Monday, August 11, 2014

YouTube Celebrity Culture: Why I'm Not a Fan

Like many of you, I've been watching the YouTube beauty community for even longer than I've been blogging, which is over five years now. I've seen YouTube videos morph from poorly-lit phone camera clips shot in one's bedroom to professionally produced and edited short movies with sophisticated backgrounds and props, just as I've seen blogs go from simple online diaries with shaky shots and ernest ramblings to elaborate websites with magazine-style spreads and sentences fully resembling ad copy. That's the way of things: I know it, you know it, I've written about it before.

What I haven't written about before is the YouTube and blog celebrity culture that's quickly expanding beyond my wildest imagination. It's a lot more apparent on YouTube, where you can watch hundreds of vlogs from conventions like VidCon, BeautyCon or IMATS, in which half-crazed teens and pre-teens wait for hours in a line to catch a glimpse of their favorite vlogger, and who scream and cry with abandon when the moment comes. On Instagram and Twitter, fans fight for who can have the right to claim the first comment, or the first like. Young girls and boys follow their guru's every step, every word, every recommendation. Yes, my dear readers - YouTubers and beauty bloggers are veritable celebrities these days.

And I'm really not a fan of this new celebrity culture. Granted, that's something deeply ingrained in my personality; I've just never been much of a fan of anything or anyone (well, maybe with the exception of Spice Girls in elementary school), and the older I get, the more wicked pleasure I get from doing the exact opposite of what's currently trending. But I absolutely don't mind that there are people out there who enjoy being part of the fan club, and get some happiness and excitement from following their idol, of which I'm reminded every night, when I can hear cheers through our windows from people gathered around the actors' entrance at a Broadway theatre opposite our apartment building. What I do mind is the inherent hypocrisy of being part of the YouTube celebrity culture in particular.

Bloggers and vloggers are respected and trusted by the virtue of being just regular folk, exactly like you and me, only passionate to share their lives with other people out there. They're not royalty, they're not multimillionaires, they're not with the glamorous crowd. They're your everyman, or everywoman, and since they're just like you, they've become a good friend - someone to catch up with and spend some time every day, someone to listen to and someone to take advice from, someone who loves you and wants you to be happy. Right?

Wrong. These days, the assumption that popular bloggers and vloggers are just like you couldn't be further from the truth. Their lives have ceased to be normal the moment they stepped on that stage to wave to thousands of ecstatic fans, the moment they got a manager, the moment they sat on a plane to Ibiza/Dubai/Los Angeles to take part in a brand's newest ad campaign, the moment they're sent expensive gifts just to consider endorsing a certain product. Again, I don't begrudge any of their success or their life choices, just like it doesn't bother me which Hollywood couple just got a divorce, or how much Tom Cruise has spent on his mansion. It's just something that goes on somewhere in the world, and I'm so far removed from it that it's not even a part of my 'normal' life.

So while I do understand that celebrities, be it YouTube or otherwise, are not just like you and me and really are not my friends, I'm really not sure the teenage crowd is even remotely aware of the fact. It struck me especially hard recently as I was watching a successful YouTuber's fashion and beauty video for back to school. Really, doesn't it seem odd to take tips on how to get ready for school from someone who's been out of school for probably over five years now, earns her own very good money, and uses the video as an opportunity to promote a certain brand?

But that's not even the gist of it - it's the skewed image of reality that these bloggers and vloggers picture in their videos and blog posts. The reality in which you need a 20-minute make-up and hair routine to get ready for high school, the reality in which you do a full Kim Kardashian contouring and false lash application for a movie date with your boyfriend, the reality in which your morning consists of pressing a button on a Keurig to make a cup of coffee in your spotless expensive kitchen, prancing around in cute pjs and taking at least an hour to get ready for a brunch with friends. I'm sorry, but it is not MY reality, or even the reality of 98% of people out there, including these innocent kids watching on their laptop screens, pinning for the day they're all grown up and perfect like their idols.

You may say that watching YouTube videos and reading blog posts is pure escapism, it's just a way to forget about your own troubled life for a little while, to feast your eyes on things that are flawless, happy, and beautiful, and just right. But coming from bloggers and vloggers who used to be just like you, I feel that the line between reality and make belief is especially blurry, and maybe even invisible to the ever younger audiences.

I don't know - maybe not. Maybe I'm just getting old, and I find the 'things the kids are up to these days' increasingly annoying. What really gets me going is being told by a successful, popular, fully made-up adult businesswoman pulling cutesy faces and pretending to be awkward but adorable at the same time that it's a-okay to be 'a weirdo' like she is - just be yourself! I guess I find it especially infuriating to be fed such trivial bullshit in a phony, saccharine, fakely friendly fashion. Or maybe I've just outgrown YouTube?


  1. You make some very valid points. The truth is, the things that gain popularity in our society are usually, actually, horribly contrived or just plain horrible. But I do believe that some good comes out of the popularity of these YouTubers. While they may not be the "average" person anymore after rising to internet fame, as long as the content they put out contains positive messages and encouragement to adolescents then what's the harm? If watching their favorite YouTuber acting silly and quirky brings a lonely tween out of their shell, then does it really matter if it's all an act? Personally, I watch YouTubers for entertainment and inspiration: mainly what beauty products to put on my shopping list. But beyond that I'd never dream of putting together an everyday outfit of the style beauty/ fashion bloggers display. An armful of jangling bracelets would drive me bananas. I guess my take is that any educated person should realize that anything and everything in the media should be taken with a grain of salt. And YouTube has definitely evolved into a stylized form of media nowadays.

    1. Hi Ami! You're right, of course there's lots of positive and amazing things on YouTube, including inspirational videos that bring encouragement to people of all ages to just enjoy being themselves. I guess what really gets me, however, is being told to 'just be me' by someone who's in that moment pretending to be someone she's clearly not. The other thing is that these days, 95% of inspiration we can get from all kinds of media, YouTube included, is of the monetary/consumerist nature - and while you and me definitely take those things with a grain of salt, I'm pretty sure not everyone does... I think the inherent hypocrisy of YouTube is just really getting on my nerves recently.

