you are art: meet freya haley johnson
Freya Haley Johnson is a YouTuber with over 100,000 subscribers – at only 18 years of age. But Internet fame isn’t her goal. Freya uses her videos to spread positivity, as well as awareness around the traditionally taboo subjects of sexual abuse and body image issues. Her emotional video about her own sexual assault reached an audience of over 73,000 and lead to an outpouring of praise for her courage in sharing her story.
Lucky Rose’s Amy Beecham talks to the Australian teenager about breaking those taboos, spreading good vibes and the importance of being yourself.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m Freya, an 18 year old Instagram and YouTube creator from Western Australia.
When did you start your channel?
I started my channel about a year and a half ago, but I’ve only been really working on it this year.
How did you get into YouTube?
I started YouTube because a few of my Instagram followers wanted me to show a room tour, so I was just originally going to do that one video, but I ended up really enjoying and just started creating more from there.
How do you feel about getting into the media spotlight so young?
It’s a little bit intimidating at times because you feel quite out of your depth in a lot of situations – you have to jump right into the deep end with dealing with brands and some legal aspects. Overall, it’s really exciting. I find interacting with people online really fun and informative, and it really helps you grow as a person when you’re talking to more and more people and sharing opinions with them.
So you started off with a room tour, how did you get into the other topics featured on your channel?
Over time, I developed a filming style and aesthetic that I really enjoyed. I tried to apply a sort of calm vibe to all my videos and give them a nice positive outlook. In terms of my other videos, I do talk a lot about my veganism, which is something I’m very passionate about. That came about because shortly after I created my channel, I transitioned into veganism. I’ve always cared about animal rights but even more so recently, so I wanted to share that message online because I do believe it to be a positive one.
You also talk a lot about body positivity in your videos – tell me about your journey towards confidence in yourself?
Body positivity is something that is really important to be talked about because a lot of people, particularly young girls, feel very ashamed of the way they look. They struggle with a lot of insecurities and self-esteem issues and, as someone who has been through and experienced that and come out onto the other side, it’s important to share that it’s okay to be okay with yourself. I hope that when these girls see other people who feel okay with being themselves, they get inspired and think that they too should work towards having a better body image.
It’s great that you’re using your platform to spread that message! You’re also very open about your experience of sexual assault. What is it like to share something so personal with so many people?
F: It’s honestly horrifying posting something like that online. As soon as I clicked publish, I started crying because I was thinking that everyone would know about this thing that happened to me and I was wondering what were they going to think. But after sharing my experiences, I had so many people messaging me telling me they’d been through the same thing and thanking me for speaking out about it and making them feel like they’re not alone. It was such a gratifying experience, and to be even able to help one person was my dream all along. For ten years of my life I had been feeling trapped and shameful about what had happened to me as a child, but coming through that and sharing my story to make other people feel less alone is something that has been the highlight of this whole thing.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with the issues you have experienced; both body positivity and surviving sexual assault?
For body positivity, I wish I’d known that we should celebrate our uniqueness as a beautiful thing that makes us art and sets us apart from other people, rather than thinking that if you don’t look like someone else it means you’re not as pretty as them. By giving myself compliments every day and finding that confidence within me, I am able to live a much happier life. In terms of sexual assault, I wish that someone had told me earlier that it’s okay to tell people what happened, and that they will not judge you for it. You might feel that shame or that guilt, but people won’t look at you think that you’re a disgusting person because of what happened. People will be as supportive as they can, and if they’re not then they’re not worth being in your life.
You also create quite a lot of fashion based content – how would you describe your aesthetic? Has it been an evolution?
It’s definitely been an evolution. A few years ago, I would never have worn half the things I do nowadays, and that came about because I stopped dressing to try and impress other people. I started dressing the way I felt within myself. My personal style is very vintage, with heavy seventies influences. My clothes are always very colourful and with warm tones because those are the clothes that make me feel like me and make me happy. I’m not terribly interested in following trends, I just share my personal style and people seem to like it.
As you became more of yourself through what you wore, did that help you in regards to body positivity?
Ever since I started dressing and living more for myself, I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. I just think that if I’m happy where I am, then the opinions of those who aren’t happy with me are probably not relevant to my life.
Sadly, there’s always a downside of being a figure on the Internet - how do you overcome that?
I’ve had my fair share of online hatred, some of which were very personal and malicious attacks. It’s hard to brush it off sometimes, but I’m still learning. The thing that makes it all worthwhile for me is the overwhelming number of people that message me telling me that I’ve helped them and that I make them feel calm and happy. I’ve always been a very compassionate person and my favourite thing is to make other people happy and have an impact on them. Getting those good messages make it all worth it.
Tell me about the future. What are your aspirations and what can we expect from your channel?
As for my channel, I want to be doing YouTube and Instagram full time - that would be my dream career. Also, I would love to get into writing books - I’m thinking of getting one started now. I have my journal and I was going to put that into a little book all about my journey in life and the things I’ve learnt and gone through. Pretty much my life in words on a page. For my viewers, I have a lot of travel vlogs planned as I’m going to be travelling to Europe and hopefully New Zealand for the last six months of this year. I’m very ambitious, but right now I’m just taking life as it comes rather than looking too far into the future.