A day in the life of the Leeds fashion influencer helping women feel 'fierce' with her body positive content
In a turbulent year, Hannah Briggs has been uplifting women with positive messages and fashion inspiration. Abbey Maclure speaks to the Leeds influencer about the pressures of social media, catcalling and embracing her body.
There's more to being a social media influencer than picking an outfit and striking a pose.
Leeds blogger, YouTuber and Instagram star Hannah Briggs starts her day at the crack of dawn, engaging with her 20k followers, catching up on emails and liaising with brands.
She juggles a full-time job as a social media manager with creating new content on her personal page, using her lunch break to pre-plan posts, while her weekends are spent shooting outfits out in the city centre.
"Sometimes I don’t get to sleep until 2am on weekdays, which is intense," Hannah, 26, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"It takes time to style up the outfits, shoot it, edit it, caption it, promote it, drive engagement and push it across socials - there’s a lot of work that goes on behind-the-scenes.
"But it’s worth it, because you have to put in that kind of hours if you’re passionate about it."
Hannah was born in Leeds before her dad's job took her to Rome aged six. She moved schools often and struggled to keep friendships, but she took comfort in fashion and watching YouTubers.
After moving back to Leeds, Hannah launched her fashion blog, Trust in Vogue, when she was 17 and started collaborating with brands.
Hannah said: "I'd save the money I made from my part-time job at WHSmith to buy new clothes or earrings and post them.
"After a year or two, it started taking off. I got invited down to Fashion Week and really cool things started happening."
Hannah scooped a place on the competitive fashion communication course at Northumbria University and impressed lecturers with her entrepreneurial spirit.
In 2015 she started building her Instagram audience and gained thousands of new followers when online brand Missguided reposted a holiday picture.
It's then that Hannah was first exposed to the darker side of social media.
"It was my very first body positive bikini picture," Hannah said.
"I was chilling, eating a watermelon on a beach in Portugal. Missguided reposted the picture and it was nuts, I got thousands more followers and there were so many positive comments.
"But there were also some negative ones saying ‘doesn’t she look fat?’ and ‘she needs to lose all that water weight’. It was terrible, it was my first experience of it and I was blown away.
"I realised nobody was standing up for mid-sized people and that's where my body positive content stems from."
Finding her niche in the 'mid-size' style community, Hannah's Instagram reel is a blend of glamorous fashion snaps, body-positive messages and candid shots of her life in Leeds.
When the pandemic hit, Hannah struggled with her mental health and she realised the need for uplifting content was more important than ever.
She added: "It’s so important for everyone to feel fierce and confident within themselves.
"I started posting feel-good captions full of encouragement and body positivity last year.
"The reception from women of all ages was amazing, I was getting thousands of messages saying that I’d changed their lives, that I’d made them feel good about themselves."
It's been a long process, but Hannah has learnt to embrace her body and shut out the noise of negative comments.
She said: "It’s all about looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself - you look great, you’ve got this, you’re doing a smashing job, you’re a nice person.
"I definitely don’t have it nailed down, I do have down days, so it's really important to surround yourself with positive people and positive messages."
Being an influencer is a hard graft and Hannah feels the pressure of having to be 'switched on' 24/7.
She has recently unfollowed hundreds of pages that don't make her feel good and advises others to fill their feeds with positive content.
"Even delete some apps if you feel you need to," she said.
"It might sound weird that I'm saying that, as a social media influencer, but if it’s good for your mental health you need to do it."
Hannah shoots her pictures in glamorous spots across Leeds city centre, heading down early on Saturday mornings with her friend and fellow influencer Amelia Brown.
Before the city wakes up, she'll have snapped dozens of images and video reels in the space of four hours, bringing a suitcase of clothes and changing in her car.
But there is an unsavoury reality behind her photoshoots that Hannah fears may prevent other young women from thriving as social media influencers.
"We have builders and groups of men catcalling and leering, it happens every time in Leeds," Hannah said.
"It can be really off-putting and we've been followed before too. That’s one of the most difficult things to deal with, I’ve had to grow my confidence going out and about taking photos."
Hannah's honest behind-the-scene shots and enthusiasm for life resonate with her growing Instagram following, giving her a new audience to share her positive messages.
"Just go for it," Hannah advised those wanting to start a career in fashion or social media.
"Discussing mental health, body positivity and the mid-size community is my niche, but you could be into petite fashion or DIY - as long as you find that niche and you’re passionate about it, that’s what’s most important.
"Taking it beyond a hobby takes a lot of effort and you have to plan your time, but it can be so rewarding. Just be yourself and you'll stand out."
• The Call It Out campaign by the Yorkshire Evening Post was launched in July 2020. It is sharing real-life experiences of people from all walks of life who have encountered abusive online behaviour and asking our readers to help play their part in reporting it to account admins, social media platforms and, where needed, the police.
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