How The Real Love Boat’s Sari-Ella Thaiday Deals With Her TikTok Success — & The Trolls That Come With It
She may have been the second contestant eliminated on reality TV show The Real Love Boat, but Sari-Ella Thaiday isn't going anywhere. The 25-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman went onto the dating show with an established TikTok following of over 213k followers, which she's built over the past few years thanks to her engaging videos about makeup and identity.
The Erub, Saibai and Yindinji woman shares that one of the reasons her social media posts have garnered so much traction is because she's creating content she's struggled to find in the past but so desperately wanted to see. While progress is slowly being made, it's no secret that the beauty and fashion industries are still behind in adequately representing diverse communities, and particularly First Nations people.
"There's always been barriers when it comes to makeup, like trying to find an appropriate shade range from a specific brand because not every brand is appropriate [for First Nations women]," Thaiday tells Refinery29 Australia.
She says it's been difficult in the past to find beauty hack videos that suit her complexion and hair type, which was what prompted her to start making her own videos.
"I have thick, coarse, frizzy type hair that comes from my Islander background, and when I see a lot of the hairstyle hacks that are [meant to be] easy, step-by-step tutorials, I think, 'It's not that simple for people who have my type of hair'," she explains. "So, it's great to break those barriers down."
The majority of responses and reactions that Thaiday receives on social media are positive, with many young First Nations women in particular telling her that they try her beauty hacks or take inspiration from her makeup videos. However, Thaiday says that trolls and negative backlash are often difficult to avoid as an influencer — but she has her own strategies to deal with the criticism.
"At first, it was really, really difficult, and I took every negative comment to heart," she says. "But as time goes on, unfortunately you do get a little bit numb to it."
Thaiday says she's grown to develop a thicker skin, and as for the comments she still replies to, she says there are "10 times more" in her filtered comments that she chooses not to engage with. She credits her family for giving her the strength to ignore the critics.
"I think being connected and having great support is what really helped me, especially my mum, grandmother, Elders and my family. "
Her confidence has also developed over the years, as there was once a time when she shares that she "would have been so scared" to put herself out there in the public sphere.
"But once I stepped out of that box, it just started coming naturally to me. There's still a lot of growth to do and obviously, socially," she laughs, seemingly referring to her stint on The Real Love Boat. "But it's something that I've worked on, and the person that I was when I was 16 compared to the person that I am now [is different] and it's great."
Thaiday was one of 21 contestants aboard a luxury cruise ship in the Mediterranean, hoping to find their perfect match by participating in challenges and going on dates that would test couples' chemistry and compatibility. Last night she became the second person to be eliminated from the show when Dalton chose Moana over her.
The Real Love Boat continues tonight at 8:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.