    2. I agree. It's actually pretty interesting to go back to earlier videos and see how much they've changed in relation to their growing popularity. I mean, I understand that people change naturally, but touting sponsored products is not a natural aspect of ones personality. Lately it seems more transparent than ever that a huge chunk of what YouTubers are promoting are sponsored/ scripted/ predictable/ unrealistic/ fake. It definitely bugs me when someone raves about how wonderful a product is without once mentioning the exorbitant cost or the fact that they received it free for consideration. Gossmakeupartist recently made a video about how none of the big name cosmetics brands will deal with him because he’s known to give his actual, honest, opinion when things aren’t right. I.e. he’s brought attention to the discrepancy in the amount of product we get versus the price when certain products are reformulated/ re-launched. The reality is that majority of what we see on YT/ Instagram are staged for our viewing pleasure. It reminds me of this: (Hilarious)...

    3. Gushing about products in sponsored videos definitely doesn't come naturally - being upbeat, enthusiastic, smiley and so energetic it kind of looks like being high in every video doesn't seem very natural either. There are some things that bug me about Wayne Goss but overall I do trust that he's being honest in his reviews, and I really appreciate that. Hahah, thanks for the link, Ami! :)

  2. I get what you mean, and it's definitely crossed my mind as well. In a way, it's worse than watching TV with heavily made-up people because there we at least expect things to be kind of fake, whereas with youtube celebrities, they want us to believe it's all completely normal and real.

  3. Hey Monika! This is such an important subject that no one would touch with their tiny finger! I am so glad to read this and couldn't agree with you more!

    I don't think this has got any thing to do with getting older it has to do with watching things with an open mind and being critical of them unabashed.

    I understand its a lot of heard work to write a post or make a video but idolising what's in there and losing all objectivity is incomprehensible to me.

    Divya | TheConscienceFund

    I'm really HATING YT at the moment. All the heavy makeup, the silliness of taking a leisurely 3 hours in the morning to get ready-who can do that? Or the ones who spend THOUSANDS of dollars buying shoes, clothes, makeup every freakin month? HOW MANY PAIRS OF VALENTINOS DOES A PERSON NEED TO LIVE?

    1. I just can't with these morning routines, Trakee. Those spotlessly clean, elegant and trendy kitchens couldn't be farther from my own kitchen in the morning - overrun by dirty dishes, me trying to clean/cook/pack lunch for hubs/make my own breakfast all at the same time... And that's just for a start. It's depressing. The perfection of it all is so completely different from my own experience that it doesn't function as a happy escape for me anymore, it just makes me grim and angry.

    2. Haha Tracy I know exactly who you are talking about!!! I agree, nobody needs 4000 pairs of Valentinos :D Although I'm not a blogger/vlogger I do spend a lot of my money on beauty products because I enjoy playing around with colours and looks, especially because I'm not really into clothes or shoes much. It really doesn't help to have someone lie about a product or just recommend it because it is sponsored- I can read the back of the bottle if I want to know what it claims to do. I want to buy something that's actually worth my money! And similarly I have a job to go to, I don't have 4 hours to make complicated healthy breakfasts and put 35 products on my face. I try and take it all with a pinch of salt, and any bloggers/vloggers who get too ridiculous get jettisoned! Great post Monika :) x

    3. LOL right? I mean seriously! I just can't with that one YTber. I mean-how about lay off buying shoes and bags one month and take the family to Disneyworld? Or to New York? Or Paris? It's scary!

  5. Hi Monika,
    oh there are so many things I would like to write about this subject. Let me start with this. I don't believe the Hollywood Celebrities are so different than us and they deserved earning and spending billions of dollars. These were the individuals who had plain luck and a bit of courage (or maybe they were desperate and couldn't get another job?)
    I am just like you, I also was never a fan of anyone (other than Bon Jovi during early highschool years). I can't understand normal people, at their 30s talking about a Youtube star touching the same brush as them and getting crazy about it. What made this person into an idol?

    Then there is another side of the story, you tubers getting plastic surgeries and working their ass off to loose some weight. They feel the pressure that the Hollywood stars face, if they gain a few pounds, there will be massive comments telling them to have a diet. If they have thin lips, people would mock about it...

    Anyhow, here is my five cents. I believe whatever Tom Cruise did to deserve the fame, these people did too, which is almost nothing. It seems being a fan of something someone is a need for some people so be it. If these people are so lucky to be on the media? This is another story. They earn less than Tom Cruise and they face the same difficulties, if not more. So... being famous started to be not that good anyway ;-)

    Thanks so much for this very interesting post.

    1. Hiii Sara!!! :) Hahah, yes, fame and popularity definitely have a dark side, be it on YouTube or TV/silver screen. You've made an interesting point I was thinking about too - if you're sending a message that we should all just be ourselves and be proud of who we are, why would you get a nose job and avoid openly admitting it to your viewers? Not that it's strange or uncommon to crack under pressure, but I'd rather hear you honestly talk about things that are less than perfect in your life. Eh. I wish :)

  6. While I agree that some YT personalities are getting ridiculous (seriously, these GRWM videos - do you have a job to go to? Because I do and I don't have time for a relaxed breakfast and makeup) but there are still some that are worthy of the attention like Philip DeFranco and his whole network. Granted, he's not in the beauty blogging sphere and he is upfront about his show being a "show" but he is a celebrity nonetheless.

