Another blogger package squeezes through my letterbox and I feverishly rip open the decorated envelope, hot on the pursuit of goodies. Will it be the latest fake tan to hit the market? Will it be that much-hyped brow gel? Or maybe a moisturiser bound by the essence of angel song (RRP £189, of course)?
Inevitably what I find inside is another bottle of dry shampoo (bringing my total collection to around the fifteen thousand bottle mark) but still I spritz and zhuzh with reckless abandon. Powdery fruity goodness? Lay it on me.
Whilst my bank of dry shampoos is pretty impressive in itself, my aim here isn’t to brag about my exaggerated haircare collection or the fact that ~ I gEt So MuCh FrEe StuFf ~, but rather to lay plain how unrealistic blogger beauty standards are.
Let’s get into it.
Amongst other things, part of what we do as influencers and bloggers is to share products or services we think you might interested in. Much like a journalist will collate a fluffy piece on the ‘8 beauty trends you need to try this spring’ without splurging their life savings at Boots, influencers and bloggers will share items that they haven’t bought for themselves because we think, hey, yeah, you know what, I think the gals will dig this. It’s run-of-the-mill for what we do, but it also means that we have the time and opportunity to access beauty standards which, IRL, are pretty unrealistic.
Take my hair, for example. In a recent post I gushed about how my locks are my favourite feature, and I received lots of lovely compliments echoing the same sentiment and asking me how I achieve my blonde/how I keep my blonde healthy. The answer? I visit my salon every eight weeks or so for a colour, cut and treatment, a date in my calendar which I endlessly look forward to but, if I had to pay the full fee for each time, would be far more infrequent. Because of my career I get a lot of beauty treatments in exchange for social coverage (which shouldn’t be underestimated, by the way - the salon keep inviting me back because my endorsement online generates new customers, so this “entitled blogger” persona that the media sometimes portray is actually just the traditional press exchange reincarnated), and that means I can dedicate a lot of time to trying to look nice, without necessarily incurring an eye-watering financial expense.
And it doesn’t stop at hair.
I get sent fake tan products, expensive face masks, moisturisers, serums, mascaras, foundations, nail varnishes, beauty experiences such as facials and fillers, hair styling tools and whatever else falls under the umbrella term of ‘beauty’. It’s a perk of the job that my Mum is particularly invested in, but again, I’m not sharing this information in an attempt to brag, but to show that what we present on social media has had a lot of help along the way. A lot of what we do is very visual - especially for those of us working in the personal style and beauty department - and so we are able to spare endless afternoons divulging convoluted skincare regimes or enjoying mid-morning facials. Because brands want us to share their latest products, we don’t have to open a new credit card to trial 38 different foundations for that elusive perfect coverage. Most of our favourite bloggers - myself included - haven’t paid for a haircut in years.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of our job, and it’s nothing new - journalists have been reaping the benefits of press trips and gifts for years. It’s just that we are the face of everything we do, so it all becomes a bit more obvious. The trouble with fronting up the latest in cosmetics and complexions, however, is that we’re setting an entirely unrealistic beauty standard to aspire to (well, unless you’re super rich and you don’t need to work, in which case GET IT GURL).
(Mum, if you’re reading this, your moment has finally come. I’m going to talk about you in a blog post, and it WON’T be in reference to your stellar DIY skills.)
Let’s talk about my Ma. She wakes up before 5am to take her two dogs for a walk, gets home, gets ready, goes to work, goes to my Nan’s to walk her dog, goes home, does the chores, makes dinner, falls asleep on the sofa and then drags herself up to bed, whilst always maintaining a 10-minute response window to my daily texts of: ‘Do you think we could do this in the garden?’
Whilst my 50-something year old Mum is probably not my target audience, the point still stands; she leads a busy life, and she doesn’t have the time or patience to exfoliate and double-cleanse, let alone the outrageous budget to kit out her bathroom cabinet with caviar moisturisers. She has other shit going on! She’s a normal human. There’s a gulf between what we as bloggers are able to explore as part of our careers, and what our best friends who work in offices have the resources to employ. It’s not ‘normal’ to own every shade of the latest Bobbi Brown £35 foundation, and I guess this blog post is just acknowledging that. It’s a perk of the job, but it doesn’t reflect day-to-day life.
There are degrees to how good I can look on any given day. After exfoliating, fake tanning, moisturising, having a blow dry and getting my brow gel ~ just right ~, I can rank pretty highly on the CP scale. This takes time, and a lot of free stuff. If I didn’t have said time or said free stuff, then I would most likely navigate the world at a solid 4, sporting 3-day-old greasy hair, no make-up and an assortment of hormonal spots across my chin (so basically my everyday look at uni). Because of the unique nature of what I do, I’m able to achieve the former a lot easier.
TL;DR: if you’re browsing your favourite blogger’s Insta feed and lamenting the fact that you don’t have long, luscious locks, model-esque lashes and a natural Bali glow, remember this: those extensions were for YouTube, those lashes were for the ‘gram and that holiday was a press trip. It’s excess for the purpose of excess - to share and to show - but it’s unrealistic and you’re not meant to keep up.
Until next time lovelies x