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?
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.
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.