Realness or Fakeness
There's a certain sentiment that's been on my mind for the last 6 months, and it's starting to get a lot louder. So, I decided to talk about it!
Blogging has changed drastically over the last year, especially with the stratospheric rise of Instagram.
I've seen many people lamenting this change, saying that they wish blogging was still a case of shooting outfit photos against a wall and reviewing lipsticks, rather than the immaculately displayed croissants in a 5* hotel room, the "perfectly undone" candid in bed wearing dainty lace bra, Gucci bags everywhere, and amazing photo shootings in Maldives that wouldn't be on the pages of Vogue - if, of course Vogue didn't have such a vendetta against bloggers.
I've heard people saying that is very hard to start now blogging because they can no longer keep up, and they feel disappointed. I feel also disappointed because I know the industry has changed to a place I feel I don't belong in anymore. Maybe I never did. And what's worse, seeing it as such an unattainable place where it feels like it's not even worth starting. It's so sad thing and I do find myself a little bit tired of all these cliche shots.
This aspirational life is starting to get a little less #GOALS and a little more meh. There’s just too much of it. Instagram became a little bit oversaturated. Did you know there is a page named @insta_repeat on Instagram, that shows us there is a virtual and creative crisis. I hear people everyday asking for influencers to drop the mask for a second and talk about the time they fell down the stairs because we’ve all been there and done that.
Social media has become a shiny veneer for real life, dipped in glue and rolled in famous brands. You can be whoever you want to be on your blog, depending on your commitment to fooling the public. Instagram feeds are so impeccably refined it’s become a place not of reality, but of fantasy instead. But everyone has started to get a bit cynical towards this cool representation of life, with all of the gloss and glitter, and people seem to be rejecting these picture-perfect internet stars. I have nothing against the people who have achieved all of this. Don't get me wrong! I'm also posting my best pictures and selfies. At least I kept my face and body natural. No plastic surgeries!
It just seems that everyone want something that feels more real. More relatable – mixing the bad along with the good – posting the kind of things that make us shout at our phone screens OH MY GOD THAT IS SO ME!
Case in point: the rise of #relatable internet people. Just take Violet Benson of @DaddyIssues_ account, who made it big by anonymously posting real-talk, no bullshit memos.
But we all know every single industry goes through changes and we all have to adapt to survive, don't we?
But yes, the blogging game has changed massively since I started. Alina Vlad has been around for just over four years now, and when I started it was a totally different playground. Instagram was still, technically, in its infancy - especially in terms of being a marketing tool - and the word influencer wasn't on everyone's lips. The bloggers at the top of their game were way ahead of many others - The Blonde Salad, Kristina Bazan and Micah Gianelli - creating beautifully styled street shots photographed by professionals.
But whilst those superstar bloggers remain at the top, and others have risen to their level, that cavern has started to close up with "micro-influencers" filling the space in between. There were a lot of online discussions on what a micro influencer is, which in fairness is anything but small.
A major transition that happened for me was when I published my first outfit post that had been shot with a professional photographer and my page views tripled. Professional paid photographers were once something only the biggest and best bloggers had, snapping photos in the streets etc. Now, it's something far more attainable. If I taught my mother or boyfriend to shoot some of my blog photos then trust me, you can probably teach yours too. Plus selfie culture it's not half as cringe as it used to feel, because if you go around the city on a Saturday morning, everyone else is doing it. I remember when I started how ashamed and embarrassed I was getting when taking photos on the street.
Rather than going straight to the necks of the bloggers who are succeeding by creating their own digital space, I think we have to take a little look first at the industry that allowed this to change. If you are in the fashion world, for sure you heard that "print is dying and digital is the future". Everyone had to adapt to an online market where news and entertainment is cheap and often free. Publications haven't always got it right, and it's left a place which has slowly been filled by super bloggers and Influencers.
And this is where bloggers came in. Where magazines have failed to adapt, bloggers have been accepting of adjusting to an ever-changing digital world, with an online arena of luxurious photography, enjoyable content and perhaps most importantly, a single face and personality to connect with. We've seen a shift in the kind of content people want to consume. Social media has created a nosey, voyeuristic society that wants to know about others lives, and this has created scope for this industry to grow.
