3 July 2016

Comparison is the Thief of Joy // On Makeup and Growing Up

As a 15 year old I was immersed in obsessed with the world of beauty bloggers, youtubers and gurus. To say I have become disillusioned with it all would be an understatement. 

Everyone in the community had an enormous makeup collection, and that's what I wanted. Everyone else in the community could had hundreds of followers and thousands of pageviews, and that's what I wanted. Everyone in the beauty community was being sent endless free products from huge brands, and that's what I wanted. Everyone else int he beauty community had clear skin, blue eyes and expensive clothes, and that's what I wanted.

Roosevelt once said that 'comparison is the thief of joy' and no where is this more appropriate than the beauty world. In truth, only a few people in the beauty world had all of the things I listed above, but in my head I was the only one who didn't. Behind the screen everyone else had the same insecurities as I did, the same worries about school/work and, for the most part, could never dream of having a makeup collection as expansive as the online beauty-giants, but that was a side I never saw. People only posted their 'best-bits' online. While I don't blame them because I used to do the same, from an outsider's perspective the damage this does is obvious.

The incessant, and almost competitive, portrayal of one sort of perfection was a side of the beauty community I never noticed until I left. It was a side of the beauty community I never truly noticed until my younger sister discovered it.

My younger sister has grown up on a diet of beauty youtubers and competitive instagramming. Her first phone was an iPhone, she knew the word 'snapchat' before she knew the word 'trigonometry' and she cares more about what other people think of her than she cares about what she thinks of her self. The effect of being constantly bombarded with beauty ideals has destroyed the self-esteem of a generation of teenage girls.

While 5 years ago young girls were trying in vain to live up to the photo-shopped ideal of beauty presented to us by magazines and advertising, now young girls are trying in vain to live up to the photo-shopped ideal of beauty presented to us by our friends, our sisters and our colleagues. 

When I was 12 I had a tamagotchi, I collected posters of my favourite bands from magazines and I read Harry Potter all day, everyday. As an 12 year old today, my sister has a makeup collection worth more than my phone, she 'collects' likes on her Instagrams and she watches makeup tutorials online all day, everyday.

Although I sound like a 75 year old woman throwing around phrases like 'back in my day we didn't have the internet' and 'the kids of today are obsessed with their phones, it wasn't like this when I was a girl' while shaking my head aggressively, I can assure you that is not the case. What I see is a generation of young girls trying desperately to find their own identity, while being constantly told to conform to ideals of (usually white, cis-gendered) female behaviour, language and looks and that has got to change.

A generation of feminists are calling out the advertising, film and music industries for their blatant sexism and for providing girls with unrealistic standards of beauty. A generation of feminists are campaigning for diversification and representation in the advertising, film and music industries. So why aren't we doing the same for the beauty industry? 

I am not asking beauty gurus to lay down their brushes and to pick up a copy of 'The Feminine Mystique' but I am asking the alternatives to come forward. I am asking for those who are 'different' to shout louder and I am asking those around them to amplify their voices. We don't need fewer beauty gurus but we do need more 'alternatives'. We need balance in the beauty industry and community. For every white, cis-gendered, straight female beauty guru we should have someone who is not. We need to realise that not everyone is able to achieve the image of beauty portrayed by the majority of beauty gurus because not everyone looks like the majority of beauty gurus.We need balance and we need diversity.

Comparison may be the thief of joy, but diversity may be the key to bringing it back.

16 May 2015

Should Youtubers Write Books?

(Disclaimer: what I am about to write is my own personal opinion, I'm not saying I'm right - if you disagree with what I am saying then please feel free to let me know in the comments. Also, I am going to be making extreme generalisations in this post, what I say certainly does not apply to all YouTubers - this is just an observation on a general trend that I am beginning to see. I am also not hating on YouTubers as people, I am simply sharing my opinion on the idea of them writing books)

I'm a big believer in honest work for honest results, so I'm sure you can understand why I have an issue with YouTubers signing book deals and publishing books for the simple reason that they can. I also find it a little ironic that so many YouTubers claim to 'have always wanted to publish a book' but fail to mention this until after the book deal has been signed.

