Relatable Not Aspirational

When I decided to start writing about beauty I chose to focus on nails because, although I was just as excited by make up and skincare, I saw this as a great way to talk about beauty without having to show my face to the world.

I have rosacea, a skin condition that means my face is always red and can flare up at any time. I never leave the house without make up and the thought of sharing photos of my bare skin used to fill me with dread. So what changed?

Relatable Not Aspirational

I’ve noticed a shift in the way people engage with others online in the past year. We seem to be rejecting the perfect internet personas: whether it’s Essena O’Neill admitting the reality behind the flawless online life she presented (and made a lot money from); the articles showing the real-life mess behind those stylised instagram shots (HERE); or a rise in apps like Snapchat and Periscope to offer that nosey hit of instant access without photoshop and overly staged backgrounds.

Rather than looking up to the #blessed, #luckygirl, #lifegoals accounts, I think we’re finding ourselves more drawn to those who share the bad parts along with the good. From my point of view they seem like a more complete person, one who is more approachable and therefore a lot more likeable. I may still follow some super-toned, yoga-practising, clean-eating, perfect-children-rearing bloggers, but I’d never feel as though I could ask them a question or confess a problem to them. In order to feel a connection we need to know that person is human and although I enjoy looking at these social media super-humans, our interactions feel less like a relationship and more like a celeb-fan situation. And I wouldn’t message Gisele asking her what to do about stomach podge or a difficult  boss.

When I decided to start including skincare on my blog I had to talk about my rosacea and sensitive skin. And I felt I couldn’t talk about having a skin condition without being totally open about it. Showing my naked face in my blog reviews did not come easily but as soon as I did it, it felt liberating. Which sounds like an enormous cliché, I know. But showing my face in all its glory meant that I suddenly stopped worrying that someone would pick up on my uneven skin or red patches or ask why I wore such heavy make up. Instead of hiding the thing about which I was most self-conscious, I drew attention to it and by doing that I took away its power. Instead of cowering, hoping I could fly under the radar, I was purposefully drawing attention to myself.

Relatable Not Aspirational

I expected mean comments – it is the internet after all – and there have been some. But then I started receiving hundreds of supportive messages, comments and emails from people with similar conditions. People who told me that seeing my struggles (and victories) against rosacea has helped them to accept their faces and flaws. That…is…madness and something I never envisioned happening when I started my blog many moons ago.

I may not inspire ‘OMG FACE GOALS!’ comments with my selfies, but I’ve realised that I’d much rather be relatable not aspirational. It feels more honest and, oddly, I’ve found that I compare myself to others less. Now that I’ve accepted and owned my flaws, I don’t feel as inadequate because I’m not trying to be the perfect ‘me’ any more.

So do it. Do make up tutorials even if you don’t have perfect skin. Start a YouTube channel even though you hate your teeth. Write about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of your life. Because once you do, those things become a lot less scary and might become the reason you stand out from the crowd on your terms.

Lex

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21 Comments

  1. Janjan
    22nd June 2016 / 6:24 am

    A few yrs ago I had my nails done every 2weeks with bright colours and elaborate nail art. People started to ask me to show them and we would have this great trivial conversation about them. I have rosacea too but at that time I had also had breast cancer, a mastectomy and chemo so I felt more comfortable having eyes on my hands held out from my body. ( I couldn’t wear a prosthesis and bra due to neuropathic pain and I looked like a bag lady). My nails gave me some girly glamour back

    • Lex
      23rd June 2016 / 3:52 pm

      Thank you for your comment and I hope that your health is better now, Janjan. Nails are such a great distraction aren’t they, plus a lovely conversation starter!

      • Janjan
        23rd June 2016 / 6:07 pm

        All fine, thank you Alex

  2. 22nd June 2016 / 2:54 pm

    yes, exactly! I’d rather feel like I’m chatting with friends than wanting people to look up to me, that’s just not right. I trust your reviews, I know you’ve tried them out thoroughly and won’t sell me bullshit, and you have integrity too x

    • Lex
      23rd June 2016 / 3:54 pm

      What a lovely comment (yes, I had a little cry!) Knowing that the people who read me trust my reviews and listen to what I say is the best feeling. It’s scary to put myself out there but it’s all part and parcel of being an honest blogger.