So what audiences have began to want is that in between: a tailored, more personal selection of beauty and fashion inspiration from girls/women they relate to - rather than a monthly magazine populated by models and signed with #fashion. And, of course, producing and consuming this content has become so much easier - affordable, easy-to-use cameras, photoshop, Facetune, fast fashion makes clothing cheap, online shopping makes it easier for people to buy, Instagram makes it easier to share/consume/like.
But has it gone a little too far? Bloggers were loved for being the girl's next door, your online best friend, and having a relatable authenticity that differentiated themselves from the magazines and models.
One of the issues of the changing landscape of blogging, however, is constructed content vs reality. There's creating inspiring, stylish content, and then there's creating a total fantasy land that is in no way a reflection of your life, and effectively seems deceptive to the audience.
But where does that line lie?
Blogger or non-blogger, we all post the prettiest photos of ourselves on the internet, and write about the most positive aspects and experiences. I mean, would you rather show your best side or your worst side on the web, realistically?
For me is simple. I know already people don't come to my page for bad selfies. So, a bad selfie or picture when my Instagram is a marketing tool, it's not exactly good practice. Even if I'm always complaining that I don't feel like I have the best pictures. Yes, I know! I keep comparing with other fashion bloggers, even if my close friends always telling me that my feed is amazing.
My opinion is it's better to show a bit of a reality amongst all of the gloss because it shows everyone else that we're human rather than an airbrushed digital girl. I'm always trying to do this, through my posts and my topics and content ideas. Instagram stories also shows a bit more reality, although I don't like to talk to much there. I find it very childish and without significance. Sometimes I ask myself why people would want to see how I cut my apple and where I wash my hair? Really? My friends are always making fun of this, because they say nobody's giving a shit about these things us bloggers are putting on Instastories. Although this is arguably becoming a more glossy and rehearsed extension to sell ourself on, too.
No matter how much I understand the extent of bullshitting there is on social media, I think it's important and responsible for Influencers to yes, show what's glamorous in their life, but not pretend and showcase their life to be something it's not.
On a personal note, I welcome the change that's happened in blogging over the past few years. This changing landscape has allowed me to become more creative, push my boundaries and learn new skills.
Let's not forget what had always been at the core of blogging: realism and authenticity.
I try and show a degree of balance online. I try and be real about issues that affect us. I stopped using photoshop to make myself look slimmer because I think it's wrong. Now, I receive more messages in which people are telling me I'm fat...But I don't care anymore because I'm feeling good in my own body. Social media can have a very bad effect on our wellbeing, even if we don't recognised it. It can often makes us feel miserable because we are constantly comparing our lives to others on Instagram, despite knowing that what we see is filtered and edited highlights.
Creating the most exciting and aesthetically well written content is what I want to do, and what I'll keep pushing for - but I always want to do it with a sense of reality. I want to look at my work and think "I am so proud of that". So, I'm trying to keep myself on top of the game - but there's no lying that it's getting harder to do so. Because if you haven't got the funds to continue and loads of expensive outfits, or have hundreds of thousands of followers, means that what you're doing isn't worthy. And when you see that your hard work is not even appreciated or recognised you will never find the ambition and power to continue the game.
It's a debate that's been on my mind and everyone's lips for some time, so I just want to tell you my advices after these years.
Never let anyone else's success rob your joy, or overshadow your own possibilities!
The only limit you have is the one you put on yourself. The great thing about blogging is you can do it whatever way you want to do it. And here's a true fact: I almost didn't start my blog all those years ago because I already felt I had to go TOO FAR that it wasn't worth starting. Still, I took the chance anyway, for the sake of getting experience and having some fun.
No, I'm definitely not at the top right now! I've come a long way, however: the industry changed, and it made new spaces for new people. And trust me, it'll change again. Just don't stop talking about those things that matter to you. I’m a firm believer in looking to the success of others to spur on your own personal progress. So we need to show off the Chanel bag we worked so hard to buy, that dream holiday, and our new car because people do want to see it and we deserve to show it. They just want to see a little more realism, honesty, and roughness too.
Life can be glossy, but then life is also spent in pyjamas eating pizza. So surely it’s more powerful and at least relatable – for followers to think “Yes! I do that too!” with someone they admire more often than “I wish my life was more like that.”