    But I do think the audience has a responsibility as well. Or at least, parents of teens who are part of the audience. We can't expect YouTube or the vloggers to tell us what is realistic, just like how TV is not responsible for that. We always need to be intelligent about the media we consume and parents need to make an effort to help their kids decide what is realistic and what is staged. Blame can't be all put on vloggers - that's their job, that's how they make their living. Most of them don't really make a statement that they're normal. In fact, I've seen a lot admit to how lucky they are to be doing YT for a living and owning up to the fact that it does take a LOT of work to produce their videos. I think it's when they don't address that on purpose that it becomes deceptive.

  7. I totally agree with you. I used to watch several videos a day and now the list of youtubers that I can even stand has dwindled down to just a few. I feel like hardly anyone is authentic anymore which is sad because I love and enjoy hearing people's honest opinions on beauty products. I stick to mainly blogs or just trying stuff out myself now :)

  8. There's lots of awesome stuff on YouTube that I enjoy and am grateful for - haha, I need to check out Philip DeFranco now, thanks for the rec, Alex :)

    I'm not really trying to pin blame on anyone, or suggest a solution to the YouTube conundrum; if I were a parent I'd most likely do exactly what you suggest and try to explain to my kids how vloggers also put up a show, just like on TV - although realistically, I'd like to know how many parents have any idea what their kid is doing on the interwebs. And I am happy to see vloggers/gurus say they're grateful for their audience, and sometimes admit YouTube is a lot of work, but it still doesn't stop them from presenting a very idolized version of reality in their videos as an 'inspiration' for their viewers. Hahah, I wish someone just made a video of what their actual morning looks like :)

  9. So glad to read this. The videos that have always especially bothered me are high maintenance tutorials geared toward high school and college-aged kids that suggest a long lineup of expensive products. It's not so much the length of time, but the assumptions about money that gets me.

  10. Thank you so much for this post! I've been having many of the same thoughts lately and have slowly become disillusioned by this whole Blogger/YouTuber celebrity thing. Not many would have the guts to post on a topic as this, so thanks again for putting out there what I'm sure so many of us are thinking!

    *I'm so tired of the syrupy, sickly sweet and ott displays of enthusiasm Even some of my favorite YouTubers are going - er, I should say have been going - down this path, and I feel it's highly unauthentic. There's a noticeable difference from when I first started watching watching 2 different people!! I can understand tailoring some videos toward topics that might appeal to a larger audience, but to change your actual personality for the sake of gaining more viewers? Count me out. So many sound the same, act the same...sometimes I just wanna shout BE NORMAL PLEASE! Not every YouTube watcher is a teen or tween, why must so many cater to them??

    *I think some are getting a little too big for their britches. I was watching one vlog not too long ago where this particular YouTuber was going to a movie premiere, of which she stated that she and her boyfriend were invited by a friend who was invited. Fast forward a bit, and she says how cool it was to see/meet some fans. She kind of pauses, and says not sure how they got in... OMG really???? Because I'm pretty sure you JUST said you didn't get a direct invitation - you're a friend of a friend and you don't know how some other people (who only happen to watch you - they weren't there FOR you) also were invited??? C'mon.

    *Not disclosing things sent by PR. This one is really starting to annoy me, be it beauty or fashion or whatever. They are perpetuating this glamours, luxurious, jet-set lifestyle - oh, and btw I should want that life too - yet are constantly pushing products that are sent to them gratis. Btw, their trip was free too. Oh, but it's not a sponsored post/video. LOL OK. I don't begrudge their life or anything they've accomplished...just be honest about it please??? And because they all get sent the same stuff they all start looking eerily similar, whether it's in a blog post, video, IG, etc. If I see another pair of Rockstud Valentino's in six months it'll be too soon. And beauty...even some fashion bloggers were trying to get me to buy the Sisley rose oil thing, even before it officially launched. Whether you bought a product or not, I still want to know what you think about it...just don't try to sell me on something that isn't true!! Don't smokescreen me.

    *Going to an event. I'm pretty sure I've never been to an 'event' in my life, so I keep wondering what are all these events these bloggers/YouTubers are going I missing something?? I'm pretty sure they aren't talking about baby showers or birthday parties. Oh, wait...they aren't! Normal is not going to a movie premiere, speaking at vidcon, walking a red carpet, going to a fashion show, going to Dubai for a catalog shoot...or is it??? Nope. Not normal. So stop telling me I can wear/use such and such for EVENTS.

    xoxoxo :-) Gummy

    1. !! i agree with many of these points gummy. but i find you and i are of the same mind on most things.

    2. Oh, my dear, dear, angry Gummy, how I adore thee :) So many good points!
      1) When I first started watching YouTube, I thought most of that ott behavior could also be explained by cultural background. I thought that teens and young adults just behave differently from me, being from another culture. You rarely see a super enthusiastic, energetic Pole speaking in a high pitched voice and trying to be cute and silly, lol. But I was wrong - it's not national culture, it's YouTubeland culture - and it's fake and annoying.
      2) Oh yes, the fans waiting everywhere... No idea how they got there, right? Though you're always prepared to take selfies and give autographs - just in case :)
      3) Not disclosing PR samples and brand collaborations is REALLY getting on my nerves as well. I actually feel that a year or two ago everyone was way more diligent about disclosing things, and what I see these days in description boxes to videos which clearly feature press samples? 'I bought most of the items in this video with my own funs, and some were gifts'. Gifts, you say? Pray tell, which ones? ALL from the same brand? How curious...
      4) Haha, events! Yes, we should all have our getting ready for a movie premiere routines down to a pat, because there are just SO many to go to, lol. But generally speaking, yeah - you can't make good recommendations for normal, average folks once you become a celebrity. For one, the things you get sent/ use do not fit normal people's lives, and also, very few people can even afford them. Why would you get in debt to buy stupid designer shoes if you're a teacher, or a nurse? Not cool.

  11. Completely agree! Vidcon seems ridiculous, all the youtubers are walking around with security!

    But more than that, so many perpetuate this idea of a perfect life, with a beautiful house. It puts so much pressure on people. Also what happens when they are having problems with their relationship? Film the break up? They also pretend to be friends with other youtubers and film countless videos together, when really its likely a commercial arrangement!