  3. Kelly
    22nd June 2016 / 4:17 pm

    I love this. The last few weeks I have found myself following Instagram accounts of people who are beautifully flawed. The hope and inspiration that comes from these accounts (yours and this blog being one of them!) is the best support network there is. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so honest and open. It is appreciated more that you will ever know. Kelly x

    • Lex
      23rd June 2016 / 3:56 pm

      Such a kind comment, thank you so much. ‘Beautifully flawed’ is the perfect description. I would never want to appear unattainable or above anyone else, I’d much rather people felt they could have a glass of wine with me and natter!

  4. 22nd June 2016 / 4:45 pm

    Hear, hear! I think people are actively pursuing the real in all areas of life… it’s literally so hard to find these days and is actually quite precious. Well done for being brave enough to show your naked face… I don’t think I ever will tbh, despite how sad this makes me.

    Nic x

    • Lex
      23rd June 2016 / 3:58 pm

      Thank you so much, Nic. It still fills me with dread every time and I get a bit scared to read the comments sometimes but the majority of people are lovely. We’re always our harshest critic! Thank you for your sweet comment x

  5. Judy
    22nd June 2016 / 8:19 pm

    I absolutely love this post and it’s something I think about a lot. I initially hated Instagram and didn’t want to use it as it felt so false, and full of selfies of gorgeous people who made me feel like I didn’t belong on there. But you’re right, social is changing and I’ve found people (still mainly on Twitter) who are so much more relatable and REAL to follow and it’s so refreshing.

    I work in beauty as a journo alongside annoyingly beautiful people, and feel incredibly out of place and uncomfortable because of it. I’d love to vlog but I don’t want my face online anymore than it has to be, even though it would help further my career. I hope one day I’m as brave as you and can do it – but for now it’s brilliant to have people like you being real and making all of us feel slightly less alienated!

    • Lex
      23rd June 2016 / 4:01 pm

      Oh Judy, this is such a lovely comment – as I mentioned in a comment above I had a bit of a cry over the comments here! I think social media is such a wonderful place to find your tribe. Yes, there’s a corner of the internet where everyone is tall, beautiful, with impeccable designer wardrobes…but over here in my corner I think it’s a bit more fun 😉 I would watch your vlogs! If it would be helpful for work, perhaps you could try starting out doing videos that don’t have your face, just a voice over? You could build your confidence that way. It’s scary but a really lovely way to connect with people x

  6. Kathleen Medjuck
    23rd June 2016 / 4:33 pm

    I’m so very happy you decided to do this! Im 45 and have had Rosacea for as long as I can remember. I’ve done just about everything to get rid of it but then gave up. You’ve inspired me to try again and to be the best me FOR ME! Which includes using make up, other than just eye makeup, on a regular basis which in my 45 years have never done before, and buying more expensive treatments and face “routines” than I ever did before. A big gold star to you Lex! I hope you get the praise you deserve.

    • Lex
      2nd August 2016 / 10:57 am

      Thank you so much for this lovely comment. Anything that makes us feel happier, more confident, or more like ourselves gets a thumbs up in my book x

  7. 23rd June 2016 / 5:14 pm

    I don’t know dude, your selfies give me plenty of flawless envy. Seriously. This girl can’t even bear mirror most days…

    • Lex
      2nd August 2016 / 10:58 am

      Oh YOU! *blushes* Those selfies are always after a lot of make up and some seriously good lighting! I most definitely did not wake up like this…!

  8. 1st July 2016 / 7:34 pm

    I m kinda new to social media but I think I’m following you -enjoying your page /blog – I have rosacea too -type 1 -also http://www.rosacea.ie website with loads of info – can i ask if anti biotic ever worked for you or if you ever took them ?

    • Lex
      2nd August 2016 / 11:00 am

      Hello and welcome! Always happy to meet another ‘rosacean’ 🙂 I’ve never taken antibiotics as I have always seen that as a last resort, I would rather try to maintain it with diet, lifestyle and skincare where possible. Have you tried antibiotics?

  9. 18th July 2016 / 9:04 pm

    I agree totally, I prefer reading blogs written by real people, not perfect blogger idols. Being relatable is much better and makes it easier to engage with readers and vice versa.

    • Lex
      2nd August 2016 / 11:03 am

      I totally agree. Some blogs are so far removed from real life that I just cannot connect with them. I’d rather hear and see all the bad along with the good.

  10. 22nd September 2016 / 2:21 am

    I’ve been delaying my YouTube Channel for the last 2 years because of my hands. I am very good with makeup and have done some clientele work but that’s what stops me from doing it. Thank you for somewhat boosting up my confidence!

    • Lex
      24th September 2016 / 10:56 am

      You should go for it! I was so scared to start but it’s been great and people are so supportive!

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