On Blogging & Consumerism

On Blogging & Consumerism

I'd like to preface this by saying most people probably wouldn't look at the amount of stuff I own and call me a minimalist, but over the last couple of years I'd like to think I've become a lot more careful with my purchases and that I'm heading in that direction more and more. I now feel a lot happier letting go of things that I know someone else will enjoy more than me. This goes across both my beauty stash as well as clothes and most things that I used to buy a lot of. I'm really not trying to be preachy in this post and I hope it doesn't read that way, but I just want to share my experience and some of my thoughts in case it resonates with any of you.

On Blogging & Consumerism  |  Little Henry Lee

In the world of blogging, even before PR companies and major brands started paying attention, we were blogging about the nice things we bought ourselves and what we thought of them. Back in those days I was much more focused on the fashion/lifestyle blogging world and didn't really start to dip my toes into beauty until about 4 years ago. But the principle is the same, we would post about what we could afford to buy.

When blogging really took off and PR companies started sending big bloggers freebies left, right and centre it grew very muddy in terms of what was bought with someone's own money and what was sent for free. These days readers are much more aware of this than we once were, although I believe it's the law only in the UK that ~social media influencers~ have to disclose when they're receiving money in exchange for endorsing a product/service, thereby making it an advertisement. My opinion has always been that it's in good taste (as well as being ethical) to disclose freebies/discounts or when you're working with a brand in exchange for money. If you don't it can make everything else you've done seem untrustworthy, although I guess not everyone works this way.

But this isn't really a post about ethics in blogging. My point in talking about it at all is whether you've grown up with blogging as an everyday part of your life or if you've only just discovered your first few, it definitely has an impact on what you buy. And once brands started realising it, that's when people stopped being just "bloggers" and started being "influencers". My blog isn't anywhere near a level where I'd consider myself an "influencer" and I'm perfectly happy with that, but I've been influenced a lot by bloggers in my time. While I mostly consider this to be a positive thing, especially in terms of developing my personal style and learning about makeup and skincare, there's an undertone of consumerism and enabling that has been bothering me lately.

On Blogging & Consumerism  |  Little Henry Lee

I'm not really talking about the hard sell (although some Morphe-affiliate YouTubers need to give it a rest) I'm referring to a more subtle thing, which is the pervasive idea that everyday people who share their lives online must have a new outfit to wear every day or constantly buy new makeup to try. I don't blame professional bloggers for this one bit, after all it's their job to create interesting content that people want to look at/read, and a lot of them are also a great source for finding out what's new, but it's the "I'm an everyday person" combined with "look at my designer wardrobe and 600 lipsticks" that I don't think is very realistic. The average person can't afford that, and nor should they even want to because it shouldn't be something to aspire to. Most people can't buy the entire line of the new Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks, and unless you're an ~influencer~ they're not going to land on your doorstep. But what person is going to suit every single shade, let alone use them all anyway? Why is that even something an everyday person should want?

I'm not saying professional bloggers are all part of the big corporate machine, after all they're just regular people talking about their lives and things they enjoy, and of course there are thousands of people who ask for this kind of information from them. But it's so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to buy whatever new thing is getting hyped up because they're all saying how great it is, even though that's not realistic for most people. I'm sure blog readers have the same level of curiosity about new products as those who write them, but only bloggers, not their readers, use these products as content. So while I've never done it, I'm sure there are a lot of pros (or even hobby bloggers like me) who have found themselves buying products purely for the sake of creating content. It's a bizarre thing to watch a YouTuber who uses 95% high end products do a drugstore haul and then never talk about any of the products they bought ever again, and the bottom line is that it normalises constant shopping.

It's just part of the way that blogging has changed from posting about life as it happens to scheduling and "creating content" and needing to do things in real life to come up with it. I think what I'm trying to say is, blogger or not, you don't need an entirely new outfit every time you post, and you don't need to try every new beauty launch just to stay on top of things. Whether you blog in your spare time like me or you don't blog at all, it helps to keep in mind that the super pro-bloggers are a different breed. The average person can't have the life that they have, and in fact bloggers don't even have the life we see online, because no one really does. For me it's never really been about jealousy or wanting what someone else has (except for the part where they get paid to travel), but I'm sure for some people it is. I'm just glad to be getting some perspective on the whole thing and to no longer be so enabled by blogger hype and swayed by every new opinion and new release I see. It's not just the sponsored posts that encourage us to buy mindlessly, it's the sheer volume of media we consume that's focused on new launches and new things we need to try.

On Blogging & Consumerism  |  Little Henry Lee

Last year I could happily look at the avalanche of holiday launches and Black Friday sales and barely feel the pang of desire. I don't mean that in a smug way, it's more of a personal measure of "look how far I've come". Now that I've got a pretty good idea of what's going to work for me and what's not, I no longer feel the urge to try everything that gets a good review to see what people are talking about. I'm by no means perfect, I still buy on impulse from time to time, and honestly a lot of the reason why I don't buy much these days is because I have less disposable income than ever before because I have more responsibilities than I've had in the past. But I'm now at a point where I'd rather love every individual thing in my wardrobe or dressing table instead of keeping them full for the sake of having options. Ultimately my experiences with clothes and makeup are about fun and self-expression, and being a hardcore minimalist takes away too much of my fun for me to see it working for me, but I'm also glad that I don't feel like I need to constantly drown myself in new things all the time.

As well as slowing down on the shopping, I'm also pretty big on decluttering. These days a declutter video on YouTube is vastly more exciting to me than a massive makeup collection, and I get just as much joy out of finishing something up as I get out of buying something new. I'm no stranger to a declutter of my own stash, but there are always things I keep because they're pretty or they're for special occasions or they were expensive. That's a hard barrier to break through, particularly with clothes, but I'm finally getting there. Ultimately I don't believe I need to keep using one eyeshadow palette or one blush until I finish it because that's an example of taking my fun away, but I also don't need to hang on to things that I don't reach for. They take up space and distract me from all the things I do really like.

Like I said this isn't meant to be preachy, I just wanted to open the conversation and talk about my experience with blogs and how they've influenced my buying behaviour. I think the bottom line is that blogs can be a fantastic source of inspiration and new ideas, reviews and recommendations and news about new launches. But they shouldn't make you feel pressured to own more or keep up with anyone else. It shouldn't make you feel inferior or envious. Of course you could have the same experience without ever reading a blog by being jealous of a friend who seems to have more than you, but if you're a reader or writer of blogs, we can't deny the influence they have. I never felt particularly out of control with my spending or the desire to own more things in a negative way, but I'm still very glad to have taken a step back and looked at the way blogs have influenced me to buy unnecessarily. Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and your own experiences!