  12. yes yes yes so true!!
    i recently read a post from a 17 year old blogger entitled 'i'm not your stereotypical beauty blogger' and i realized how she viewed a 'stereotypical' blogger was very very skewed. teens dont have an idea that they're idols are not in the same life stage as their eye, not in the same income bracket or from the same life circumstances and its crazy to aspire to those things that you mentioned , the 20 min make up face in the morning, full kim contouring for a high school movie date (frick..i was just concerned about being clean when i was that age...)
    its so skewed!!!

    lack of critical thinking added with unlimited access to the internet warps people's perceptions and i think it's speeding up maturation. the minds of teens are 'growing up' faster than their bodies, or their life experiences. you get 13 year olds who neeeeeed to have a full face of make up but still can't handle confrontation in actual 'grown up' ways.

    arragggh.. the internets...its sort of evil.

  13. Many YT videos bore me. The one I watch religiously is by Lisa Eldridge, actually. At least she talks slowly and her videos are very helpful. The other self proclaimed YT makeup gurus? I don't even watch them so I wouldn't know. I used to watch a few, years ago, but found them mostly annoying and super pretentious. So, I stopped. I AM getting too old for this and listening to whoever they are talk nonsense and probably how they spend their money is not how I waste my time. Just sayin'.

    1. Hahaha I'm with Lily on this one, actually. But I don't even watch Lisa that often because I find it hard to sit down for 5 minutes and watch something. I have to turn my music off, and then I can't flip through tabs or I'll miss something...YT just doesn't do it for me.

    2. Hahaha, good for you guys - maybe if I didn't watch as much YouTube, I wouldn't be so angry :P But Larie, you can definitely flip through tabs with videos in the background, although I DO admit that having music playing at the same time is a bit much ;) I kind of assumed that nearly everyone reading blogs was watching YouTube as well, it's good to know it ain't so!

  14. Hi Monika!
    I can't agree more! I recently watched some "get ready with me" as well as"get UNready with me" videos. I felt like such a loser! How can you come home from work, wearing super high hills, and your feet are not swollen and red?! Those girls look as fresh at night as they did in the morning when they waltzed out of the door after a morning bath or something. They all look fresh and happy, and have cute friendly dogs that don't wipe themselves on the snow white carpet, and there are fresh flowers on the table, and sun is always shining. And I drag myself home in my Danskos and my feet still hurt, and I eat pizza or crackers with butter because I don't have any strength to go healthy grocery shopping. Anyways, the perfect lives of the perfect girls make me feel quite inadequate. That is until I get infuriated with all the lies and stop watching youtube. And then I get bored in a few weeks and start watching again, and the cycle repeats itself.
    Hate them all! Real people rule!

    1. Hi Tanya :D You're so right, the get undready routines are just as ridiculous. When I used to work in retail, I'd get home at about 10pm, scavenge the fridge for anything that looked remotely edible, crawled into bathroom to get the work grime off of myself and then crawled into bed, barely feeling my legs. But yeah... I haven't stopped watching YouTube, but recently I've been unsubscribing from so many people I used to enjoy watching a couple years ago. People change, and that's a given - but so many YouTubers have changed for the worse, even if that brought them more viewers/money.

    2. Yes, people change. It's normal and expected. I, too, have changed a great deal even in the past year. But I feel that the you tubers and a lot of bloggers are actually trying to fit into the mold of what everybody supposedly wants. The first question in so many new blogs is "how can I get free stuff?". Shame! There are so many sh!t-sites right now it feels like watching antenna TV - commercials, re-told news and the stinky feeling of a stagnant pool. Everyone is excitedly talking of the new things, and very few peoply are doing tips and tricks that I normally want, or shopping their own collection. I actually almost fell into that trap a few days ago. I started my blog to share things I do, because there are so few blogs for redheads (that is why I like yours so much). But for whatever reason I started doing swatches and describing colors, like everyone else, which I am horrible at! And then I thought to myself - what on earth is going on?! That's not what I wanted at all! I'm just unconsciously trying to say what everbody will read, or so I think they will. So, I had to think very hard about my priorities and start to change things. Anywho, I'm just trying to say that there is a flood of people now who just want to run in front of the crowd, but are afraid to just walk their own path.

    3. It's actually quite interesting once you start analyzing the similarities between different YouTubers to see what the majority is into nowadays - funny that the majority seem to be between 12-16 years old :) I need to check out your blog, Tanya - I'm kind of an aspiring redhead as my hair naturally only has hints of red in it, but I have the freckles and fair skintone, lol. I started my blog to share my ramblings on products and showcase looks and such, but I also always wanted it to be something more - maybe a sprinkling of art here and there, something from my reading list, photos from my travels... I didn't care all that much about what people were expecting of me, as I had absolutely no readers to begin with and didn't quite think the whole venture would take off as it did, ha. I still try to post what I like and what I find interesting, and it just so happens that you guys also seem to like it, even the random bitching about YouTube :D But on the whole, the gigantic hypocrisy of someone who tries to sell themselves to the crowds, telling me to be myself just like they are is beyond infuriating. I AM myself - not a cutesy weirdo, but a mixed bag of very many things, some of them NOT that positive, or happy, or enthusiastic, and rainbows and unicorn farts. Well, maybe the farts ;)

    4. Ha! Those fake b..girls to tell me to be myself, and at the same time all being from the same mold. I also hate when they say stuff like"embrace your beauty", "the beauty comes from within", but they are fake inside and out! There is no real life there! I probably should care less, but when I start feeling inferior after watching their videos, the cycle of envy and hatred starts up and it's hard to stop it.
      Totally agree about the age! Where are the normal women? Where are the women in 30s and 40s with extra weight, regular jobs and typical, messy houses? Am I the only one with crumbs on the floor? And I don't wash my makeup brushes even once a week. There!
      I started my blog at 30, and I want to continue it well into my wrinkles. I don't have that many now, but the wrinkles around my eyes remind me of my mom and grandma - they age the same way. I love to see them in the mirror! No Botox for me!
      I, too, am not an ideal person, but in the past few years I learned to like me, and I want to keep it that way.
      I love your blog. I like to read about the makeup, of course, but I also enjoy those kind of posts, too. As you can see, they wind me up pretty hard, ;-) You just sound real and human, and I want to know more abou you. Like, how do look so great in coral lipstick? Incredible!

