The controversies of Molly-Mae Hague

The influencer and entrepreneur has put a few noses out of joint during her short career

Molly-Mae Hague
PrettyLittleThing’s creative director takes home a seven-figure salary
(Image credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage)

In three years, Molly-Mae Hague has gone from a little-known lifeguard in Hitchin to a self-made millionaire with the Instagram following of a mega-star and business deals to match. But her rise to fame has not come without some controversy.

“The ‘new Margaret Thatcher’ has white blonde hair and the plump bronzed skin of a wealthy apricot,” said Eva Wiseman in The Guardian. Hague’s glowing complexion is at least partly thanks to her cosmetics company, Filter, the realisation of her long-held dream “to revolutionise the way we tan”, according to the company’s website.

The Margaret Thatcher nickname came later. Last month, in a highly publicised interview with entrepreneur Steven Bartlett on his podcast Diary of a CEO, the 22-year-old reminded listeners that “Beyonce has the same 24 hours in the day that we do”, and “you can literally go in any direction” in your life.

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Hague said she’d been “slammed a little” for making similar comments in the past, with detractors pointing out that her upbringing was one of relative privilege. “It’s easy for you to say that, you’ve not grown up in poverty, you’ve not grown up with major money struggles,” she recounted to Bartlett.

“Technically,” Hague said, “what I’m saying is correct. We do” all have the same 24 hours in the day. “If you want something enough, you can achieve it, it just depends on what lengths you want to go.” And Hague said she “will go to any length” and has worked “so, so hard”.

It wasn’t long before social media decided to take Hague down a notch on her self-made success ladder. “A thousand fingers pointed” at her, said The Guardian’s Wiseman, and the Thatcher comparison quickly circulated.

But “nobody is really shocked that a 22-year-old ex-reality star believes people should simply choose not to be poor,” the writer said. “This is how influencers work, after all, by offering the possibility of great happiness through the simple purchase of a product or plan.”

One brand whose wares Hague peddles are those of fashion brand ‘PrettyLittleThing’ (PLT), of which she is the creative director.

Last week a group of protesters gathered outside the brand’s catwalk show in London, with placards drawing comparisons between Hague’s seven-figure PLT salary, and that of its garment workers, at £7,280 a year.

A fellow former Love Island star Brett Staniland was among those campaigning outside the show. He told Grazia: “I’m not directly trying to attack Molly-Mae… It was never about bringing down aspirational women.”

Hague’s curse “is that she is paid not just to be a salesperson for a bikini or politic but also to be the face of the idea behind it”, said Wiseman. When a brand, product or one of Hague’s affiliated entities is criticised, “part of the deal is that she must take the fall”.

And while Hague’s individualism argument may have been “sad and a bit silly”, the influencer is “a product of her generation”. Having grown up in a housing crisis and in an era of stagnant wages, why would she or her peers “expect even a flake of support from government or those in power?”, asked Wiseman.

The memes may have been “enjoyable”, Wiseman noted, but ultimately Hague is “just a girl standing in front of capitalism, asking it to love her”.

News that the influencer’s memoir, Becoming Molly-Mae, will be released soon after she reaches the “tender” age of 23 has begged the question: “what exactly will she have to say”, asked Chris Stokel-Walker in The New Statesman.

She might not struggle as much as the writer assumed; the controversy that’s so far surrounded her relatively short career has surely made for ample content, and it doesn’t appear to be ebbing away.

Just this week, Hague was called out in the tabloids for hitting an actress, who was dressed as a zombie, with the windscreen wiper of her car.

The influencer and her Love Island boyfriend, boxer Tommy Fury, were attending an immersive horror movie night experience when Leigh Simpson approached the vehicle and lay across the bonnet.

Simpson was “taken out” by the wiper, as Hague “laughed hysterically” and shared the video to her 6.2m Instagram followers, The Sun reported. It wasn’t long before Hague was making headlines again, with news outlets and magazines touting shots of her new cropped hairstyle the same day.

Hague has “shrugged off” criticism, said Metro. Speaking to New! magazine, the young star said that given the size of her social media following, “it’s not possible to keep everyone happy. I do my best to be a positive role model and with everything I say I put an extreme amount of thought into it.”

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Julia O'Driscoll is the engagement editor. She covers UK and world news, as well as writing lifestyle and travel features. She regularly appears on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast, and hosted The Week's short-form documentary podcast, “The Overview”. Julia was previously the content and social media editor at sustainability consultancy Eco-Age, where she interviewed prominent voices in sustainable fashion and climate movements. She has a master's in liberal arts from Bristol University, and spent a year studying at Charles University in Prague.