BEAUTY STANDARDS ON YOUTUBE
I’m no stranger to hateful comments about my appearance (it’s happened all my life, both online and in-person), but recently I’m getting less comments about the way I look but rather the way I present myself in videos. Most of the comments seem to be about my nail varnish (or lack of it) – it’s often chipped or non-existent – my swatches over tattoos, the fact I have eyeshadow on whatever top I’m wearing, or that I haven’t perfectly styled my hair.
I was going to reel off a list of excuses, like: I have dermatophagia so nail varnish lasts two seconds on me, my hair takes 3 hours to style, I don’t notice dirt on my top until editing… but I don’t want to apologise for being human. Why should I have to?
On YouTube (and blogs, too) there’s an expectation that we will look perfectly primped and manicured in every single video, but practically no one looks like that all the time. Why should I give myself a blow-dry or french manicure for a ten minute video when I wouldn’t usually in my day-to-day life? My videos are mostly about makeup products – as long as I’m conveying the information about those products, why does it matter what my nails look like? I don’t think it’s very relate-able or necessary.
And that’s where I think a big issue lies. YouTube is now about “perfect” people living “perfect” lives whilst looking “perfect”. That sort of escapism used to be purely for TV and cinema, whereas YouTube used to be the place to come for a friendly chat with someone who was just like you, making videos in their bedrooms. The site has grown so much and production value has had to increase dramatically to compete with everyone else and I think that’s where this standard of looking “perfect” has come from. YouTube is now basically a mix between real life and television shows, so people expect YouTubers to look and act like characters rather than human beings.
But we all are human. I don’t have nice nails, good hair, a great figure; I don’t change my outfit every day, sometimes I get food on my top and most of the time I don’t wear a bra.
Instead of focusing on my appearance, I spend hours planning, researching, filming and editing videos each week as well as blogging, using social media and interacting with followers and basically concentrating on the content. If that means I don’t have time to do my nails, then that’s fine.
That isn’t good enough for some people. I know none of my subscribers would comment anything like that, because from what I’ve seen and heard, you’re all so supportive and kind, but hopefully this message reaches others and makes them think about really matters. Spoiler alert: it’s not my nail varnish.
Of course, that’s not to say that people who do look “perfect” every day don’t focus on their content or care more about how they look than their channel, I just think there’s this huge pressure to look a certain way on the platform a lot of people have given into this pressure. I think we all need to give each other a break and return to the comfy, cosy days of YouTube where people would just pick up whatever camera they own in their bedrooms and chat about what they love.
I think it can be difficult for the viewers of these YouTube videos to see the YouTubers they watch as humans, because their lives seem so incredibly alien on camera. I can assure you, as soon as the camera stops recording, they’re back in trackies with a messy bun and a box of chocolates in hand just like everyone else. Real life isn’t the same as on-camera life!
I’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave them respectfully below! Also check out my YouTube video about this topic below (and subscribe if you want to).