Sometimes, you shouldn't believe everything you read or see on blogs. I mean, duh! It's the internet, full of stories and anecdotes-- possibly made up! This, however, is a true story. It is time to get honest about something...
I walked into the West Elm store carrying 6 shopping bags: a Michael Kors, a Swarovski, a Forever 21, a Nordstrom, a Steve Madden, and a Free People.
The cutest staff member from WE came up to me, gushed about loving Michel Kors, and asked if I had had a fun shopping day.
"ERRRRR," I blushed, "well, this is a little embarrassing..."
I stopped mid sentence; do I tell her?
She leaned forward as I struggled with what to say.
"Well, I am a blogger, and I am working with this mall. I wanted to look like I have been shopping all day, so I brought these bags from home to take the photo with. This Michael Kors bag, I am pretty sure it is from a gift for my Mom for Christmas, it isn't mine at all!" My face was crimson red now.
She chuckled, "that's actually a relief, I wondered how bloggers shopped all day and why I wasn't!"
"Smoke and mirrors," I replied.
I walked away, telling myself that I could only look -- okay and touch -- because this place is out of our budget.
What I am getting at is, what you see is NOT what you get. I may be shooting myself in the foot for a veryyyy long time with this post, but someone has got to let the cat out of the bag! There is this very infamous post going around at the moment titled, "Utah: Lifestyle Porn Capital of the World". It made me cringe. I also felt terrible for the the victim of the author's anecdote, both for being ridiculed, and for feeling the need to keep up with appearances. The post made my fellow blogging friends rear back in both anger and fear.
My non-blogging friends both clapped and sighed, feeling comforted that what was being portrayed on blogs wasn't true.
Well, it isn't. But, even so, it is. Stick with me, I will explain.
I wake up every morning for work at 5:50. Sometimes I push it to 6:10. I brush my teeth, wash my face, throw on my favorite black pants, a comfy shirt layered with a cardigan, forget the makeup, and rush out the door with oatmeal in my hand -- but sometimes nothing in hand, and I stop for McD's Egg White Delight -- by 6:30 to get to work by 7. The bare minimum is put in as far as getting ready; the most effort that a typical day gets is a braid when my natural hair is just too unruly.
On the day of a photoshoot, prep is a bit different. I wash my hair the night before so that there is time to air dry. I wake up at 9, style my hair for an hour, put on makeup for 30 minutes (sometimes I have the luxury of having someone else style my hair and do my makeup), and get 4-6 outfits hauled into my backseat with a duffle bag of shoes. I mean, I look fresh and clean, but in an hour, I will look pretty mean after having changed four times in a car backseat. The only way to jerry rig a pair of tight jeans on in the middle of the summer with leather seats is with maximum effort. All the outfits are captured in a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, by a professional photographer, and sent back to me to post for content over the course of 2 weeks.
Unless I am meeting up with friends or going on a hot date with my husband, I go home, change into my yoga leggings, and curl up to Netflix.
The two are very different snapshots of my life. The one portrayed on my blog and Instagram is often polished, pulled together, and pretty thought out. Every other day of the week, I look like your average teacher or SAHM from Utah (they love their Lululemon active wear)!
Blogging has brought me amazing opportunities that, yes, if I wasn't in the industry, I wouldn't have the luxury to. There are frequent social gatherings. Companies gift items. Payment is made for product to be promoted. Services are comped. The back-end of things is much grittier though. There is a ton of work that goes into keeping the blog and social media relevant, networking, promoting, negotiating, shooting product. What may seem as a life handed to someone, is sometimes quite the opposite.
Even so, it scares me to think that what people see online may influence them to think their lives are not perfect enough. People may see someone they follow and think that their highlights are their everyday. It just isn't true. It isn't obtainable (okay, maybe it's attainable if you are Melania Trump). A lot of the students that I teach know of my social media. When I first had students figuring out about my blog, I was concerned that when they saw me at school in average outfits that they would see through my brand. Then, as I grew more comfortable with the familiarity, I realized something: the kids responded to my real life me and my blog me as the same person. It came to be that they understood that while my blog outfits are fun for going out, dressing up, having fun, they were not how everyday life is. It was because of this realization that I chose to no longer wear makeup at school (with exception to special occasions like yearbook pictures). I wanted the kids to see the real me in life and the real me on my bog, but still be able to differentiate the two. There is a time for brains and there is a time for beauty. Both can get you far in life, but to keep your wits about you is far more important.
So, do me a solid. Next time you see your favorite influencer posting a photo at lunch with a "free" Gucci bag then heading out for shopping, while you are stuck at work, remember this: by the time the picture was taken, her lunch was probably cold, the Gucci bag was probably gifted for trade, she might not actually be wearing makeup behind those sunglasses, and the shopping trip might include empty shopping bags.
Don't ever think for one second that your life is ordinary compared to someone else's feed. For every perfect makeup selfie taken, there are at least 10 throwout shots that didn't make the favorites in their iPhone.
But, to the dude Mike that wrote the article comparing lifestyle blogs to porn, I'd like to tell you to take it down a notch. The P word is a heavy one. It carries a lot of weight for a lot of people. You may have had excellent click-bait (well done!), but let us all sit back, take a breath, be grateful for what we do have, and remember that if someone's life looks better than ours, there are two options: 1. wallow in pity that they have everything handed to them or 2. use it to fuel the fire and take action to make our lives what we want them to be.
Red Velvet Skirt (similar, mine was thrifted)
Beatles Band Tee (in white for $17)
Grey Backpack Bag (similar, mine is sold out)
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