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The Wizard Liz
via YouTube (@Thewizardliz)

Andrew Tate for girls: the new wave of woman self-help gurus

A new wave of influencers such as TheWizardLiz and diagnosed sociopath Kanika Batra are taking a Machiavellian stance on self-love

During a recent TikTok scroll, I stopped dead in my tracks, mesmerised by a beautiful young woman with an unplaceable accent sternly declaring, “Nobody is coming to save you and honestly, nobody’s obligated to save you”. The truth-teller in question was TheWizardLiz, who has amassed over 8.5 million social media followers by posting direct, instructive self-help vlogs with titles such as “Stop dating broke guys”, “Why everyone is always obsessed with me”, and “You don’t like yourself? Create a new version of yourself”.

Liz is part of a growing genre of chronically online, tough-love self-help gurus who school women on how to level up their lives by detaching from toxic relationships, demanding respect and embracing unapologetic selfishness as a lifestyle choice. Liz’s peers include “diagnosed sociopath” Kanika Batra, who doles out advice from the perspective of someone unburdened by empathy; p8stie, the author of viral Twitter threads with step-by-step instructions on “HOW TO STEAL SOMEONE’S BOYFRIEND”, “HOW TO DISTANCE YOUR MAN FROM HIS MOTHER” and other delightfully nefarious endeavours; and SheraSeven, who hosts regular dating advice livestreams on topics such as “Stop Paying These Dusty’s Bills Pickmiesha” and “You Can’t Please Everyone So Please Yourself”.

Self-help content by and for women is nothing new, from bestselling spiritual guidebooks such as Women Who Run With the Wolves and Eat, Pray, Love, to wellness influencers who use cutesy infographics to help their followers heal from the trauma of growing up with a bad dad. Creators like TheWizardLiz, Kanika Batra, p8stie and SheraSeven take a hardline, Machiavellian stance that sets them apart from their softer, touchy-feely counterparts. If the latter’s approach could be summarised by a self-help meme that reads “Your ex is having raw sex with someone else and you’re reading All About Love, this new wave of tough love gurus might suggest you swap bell hooks’ classic soft girl text for Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. For fans like Khushi Rathore Lilamba – the 22-year-old behind @manifest assembly, a WizardLiz fan account with over 42,000 followers – it’s this “no-nonsense approach” that stands out. “While Liz genuinely cares about her viewers’ well-being, she doesn’t shy away from being direct and calling out excuses or self-destructive patterns,” says Lilamba.

These creators tend to view life as a zero-sum game of winners and losers; a position that reflects a broader cultural swing away from the social justice, ‘communities of care’ rhetoric that dominated the mid to late 2010s, back towards a more individualistic framework. While aspects of that shift are undoubtedly troubling and risk compromising hard-won progressive gains, it’s not just reactionary trolls who are growing tired of the often morally aggrandising nature of online liberalism and wellness culture. After a decade’s worth of content urging women to embrace perpetual victimhood and moral righteousness in a complex world, it’s refreshing to see a woman gleefully admit she’s an utter sociopath. Women have been given a vocabulary designed to explain and rationalise the terrible things that happen to them, and it is often used to make the corniest, most infantilising material imaginable. But [Kanika] Batra takes that same vocabulary and flips it into a tool for revenge,” writes Jocelyn Silver in Dirt.

Just as donning a pussyhat and lighting an abundance candle have their place, so too does taking the low road and avenging your enemies – or at the very least, getting your voyeuristic jollies off by watching someone else do it on YouTube. “All these women are pushing against gender norms and boundaries,” explains Dr Linda Charmaraman, a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, who specialises in digital media behaviour. “It’s very socially unacceptable for women to be aggressive and angry. And, you’re not expecting a sociopath to look like that [Kanika Batra]. You’re expecting them to look like the Unabomber in a hoodie.”

In recent years, reactionary speakers (and incel favourites) such as Andrew Tate and Jordan Peterson have reached fever-pitch levels of popularity by calling for men to connect with their “inner warriors”, which typically requires that women remain chaste and obedient. Both Batra and Liz have been dubbed “the female Andrew Tate”, with viewers noticing echoes of Tate’s hyper-individualistic ideology in their teachings. However, Batra and Liz position their respective content as a necessary antidote to misogynist “manosphere” influencers; to avoid being used and abused, women must proactively arm themselves against Tate’s disciples. Batra’s Cinderella’s Revenge forum is teeming with women who want help plotting the demise of men who have wronged them. Batra’s advice ranges from the seemingly solid and reasonable (“Cut off a narcissist’s narcissistic supply”) to the deranged (“Get a friend to call his workplace. Have this person say that they were an escort who did not get paid for their services”).

“It’s very socially unacceptable for women to be aggressive and angry. And, you’re not expecting a sociopath to look like that [Kanika Batra]. You’re expecting them to look like the Unabomber in a hoodie” – Dr. Linda Charmaraman

While Dr Charmaraman believes that, taken lightly, this content can remind young women that they have as much right to play the field as men, there are risks involved too. “Young, impressionable teenagers might adopt a suspicious understanding of human nature and think that people are always out to get them and that they need to take others down first,” she explains.

Grace Berman, a social worker at child and adolescent mental health organisation the Child Mind Institute, agrees that this content could be damaging for young people. “The issue when people are really young and impressionable is that they don’t have the life experience to take advice with a grain of salt. There isn’t necessarily that measured approach to what people are saying or the ability to integrate it more thoughtfully,” she says.

It doesn’t take a mental health expert to figure out that approaching life as a deathmatch in which one must metaphorically slay or be slain does not make for a happy existence. While setting out to dominate your friends, lovers and family members might allow you to amass power or, in Batra’s words, “become a CEO or a President”, you’ll likely end up isolated and lonely among the other ruthless and maladjusted business leaders and politicians. And yet, the growing popularity of tough love self-help gurus speak to women’s very real, and very valid, frustrations and desires.

It’s easy to tell women to radically accept themselves and lead with love, but such advice doesn’t always cut the mustard in the real world. It’s a breath of fresh air to watch self-styled gurus like Liz, Kanika Batra, p8stie and SheraSeven aggressively assert their value in a world that constantly seeks to diminish them. However, while some of their content can help women step into their power, other parts are undeniably concerning, and fall into the same toxic thought patterns as those manosphere channels they’re trying to counteract. So, perhaps it’s best enjoyed as cathartic, amusing entertainment; more reality TV than an instruction manual to life.

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