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.

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