 My main problem is not the fact that YouTubers are being given book deals, but the fact that YouTubers are writing their names on the covers of books and passing them off as their own. YouTuber's books are flying off the shelves for the simple reason that YouTubers 'wrote' them. To prove a point, when it was released 'Girl Online' broke records and became the fastest selling book of all time, smashing J.K. Rowling's previous record, and the fact that 'Zoe Sugg' was written on the front certainly had a lot to do with it. With allegations emerging of 'Girl Online' being ghost written and the 'Pointless Book' being a blatant copy of the immensely popular 'Wreck This Journal' it is hard to get on board with the idea that so many YouTubers are being offered book deals.

I can totally understand that if you are offered a book deal it is highly unlikely that you are going to turn it down and while some of these YouTubers-turned-authors clearly can write, and enjoy doing so, as they were bloggers years before they were YouTubers, it is a simple fact that all mediums do not mix. Success as a vlogger/blogger is very different to success in the world of fiction and this leads me to believe that publishers are simply playing a numbers game.

What makes this whole situation worse is that the more success YouTubers are having offline (with book deals, beauty ranges and even rumoured fashion ranges), the less they seem to care about their online content. Their videos are becoming less and less creative and engaging with comedy skits and genuine content fast being replaced by haul videos and Q&As. What saddens me most is that the phrase 'love you guys, thanks for watching' is beginning to sound a lot more like 'buy my book, buy my merch and buy my beauty products and then I'll love you'.

3 April 2015

Dear Boys, It's Not For You.

I know you may be confused, shocked even, when I say that I don't wear makeup to impress boys (or anyone for that matter). How could I, a teenage girl, not wear makeup to impress boys?! I will admit that there are occasions when I put a little more eyeliner on or an extra coat of mascara if I know I'm going to be seeing someone who I want to look extra nice for, but I didn't start wearing makeup with the intention to impress you. Sorry.

I started wearing makeup when I was around 12 years old. Back then it was a little bit of lip gloss and maybe some mascara if I was feeling daring. Over the past four years, it's fair to say my makeup collection has grown quite a bit, as has my love for wearing it. And let me tell you, the only thing that hasn't changed about my relationship with makeup are my reasons for wearing it:

It makes me happy, I blooming love it and I don't feel like me without it. 

And when I say that I don't feel like me without it, I don't mean I feel like a lesser or uglier version of myself without it. I simply mean I prefer the way I look with my liquid liner, just like some people prefer the way they look wearing red or have their hair in a bun.

I stayed over at my friends house a few weeks ago. There were 5 of us, boys and girls. Like always, I took my makeup off around 10 o'clock and bare faced continued to spend the evening chatting and laughing with my friends as always. The next morning, I got my makeup bag out, sat on the floor applied my mascara, powder and eyeliner. The bare minimum that I need to feel like me. One of the boys then said to me "why are you putting makeup on? you look great without it". Flattering as it was, I realised he didn't understand that I felt just as comfortable wearing makeup as I did without it and as I discussed in this post, I wasn't wearing makeup because I felt ugly and wanted to hide behind it, but simply because I wanted to. 

I think this blog, and the fact that there are thousands of other women (and men) out there who run beauty blogs and youtube channels like this one proves that the vast, vast majority of people who wear makeup, are wearing it for themselves. I review products based on their quality and the way they make me look, not based on how much more likely a boy is to think I'm attractive on a scale of 1 to 10 when I'm wearing it.

I know that the day I stop enjoying wearing makeup or feel like it's a chore to apply and I'm doing it out of habit rather than pleasure, that will be the day I stop wearing makeup.

There are thousands of reasons to wear makeup, each as individual as the person wearing it. So for everyone reading this, know that makeup should be fun, don't wear it for anyone else, wear it for you, and rock it.

11 February 2015

The Trouble With 'Plus-Size' Models

Usually models are 6foot, size 4 girls - 23% slimmer than the average woman and because the majority of models and super-models look this way, we are led to believe that we are supposed to look this way too (I wrote more about that in this post). Tess Munster, a 5foot 5", size 24, 29 year old was signed to MiLK Model Management back in January and a lot of people had something to say about it. They were outraged that a woman of this size was allowed to be a model. Many people argue that 'plus-sized' models are glorifying an unhealthy lifestyle, but as Laci Green pointed out in her video on the subject, we already glorifying an unhealthy lifestyle, only instead we glorify one at the another end of the spectrum of self-loathing and constant body monitoring. Tess and other 'plus-size' models aren't telling us to eat chocolate for breakfast and drink nothing but molten sugar - just filling a gap in the market for models that look like some of the women they are selling clothes to.

