I’m sure, at some point we’ve all been guilty of it. Conforming to the latest beauty fad, obsessing over another Instagram girl crush whose waist to hip ratio is physically NOT possible (and probably not real) or feeling the need to edit your content because perhaps it’s deemed ‘inappropriate’…
I’m holding my hand up loud and proud here and saying I am 100% guilty of this conformity, and quite frankly, I’ve pissed myself off in the process. A lot. Having been in the beauty industry for 6 years now, I’ve more often than not fallen into the trap of comparing myself to every other journalist and blogger out there – from altering articles I’ve written to be more socially ‘acceptable’ and less conversational (altogether boring AF to read) to doctoring my images to be more airbrushed and less ‘real’. I’ve listened to family members when they’ve told me to stop swearing in my posts (I have the pottiest mouth in the world), to them telling me I shouldn’t caption a photo that way. I’ve fallen victim to listening to friends of mine telling me I pose too much and being offended when brands tell me my content ‘isn’t the right fit unfortunately darling’ (insert eye roll).
So, why am I writing a blog post all about this? To vent and complain? Nope. I’m writing this, because in the process of all this conformity, it’s so very easy to lose yourself, the real YOU and what you’re all about. It’s easy to fall in with the pack and fit the social ‘norm’, and in the short term, that can be great. You may temporarily appeal to more brands, because your written content resembles an advertorial, and you may get more Instagram followers because your skin is so flawless (and airbrushed to face-transplant proportions). But is this maintainable? And better still, is it making you happy?
It wasn’t making me happy. After leaving the world of journalism 18 months ago, I took the plunge to branch out by myself and enter into the world of blogging full time. Scary stuff. I was definitely at my most vulnerable and easily influenced by anyone and everyone. I felt overwhelmed with the pressure of working for myself and said yes to working with any brand that got in contact. Many of which, weren’t brands I loved, nor had any resonance with. That was my first learning curve; only work with people/brands that you’re passionate about. It’s reflected in your work and makes for difficult reading if you aren’t really into what you’re writing about.
Talking of content, do you ever worry too, about the types of photos you share to social media? The images you upload to social media that you umm and ahh about for hours, upload, then immediately remove because you’re worried about how that photo may be perceived by others? Take an innocent bikini photo for example. On holiday, a press trip or on a shoot, you’re loving life and feeling good about yourself. Up goes a photo of yourself smiling away but half naked. No big deal surely? Oh but it is. I can flit from being concerned about cellulite being unattractive to others or worrying about being perceived as arrogant or vain, the stigma that can come with one simple photo is vast. Remember this though: those people that label a photo arrogant or vain without knowing the person, possess opinions that should matter to no one, most of all you.
Where am I going with all this then? My main aim is not only to better my own self doubts and constant self criticism, but to also appeal to anyone else out there who has the very same feelings. For those whose feeling is that they have to compete with someone else, by being as funny or clever or physically attractive, in order to fit in. Whatever your profession may be, whatever your hair colour, body type or skin colour, it’s this competition that leads to conforming to a made-up ideal. So here’s an idea, let’s shout about who YOU really are and use that to your advantage…
Here’s me. I’m 5’9, and am no lean-limbed model. I come with a sizeable arse and boobs to match. I don’t have a flat stomach most days, I don’t have naturally long, luscious hair and I have a fiery temper. I have a razor sharp tongue and I use sarcasm over soppiness. I routinely sport spots and never have supermodel skin. I do however have more ambition than other people I know, I can chat to anyone and everyone for hours, I have a grin that makes my eyes disappear and I like to consider myself fairly creative. On that same positive note, I have won 2 awards in the last year for my blog and for that, should probably pat myself on the back during those times when I feel like a failure.
Celebrating your positives, is a step towards appreciating yourself for being you, and a step away from trying to be somebody you’re not. It’s two fingers up at anybody who tells you that you should be any different and it’s a mindset I’m going to try to continually shout about.
I want to spread this thought process and hopefully there’ll be some of you that want to too. Join me and upload a photo to Instagram, explaining what’s good about you (whether it’s just the day you’re having, your job, something physical about yourself, or a friend or family member) and tag me. I’ll be picking a winner of my favourite post, who will receive a beauty box of amazing products. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram too, at ‘bygabriellalondon’. I’ll be choosing a winner on the 19th November!
All outfits by Next, www.next.co.uk
SHOP THE POST