Posted On Sep 02, 2016
YouTube sensation Bethany Mota has made an art of being true to herself. We check in with the mother of all “Motavators” to learn how she’s come into her own as she takes on the world.
By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Who would have guessed that a quirky, homeschooled, and thoroughly adorable young woman from Los Banos, California, would earn legions of fans when she turned her camera to selfie-mode and began sharing personal, honest takes on style, taste, and life experiences? Bethany Mota (known to you as Macbarbie07) is just such a 20-year-old breakout sensation and thoroughly loving the life of this unlikely dream— one that includes 10 million YouTube followers, a season of Dancing With the Stars, a signature line of clothing with Aéropostale, partnerships with charitable initiatives, and even an interview with President Barack Obama. How exactly did she pull it off? (Here’s a hint: She did it her way.) We had to know—so, of course, we went ahead and asked…
We admire your morphing style so much, as does your enormous fan base. How would you describe your style today?
Feminine, but still comfortable and little bit edgy.
You posted your first video at 13. Did you ever think you would reach almost 10 million subscribers? How did you do it?
I definitely never expected it to happen. I think it was just something that I stumbled into through my own experiences. Through being passionate about it and staying consistent, I was able to grow the community I have today. I’m just happy I was able to find something that really allows me to be creative and to be myself.
You were home-schooled for many years. Looking back, what were the benefits and challenges of that?
Homeschooling was beneficial for me because I work much better when I’m alone without any distraction. I also started traveling a lot because of YouTube, and [my background] helped to be able to do my schoolwork while I was on the road. I also think that if I wasn’t home-schooled I wouldn’t have ever gotten into YouTube; I wouldn’t have found what my passion is and I’m so thankful for that. People might say I missed out on things growing up, but I really wouldn’t have been able to do as many things and travel as much as I have if I wasn’t.
You say you were bullied as a teenager. How did this affect you at the time?
It affected my confidence and how I felt about myself. At that age, you are very vulnerable, so it’s easy to let other people’s opinions get to you. Back then, I would question why people didn’t like me and I would blame myself for it. I would ask myself, “What can I change?” Through realizing I can be myself and not worry about other people’s opinions, I found I can lead a much happier life.
What did you take away from your interview with President Obama in January?
Interviewing President Barack Obama was a really surreal moment for me because I didn’t expect it. When they first asked, I questioned… “Are you guys sure?” It was scary moment. But what I loved the most was that all of the interviewers—Hank Green, GloZell Green, and me—all have very different audiences and mine is younger. So all of these young YouTubers were tuning in to see what I was interested in. I remember asking him, “Why should the younger generation be interested in politics?” And he said we should care because these people are our future we need them to be more interested. I was really happy to be a part of that and speak on their behalf.
What was your most memorable moment on Dancing with the Stars?
The entire experience was just such a memorable time. It was also really challenging. Being a YouTuber, everything is filmed and I didn’t get the concept of it being live. If I mess up, I don’t get a redo, so that was a huge challenge for me. But I feel like the entire show I was able to grow. Physically it takes a lot out of you, too. I realized I was capable of doing a lot of these things, and I’m really happy I took the risk. I was able to tell a lot about myself going forward. I felt more fearless and excited to take on other challenges. I wonder what else I can do!
What is your favorite beauty tip?
Stick to whatever works for you. There are always so many new trends, like contouring and strobing. Just because something is “in” doesn’t mean you need to try it. I don’t like to worry about what the fall lip colors are. What looks good on me? What’s my favorite lip color? I do like to switch it up every once in a while but once you get your good beauty routine down, it’s something you shouldn’t have to think much about.
What advice do you have for someone who feels she is being bullied online?
Don’t take any of it personally. Especially online, because it’s easy for people to be anonymous and they are more inclined to bully you because you don’t know who they are. It can really corrupt your vision of yourself. I look at it as an opportunity to see how I can help them. Someone was always posting negative comments to me online, so I decided to reach out in a positive way. I thought, Maybe they are going through something. How can I help them?
How different is today’s landscape regarding “haul” videos—those where a person showcases items they’ve purchased?
It has really evolved over the years. The first video I posted was a “haul” video. There were much more back then than now. I didn’t do that much in the beginning, but I then started adding more things like DIYs and baking, showing little pieces of who I am and bits of my personality. It gives people the opportunity to be more open, rather than putting yourself in a box. It’s great because now you can see more of each creator and what makes us all different.
Cover Photo credit: @bethanynoelm