    5. Oh, Tanya *hugs* :) Speaking of normal, real, grown-up women, I do recommend watching Kristin Gehm on YouTube - apart from doing tutorials and some hauls here and there, she also does empties, quaterly projects to use up certain things from her collection, 're-hauls' where she explains what happened to the products she hauled back in the day, throwback thursdays talking about past favorites... - in a word, a lot of shopping her stash. And she seems like a genuinely warm, funny human being :)
      Thank you for the compliment - and how awesome is your truly red hair, woman?! Hahah, not sure what's with the heated love affair between me and my corals and peaches, but maybe I should do a post all about it, with comparisons and what not? Now that's a thought!

    6. Hi Monika,
      Thanks for suggesting Kristin Gehm! I've seen her before and really liked her.
      Yes, if you ever do the post on all the peaches and corals, I'll definitely appreciate it! I don't understand why, but peaches look good on me as blushes, but they are hell on my lips. I'm thinking that I need some cool toned peaches, if they exist. Salmon maybe? I really want to break out of reds and plums on lips. They are my go-to's, and are nice options to fall back on, but I would like to learn about other colors now. I just went back to some of your face pics -- you were just made for corals! Unbelievable!

  15. Monika, you sure are awfully brave to put this out there. :) And you are so reading my mind. I never got into videos to begin with, but the only ones I will watch are true tutorials. And over videos, I always prefer well-written text, especially for reviews and swatches of product.

    I'm thinking part of my ICK factor on videos is generational, since I am old school in many ways. I also prefer things like long-form printed/text journalism. Hahah! AM OLD! And because I am not young, I really have zero interest in seeing really young women/girls going through an overly elaborate ritual of getting ready to go out.

    I'm glad that I am not an impressionable young'un because I would end up thinking all of that would be normal because it is not normal.

    One more thing is the commoditization of beauty blogs/yt channels which is really about making money and selling products and for me that takes away a good chunk of the appeal of those blogs and channels. I have nothing against making money/free products, but the viewer and reader have to be extra diligent about the fact that they are watching and enjoying a big giant commercial. The same scrutiny you would have looking at a glossy ad in a Vogue or an editorial in Allure, or watching a commercial on television should be the same level of critical scrutiny you should have watching a YT beauty channel in many instances.

    1. I think I even came across an article where by they discuss that magazines are no longer useful now that Twiter/YT/blogs are the norms -- which seems to me like the magazine editors were a bit threatened by all the independent bloggers:

      Then recently I read this article where the balance is not tipped. People started to realize that these supposedly "independent" bloggers are not independent anymore and more and more are looking a lot more like magazines (i.e. sponsored? too much product endorsement?)

      It is interesting to see the progression of this social advancement, but I agree w. you that most of these beauty blogs/yt channels are about making money/selling things, much like what fashion/beauty magazines used to function.

  16. This is really interesting, Monika! Thanks for posting. I've never really watched any YouTube beauty videos––I much prefer being able to control the speed at which I absorb information, and can't really do so with videos (or audio! Talk shows/podcasts are my enemy! Which is unfortunate, because there are definitely times when my eyes have to be doing something else, but I tend to just stick to music), but I can totally see how the current celebeautician situation can do a lot of harm. I don't think I really have anything insightful to say on the matter, but: thanks for the mind fodder :)

  17. Just the other day, I was looking at my list of "What to Watch" on youtube and found a couple of videos that made me wonder...
    1. Where do they get all the money from?
    2. Since when being a "youtuber" is the "thing I want to do when I grow up?" Where are the good 'ol ballerina dancer, musician, magician, astronaut, botanist, dentist-vet?
    3. What do they do with all those stuffs?

    Sad, sad, sad yet another imaginary influence for so many teenage girls out there.. I just wish and hope youtube is just another phase in this era of social... experiment.

    Some, though, can be v. refreshing. For e.g. I just came across a youtuber with very tightly curated wardrobe despite of haul after haul videos. As a mom I just strive to prepare my children to face this pseudo-reality & navigate this world intact- I mean in terms of perspective.

    1. ooooh, claire! I have similar questions and thought noodles!
      1) all the $$$ is coming from sponsorship/freebies/parents/credit card debt?
      2) ...? please no. I'm trying hard to get my girls to love math/love the arts/love the sciences while still having whatever natural tendency to love the frilly things. I hope they don't go, mom, I need a video camera to put my get ready with me to go to camp video up on yt. Utrrrrrgggghh.
      3) sell it? donate it? give it away? Even as a nominal blogger, I struggle with the stuff I buy just for personal consumption. Dood, they must have a mountain of stuff.

    2. Oodles of noodles.
      1. Ditto.
      2. Ditto: none of it is real, young people cannot discern which one is real which one is not. and YES whatever happen to loving math/science/art is cool? Being a youtuber is cooler now??!?
      3. Tritto. Mountains it must be! Ugh..

      O.k. where's my Jajangmyeon now?

