Social media has completely changed the way people approach life. It has become a way to get news immediately and straight from the sources, it has opened up the way people communicate with others locally and across oceans, and it has even been a way to showcase one’s creativity.
For Ava Jules, she has been utilizing YouTube for more than six years as a way to connect with others who have similar interests as well as sharing her own talents.
“The Biebs himself inspired my channel, so I guess I owe it all to Justin Bieber in a way,” she says, bringing up the singer who was the first to really use YouTube to blast him into super-stardom. “I originally started posting videos to YouTube because I wanted to show other ‘beliebers’ my posters, Bieber merch, and share my love for him.”
These videos also spawned Ava’s favorite series on her channel.
Since first starting her YouTube channel when she was in middle school, the content has changed and been refreshed over the years. One constant has been the videos she’ll do once a year like her room tour, things she learned at that age, and ‘A Day in the Life’.
“My ‘What I Got For Christmas’ series is my all-time favorite, and not because I want to show off what I got.” The YouTuber says, “The reason this video is so special to me is because it’s the video that began my channel back in 2013! I find it fitting to keep up with this series, since it’s my anniversary for my channel.”
As with anyone who gets older, it is sometimes hard to look back at things one’s younger self did without embarrassment waiting around the corner. The unapologetic nature of our past selves is admirable even if one does not wish to repeat such instances. It is a feeling that Ava knows too well. While most people are able to keep their embarrassing or awkward moments growing up just to their social circles, she grew up in front of the camera and sharing her life with her subscribers.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything even though I cringe quite hard when I see my old videos,” she says when discussing her channel’s original content. While most of her oldest videos are on private now, she doesn’t rule out the idea of reacting to them in the future. She does, however, doubt she’d ever recreate any of them.
Those videos represent, for Ava, a version of her that wasn’t completely her. “One thing I’d tell younger me is, ‘You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not because people will love you for you!’” She explains, “I say this because I used to take a ton of inspiration from my YouTube role models, which led to me heavily copying their filming and editing styles. I didn’t have my own style back then because I was worried no one would like it.”
The YouTuber has since found her footing and even herself. As she’s grown with her audiences, she has let her channel be a reflection of herself and her interests. What she once started as a Justin Bieber fan channel evolved into makeup tutorials which further changed to now become an assortment of content, mixing her usual tutorials with new things like vlogs showing her life in Hawaii or tips for how to accept oneself.
“My content changes as I change as a person, so I think there’s a constant evolution with my videos,” she says. “Being a natural on-screen can be really hard. The first few years of doing YouTube, I definitely didn’t feel myself, more like a character that I thought people wanted to see. These days, I just show up as I am and I think that’s what people love the most.”
This stark difference is most notable when switching between her oldest videos available on the channel and her newest. The excitement of her young teen self, sometimes so excited that she rushes her sentences out, has leveled out to wide smiles, joyous tones, and a more paced-out nature. Though her change in demeanor is more relaxed in her newer content, her presence is unmistakable and still just as inviting and entertaining.
Ava does take the time to point out though that what is depicted on-screen is not always a reflection of what is actually going on.
“I learned that anyone can make their life seem perfect online. It’s so easy to cut and edit out the ‘bad’. Trust me,” she begins, “as someone who shares their life for a living when I say that it’s pretty easy to just make social media your highlight reel. That’s something I really want to change because I think it’s equally as important to share your hardships and struggles online as it is to show the fun stuff.”
She began that quest, the idea of showing a more vulnerable side in her videos, early on in 2020. Though it had been touched on in her past videos, last year really shifted some more focus of her content into body positivity and self-care. “2020 was the year that I truly started to focus on myself and heal,” she explains.
In one of her videos from April of 2020, she says to her viewers, “Someone else’s beauty does not take away from your own.” It is something that she had to discover herself as she stepped on this path to accept herself as she is.
These days, I just show up as I am and I think that’s what people love the most.
“I wanted to share this self-love and self-acceptance journey that I was on with my followers and decided I’d incorporate it into my videos,” Ava says of where the focus on this content came from.
Speaking of herself and how this shift in her personal life has affected her, she says, “I am so much happier after realizing that my body is my true home and beautiful no matter how it looks. Not only does this affect me, but it affects the people I’m around too because learning to be confident in myself has helped me be kinder and more accepting to others.”
Sharing her own experiences, both the good and the bad of this journey, has also affected her followers as well. For those who have followed her for years or for those who are new to her channel, Ava’s ability to discuss all aspects of her realizations, struggles, and experiences speaks volumes. It says to them that they are not alone, that they can come to a point of self-acceptance, and that it may be difficult but others have walked the same path they are walking on.
“It is such a relief to have people relate to what I’m going through,” she says of how it has felt to be able to connect with her followers over topics like this. “The last thing anyone likes to feel is that feeling of being alone, and reading thousands of comments of how I’ve helped others love their bodies more brings tears to my eyes. Seriously.” She recalls, “I remember sitting at my computer sobbing when I read the comments on my first video opening up about the subject.”
