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Blogger Utopia: Why Seeing Does Not Equal Believing

Current media and the conversation that comes with it triggered this post. Bloggers and influencers are living the perfect life, because everyday is a party when you’re young, pretty, skinny and succesful. It would seem that these girls, popular in the public eye, can have the cake and eat it too, but not before posting a perfect snapshot of it and reeling in the thousands of likes on instagram.

In this day and age, with all that is known, it continues to baffle me how many well-established bloggers keep on skinyfing themselves to the point of total and utter transformation, fantasy really, without being called out for it. I get it, it’s the Kylie Jenner era, the beauty standard is ‘fake’, with its caked on contouring, overdrawn lip lines, mile long extensions and curvy-but-skinny in all the right places body type. A look that is hardly achievable in a  “I woke up like this” way. Of course it’s okay to spend time on your appearance, it’s even plain fun to experiment with make-up and clothing, allowing yourself every day to be the version of yourself you want to be most. But in that context, what is the role of the personal style blogger? Or better said: what are the responsabilities of any online influencer really?

It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote “why your favourite blogger on instagram is a fraud“, a post zooming in on the photoshop and image altering antics of one well-known New York fashion blogger. She has since expanded her follower base to well over 1 million instagram users, all while continuing to ‘shopping her pics to an extreme degree. It’s no secret that Instagram quickly transformed from instantaneous and spontaneous squares to highly stylized and edited photographs, especially by those using the platform for professional goals. Again, nothing wrong with wanting to tell a visually appealing and estheatically pleasing storry that matches your brand. Unless that brand is you, and the image you’ve so carefully constructed is as fake as can be.

Bloggers that use Photoshop for Instagram
Danielle from WeWoreWhat during New York Fashion Week february 2016. Left: @weworewhat.
Bloggers that use Photoshop for Instagram
Danielle from WeWoreWhat during New York Fashion Week february 2016. Left: @weworewhat.

There’s little to no difference between the insta-famous girl posting about her perfect life, and the size 38 blogger editing herself to be a size XS. Both attract a following of young, impressionable girls, wanting to believe every virtual impuls as reality. Essena O’Neill, once one of those IG girls, stirred up the gram by pointing out that all of her pictures were, in a way, fake. After spending her teenage years carefully curating her life into a glossy, polished and enviable world for her thousands of followers, she revealed the true story behind her Instagram posts. Essena might have retired from instagram, but hordes of young girls casually lying on the floor of their bedrooms whilst promoting the next best diet tea, protein shake, waist trainer or teeth bleaching kit are happily filling in the gap she left.

It’s not just an issue with international influencers, the same goes for people with an online presence much closer by. We feel the need to post rigorously, like and follow till our fingers hurt, maybe even buy fake followers in order for brands to notice what we do or to validate ourselves in the sea of social media, all while screaming that being a blogger is such fun and that you’re not in it for the money or fame.

As to my stance on all of this and how I go about being a style blogger and using Instagram and Facebook to promote my brand: I am partially guilty of the above. I personally pick out the pictures that I’m most happy about, that show my good side, that make me look good – and inextricably make me feel good about myself. I only post pictures of my instagram-worthy and overpriced sushi and bagel lunches, without including the home-packed salads and frozen pizza’s into my feed. I don’t often talk about stress, struggles or sad situations on this space, even though those make up about 50% of my life. It’s a choice, and there’s nothing wrong with curating the parts of yourself you want to put out there. The things I put out however, are still true parts of myself. The line is not always as clear as can be, with enticing offers from brands and businesses and a constant struggle between growing your brand and keeping true to yourself. I like to think that I am capable of walking that line though, and that it is one of the more intruiging parts of running a blog.

Somehow this post turned into a ramble of all sorts – there’s just so much to be said about all of the practices currently going on on social media. So much, and so little at the same time. Because who am I to point the finger? This post is by no means a witch hunt on someone in particular, it is merely an eye-opener or – what I hope it becomes – a conversation starter. Because this is a conversation that needs to be held in the open. That’s why I vow not only for digital literacy but also and especially for social media literacy – to inhale the constant stream of social media perfectness with a pinch of salt. And sometimes a shot of tequila. Cheers.

featured image: © Jana Williams