My only problem with 'plus-size' models is that we call them 'plus-size' in the first place. Yet, only female 'plus-size' models are labelled 'plus-size' while a male model is called a male model whether he wears a size Small or an Extra-Large. Men of all shapes and sizes are shown in adverts while very, very few women larger than a size 10 are seen. With the average woman in Britain wearing a size 16, the ideal of the size 6 or smaller model is all the more ridiculous. While I believe that some models should be thinner because there are thinner women out there who want to see what clothes would look like on their body types, the same goes for slightly larger women who want to see what clothes would look like on them, whatever their size. Personally, I think it is fantastic that Tess was given a modelling contract and the sooner more people like Tess are signed to modelling agencies, the sooner body types in the media will diversify and people will stop striving towards the unattainable size 4s and be happy with themselves, so long as they are healthy. 

12 January 2015

Pretty Hurts

This weekend has been rather thought provoking, I have seen and heard a number of things that have got the cogs turning in my head and I thought I would share my thoughts with you. The first was the Beyonce song 'Pretty Hurts' and the second was a Tumblr post. 

So often you hear a song on the radio and you enjoy it for its beat and catchy tune but you don't really listen to it and when you do, you occasionally come across a truly powerful song that really hits home, for me, Beyonce's 'Pretty Hurts' is one such song and the music video is even more hard hitting depicting women making themselves sick, depriving themselves of food and getting surgery all in the name of 'beauty'. The song is a commentary on the attitudes of society towards the way women and girls should present themselves and behave, and the damage this causes to their self esteems and body image in the long run. The music industry is often so often derogatory of women with so many songs making light of, and even glorifying serious problems women (and some men) face every day, such as rape and domestic violence and honestly, it was refreshing to listen to a song with such a great message, openly criticising the society we live in for its flaws and double standards. The following four verses were the ones that I really rang true for me:

"Mama said, "You're a pretty girl
What's in your head it doesn't matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth
What you wear is all that matters
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever's worst
We try to fix something but you can't fix what you can't see
It's the soul that needs the surgery
Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says, "Bigger is better."
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says, "Thinner is better.
"It's my soul that needs surgery
Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
Then you break when the fake facade leaves you in the dark"

The media is constantly showing us women unattainable and conflicting images of 'beauty' that we could not possibly hope to live up to. We are led to believe that we should all look like Victoria's Secret models and the truth is that we can't, and that isn't a bad thing. So often in magazines there are 3 or more articles describing crash diets and ways to lose 10 pounds in 10 days for every article that 'teaches' women to feel more confident, embrace their bodies and love themselves and yet we are expected not to be affected by this bombardment of negativity. I looked at a few different covers of the same magazine and this seems to be a recurring theme: top right reads "243 ways to fall in love with your body" and "lose a stone in one month", top left reads "254 ways to red-hot body confidence" and "22 fast flat-tummy fixes", bottom right reads "how 5 woman go total body confidence" and "21 day inch loss plan" while bottom left mentions ways to lose weight and get a flatter stomach and doesn't even bother mentioning anything body positive.

This brings me onto the Tumblr post I saw, which reads as follows:

"You know when you stare at a word for so long it starts to not look like a word anymore, like something is wrong with it?
I think this is the same thing girls do to their bodies"

No one is born hating the way they look and by placing so much emphasis on quick, often unhealthy, ways to change your body and not enough emphasis on being yourself and loving what you look like causes damage that is hidden, hard to reverse and dangerous.  It is honestly so depressing to live in a world where you are so often called "vain" or "cocky" for liking the way you look and being confident in your own skin but are then told to "cheer up" and "love yourself more" when you feel insecure or down. A person can only take so much before they break.

There need to be more songs like "Pretty Hurts" out there and we need to realise that fat or thin, tall or short, we are all the same on the inside, we all bleed the same colour and we are all beautiful in our own unique way and that's what is so special about the human race. No two people are the same and this should be celebrated not resented. It's time society woke up and judged people not by their appearances but by their personalities and the things they do. Male or female we should all stand together and celebrate the differences between us that make us who we are.

Of course no one is going to have read this post and say 'oh yeah, you're right, I should love myself' and that be that, these things take time. But having said that, feeling pretty can be as simple as looking in the mirror, smiling at your reflecting and deciding to feel pretty. I have been unhappy with the way I look for almost as long as I can remember (bear in mind I'm only 15), always wanting to look like the girls I saw on TV and in magazines, until one day I realised that I only wanted to look like those girls because society told me I should, not because I actually wanted to look like that.