Many of the comments under her April 2020 Q&A video focus on her discussion of body image and positivity, thanking her for being open and vulnerable about her own struggles. One fan named Gillian wrote that she cried watching that section and immediately went to her mom to say, “I am about to focus on a good change.”
On another video titled “Bikini Body Confidence, Self-Love, & How I Became Confident in My Body”, one viewer that goes by ‘E’s Way’ commented, “Such a good vid. Sometimes we don’t know what we need to hear until we hear it.”
Her statement within the video of body confidence and self-love not being a linear situation but one that will experience ups and downs and will need to be worked on resonated with fans as their comments flooded the video. Aware of her reach and wanting to spread positivity after the video, she asked her viewers to comment their favorite feature about themselves. Even her latest video, one of her confidence and self-acceptance chats that includes the topic of acne, is filled with appreciation for her candidness.
One look at what they had to say and it is easy to see the incredible impact Ava has, and how helpful her vulnerability has been to so many that watch her videos.
The comments show what a positive influence social media can have on different people and different communities around the world, though it is a double-edged sword. As wonderful as some comments are, there are still some people that come away trying to spread hate and toxicity, on her content and throughout social media in general. “Social media can really cloud your head when you’re on it too much,” Ava acknowledges.
Seeing both the wholesomeness and the hated-fueled sides of the internet, the YouTuber says she has really limited how much time she spends on social media. “Too much of something is never good,” she shares. “[Social media has] shown me that the most important thing to focus on is your own life, not others.”
As much as one tries to focus on themselves and on the positive side of things, no one is fully immune to rough days.
Being so positive nearly all the time on camera can be taxing, and as Ava stated before, social media is great at showing everyone a highlight reel of their lives. So when she is struggling or cannot shake any negative feelings that come her way, especially during quarantine, she has learned the different ways to cope.
“I have a really great support system which consists of the people closest to me, who all help me get through tough times. I’m really lucky to be surrounded by great people,” she says. One of the most helpful people in her life, however, is herself.
It is such a relief to have people relate to what I’m going through.
“I also really lean on myself, weird as that sounds. I’m my own best friend which really has taken time to develop. Over quarantine, I spent a ton of time alone and doing things by myself; this led to a lot of self-reflection and understanding.” She says, “It’s a work in progress, but I’m pretty in tune with my emotions and can usually get myself out of a negative mood.”
Be it personally and having to deal with any naysayers that come to the comment section to spread negativity and hate, or professionally with the risk of possibly losing followers for a slight change in channel content, changing up the videos Ava makes for YouTube is taking a chance. Though it is a chance she took that came with her own growth.
“My shift in channel content happened really naturally,” she says. “I was growing up and figuring out who I was as a person, so the videos I made started to be more me. What’s really important to me is constantly creating videos that reflect where I’m at in my life and what I care about. I never want to be stuck doing one type of video.”
Over the years, she has included videos about her latest playlists, school hacks, and her seasonal shopping haul. Between those somewhat routine videos, the content she shares varies from new makeup looks to vlogs to one-shot ideas like trying out products suggested by TikTok.
According to Ava, she doesn’t have any specific video that’s her favorite, usually because every new video becomes her favorite. She does share which ones she loves to create, saying, “My favorite videos to film are probably my Hawaii vlogs!”
Discussing her plans for her channel in 2021, the YouTuber shares, “I’d love to incorporate more self-love and confidence chats in my content. One thing I really want to do in 2021 is throw in some videos that I’ve never made before and expand my content.”
Also happening in 2021 is Ava’s sustainably-designed merchandise line. “My upcoming merch has something for everybody and I’m so excited for people to see it,” she says. “It was really important to me that I incorporate eco-friendliness when creating merch, so that was one of my biggest requirements.”
She says of the impact creating a sustainably-designed merch could have on her fans, “I hope this inspires others to take small steps in their daily life and reminds them that we only have one Earth, so we have to take care of it.”
Living in Hawaii and being able to see first-hand the impacts the changing environment due to plastic pollution and coral reef damage has on the chain of islands helped steer her to get involved with ocean conservation, and by extension played a role in making sure her merch included an eco-friendly element to its creation.
“I got involved post-high school, when I realized that there are bigger issues going on in the world than dumb school drama,” she says. “Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the ocean and its creatures. From doing beach cleanups with local organizations to switching out all of my sunscreens to reef safe options, I try to do my part in helping conserve the ocean.”
Her sustainably-designed merch is no doubt going to help her with that cause.
With the merchandise not yet released, the excitement in building for Ava, as well as the nerves. “It’s been years since I’ve released anything of my own and I really want people to love and connect with it,” she says after admitting she’s nervous. “I’m most excited to finally share this with my followers and see them wearing the pieces!”
Closing out the interview, there is one question left for Ava: What is one question no one has asked you before?
Her answer, reflective of her fun and endearing personality, is: “I wish someone would ask me what my favorite sauce is. My answer to that is ranch. I could talk about how amazingly wonderful ranch is for at least a few hours.”