Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beauty Community Standards

This is something that has tormented me for quite some time, though I have always brushed off posting about it for one reason or another. Maybe it's all the things I've been through in my personal life over the past year making me less afraid to vocalize my thoughts on certain things, maybe I'm just feeling grumpy, whatever it is this post is going to be filled with some blunt honesty (from my perspective). And it's quite likely going to offend/piss off some of you. But I'm not here to sugar coat things or amp up the view behind rose colored glasses. Not everything I post to this blog may be "right" (as in I don't necessarily follow the silly rules of the makeup world like applying certain products in such and such order or never wearing a certain color if your skintone is this vs that etc.) however I am always honest whatever I am posting about. I'm human. I make mistakes. I don't always get it right. I am not perfect. Nobody is. And I am ok with that.

I've watched the online beauty community evolve from it's humble message board (aka forum) beginnings into what it currently is, with uber popular beauty bloggers and youtube "stars" who have even managed to start their own lines of products as a result of their online popularity. (Lucky gals who I seriously envy!) Generally speaking, the beauty community is a fabulous place filled with beautiful people who simply want to share their love of beauty products with other folks who share their passion. We don't all have friends and family who are into our hobbies, afterall, and it can be kind of discouraging to try to talk about things we're passionate about with people who are not at all interested. We want to share with people who will get it when we're excited over finding that elusive perfect red lipstick we've been searching high and low for for the past few months, or an eye shadow that's out of this world, the perfect eye liner etc. We want to connect with people who get it, and the internet has helped us make those connections. And that's a beautiful thing.

But there's an ugly side to the beauty community. One that, as the community as a whole has grown, has also grown. There are times the beauty community feels a bit like middle or high school, with certain cliques and if you're not in with the "cool kids" then you're considered a loser, you may even be bullied. If you've not witnessed or been victim to the bullying that happens in the beauty community - you are lucky, and I hope you can hold on to that luck for as long as possible.

My first issue is one that goes hand in hand with youtube. Beauty "gurus". My problem with that is simply this: people tend to act as if just because someone is a "guru" on youtube, that person certainly must know what they are talking about. But here's the thing, something I think a lot of folks somehow missed or have forgotten: when you sign up for youtube, part of creating your channel is setting your expertise level for whatever your given subject is. So, every single beauty "guru" on youtube set that themselves. It is not some magical status granted only to people who have earned it somehow. If I wanted to I could make a channel and set it up saying that I am a "guru" of science. That doesn't mean I know a thing about science - but if I can act like I do, I'll be able to convince a lot of people that I am a science smarty-pants and they'll trust me when I say something ludicrous because, hey, I'm a "guru", I know my stuff! I'm not saying don't trust a "guru" - I'm just saying that it's only a label that in the end, really does not mean a thing.

The bigger, more important issue, however, is this: the catty and rude comments. They're everywhere. Any time a picture is shared via any social platform - there will be ignorance. It's as if people expect anyone who writes/uploads content to be flawless, at all times. If you post to the beauty community, it's like you're held to a different standard. An unrealistic one. I've seen so many hateful comments posted to content that I found fabulous. People put themselves out there and share pictures of their creations - nail art, makeup, a hair style, what have you - and that takes a lot of courage. They're proud of something they put a lot of effort into... and what do they get? Nasty comments. I'm not talking about constructive criticism meant to genuinely be helpful. I mean downright hateful, nasty, bitchiness. About the smallest of things. The eye liner isn't perfectly straight. The cuticles are dry. A few hairs are out of place. The color is "all wrong on that skintone". There are people who look for any flaw, no matter how tiny, and attack it.

