In these months of quarantine, I have been thinking a lot about the internet and I’m sure I’m not alone. With screen times skyrocketing, months worth of classes being conducted virtually, and digital platforms serving as our main source of social interaction, we are all learning how to manage life completely online. While this is a new skill to the majority of us, full-time YouTubers and influencers have spent years learning how to build relationships, careers, and communities through the internet. More than just tech-savvy, they know how to navigate the online realm with incredible personability and ease.
Ballerina and YouTuber Luna Montana is a perfect case-study of this digital grace. After starting her channel in 2014, Montana simultaneously grew as a teenage girl and an online creator. Montana’s content covers both how she practices and teaches ballet as well as more intimate subjects like body image and self-worth. By creating content that’s original, authentic, and vulnerable, Montana has attracted a community of over 500,000 subscribers and built a space for herself to spread positivity and love.
For Lithium’s “CYBER” issue, Montana gave us insight into her digital life and detailed her inspiration, creative process, and purpose as a content creator.
Lithium Magazine: You’re currently nineteen and have had your channel since 2014. What was it like going through your teenage years with an audience watching?
Luna Montana: I think one of the hardest things a YouTuber can do is successfully grow with their audience. It’s so often that you see comments like “I miss the old you” but in real life, people change. I struggled with changing my personality and interests to things people online wanted to see from me. But I want to remain human, and I know that the minute I’m not interested in the content I’m making is the minute nobody else is. So again, it all bubbles down to being your true, authentic self always.
Lithium: When did you realize you wanted to pursue YouTube full-time, and why?
Luna: I always had fun making YouTube videos, but about two years ago I uploaded a video called “I hate my body.” In the video, I opened up about my struggles with body dysmorphia. The response I got from that video was so surreal. So many girls commented and messaged me about how they felt the same way. It was such a beautiful and inspiring thing to see that through my video, we were helping each other feel less alone in our struggles. After that, I was on a mission to help as many girls as I could to start loving themselves. I felt like that was the route I was meant to take, so I decided to pursue YouTube full-time.
Lithium: What advice do you have for someone looking to turn their passion into a career?
Luna: I think the biggest thing is to stay true to who you are and strive to make content that you’ve never seen before. There are so many people out there who want the same thing you do. It’s about how you apply your story, struggles, and overall knowledge that makes you stand out. Also, consistency is key!
Lithium: You’ve gained a great deal of your following from posting videos that are honest about often-avoided subjects such as body dysmorphia, period management, and body hair. How has being so open and vulnerable on the internet affected your life and your relationship with your followers?
Luna: Growing up with social media as a teen hitting puberty and seeing all these supposedly “perfect” people on Instagram and YouTube made me constantly question myself. I was always looking up things that were going on with my body and never found an answer that made me feel comfortable or normal. I was so shocked as to how all these bikini models never had body hair and I did, and that all these ballerinas never talked about body image while it was something I struggled with so much. I felt so isolated and alone with my feelings. There’s so much online these days that seems so unrealistic—I want to be that girl for someone like my younger self to make her feel comfortable in her own body.
Lithium: Pretty much everyone has a hard time grappling with the difference between their online and real-life identities. As someone whose career is centered on her digital presence, do you find it difficult to stay authentic online?
Luna: This isn’t something I’ve struggled with too much, because when it comes to YouTube I’m pretty honest and authentic to who I am in my videos. In fact, my digital presence is mostly branded on the fact that I’m talking about real-life topics and struggles. Since I’m giving a lot of myself to the world, it can be hard to decide what to share online and what to hold to myself to remain human. But overall I feel as if my online presence doesn’t differ much from my real one!
Lithium: Because you can create content from home and YouTube is such a passion for you, do you have a hard time taking time off? How do you draw the line between work and your personal life?
Luna: Oh yes. This is probably the thing I struggle with the most. In any “self-employed” line of work, it includes self-scheduling as well. It’s hard to know when to stop or take breaks, especially when it’s something I am so passionate about. But my friends and family remind me when it’s too much and keep me on track.
Lithium: What’s your favorite part of the video-making process and why?
Luna: My favorite part is when I finish editing, I always premiere the video to my family first and get their feedback. They’re always so supportive. They, over anyone else, know when a video is authentically me or isn’t, so I take their opinions really close to heart.
Lithium: As someone in the public eye, I’m sure you unfortunately have to deal with haters and unwanted criticism. What are your tips for dealing with negativity on the internet?
Luna: I think you have to put yourself in their shoes. That person out there is so hurt to the point where they feel the need to drag others down as well. It’s just proof that this world needs more positivity. So instead I try to use comments like that to motivate me to spread more light.
Lithium: From your outfits to your makeup to your new room to Instagram, it’s clear you have a great sense of style. Who are some of your biggest style inspirations? People we should follow?
Luna: I get so much fashion inspiration from Instagram. My number one is always Devon Lee Carlson. I want her closet more than anything. Bella Hadid’s street style is always insane. Also Lily Chee! There are too many to count.
Lithium: Isolation is affecting all facets of the creative world. How has isolation affected your creative process as a YouTuber?
Luna: My YouTube is integrated often with ballet and dance content. Being in isolation, I don’t have access to a dance studio, so I’m trying to be creative with the space I have. So that results in videos like showing how I teach my Zoom dance classes or showing how you can dance at home. It’s a whole other creative process, learning how to use only what you have at home.
Lithium: With a brother in the NBA, a sister who is famous for her music, and of course, your YouTube success, your family is so high-achieving! What elements of your upbringing do you think helped mold you all into such independent and hard-working individuals?
Luna: I think our parents raised us pretty untraditionally. They constantly supported our passions and dreams. They never had a plan for us. Whatever we were interested in, they supported 100%. I think that creative freedom gave us the confidence to find our own paths and follow them!
Lithium: What is the one message you hope to share with the world through your content?
Luna: I hope that through my content I can inspire others to love themselves for who they are.
By Jill Risberg