Bethany Mota has been called a “fashion icon.” She has launched her own line of clothing and accessories, released music videos, and even starred on a season of the hit reality dancing competition series Dancing with the Stars. Yet, none of this has gained her as much traction as her well-known YouTube channels.
With 9.9 million subscribers on her most popular channel, Macbarbie07, Mota’s videos have been viewed over a billion times.
With hundreds of videos covering fashion, hair and makeup tutorials, and even just her thoughts and feelings about life, Mota continues to be well-liked, primarily among teen girls and young women.
But if you’re just now learning about Mota’s success, or if you’ve never dug into her past videos, you may be wondering: how did Bethany Mota become famous?
Bethany Mota created her very first YouTube video in 2009, right as YouTube was gaining popularity amongst wider demographics. At the time, more and more content creators were finding their niche and developing a specific audience and loyal following.
Mota found her niche in reviewing beauty products. At just 13 years old, she showed off an impressive selection of products from MAC and Sephora in her very first YouTube video. And while her speaking voice was a bit quiet, she showed a lot of charisma and enthusiasm.
These early videos certainly would not meet the high production standards seen on her main channel today. Mota’s camera was stacked on top of a pile of books because she did not own a tripod to steady it. The lighting and audio quality are poor, and there is little evidence of preparation or editing work.
However, today, that first video has collected over 5.4 million views. And that’s only the beginning of her rise to fame as a “haul star.”
A “haul star” is a form of YouTube celebrity primarily dominated by women (though not exclusively). In this genre, a person typically goes shopping off-camera, returning to their home to show off and discuss their findings for the camera.
Why do viewers flock to this style of video? Part of the appeal is in their casual and conversational style. In Mota’s case, she’s typically positioned on her bed, in front of her closet, or near a decorative wall in her home. The video is easy to follow, calm, and relatable to those of any economic status—appealing even to those who may not be able to afford the products that are displayed on camera.
Haul videos are also almost always positive. The videos are focused around recommendations, and creators hope to gain ad sponsorship from brand names. That’s why haul videos are typically upbeat in nature, making them a low-stress casual watch to consume on a lunch break or before bed.
While many other YouTube creators produce high-quality, well-edited videos with detailed product demos, ratings, and tutorials, few have gained as much traction as Bethany’s.
Mota’s rise to fame came at a tough time in her development. At age 13, she discovered the YouTube beauty community just as her social life was starting to take a hit.
According to Mota, she was bullied online by a former friend, which left her with little social life or desire to leave the house. Her first video offered some comfort, and she was optimistic about the results. She uploaded her first video and titled it, aptly, “First video 🙂 Mac and Sephora Haul.”
That smiley face would become a marker of Mota’s early attempts at YouTube stardom. After a few more videos, she was able to engage with comments and find her place in a growing online community.
YouTube was able to offer a like-minded group of followers and a distraction from the angst of everyday life for a teenage girl. While she still had what she called “haters,” her fan base became known as her “Mota-vators,” lifting her up and supporting each other as well.
Mota’s first attempts at YouTube stardom were somewhat rocky, with low-quality imagery and poor audio quality. So why did the teen rise to fame despite her amateurish beginnings?
First, regardless of quality, it was clear that Bethany knew her stuff. It’s impressive to see a 13-year-old share realistic and relatable makeup, fashion, and hair tips to a wide audience with such poise and confidence.
Furthermore, Mota’s hauls feature well-respected brands, but with a selection that can fit anyone’s price range. She appeals to average teens and young women, showing off desirable products that don’t seem unachievable. She even makes videos to show off her thrifting hauls, attempting to show that her lifestyle can be achievable even on a tighter budget.
But perhaps what viewers like most is her positive attitude. Mota can be described as bubbly and sweet. She strives to make any fan feel welcome in what is arguably a teenager’s dream life. She also gets to know her fans, responding to her “Motavators” on her YouTube channels as well as her Instagram and Twitter accounts. She has even had success responding to “haters,” asking them to consider why they are bullying her and whether they could contribute a more positive attitude to the public platform.
So, is YouTube the only reason Bethany Mota is famous? The star has branched off into several side ventures inspired by her streaming success, but none of them have provided her with the level of recognition she has gained from her YouTube channel.
Her first side project debuted in 2013—her own line of clothing, perfume, and accessories with Aeropostale. She has also worked with fashion brands J.C. Penney and Forever 21.
However, none of this has gained her much traction in the fashion world. Aeropostale reported average sales from Mota’s line, which many critics contribute to its embracing of “fast fashion” rather than sustainable, quality pieces.
Aside from that, Mota has attempted to launch her own music career. While her music has yet to see much commercial success, one single landed on the Danish top 40 charts, while her others have logged tens of millions of views on YouTube.
While few projects have allowed Mota to reach outside of her typical teen viewer, her time on Season 19 of Dancing with the Stars in 2015 is responsible for growing her fame beyond that demographic.
At this point, Mota was a noted YouTube star. Her face had appeared in YouTube advertisements across the country. In an attempt to relate to a younger audience, Barack Obama had agreed to do an interview with her earlier in 2015. And yet, she was still only recognizable to a subset of young YouTube viewers.
Mota danced her way into the finals of Dancing with the Stars, the hit competition series which pairs a celebrity up with a professional dancer. Bethany was paired up with Derek Hough, and the two placed in fourth, often gaining rave reviews for their energetic numbers.
While Bethany was famous before Dancing with the Stars, the show helped to introduce a new group of television viewers to the YouTuber’s vibrant personality. She appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show that same year, expanding her reach to a daytime television audience if only for a brief moment.
Will Bethany Mota continue to be popular into the future? Or has she reached her height of haul stardom?
While her music and product ventures never gained much traction amongst her desired markets, Mota’s YouTube channels continue to rack up view counts.
This is probably largely due to consistency within her brand. Today, not much has changed in her original YouTube channel, Macbarbie07. But for those viewers more interested in the star’s thoughts and feelings on topics outside of makeup and fashion, she started a separate channel, BethanysLife.
However, the volume of Bethany’s YouTube video output has drastically reduced. Today, she posts about one video per month, while she used to post about 2 – 4 videos per month. In 2017, she and her father were sued after failing to produce advertising content per their contract with a skincare brand.
Still, Mota’s loyal fans, her Motavators, seem to be sticking by her side. Comments on her recent videos are from fans who have been following the YouTuber since they were teens or pre-teens themselves. These fans will wait patiently for the next video in order to get a sneak peek into her grown-up life.
Mota’s rise to fame may seem unusual, but it’s surprisingly familiar amongst a new generation of YouTube stars. Hoping to escape the stress of everyday life, Mota uploaded videos that many people could relate to. With some hard work, she was able to build her brand and became known as a bubbly YouTube personality who makes her fans feel welcome.
While her attempts at branching out beyond her core demographic were not as successful, she remains famous among young women and teens around the world.