When I was younger I lived for magazines. I would beg my mom to buy me a copy of Seventeen Magazine at the grocery store as we checked out. I just wanted to see the pictures of celebrities in fancy dresses and learn how to make Joshua Jackson fall in love with me. Team Pacey all the way. I knew these people didn’t live like I did. First of all, none of the stories took place in Leesburg, VA. Secondly, I knew that everyone in the magazine was a model or celebrity. They had been groomed to look the way they looked. They had a team of makeup artists and PR people telling them what to say and what eye shadow color would best compliment their eyes. Even as a teenager, I knew that what I was seeing had been produced for me as a special treat --- a glimpse of what could be if I worked really hard and became what I so wanted to be: a part of “it all.”
Now, here I am at 28 years old, and there is this new phenomenon and I am a part of “it all.” Lifestyle blogging, Instagram fashion, Snapchat shopping sprees --- these are the new magazines. However, there is one great difference between my childhood and today. Now, anyone with a camera, a sense of style, and a great deal of work ethic can turn their life into, in essence, a magazine. Like Oprah, they can put their face on the cover of their cultivated life story every single day if they want to. These are just normal people with student loans, boring desk jobs, and a smart phone. I think this is where people get confused nowadays. When we look at social media we still associate cultivated accounts with personal accounts. My Instagram handle is my own name. So, understandably, people look at it as though it is my real life. When in all reality, it is a second job.
I spend my days working in the entertainment industry in casting and as a lifestyle coach. When I come home at night and on the weekends, I work hard to write blog posts, schedule photo shoots with my wonderful partner, create outfits, layout product spreads, and schedule my social media posts. Nothing about my Instagram is meant to be a snapshot of my “real life” because that would not be work --- and what I do on social media is WORK.
I started blogging because I want to inspire my followers to relish in the beauty of caring about presentation. In college, I studied the cultural importance of personal adornment and enjoy taking the time to encourage others to hone in on what it is that is important to them and urge them to present those things to the world. It doesn’t have to look like my life, but if anything I am showing to my follower speaks to them, then I feel pretty solid about it. Most of the time, people who want to follow me and engage in my story have a similar aesthetic to my own. Much like when they pick up a book or magazine --- they tend to choose something that has to do with their interests.
More and more, I am seeing that people are saying that social media is not real – that it is inauthentic or a means of getting approval. Of course it isn’t real. Of course it is a means of getting approval. It never really has been real or removed from the need for admiration. From the beginning of the social media movement, people have taken the time to put up what makes them happy. They repost stories that mean something to them or even take the time to post about what is causing them pain. Nobody posts about the boring bits of life, and when they do they are usually made fun of for their banality. People want to see the interesting bits. That is the art of personal creation – and I believe that social media is an art form that gets little to no credit.
When people go to theatre or see a movie or turn on the television, they want to see the life or death moments: the first kisses, the murders, the courtroom decisions, the end of the war. So when you are on Instagram or Snapchat, you want to see the beautiful dresses, the fun parties, the perfect latte art, and the beautifully decorated homes with no clutter or mess. You are used to seeing these moments in your art. And therein lies its authenticity. Art is a story told through the eyes of its creator and it is true to the artist. You may not enjoy it or find it in anyway beneficial to you --- and that is fine. In fact, that is the beauty of art. When it comes to visual storytelling, you have the right to look at what you want to look at. Especially in the “choose your own adventure” that is social media. You have the control to cultivate your feeds to be full of the stories, bodies, images, and ideology that match with your own. You get to create an ever-changing FREE magazine all day everyday. But please know full well that it has all been processed through a lens. Much like a fairytale, magazine, great painting, Broadway musical, cookbook, or television show everything has been organized, brightened, and touched up for the sake of the creators vision.
Comparison is the thief of joy. We know this. Wealth, the need to engage in a commercial lifestyle, and the idea of a life lived in “perfection” has become the center of some great struggles in this life. I, for one, struggle everyday to figure out when it is that I am going to be satisfied with my life. I’m not sure that will ever happen. That is my own internal issue. But I do get the chance, everyday to remind myself of what I find beautiful in this life. I encourage you to take the time to create beauty. I’m not trying to say that a pretty sweater makes a person have a strong moral compass or that a perfectly decorated home creates an overwhelming consciousness for others. Believe me, they don’t. Who you are is something that you must ruminate on and work diligently for throughout your entire lifetime. But beauty, art, and creativity are all around you to help you figure it all out --- if you take the time to view it as it is for what it is. Don’t compare --- CULTIVATE AND CREATE.