Are Brands Killing Creativity and Self Expression?

Today marks the 7th Anniversary of my blog! Did I have cake? No, but I did have a muffin, surely that counts? Anyway, it's come a long...

Recycled Sari Ombre Top

Today marks the 7th Anniversary of my blog! Did I have cake? No, but I did have a muffin, surely that counts? Anyway, it's come a long way from the good old days of Designer Spray (yes, I cringe at the name!) all the way through to the Fashionicide you see in front of you today. I've lost count of the number of blog makeovers and redesigns I've had, but it's been a lot of fun all the way. But things are very, very different now.

I remember when I first started blogging, I got it into it because there were very few voices for Asian girls on the internet. We were basically the third wheel when it came to magazines as well, often very little by way of advice tailored to our skin tones. We were given some pretty basic 'rules' and anything outside of that narrow spectrum just 'wouldn't suit' us. I started because I wanted to experiment, break these rules and find new things. Basically, a journal expressing my trials and tribulations, hopefully for other Asian girls to find a space that wouldn't tell them what to do, more tell them what they could do.

Over the years, I feel that the whole social media landscape has evolved. There have been some really great things and some really not great things. People are making a living out of this now, and that's pretty amazing when I think about it, but not all the changes have been good. It hasn't been an overnight thing, for the most part, but it feels like there's been a concerted effort by brands to control our definition of beauty.

I've noticed with makeup brands on Instagram in particular, that there's a tendency to feature people with excessively flawless, smooth looking skin, to the point where you have to question whether or not the person is actually human. Of course, there are other issues of representation along the lines of race, gender, size, sexuality etc... It just feels to me that in their pursuit of the inoffensive and vanilla, brands are starting to actually become pretty offensive.

Upcycled Sari  11_

I find it offensive that makeup accounts tend to feature perfectly flawless photo-edited women/men, over girls/guys with small flaws or imperfections. I find it offensive that many campaigns only feature a token person of colour, at best. Saying that though, NYX actually featured me on their account last week, which was lovely of them, but I received a few non-constructive comments about my eyelashes - because they were my actual, real eyelashes. Beauty is subjective, and we all have different tastes, but brands are clearly trying to steer you towards their own increasingly warped visions of beauty.

Not only that, I've also been featured by Illamasqua and a few people took issue with my eyebrows being too long, telling me I should trim them. Honestly. U wot m8? That's not to say that the negative reactions outnumber the positives, because they don't. It just feels like an unacceptable standard of beauty is being set, and an increasing number of people are buying in to that. We need to remember that makeup is all about self expression, and there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to expressing yourself.

Social Medias Ideal of Beauty 11_

Going back to my recent NYX thing though, don't get me wrong, I do like the occasional set of falsies, for special occasions and the like, but it seems to me that brands are starting to redefine beauty again. Of course, they've been doing that for years, but now it's not just supermodels or professionals that are being put up on a pedestal, it's your everyday Instagram girl/guy. The standards are being redefined: you need computer generated skin, perfectly blended eyeshadow,  and a brash set of falsies to look beautiful.

But that is all so, so wrong. If you have naturally bountiful lashes, flaunt them, don't hide them! If your skin isn't flawless, forget about it! We're all human, and it adds character! If your eyeshadow isn't perfectly blended, good! Perfection is over-rated. It drains the soul from the art of makeup, and makes it all a bit more identikit, bland and boring. I want to see your slightly imperfect makeup, because that's where real inspiration comes from.

A similar thing is happening to fashion, where bigger brands are reposting photos of fashion bloggers posing outside a nice pretty door in Kensington, Chelsea or somewhere else in London with astronomical rent, house prices and cost of living. It's just not attainable for so many to achieve this jet-set lifestyle that's being promoted, and what's worse is it isn't even real. It's not even their door. They're selling a lifestyle that is out of reach for so many. And that's not to say that posing outside someone else's house is wrong, but give me some variety, give me some individuality!

To me, makeup and my outfit choices are an act of self expression, and I'm certain this is the case for a great number of other people putting themselves out there. I just hope that brands recognise this, value this and take advantage of it in a far better way, instead of trying to kill it off. At the moment, they're more likely to make people feel inadequate and feel the need to change something about themselves. My advice? Please don't change. Do what makes you happy, and don't let any fucker (brands or individuals) make you feel like shit about yourself. EVER.

Are brands taking control 11_

I could go on and on, including about these so-called 'Desi Inspo' accounts but hey, maybe I'll save that rant for the 8th Anniversary? Here's to another great year on Fashionicide, I hope you've enjoyed the journey so far. Thank you to my loyal followers who have been there from the beginning and those that hopped aboard along the way and supported me. You make it all worthwhile.

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17 comments

  1. Spot on points here. I feel this about Instagram in general though - food bloggers, travel bloggers, fashion bloggers, their pics all follow formulas. I saw some food bloggers in action recently. They selectively positioned all this food on their plate, shot from above, posted about how delicious it was but never actually ate it. So much of social media is so fake. I've stopped following fashion bloggers who post the same photos every single day. But I swear beauty bloggers are the worst. There are actual accounts of people posting the same content every single day (i.e their face at a slightly different angle) and it gets 1000s of likes. I'm like 'they're the same picture!!!!!!!' But still there's always your next post to look forward to. Only place i know i'll get some originality. Happy birthday!

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  2. Ah yes, the whole blogging scene is much more of an industry now than it ever was. I don't have a clue what the future holds for blogging, how can such fakery continue to go on? And wow, as much as I know there are some pretty amazing bloggers out there, I know there are some phoneys too - but not even eating the food??!!

