This is an unusual anniversary to celebrate, today it’s been a whole year since I posted a selfie to my personal social media. Yes, I’ve still been in photos, but none of my usual posy, look at how fabulous my make up and colourful hair is type of post that I was so regularly sharing. So, why have I been selfie free for a year and what did I learn? Here’s some musings from me sin selfie.
It all started a year ago when one of those “Your Year in Review” type things came up for Instagram and naturally I took part. In a year of so many big changes for me, it was interesting to know what content “worked” for me in a commercial/statistical sense. This was the year I’d relocated to Barcelona; travelled a bit; had a lot of fun and actually made an effort to return to blogging, even if it wasn’t on my usual topics. 9/10 of my top posts for the year were selfies and it did not make me feel good or fulfilled. All this hard work and life changes and still the thing that statistically gets me noticed is my face.I am more than just a face.
It’d be different if those statistics related to comments or real life interaction, but no, it’s just likes from random people on the internet and a small percentage of real life friends. The thought of random people online being about to recognise me and perhaps admiring my face just kinda creeped me out a bit too, maybe I’ve watched too much Catfish, maybe it was something else, I needed to think about it. So, I decided to make a big change and to have a year off selfies to regroup, rethink and reassess how I wanted to be represented online and what was to come next in my adventure. I want my legacy to be about more than just my face and colourful hair, which I think is only natural?
So, what has this year free of selfies helped me to learn?
I can live without make-up and still feel beautiful…
I’d only ever take a selfie when my hair and make-up were looking perfect, it wasn’t real. I have never worn make-up every single day, it’s too much effort and being self employed, unnecessary most of the time. The way I was using selfies made it out like I did wear make-up all the time, I no longer felt comfortable adding to the problem that is over filtered, over made up faces, especially knowing that I have some young female minds following me who I know are looking up to me. I wanted to show them that they are more than just their appearance. I’m very fortunate to have a boyfriend who tells me I’m beautiful every single day, even when my hair’s greasy and I haven’t showered. This is way more powerful to me than getting 100+ likes on a made up selfie.
This revelation is also helping me to go through another phase of de-cluttering, essential before moving house again anyway! Just yesterday, I filled yet another carrier bag of ex-beauty blogger gubbins that I no longer want or need. I miss being able to buy new products, I haven’t bought anything new in a long time, but now that my collection is downsized when I do eventually purchase new treats they’ll be necessary and not frivolous additions to my now smaller make-up collection. Keep things that bring you joy and chuck things that don’t inspire you.
I learnt to enjoy make-up in a new way…
Inspired by one of my heroes, Alex Box, I also started experimenting with minimal make up instead of my usual full face of neo-Vintage colourfulness. I found new techniques and rediscovered products that had gone unloved by totally changing up my approach to wearing make-up. And I’m not talking that bullshit “no make up makeup” which still requires at least 10 luxury products to achieve (WTF?) I still play with colour and I still can’t resist shimmer and sparkle. What I did discover was that it didn’t need to be perfect, I didn’t need to apply makeup in the obvious way, or the way that being a beauty blogger had taught me. Mineral foundation and a bright matte lip colour is all that is needed most of the time!
And my hair? My signature colourful hair that has been almost every colour of the rainbow is coming back to being natural, with what has grown into a pretty awesome blue ombre effect. I haven’t been to a hairdresser in almost two years and I enjoy cutting my hair and fringe myself, maybe I should have been a hairdresser? I’m re-learning how to embrace my natural beauty and it feels good. Big shout out to Alicia Keys for bringing natural/low-fi beauty to the mainstream too, I hope she too will have inspired others to remember that they don’t always need cosmetics to feel beautiful. If you want to wear bright pink lipstick with no foundation, do it. If you want to wear eyeshadow but no mascara, that’s ok too. Make your own make-up rules, don’t let anyone pressure you into having to fit a particular aesthetic and next time you lust after that “must-have” beauty buy, think twice about whether it will actually enrich your life or not. It’s your face, do what makes you happy and remember that happy is different for each individual.
Finding a place to fit in is difficult…
It’s become very clear that being “just a blogger” isn’t the route for me and I’m grateful that I’ve settled on this mindset. I’m far happier painting, sewing or baking cookies and there’s no need for this to be constantly documented online. I have been documenting my art, as it’s something I’d really like to grow into some sort of income at some point, but when you switch from one audience to another it’s slow going. Since leaving the beauty blogger crowd that was my support network for over 4 years and super important to me during my time in London, I do feel like I’ve been a bit of a floater (HA!) not that I have ever fit that neatly into any particular one box. Maybe that was the problem?
