for chumps, wellness is a scam, water fasting is for the mentally ill, looks privilege is real and paying a rich idiot in a bikini to be your pretend friend is corrosive to your soul. Fail to understand this and there will be more Rawvanas, more Tim Shieffs, more Bonny Effing Rebeccas and wea will be to blame. You may not want to hear it but pseudoscience is a greater threat to animals than a drunk Moby is to Natalie Portman’s 18-year-old hymen. To my mother, man.
a Fuck you. “We” did not do a damn thing. “You” will not drag The Savage into your creepy little group of pod people. He is blameless in all of this.
¹ Apparently, some Colombian YouTuber called Paula Galindo.