I often look through my old posts here and cringe at what I see. I wonder why I was willing to post some of the things I posted. Because they were very obviously flawed. I used to think about removing those old posts. But then I decided not to do that. Because, at the time those posts were made... I was PROUD of what I had accomplished. And after thinking about it some more, I still am. Yeah, my older posts show some sloppy work. Hell even some of my newer stuff, and I'm sure future posts will too! Sometimes stuff slips by your eye and you don't see it till you're uploading the pictures, and by then, if you're me... you're just not too concerned to bother re-doing/fixing it. Sometimes, you just do not have the time to be as careful and precise with your polish/makeup application as you might want to be. There are kids and partners to spend time with, cooking to be done, household chores to be tackled, jobs to deal with etc. and sometimes it's all you can do to manage to sneak in five minutes to swipe some nail polish on or to whip out some makeup for a quick pick-me-up.

I have however fallen into the habit of not always posting things (or even taking pictures at all) because they were not executed as well as they could have been. Because I feel the pressure for things I post to be "perfect".

But the thing is, "perfect" doesn't exist.

Let's be real. "Guru" or not, professional or not, we're all human. We make mistakes. As much as we all love makeup, we have other, more important things to focus on, on a daily basis. And that means sometimes what we beauty bloggers (and vloggers) post isn't going to be as tidy and well done as we'd like it to be. We might not get around to taking a picture of that awesome (though maybe flawed) manicure till it's already showing some signs of wear because we've spent a day or two taking care of our homes, families, and pets. We might have forgotten or not had a chance to snap a picture of some great eye makeup till later in the afternoon so maybe the liner is a little smudged or the colors have creased/faded by the time we can get to it. Maybe our cuticles are not in the best of shape right now but dammit that nail art took all afternoon and we want to show it off before it gets chipped! Where is the harm in that? Does it really warrant a rude comment if someone's skin is not perfect or their application was not how you'd have done it or something like that? No, it does not. Ever. If you have advice to offer, and can do it respectfully, that's one thing. But comments like "Ugly!" or "Ewww that's nasty" etc. are uncalled for.

You don't know what happens in the life of the person whose words you read on their blog, or once the camera stops recording the youtube videos. You don't know the struggles they might be facing. You don't know if they're in a fragile place where rude comments might break them mentally and/or emotionally. Just because someone opens themselves up through blogging/vlogging about makeup, does not mean it's ok to be rude to them. One argument I constantly see that defends rude comments is "If you can't handle it get off the internet". And, to a certain degree I understand and even agree that in certain contexts if you're not liking what you see, walking away is often a good solution. But when you are the target of bullying or rude comments (or someone you love is) - that's a lot easier said than done. Once harsh words have been heard (or in the case of the internet, read) - they can't be taken back. And for some people, they can be extremely difficult to let go of.

You know that saying, from when you were a kid (depending on where you are from you may have not heard it) "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."? It's something that parents often tell little ones as a way to try to soothe hurt feelings and to say "What those bullies said doesn't matter". But I've always hated that saying. Because words DO hurt. Physical wounds heal... but the wounds caused by hateful words are not so easily healed or forgotten. I still remember mean things said to me by another girl when I was in kindergarten. Granted it no longer hurts. But it hurt enough at that time that all these years later it is still remembered. And I'm willing to bet every one of us remembers at least a couple things that were said to us when we were young that really hurt our feelings. That's proof enough, for me, that words are powerful weapons that can leaving lasting scars.

My point is your words have far more power than you might realize. You should choose them carefully. The person behind the computer who you are talking to (or about) may already be struggling, and a few rude words could be the final straw before they break...

But if you choose instead to be kind, your kindness just might be the ray of hope that person needs, that helps give them faith and put a smile on their face.

I'm not saying we all need to live in a land of sunshine and rainbows where nothing ever hurts - that's simply not possible. The troubles we face help us learn and grow. There will always be bullies and hurt feelings and frustration. There will always be tears and sorrow. I just think we need to be less quick to judge and criticize. We need to be more considerate. We need to be more kind to one another. We don't all need to be friends, but showing some respect and kindness toward one another will go a long way.

Being polite to people you don't like doesn't make you fake. It makes you mature and respectful.

If you've gotten nasty comments, if you have been bullied (online or otherwise) - do not be afraid to talk to someone about it. And always remember that you are beautiful, you are talented, you are loved, and you deserve happiness.

xoxo


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