    The day I started doubting Instagram as a place for creativity was the day I saw a 'big' blogger at an Everyday Sexism event taking bucket loads of selfies throughout the entire event, before posting a few on her Instagram talking about Laura Bates' inspirational talk. Mate, you weren't even listening. Now that you mention it, I rarely ever post the same look twice, even from different angles! Glad you find your originality fix here, there are a few out there - you just have to look real hard! :) X

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  3. I really like your points, honestly when they repost someones picture it does feel like oh my god, how do I even look like that? This post has really made me think and honestly the makeup looks that I like on instagram etc comes from men/women I follow, not the actual brands accounts. I do find that the actual people I follow are a lot more creative and different.

    Ahh I hope this is making sense! Anyway, congrats on seventh anniversary! Love your blog xx

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    1. Glad this resonates with you, and you're making perfect sense! At one stage I was thinking that too "How am I supposed to look like/compete with that?" But I quickly realised that nothing good would come of trying. I follow a few brands, and quite a lot of individuals and it seems to me that slowly more of these individual accounts are starting to conform to what the brands are sharing. It does sadden me a little, but I'll keep doing what I'm doing and keep applauding and sharing others who offer something creative and original! xx

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  4. I adore you, Just as you are. Your blog is one of my go-to blogs for when I want to feel happy. You always say it how it is, your pics are bang on and your words are like poetry to me. Happy anniversary, here's to many many more

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    1. Thank you Kellie - I certainly try to keep the blog more on the positive side, with the occasional reality check thrown in for balance! The way you describe me, I just can't be anything or anyone else! Hoping for many more anniversaries too! X

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  5. Really interesting post and something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Society always, through-out history has presented us with a 'ideal' of what beauty is, when in fact as you say... it is subjective.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

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    1. You're right, halfway through the post I was thinking "Well, this isn't anything new at all!" because we've been here before, but this feels different - this feels as though everyday people are being used to promote an unattainable new standard. It's funny, blogging became a thing because people were fed up of these standards being forced upon us, but now we've lived long enough to become the villain (yes, I'm quoting The Dark Knight!) x

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  6. I remember the illamasqua drama! I think blogging has ended up being what it set out to change in the first place. People started blogging to show what stuff looked like in real life and now it's become so artificial and airbrushed and everything else it ever stood against. And maybe this is sour grapes but I had a brilliant picture of nail polish that I took (tagged the brand in it) and it was never featured on their wall which is fine but they shared other pictures of *popular* bloggers which were actually of low quality. Stuff like this annoys me to no end.

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    1. You know, every now and then I get these comments where I sit, read and nod my head all throughout. This is one! We've really gone full circle, and bloggers have become the enemy we originally sought to destroy. The question is, who will stand up against the new wave of fakery? Sour grapes - I know exactly how you feel! I never expect to be featured, but when I see poor quality stuff being pumped out on a daily churn being liked and shared, it does make me wonder why I even bother!

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  7. Well said lovely Lima! Ugh, those people on the NYX page can get to f*ck. It's makeup brands Insta that only feature ethereal goddess types that make most people feel like shite. I long to see real pics shared by makeup companies - the odd spot or other imperfection - we all have them, it's just some airbrush them out (lololol). You're a complete beaut in your own right, your makeup skills are always amazing and more than that, you're a beautiful soul too. Carry on being you. <3 xx

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    1. Yes, yes they can! The internet is an emotional void, the person on the other end of the screen doesn't really exist in their world bar a few hundred pixels on their phone. I'm sure it'll be a passing phase, people will get bored of seeing CGI skin after realising it just isn't achievable and start going back to 'normal' people with 'normal' skin again. Until that time, I'll still be here! ;) X

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  8. Very interesting post. Although I'm not a beauty blogger or anything I do see those so called beauty standards being set. If your face is not ''beat'' or if it's not obvious that you have been contouring you're not part of the ''game''. And it's ridiculous. As for the fashion example, that is so spot on. Like at times i'm even bored when I scroll through my instagram, cause all I see is that luxury jet set life that is not even real. Flatlays here and there with that white background that has been done over and over again. I feel like individuality is something that people are scared to demonstrate on social media by thinking that it won't sell or get them noticed or as much followers than if they would follow the mainstream...


    www.itstrueblog.com

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  9. Love the post. It’s funny that you say you found there was no voice for Asian women. When I started blogging I felt like I was the only half asian (besides Rumi) & all the blogs I found were asian. I must have been looking in completely different places haha It’s great how unique your blog & social media channels are. I agree that lots of things are killing creativity & with the skin, I always though they really had flawless skin until I watched their Youtube channels. I think it’s pointless to edit yourself in a photo & to look different in real life or a video. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! x

    TFM BLOG

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  10. Happy blog birthday Halima!

    I'm so tired of people how my make up isn't ~real~ because I don't know how to actually contour or put on eyeshadow. I try my hardest just to put on my foundation properly. Not all of us are perfect muas. And brands need to show the other side of the make up lovers too and not just perfect perfect perfect make up artists.

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  11. HAPPY BELATED BLOGVERSARY BBY!!!!!
    I find it odd when brands officially present their 'faces' as the most flawless ones esp when they know how it would affect the consumer. They're selling a frickin' lie in a well wrapped package that INDEED doesn't do what it shows on the face of a model. This is quite a lot worse in South Asian society where girls are already under pressure from their society to be -PRETTY-WORKAHOLIC-HIGH MARKS-FAIR SKINNED- and that list goes on. I like to see how normal people like me could use make up since I can't dedicate hours to do my eyes or face or whatever. It needs to be preached more so that it can actually be heard!!!!!!!!

    Noor | Noor's Place

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  12. I love everything about this post! Be the voice & keep speaking out because what you're saying is actually true. I love this so much! Keep up the good workπŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—
    KeepingupwithMJ.com xxx

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