Social media and blogger world is very strange at the moment as things get more and more commercially and statistically driven. If you don’t fit neatly into a specific category or niche it seems to confuse people and work against you. Which is totally bizarre considering that people generally have more than one passion or interest and are usually more complex than what you’re seeing published online. It’s become a game where beauty bloggers spend all their time interacting only with beauty bloggers and gaming enthusiasts are in a bubble of other gaming enthusiasts and so on, this is not representative of real life. There’s even an increasing number of people who only interact with other people who share their exact set of moral and ethical views so much so that it can make you feel uncomfortable sharing your own opinion on a topic, which isn’t doing much for changing the world.
With a tool as powerful as the internet and social media, surely we should be doing more to accept difference and variety rather than living in a vacuum of like-minded folk? Let’s do more to diversify the conversations we have on social, accept and celebrate people’s quirks and stories and not worry so much about having to be perfect. Let’s be more than just the selfie generation.
Personal social media stats don’t make me happy….
I try very hard not to look at my own stats, but having been a social media professional for so long it’s difficult sometimes as it comes naturally. I can tell you that my Twitter following has stayed roughly the same for over two years, just constantly fluctuating. What does that do to your brain when you’re over thinking it? It makes you fucking paranoid; what did I say wrong? Why do people not like me anymore? Not very productive when the majority of those abandoning your ship are likely people that you will never meet in real life and didn’t really care about YOU anyway. Minimising how much I look at my own personal stats has given me more space in my brain for other things, things that are 100% more important than how many followers I have.
🌱🌱So many makeup artists have said to me that they dare not put there more creative or experimental work up on instgram or do makeup looks that won’t be ‘liked ‘ sticking more to the looks that will be accepted rather than rejected …..😞Don’t let the ‘likes’ define your personal style and practise …..’ .⭐⭐there just opinions and also rember people feel judged by what they like and dislike also !!! So this intense feeling of judgment makes people feel very limited and an unable to really express there true feeling s 😞So much pressure on what started out as a free expressive space to share expression through pictures.. ..💪👌👍❤. #alexbox #masterd #makeupmasterd #makeupsrtist #creativity #artist #journey #makeup #makeuplover #makeupartistworlwide #makeupguru #mua #beauty #innerpeace #mindfulness #mindful #peace #love #me
With this in mind, I’ve become very brutal in editing down who I follow and interact with. I’m happy to have escaped a lot of the drama that came along with blogging, I don’t think you can avoid that drama when you put a big group of privileged, white middle class, 20 something girls together. It doesn’t matter if your unfollow means you loose a follower, it doesn’t matter if people are bitching about you behind your back, you can’t control what other people do, so why worry about it? Do what works for you, follow who the fuck you want to and interact with people who genuinely add value to your life. Social media is supposed to be social and we all need to do more to make it less about the stats and less about presenting a false version of reality. Social media is also a great opportunity to have conversations bigger than what lipstick you’re wearing in your selfie, giving us direct access to a huge variety of interesting and influential people.
My creativity needs to be embraced and exercised whether people like it or not…
With hindsight, I can see that the reason I started blogging was that it was a creative outlet that was straightforward to set up and stick with. I’ve always been a creative person, but over the past 8+ years of blogging on this site, my skills had become more and more limited to writing and photography, especially considering these are the main skills I use in my job too. I can do more than that and enjoy variety.
In the past year I’ve started drawing and painting almost daily (thank you for Inktober and the ongoing encouragement from Miz for kick starting this) I can 100% say that I find this far more rewarding than blogging. But, what do the stats say? The internet says it would still rather see filtered pictures of my face. Isn’t that boring? I can’t let this hold me back though, this is testament to why I don’t want to look at personal stats anymore. If you have a passion for something or have the desire to create something, you just have to do it, whether your existing audience gels with it or not. Build it and they will come or so the saying goes.
The best creative content in the world comes from passion and a need to express yourself and not from commercial gain. If you’re going into a project thinking, what money can I make from this? I can guarantee you that the result won’t be as awesome than something that you created because you had an overwhelming personal need to create it whether you were paid or not. The same goes for content created with the aim to gain higher statistics or a level of fame, will popularity actually improve your happiness? Stay true to yourself and your personal vision and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Be aware of how we can be so easily swayed and influenced, be smart and be yourself.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments or via @JayneKitsch on all the usual platforms.