A million shades of TikTok stardom

By GEORGIA BEARD

She smirks into the camera, painted in a soft kaleidoscope of peach, powder blue and fresh cream. While she models dainty outfits or captures home renovations, music bounces in the background, reminding you of orange juice, outstretched highways and laughing with close friends. Her videos are dreamlike. For local TikTok star Brooke Styles, this is just routine.

After sculpting her social media career for six years, Brooke is well-versed in the art of influencing. Her TikTok account appeared over a year ago, but she just hit one million followers on the video-sharing app. “To reach such a milestone in such a short time was mind-blowing. It still hasn’t hit me how big my audience is,” she says.

Even so, Brooke is familiar with audiences. Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, music and ballet were constant in her life. “I’m an introvert,” she says. “When I was on stage, I was a different person. Being able to express through dancing is how I feel with social media.”

Her followers stretch across Instagram and YouTube, so she’s undaunted by global calls to ban TikTok. Recently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided against the move after a period of federal investigation (“I’ll shout him a Bunnings snag for that one,” Brooke says). Although she found the uncertainty stressful, she’s confident any followers with app restrictions can view her content on Instagram’s latest feature, ‘Reels’.

A swipe through TikTok’s rose-tinted ‘For You’ page reveals little contrast to other platforms. Influencers still flaunt only the brightest parts of life, this time with trendy soundtracks to match. Brooke, however, takes a different approach. Between her romantic performances and slices of life, there is vulnerability. She doesn’t smooth down her struggles, often describing how workplace bullying in the Sunshine Coast modelling industry left her with PTSD.

This trauma urged her to avoid modelling work. Selling her own clothes for income wasn’t enough, so Brooke crossed into the realm of Instagram influencing. “I was depressed and always anxious when my next pay cheque would be, but I hustled and slowly made a name for myself within the content creator industry. I was lucky enough to shoot campaigns for brands like Colette Hayman that went Australia-wide in store.”

Then, in the thick of success, Brooke’s aunt died young. “She was my world,” she says. “She was also a single mum, and not only were we grieving for her but [adjusting] to her two young children.

“I fell out of love with creating … I was no longer me on the inside nor the outside. I stopped posting on social media and taking photography clients.”

As her glow faded, Brooke fell out of love with herself. Then something shifted: when she realised creativity was tethered to her own being, she discovered TikTok and began experimenting. “After a few weeks a video went viral, and I’ve never looked back.”

She now spends her nine-to-five recording fresh recipes and nostalgic outfits. But influencing isn’t always so idyllic. In between filming, she’s relentlessly exploring TikTok trends and crafting brand campaigns. Brooke says managing the app itself racks up pressure. “The algorithm prefers you to be consistent. If I have a few days off, my account feels it.

“I’ve recently learnt to give myself a lunch break,” she says. “Sometimes you just get caught up in the hustle. So, after I do the school run to help out Mum and finish off any last emails or filming, I’ll go into my veggie garden.”

Healing from her past emotional struggles, Brooke has taken on an afterglow. Creativity bursts from every video, from homemade photoshoots to supercuts of painting and gardening. Even her expression of life’s darker hues seems to come naturally.

“I get to create content full time,” she says. “I don’t think you can find more magic than that … It’s taught me to be open-minded and allowed me to be home each day to enjoy time with my loved ones. There’s a quote that I always reflect on when having any self-doubt about myself or my content. You cannot control how others feel about you … you can simply be the best version of yourself.”

Although several videos take on shades of romanticisation, her honeyed lifestyle is genuine. Her influence is multicoloured. On camera, Brooke is unafraid to capture the real.

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