Sophia Esperanza | Ethics of Influence
We all live and love in the consumeristic fast lane, and in this hyper-connected digital delirium, even the most curmudgeonly among us can’t help but snap and share a selfie here and there. Sophia Esperanza has managed to flourish in the Brave New World we’re all living in, though for the Texas-born girl any clichés of the “vapid influencer” do not apply. She has managed to stay true to herself as she has navigated the social media plane, while wielding her ever-increasing follower count for good rather than evil, promoting causes that are important to her and to the world at large, including veganism, the ethical treatment of animals, and care for the environment.
The influencer and model first established herself in the fitness realm before taking on the planet. But as she explains, care for our fellow creatures was an instinct from the outset. “It was all based around fitness at first... But when I went vegan, I did it purely out of compassion—nothing for my health, nothing for the environment, purely for animals. Then when I started to become friends with some of the top environmentalists and environmentalist photographers in the world, I started to realize that when you don’t eat animal products you don’t contribute to one of the biggest portions of greenhouse emissions that’s killing our planet, which is causing global warming.” Her digital activism is well informed, and she often cites peer-reviewed journals from Harvard and Duke, or chilling data from the U.N. report on climate change. “We have 12 years to act on climate change before the world as we know it is lost,” she tells me, and her passion is contagious. I can’t help but feel compelled to look at my own decisions.
It is with this conviction that Esperanza has united her interests with her lifestyle, which she then shares with her 2.4 million followers, demonstrating that health, beauty, fitness, compassion, and environmental stewardship can all be united. Through her popular vlog she opened up a dialog on body dysmorphia, as seen in a captivating video post where she recounts her decision to remove her breast implants. It was during her time becoming a doctor that her life took a turn towards activism. Switching from budding dermatologist to Instagram celebrity is a distinctly unique career shift, but then again, very little about Esperanza is ordinary. “I was going to school to be a doctor in Houston. I was going to be a dermatologist because after going to different doctors for ten years with no one being able to help me with my skin issues, I was like, ‘Well, I’m just going to go become a doctor and help myself.’ But three years into that I realized that everything is just so heavily pharmaceutical-based, and I don’t want to be a modern day drug dealer.”
As Esperanza continues to expand her ambitions into the realm of acting, we can rest assured that she won’t veer from her commitment to help make the world a better place. As she explains, “With acting, it’s a great step to be able to do something that doesn’t contribute to waste, and then to be able to raise funds, either with an existing organization or one that I create myself where, through and through, the money that’s raised doesn’t come from harming the planet at all.” She’s a rare case in the world of celebrity, where you feel that as her star rises, the planet directly benefits. As we finish our conversation, I realize that in her focus on her causes, I didn’t even get to the cutesy standard-issue profile questions. I mention this, and Esperanza laughs. “I feel when a lot of people are interviewed it’s so uplifting and happy, like, ‘What do you like to do for fun?’ or ‘What’s your favorite yoga class?’ While mine is, basically, ‘The planet is dying.’” Perhaps, with influential people like Esperanza dedicating themselves to the cause, that won’t have to be a certainty.