Melon Lady (aka Helen Anderson) talks about how the YouTube community unfairly judges beauty gurus, striking a balance between her music career, her job, and her videos, and gives us an update on Box of Light.
“I never really set out to do anything, I just did what people wanted to watch,” says Helen Anderson, known as Melon Lady by the fashion and makeup vlogging world. “I used to get tonnes of question on Tumblr about how I dyed my hair purple, so one day I decided to make a video about it. After that, there was a demand to make more videos. So I just sort of fell into it.”
Since that video, posted almost three years ago, Helen has seen her channel grow past 200,000 subscribers; she’s made videos about various beauty tips, from hair to clothes; and she’s become renowned for her style which has got her invited to multiple fashion socials and photo-shoots. However, this was never her intention.
“I just want to be that chick that has a cool sense of style, who’s into music and has a brain,” she says. “I think there’s a stigma around beauty and fashion gurus; people seem to think they’re brainless. Some might be, but most of them are really interesting outside of YouTube.”
Helen finds it strange that she’s found internet fame in the fashion and beauty genre, because her true passions lay elsewhere. “I never bought fashion magazines or cared for designers growing up,” she explains. “I’m just a girl with a lot of interests, that include cool clothes and awesome hair amongst other things. People just seemed to dig it.
“Other YouTubers wouldn’t like it if the beauty and fashion lot started taking the piss out of them…”
“I’ve always had a fascination with 80s and 90s styling. I love glam metal and old rock’n’roll bands,” she adds, discussing her look. “I went through my grim all-black-and-studded phase when I was younger, but now I try to inform that look with a more grown-up feminine side.”
But there’s clearly something more than just her style that makes Helen so appealing. In all of her vlogs, she comes across as a really happy person, with bundles of energy – maybe this is what makes her so lovable? “I’m the same in real life as I am on camera,” she says. “I’m completely honest in every aspect.”
Whilst other YouTubers sometimes play up parts of their personality for the camera, Helen doesn’t; she really is that bonkers and energetic in real life. (In fact, during this interview, she runs off abruptly to play on a hand-swing in a park.) “People always ask where I get my energy from, or ask how I keep so happy. And the honest answer is I don’t really know,” laughs Helen. “However, I am a miserable bastard when I have a hangover: I’m extremely susceptible to the booze blues.”
Despite falling into it by chance, Helen stands strong with her fellow beauty gurus. She believes that the wider YouTube community judges them too quickly, and sometimes this puts her off attending YouTube-centric events. “A lot of people watch fashion and beauty bloggers, less and less people are reading fashion magazines, they go to YouTube for advice because they like to see real people.
“Therefore other YouTubers should really respect that: there is an audience, and we work hard for them. They need to stop being so judgemental,” argues Helen. “They wouldn’t like it if the beauty and fashion lot started taking the piss out of them. ‘Oh wow, you ate some cinnamon… have a medal!’
“I love and hate the YouTube community,” she continues. “The good people are lovely and supportive. But there are some YouTubers who take it way too seriously, they deem themselves celebrities and are far too stuck up their own arses. I just want to scream at them, ‘get over yourself’.”
Of all of her hobbies, music and performing is her true calling. She has even showcased her musical talents on her channel, which is unusual on YouTube; most YouTubers who are in a specific field try to stick to it. But Helen doesn’t want to limit herself.
“I know this sounds clichéd, but my band are like a second family to me…”
She reveals that her band, Box of Light, have a new single and video coming out soon. “I’m really looking forward to it, because I feel it’s more ‘us’,” she says. “We are also playing a festival almost every weekend this summer, including Summer in the City, and lots of gigs all over the country. It’s very exciting!”
Her band have been performing with a full line-up for a year now but before that, “it was just the three of us writing folk songs in my room, and eating copious amounts of pizza,” she reminisces. “I know this sounds clichéd, but they are like a second family to me, even down to our manager, sound-man, and driver. We’re a collective. I love making music; it’s my upmost passion.”
Even if her band takes off, fans of Melon Lady need not worry, because she doesn’t see herself leaving YouTube behind. “I guess I wouldn’t be able to do fashion stuff and hauls as much,” she says. “But vlogging would be easy!”
Another passion of Helen’s is documentary making, which she studied at university. “For my final major project I made a short documentary about a man called Brian, who was an avid model railway collector,” she says. “His house was full of it and he’d even built a shed just for his sets.
“He had so much knowledge and passion for that one subject, and I found it fascinating,” she continues. “I wanted to show the people who’d deem him a boffin or a nerd that actually, he’s really bloody good at something. The people who refer to him in a negative way are probably really lazy, spending most their free time watching TV and playing computer games.”
With so many interests, being in a band and keeping her YouTube regularly updated, it’s hard to imagine how Helen maintains a job outside of all this. “What’s difficult is balancing my time, but other than that, I don’t think it’s difficult,” she says.
Helen emphasises that having a career outside of YouTube is one of the things that keeps her grounded. “I only really need a day or two to make videos. So I choose to go to work, and do other things like product photography and marketing for companies,” she reveals. “Otherwise, I’d just end up sitting on my arse for the rest of the week. I have the time to earn more money, so I do. Sometimes things clash, and it’s a pain in the bum, but I like to be busy. It keeps me sane.”
“I don’t want to talk about blogging and who I’m working with all the time, it gets so boring…”
All this, and she still finds time to attend photoshoots and fashion socials. “I like doing them because I get to go to new places, meet new faces, and I also love getting free food,” she says. “I even enjoy making videos about shoots, because I get to work with cool brands. And at fashion socials I get to be silly with the other bloggers.”
Sometimes, however, Helen’s urges to be silly put off other people at these events. “I get the impression, from some people, that they think I’m a bit of an idiot,” she says. “I just go to let my hair down. I don’t want to talk about blogging and who I’m working with all the time, it gets so boring.”
Helen tells us about one particular social where she felt slightly out of place, due to some of the attitudes of some of the more popular fashion bloggers. That was until she bumped into Sammi Maria from BeautyCrush. “She was really excited to meet me, which I found completely bizarre, because she has over a million subscribers,” she says.
“I was really chuffed that I met her and we were both really excited to be talking to each other. It just goes to show that numbers don’t go to everyone’s heads.”
So what’s in store for Helen and her YouTube channel over the next year? “I want to do more collaboration videos, so hit me up if you can,” she says. “I’d love to collab with Bunny Meyer [grav3yardgirl] because she’s crazy, and also Sam Pepper, I think he’s so funny.”
Helen is bold and beautiful, and she takes life – as well as YouTube – in her stride. Her true passion lies in her music, but she has completely embraced the fashion and beauty industry as quickly as it has embraced her. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and this is the key to her success. It’s even part of the reason she’s become known as ‘Melon Lady’.
“Growing up, my name was always Melon,” she laughs, “so much so that my dad and my boyfriend call me ‘Mel’ for short. When I set up my YouTube channel I wasn’t taking it seriously, and I couldn’t be bothered with being creative. But now, I find it funny. Especially when I hear ‘MELON LADDDAAAY’ being shouted at me down the street.”