    3. Noodles! YUM.
      1. When I first started watching YouTube (back when it wasn't a job yet), I noticed that a lot of more popular vloggers must be pretty well off or come from wealthy families. I thought that maybe they were more popular because people were aspiring to their financial status?
      2. Mmm, yeah, not a mom here, but would certainly dissuade my kids from wanting to make YouTube their career. Being a glorified salesman and professional event-goer can't be all there is to life.
      3. Now that we've moved to an even smaller one bedroom in Manhattan, it blows my mind how often YouTubers are hauling stuff and how fast that stuff must accumulate. First off, I have absolutely zero space to get new things, so when I want something, I must let another thing go. Secondly, mountains of stuff give me anxiety. By no means do I live a simple/minimalist life, but lots and lots of things that I don't even know what to do with is just a source of stress for me.

  18. Monika, just in case you missed this old post of mine, taking a stab at GRWM from the Land:

    P.S. No part of this post is sponsored, food was cooked and served by MamaLorp alone. The Tod was not paid to dump food all over the floor, etc. etc.
    PPS. Give a "thumbs-up" if you want to see the sequel of G un-RWM from the Land (which is a really short one, don't be disappointed).
    PPPS. Subscribe to my channel if you want to see the sequel of GRWM with the Tod now a preschooler!!

    1. I'm giving this a hundred thumbs up, and another thousand for the Tod being a preschooler, woohoo! How the time flies... But you know, now that he IS older, he might demand being paid for dumping food all over the floor :D

    2. LOL yes, he may demand payment now! Speaking of which, the other day we were hanging out at a local park when a bunch of high-schooler/maybe even college students? were making an indie-movie. Supposedly they asked us to be "extra:" a mom pushing a stroller on the background & maybe if the Tod could make an extra commotion, that would also be lovely. He was making LOTS of commotions right up till the time when they actually shot, he went all silence. He knew something was up.. no payment yet for being an extra sadly, but hey, maybe if any company is up to sending us freebies ;-D

  19. Hello! Long time lurker, first time commenter... I have to say thank you so much for being so brave and posting this! I remember last year I posted a thread on reddit and I remember it being voted so far down that I had to delete the post in embarrassment, so when I saw this post I knew I had to write you a (long) note to express my own thoughts too. I think for me YouTube definitely is (for lack of a better term) "lifestyle-porn" in that you see people buying and portraying themselves as one thing but for most people reality is entirely different. Lord knows on my way to Uni I don't ever have time to use a cream contour or take several instagram selfies whilst eating my organic-overpriced-i-doubt-you-really-eat-that-every-day-decadent-delight. It's so easy to get sucked into excess when it's masked under the ideology or myth structure of "normal" when in all actuality owning a tower of makeup or having an entire room devoted to clothing isn't practical or economical for most people.

    I think what really irks me about YouTube is the homogenization of culture/preferences. A lot of YouTubers are called taste-makers by advertising companies which I think is a lot more apt a term, considering advertising and product placement essentially selling the time and belief of the audience.This occurs in magazines/blogs but I think YouTube propels it in an absolute insane way and really whenever I'm online looking at fashion/makeup I'm usually looking for some kind of inspiration or new technique or something that changes the way I look at things. With YouTube it's far too easy to mass love or mass hate a product/trend/lifestyle without really thinking if it suits your own preferences and needs. I also think YouTube exacerbates a culture in which owning things upon things upon things is something to be proud of and something to strive for. Being a student at Uni a lot of things that are "essential" on YouTube just aren't in my budget, and none of my friends have perfectly decked out apartments or closets that could dress a small town.

    By no means am I saying that I don't "collect" things, or that I don't own too many similar lipsticks or drool over designer items like Celine bags, but over this past year I feel like I don't really consume YouTube the way I used to. Before I had subscriptions to every major "beauty guru" (whatever the hell that means) but now I have a handful of beauty related people I like to watch because they're similar in colouring to me (nice for inspiration) or because they're industry professionals and teaching new tips and tricks of the trade. In terms of my own preferences, I think I like beauty blogs a lot more, because I can control how much content I take in every day, and I find most credible ones (like yourself!) are honest with their reviews and opinions. More than anything for many bloggers I find that their beauty blog is a labour of love, which increases their ethos and credibility to me. I like professional bloggers for mass swatches and release dates on new lines, but maybe I'm getting old(er) like you since I find myself more interested in specific niche brands or different techniques that aren't as popular or marketable as "urban-decay-naked-insert-any-household-item" and another blessed "contour-highlight-completely-change-your-face-shape-for-school". Phew, sorry for writing you a mini blogpost in the form of a comment but I really enjoyed your post and I hope that this discussion provokes others in talking about how we consume social media and our relationship between "lifestyle porn" and reality.

    1. Thank you for lurking and thank you for first-time-freaking-fantastic commenting, Z! So many good points in your comment. I find it pretty interesting that you posted a thread on a similar subject and it's been voted down so much - clearly, many Internet beings, myself, fellow bloggers and dear readers of this blog included, have observed that what you have so aptly called 'relationship between lifestyle porn and reality' is something worthy of a discussion and a more critical point of view.

      The overall sameness of preferences and purchasing trends thanks to YouTube is also alarming, as you say. Thanks to vloggers and gurus, most of us seem to have lost any idea what our individual needs and preferences are like. Another neutral eyeshadow palette! NEED that. Vampy lipstick for fall - so necessary. Cropped tops and knuckle rings WILL make me part of the popular crowd. What happened to what I like? What happened to things that look good on my particular skintone/ body type? This is something I touched upon in my first post on beauty blogging, and further in the one on why I don't post product hauls anymore. I'm done buying into the product hype just because a bunch of popular YouTubers who were paid to say it tell me it's a must-have. I'm going to buy and blog about what I like.

      Similarly to you, I also still buy much more than I can consume, and accrue way too many specimens of things I like. But as long as I feel that I have control over my buying habits and my purchases make me happy, I'm cool with that. I'm also gradually turning to more independent (often meaning, less popular) bloggers and YouTubers - and blogs have always been my love, because I enjoy words and reading, and getting to know someone through their writing voice.

      Again, thanks for your awesome comment, I really appreciate that!

