Social Commentary

Should Bloggers be Relatable?

Endless unboxings of the new ‘it’ bag, swanky European press trips, perfectly lacquered nails, voluminous blow-dries, never photographed twice in the same outfit and an aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed – Oh, to be a blogger. 

There’s an inherent irony in it.

Me. Sitting at my nine-to-five desk. The second time this week I’ve worn the same outfit. Counting down minutes until lunch, where I will savour the delicacy that is instant soup.

Somehow I will find myself reading an article or watching a video of the likes of Lydia Elise Millen or Clair Channelle on my lunch break – two incredibly glamorous thirty-something year old women living in the English Countryside in French provincial style homes who often collaborate with Jo Malone, Manolo Blanhik, ByTerry, De Beers Jewellers and Luisaviaroma.

I’ll become enthralled in the lifestyle of these bloggers – the endless outfits, the styling of the six-thousand dollar handbags and their home renovation progress. I’ll momentarily forget about the differences in our lifestyle and will become lost in theirs. It’s like having an ultra-wealthy, successful, beautiful friend whose photos you always like, but never like yours back.

Whilst there is a world of difference between us – namely my constant struggle of living frugally in hopes of one day owning a home, the balancing act that is trying to juggle a work/life/university balance and still living at home (don’t judge me) – I forget about the different stages we are at in life.

Unlike my counterpart viewers however, I refrain from hurling abuse, snarky comments and hate towards aspirational bloggers whose lifestyles vary from mine.

I’m not bitter about it.

To the contrary –

Kill it, Sis.

LEM InstagramCC Instagra,

Never was it more apparent to me how divisive aspiration blogging can be than seeing the response to Lydia Elise Millen’s video ‘How to Nail Christmas for Her’. Audiences were up-in-arms about how ridiculous it was for a blogger to advocate for purchasing the ByTerry Limited Edition Imperlious, a lip balm encased that in a box of pink roses available for the price tag of near two-hundred pounds. I appreciate that it can be annoying for the best of us when a blogger is advocating for purchasing a 200 dollar lipbalm, when we merely have 20 dollars to live off for the next week. Whilst the lip balm in question is very expensive and unattainable for some, many viewers couldn’t grasp the premise that if you don’t agree – don’t buy it. If the blogger’s values don’t align with your – don’t watch them. If you prefer relatable bloggers – unsubscribe from aspirational bloggers. Just as you have the right to watch the content you want, bloggers have every right to post the content they want without recourse, bullying or having GuruGossip forums dedicated to them.

Like everyone else, bloggers are people. People are complex creatures. We are multifaceted. Whilst I  enjoy beautiful shoes and handbags, I too pride myself on being the type of girl who will sniff out what night the local Thai has the best specials and will be happily walk in wielding a $4 bottle of Aldi wine. I too imagine that aspirational bloggers live the same complex lives we do. Whilst aspiratonal bloggers  might rarely be seen without their Chanel Caviar Classic Double Flap – behind closed doors they may have a pantry full of home-brand or a car bumping along since the 1980’s. Whether bloggers are forthcoming or not, no one can have it all.

Much alike television shows, individual’s preferences towards bloggers and Youtube channels will vary. What some will watch religiously, others will criticise to no end. We all resort to Youtube and blogs for different content, different forms of escapism, messages and experiences. There is no right or wrong way to Youtube and blog. For the sake of clarity, YouTubers have no responsibility to you or I to be relatable or act ina way we expect. Their lives are no more democratic than yours or mine.

It is important to note that just because a blogger doesn’t disclose to their audiences that they too have personal issues, doesnt mean their lives are perfect. I am certain that aspirational bloggers too have financial concerns and responsibilities, family issues, health scares, experience poor mental health, struggle balancing their lives and also argue with their Instagram perfect life partner. Don’t be naive in thinking we aren’t all fighting our own battles, whether they be on camera or not. Like us, bloggers have to go to work with a brave face even when things aren’t okay – thankfully though, neither you nor I will ever have to front millions of viewers and pretend everything is okay. 

It goes without question that there are two styles of bloggers – the aspirational and the relatable.

The relatable blogger resembles your best friend. The kind of girl who has no filter – she says what she thinks. She talks about her financial situation, that boyfriend she never got over, the type of girl who would walk into your house as if it were her own and raid your fridge without invitation. She has invaluable life advice, is unreserved with her experiences and is willing to put it all out there, even if her grandma sees and hears what no grandma should.

The aspirational blogger on the other hand is the type of girl we all want to be, but would feel uncool around. She is the girl whose social media you covertly stalk (but never follow), the girl who always acelled in her career, the girl who would never sweat in personal health and development class, the girl always dating the boy of your dreams and drove in and out of the school gates with the roof of her convertible Mini Cooper down.

Brands looking to collaborate or sponsor influencers are not indifferent to this image. Whilst the relatable blogger gets the Topshop, H&M and Best and Less sponsorship, the aspirational blogger gets to jet set across the world with Chanel, gets front row tickets at Fashion Weeks and is sponsored by Audi and Mercades Benz. Brands recognise that low-cost low-involvement purchases will align best with relatable bloggers, whereas high-cost high-involvement purchases will see better returns with aspirationals. As my mother always says, ‘know your audience.’

A sentiment that I often see online is the all too common ‘you’ve changed’. Often disgruntled audiences of former relatable bloggers turned aspirational bloggers voice anger and disappointment that content has changed. Understandably, audiences may feel grief when their best friend transforms into the cool Mini Cooper driver. It must be understood however that the more successful a blogger becomes, the more money they make. With the new-found financial position, their lifestyle and content is bound to change. Are we therefore voicing our discontent that our best friend is enjoying her successes instead of leading her cheer squad? Do bloggers not have the right to enjoy their successes and development without being stagnated?

Whilst I understand the frustration felt witnessing your favourite blogger turning into a person you can no longer identify with, living a lifestyle far removed for your own – sometimes you have to move on. There are bloggers I watched religiously too who I can no longer identify with. Their views are different. Their lives are different. We grew apart, just like friends sometimes do.  Whilst I have either unsubscribed or no longer consumer their content, that doesn’t mean I am bitter or won’t cheer for their successes. They owe nothing to me and I am not entitled to criticise their lifestyle as it’s their content, their channel, their creativity and their work.

At the end of the day we are all looking for bloggers we can relate with to some extent – whether it be the type of girl we are or the type of girl we want to be. Whether you prefer relatable or aspirational bloggers, you and I have no right to criticise someone’s content and lifestyle when we can simply find someone else we like. 

Just like your year eight love told you oh so many years ago:

‘sometimes people just outgrow one another –

you deserve to be happy and maybe someone else can make you happier’.

 

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