Unlikely internet sensation Happy Polla has attracted more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook and Instagram. The 23-year-old loves showing off the latest fashions, and posting videos of make-up tutorials and her singing on social media. Her first-ever Putonghua song, Happy, released last year, has already had nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube.
Happy’s popularity has allowed her to start an entertainment career, but her fame is a mixed blessing. While her passion for fashion has won her fans around the world, she also has plenty of haters, especially those who wonder about her gender. She spoke to Young Post about her unusual road to internet stardom and the gossip about her gender.
Happy, who is from Thailand, became famous in 2014, but she had been active on social media for a few years before that. It wasn’t easy, as Happy doesn’t fit into the typical standard of beauty.
“At the beginning I was sad to see negative comments about my appearance,” says Happy. “But now I’m OK with these as I understand each person has different perspectives.”
And it wasn’t just strangers voicing their disapproval.
“When I first started doing stuff on the internet, I faced a lot of negativity from my friends,” says Happy.
“I thought about giving up. But later I learned about the power of positivity and the power to persist in doing what I believe is good.”
A lot of the adversity that Happy faces comes from people constantly debating whether she is a man or a woman. Every time she makes a new post, people comment on it. And when people post comments saying that Happy looks like a man, she doesn’t mind.
“I do not have too many hard feelings about that, because what they say is true,” says Happy, who was born male but identifies as female. “But I just don’t focus on what haters say about me. It is important for me to remind myself why I started doing what I do: I wanted to make people happy. This is where my energy comes from.”
Now that she is a celebrity, Happy is often stopped in the street by fans who want to take a photo with her. But surprisingly, the people closest to her do not know much about her fame.
“My family doesn’t know much about my internet work, so they don’t say too much about it as long as I stay happy,” she says.
Happy hopes other people can share her upbeat nature. This year she took part in a web film called In The Can, which was organised by a group of Taiwanese university students. It talks about the value of life and hopes to help people who might want to harm themselves. It’s very similar to Happy’s goal in life, which is to encourage young people pursuing their own dreams.
“Don’t be someone that other people want you to be,” she says. “Be yourself. Be real. Be happy.”
Edited by Sam Gusway