  20. This post is just everything. Literally couldn't agree more with a lot of your points.
    I honestly think the minute people started making jobs from YouTube, everything changed forever. It took a lot of the realness out of it in a lot of ways, as instead of seeing the videos these people were creating as a hobby they did for fun, it became something that was scheduled and often forced. I have absolutely NO issue with people having YouTube as their job, good on them for getting that successful, but I definitely think it marked a changing point in the 'YouTube World'.
    I feel like slowly I am losing my enjoyment of YouTube. It was once somewhere that could be accessed to see really good, honest videos about products. Now it's just filled with a whole lot of the same. The whole celebrity thing just puts me off more and more, it's all just turned into a bit of a popularity contest in a lot of ways.

    Really glad to see such an honest post about the matter though and I really hope you will make more posts on this topic as I don't think it's discussed enough by people who are really seeing it for what it is rather than already being caught up in it all and putting a sugar coated view on it.


  21. I totally get what your saying. I've never was too much of a social media fan but, it has helped me and there are many positives. I've always been a bit of a cynic so I don't take things at face value often and when I was a teen I was even more cynical. So, I think that whilst young adolescents maybe more prone to believing lies, some should be given more credit and if I might add, a lot of adults seem to be gulping down the falsities too.

    Also, I too find some YT makeup tutorials just a bit too much but, what makes it worse are the comments or videos that follow by a YT 'guru' about why 'haterz' shouldn't comment about their makeup being too much, and that this is the way they like it, and that makeup is an art - blah-de-blah blah. I love makeup too, I find it an art too but, making the same old look that Susie from the suburbs just made is not too artistic in my books but, that is the nature of sharing (aka social media) so it is what it is. Plus some youtubers personalities just seem a bit exaggerated if you ask me (but then again I'm a moody realist so look whose talking).

    Plus if I might say, I absolutely abhor the zombie death cut open face looks that people do - sure I know some people are truly into that type of makeup design but, I think many do it for page view and in some way I think it tries to glorify/normalises death or appeals to some weird fetish. Not what I find entertaining ...

    O.K. That's me done for the day - I think this post was very well put and hopefully it may help someone be less naive. Its certainly something that more need to say - not everything is roses and sunshine in life and on the web too. Thanks for spreading the word :).

  22. What a great post and social commentary about the declining state of YT! I decided to watch some GRWM videos after reading your post and I couldn't stop laughing. I had no idea they had taken such a turn to the ridiculous. I watch YT, and enjoy it, mainly because I do not have cable TV, but I find that what and who I watch is very limited. I try to look for women similar to myself in demographics, and those who don't have "guru" status. I hardly watch any of the popular gals as they just don't appeal to me.

    I do watch, almost religiously, the make-up collection videos, the ones with less 10000views, I find them very effective at putting me to sleep. I find the ones with over a certain number of views are populated by the "gurus" who receive so many "gifts"... really, you just happen to have every single eyeshadow from the milani baked shadows, including the ones that are so frosty and look good on absolutely no one!! Really? I am tempted to make a make-up collection parody video though, eg, yes I'm bragging and look at all the $50 lipsticks I have - exactly 1 and purchased using my 20%off at Sephora. I'm pretty sure no one would watch, and I'm cool with that.

    Like others have mentioned, the homogenization effect of the YT is alarming, and the effect from Instagram is similar. The whole celebrity thing is on a whole other level. Didn't some YT lady getting a show on bravo, i think it mainly focused on her love-life though. What I do admire these girls for the opportunities that they get, but it does become annoying. Commercialization as a whole is annoying but Dr. Pepper ads and anti-perspirant ads - ughhh. I find myself also tuning off more and more.

    I wish there was more of an older/mature demographic on YT. Maybe we could skew it the other way, but I think we are smart enough to just shut it down.

  23. I LOVE this post. I can't stand the fact that people are making money off of shmucks like me that watch their channel. When I see someone try to plug Audible or NatureBox at this point, I just unsubscribe. I can't STAND it. Oh really? I get a free book if I use YOUR code? That's not what Amazon always offers?


    Wake up with me videos get me even more angry. I've never seen a single one where they mention having to go to a job. I'd just love one day to see one where someone is actually running around getting ready to go to work. Recently I saw one particular youtuber try a "woke up late" edition and the first thing she did was apply a mask. A MASK?! Are you freaking kidding me??

    I think the most frustrating thing the lack of honesty and the lack of understanding of how real people live. I get it, people sent you free stuff and you don't want to be a dick about it so you say nice things. Then be very clear that it is a sponsored post, because you have already been swayed by being sent free things.

    Ok, enough ranting. I'm glad that people have found success through YouTube and blogging, but it really is sad to see what the "top" gurus have done with their success. I can't rely on a single opinion I see there, because you don't know what is sponsored and what isn't.

    I'm sure most of the people commenting here have their own channels or blogs, so I think it's honestly up to us to not do the things that we hate. That's partially why I started my own blog, I don't want people to spend their hard earned money on crappy products. It's happened to me way too often.

    1. I know EXACTLY which GRWM video you're referring to, Lindsay - and I actually hit 'unsubscribe' within seconds of watching that. Also, if my memory doesn't fail me, the primary reason for using that mask was that it had been a PR sample. It's almost like this furniture brand that approached me to feature their products on the blog (for free, of course, just because I'm nice like that - NOT) because they have some things that can be used as a vanity, and I write about beauty, so yeah, perfect fit. Except offers like this make ME laugh and hit delete, while others are ecstatic to include the free sample (or even a lack of thereof, in this case - I don't have a huge audience so I guess I don't even deserve the PR sample) in just about any of the videos/posts they make.

      I don't really trust any of the big gurus anymore, and instead I've started looking for less popular make-up fanatics to watch in my spare time. When I see several bloggers/YouTubers feature the same product all within a day or two, I automatically put it on a 'DO NOT BUY' mental list, even if it later turns out to be something I may actually be interested in. It's like the beauty gurus' hype turns me off, in fact.

