What is the point of social media? For that matter, what is the objective of fashion blogging and You Tube? This is the question, of which, I have been striving to answer for my conference project.
In an article by Alice Marwick, Conceptions of Authenticity in Fashion Blogging, the author analyzes the positive effects of fashion blogging within the 'social' and ‘real’ world. In her piece, Marwick stresses the importance of authenticity and self-expression, in regards to the fashion community. As such, in a ‘consumerist world,’ where labels and designers control all aspects of the business, ‘beauty bloggers,’ or even ‘beauty you tubers,’ possess a greater influence over that particular niche within this specific market. In comparison with my previous blog post by Professor Jeffries, The Revolution will be So Cute, Marwick depicts these bloggers, as an ‘attainable,’ yet ‘unattainable’ resource and inspiration for both fashion and beauty. In contrast with Jeffries, Marwick argues against the ‘containment’ of female fashion and life style 'gurus.' Therefore, in this particular article, she promotes these women, as ‘entrepreneurs,’ rather than ‘materialistic’ and ‘shallow’ bloggers.
In her study, Marwick’s methodology was similar to my own ‘experiment.’ She selected a group of fashion bloggers and posed two questions: “What do fashion bloggers consider to be ‘authentic’?” and “How do fashion bloggers reconcile authenticity and commerciality?” The only problem I had with this experiment was the gender selection bias (most of the interviewees were females). For, as I have come to discover, there are many male fashion bloggers within the ‘blogosphere.’ However, female bloggers do make up the majority of ‘life style bloggers’ within the ‘social media universe.’ Despite this, Marwick covered a wide range of subjects- early teenagers to middle-aged women. In her research and experimentation, not only did Marwick unearth the importance of ‘authenticity’ within the fashion ‘blogosphere,’ but she also uncovered the value of ‘self-expression’ within the community. More specifically, she points out- “a blogger who does not engage with her readers is considered less ‘real’ than those who do. Because bloggers have the ability to easily connect with their audience, those who choose not to are seen as uncaring.” As one blogger mentioned, “I lost interest in a few [blogs] simply because I felt non-existent.” As an avid reader and subscriber to both beauty blogs and v-logs, I can relate to this comment. Although many of these personal posts may appear ‘inane,’ it is this sentiment of ‘self-expression’ and ‘communication’ between the reader and the blogger, which symbolizes the motivation behind these various blogs. The maintenance of a ‘successful’ beauty blog is a full-time job. The reader/subscriber often dictates the exact content of a user’s blog. However, it is the blogger’s job to make sure, that they maintain their original, personable voice. Moreover, with the introduction of 'video medium,' the blogger/v-logger may breach this line of communication quite easily. Thus, beauty bloggers create reliable, personal brands, in order to communicate ‘honest’ opinions, of which their audience members cannot obtain from other marketers and commercial influences.
In a recent interview, which I conducted with an English fashion/ beauty blogger and You Tuber, Bex Renshaw, she gave insightful advice to future bloggers- “Just go for it, enjoy yourself and do what you want to do. If you do it for the views or to make money then you won’t enjoy it, and what is the point in doing something you don’t enjoy!” Bex makes an interesting point, which coincides with Marwick’s findings- “[Katy Rose: fashion blogger] ‘something needed to be done to show that fashion bloggers aren’t just like bimbos […] they’re a lot more and they’re really profound women, they’re entrepreneurs. They’re like renaissance women, a lot of them.” Although this description of fashion bloggers is quite dramatic, it truly defines the purpose for these specific types of bloggers. As Marwick continues- “Fashion bloggers engage in labor, not only to buy clothes, photograph outfits, and so forth, but to create successful online personas while still adhering to the requirements of authenticity and participation […] they embody the entrepreneurial subject of neoliberal capitalism […] they provide a space for discussion of mainstream fashion […] orthogonal spaces, potentially opening up areas for critique […].” As such, I do not know if there is an actual purpose for these particular bloggers, or for blogging, in general. However, as Bex high lights in her interview, perhaps the main goal of a 'beauty blogger' is NOT to achieve immediate success, but to begin a channel for one's own personal benefit. As such, it is the blogger/v-logger's decision whether he or she would like to expand their social media platform. Through both of these articles and interviews, fashion bloggers promote a sense of authenticity, a personal and public notion of self-expression, as well as a direct form of communication between audience and consumer culture. In our previous discussions, concerning the intrusion of privacy by various marketers, it makes sense, that these bloggers and you tubers are becoming popular within this new technological and social era. Through their relatable posts and v-logs, beauty bloggers can gain and earn their audiences’ trust. Therefore, they may achieve personal fulfillment, whilst applying their own specialized knowledge for other like-minded individuals, who desire to heed their advice.