  24. Great post. I've also been noticing/paying more attention to how viewers are being sold to. I had to laugh when I recently saw a popular New Zealand beauty person go through her tanning routine complete with discount code, and darned if the next day I saw an Australian beauty person post the same dang thing with the same company and promo code. What!?!?!?! Or watch a beauty routine and see Kleenex prominently featured. I'm an adult in my late 30s and think I can recognize when what I'm watching is really an ad, but I don't think teens will see that,and it makes me pretty disgusted. I only really enjoy and trust YouTubers who are still living in the real world.

  25. Hi Monika,
    I found your post through the one Maggie recently wrote and while I do agree with the gist of what you're trying to say, I don't get what the real issue is (and no, I'm not a YT-er). At the end of the day, we all have a choice: a choice not to watch a particular YT-er, or a choice not to read a particular post. Let's just say that everything has a cycle and regardless of whether these people are fake or not, not all of them make it and actually stay at the top -- the consumer is fickle, and there will always be something better to come along. So the numbers - as in direct following/readership - will speak for themselves and ultimately dictate the direction of these people's success (or not). If these YT-ers aren't having a direct impact on your own life, then who really cares how fake they are? And for that matter, why even bother getting all worked up over it?
    And let's not forget that there will always be someone out there who is too intimidated to approach SA's at beauty counters for any advice and relies on any help - no matter how frivolous it may seem to us - in that regard, so there's definitely room out there on the great wide internet for many differing styles and points of view. Just as I don't want people judging me by what I write in my posts or any photos I post on Instagram, so should the rest of us accord others the same courtesy, wouldn't you agree?
    What it comes down to is choice and THAT's the message we need to install in our young, something I try to do every day with my own 20 year-old daughter.

    1. Hi Eugenia,

      Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion! You're completely right to say that it all boils down to choice of what and who we watch; what I was trying to explain makes me particularly mad is how much hypocrisy there is these days on YouTube. Many of my blogging friends make the choice not to even bother watching YouTube at all; but I actually started watching YT even before I started this blog, so it's something I still really enjoy doing in my free time. I think what really bothers me is that how the channels I used to watch have gradually changed without me noticing at first, and then what I was watching started making me more and more mad, and I realized I had to make the change for myself and look for other channels to watch. I hope that makes sense; of course some may say it's just a natural progression for these channels and such is life, but those changes did impact my own life by raising my levels of frustration ;) On another level, I think those changes also filter down to beauty blogs like mine, and as such impact me as a blogger too.

      I don't actually particularly believe that the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to blogging or vlogging, just like I don't believe the best books always make it to the bestsellers lists - but I'm cynical like that.

      I don't really judge the people who put up content I find far from honest or genuine, but I definitely think I have the right to judge the content itself and whether its quality is something I'd like to invest my free time in.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  26. Hi Monica,

    What a fascinating post! I'm sorry I only just now came across it. You mentioned escapism, and for me, as a blogger of eight years, that's a big part of what I do. I work hard to create a place where people can go to relax, smile, laugh, unwind...

    Because of that, what I do blog about is definitely not always a reflection of my offline life. I rarely show the dark, dingy, dirty corners of my house or probe my dreams or fears in great detail because -- bluh -- I feel like there's already so much seriousness out there already. Everyone has terrible days and dirty corners, and I enjoy creating a simpler place.

    I feel like I've done a good job when I look at a post, sit back in my chair, scroll down and see the pictures, read the story or whatever it is, and think to myself, I made that.

    I like to lose myself in crafting posts (except when it's terribly hard, and I don't), and I hope the people visiting feel the same way, like they're getting caught up in it, and maybe they giggle or smile -- that's everything to me.

    By the same token, yes, the blog is also my job. It's a business. The ads pay the bills, and like most jobs, some days are hard. Some weeks I work 70 hours. Some weeks I work less. Also, like most jobs, there are perks.

    You mentioned people seeming fake, and I can see that. In my case, I don't share everything about my life, so the perspective is definitely skewed. That said, I don't think that's terribly unusual, because how many people walk around sharing everything about themselves?

    Just like when someone bumps into a coworker at the office water cooler and asks, "How's it going?" and the coworker responds, "Fine, fine..." even though she's actually going through a tough time in her life, I usually skip the really bad parts of my day, mostly doesn't seem like what the person who asked the question really wants to hear.

    I try to be respectful of others, and I take my job seriously. I often work late, pose pictures and clear out backgrounds so that things like piles of dirty laundry and random socks don't appear in my pics, and I don't share every detail of my life (heck, I've never even posted a picture of my husband after eight years!).

    But I do share a lot, and many MBB readers know more about me after 10,000 posts than members of my own family do. I've also made many honest-to-goodness real friends through the blog.

    You mentioned so many interesting points... I'm sort of rambling here, but anywho, thank you very much for writing such an interesting, thought-provoking post.

    I hope you're doing well.

    Makeup and Beauty Blog

    1. Hi Karen!!!

      You know I'm a big fan of your blog and how trustworthy you've stayed through your blogging journey. OF COURSE talking about make-up, skincare, nails and perfume is going to be escapist and a way to forget about other darker and more serious issues going on in our lives. I just feel that on YouTube some content creators have lost sight a bit of what normal life is like for most people, and their recommendations seem less and less relevant to my life, for example.

      I know you keep your blog to the highest standards and work incredibly hard at what you do - I'm not really sure how you do all of it, given that I probably do 1/10 of that and still feel like it's a lot of work. Believe me, your hard work, honesty and genuine warmth really come across in your posts - so I don't think you'll ever lose sight of what it takes to be relevant and relatable for your readers.

      Hope you're doing well too - happy Thanksgiving! Sending smooches your way :)