Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Look What I Bought (Got for free)": A closer look at beauty gurus on Youtube

Hey ladies. I came across this article just few moments ago. This is a must-read if you're like me and check YouTube daily and watch an endless stream of beauty related videos. It features a handful of beauty gurus including Fafinettex3, MakeupbyMel, DulceCandy87, and JuicyTuesday. It's also very eye opening in that questions the truth behind the gurus and how it affects us as impressionable consumers. Click here for the article. Now where do I begin.....

I guess I'll begin with why I go on YouTube. Like many girls, I like to watch videos for tips, tutorials, product information, and also for comedy and music videos. Makeup in itself has really changed my life. I've found something I am passionate about, and I feel so much more confident wearing it, but I've also learned to appreciate who I am , and that I wear the makeup, not the other way around. Many YouTube gurus inspire me to get in touch with my creativity, and not give up on my dream. Makeup is amazing.

There seem to be a few .... I guess "costs" of relying on YouTube for my education. Making videos, doing product reviews, and so forth has become a business, and as mentioned in the article by Lauren Luke, "Money changes everything." As most of you guys are already aware of, YouTube partners receive a portion of the profit earned through ads, and beauty companies sponsor these partners by sending them free products, paying them to review their products, paying them to do tutorials on their products, or all of the aforementioned methods. This is a great way to get their products known, but it also challenges the honesty behind words. I've always known that Elle and Blair Fowler were ridiculously wealthy and have many many products sent to them. But I had no idea that they were represented by somebody else on the other side of the country. It makes sense though, huh? How else would they have had a chance to do fashion shows and the like? Don't quote me on this. It's just making me think. Personally, I don't think the pair are very talented when it comes to makeup and hair, but I have always commended them for being so hardworking and dedicated towards their YouTube channels. I guess now I know why. Am I saying it is wrong to be compensated for their time and efforts? Absolutely not. We live in a capitalist society where time is money. But with money, one's motivations change. The viewers may no longer be in the gurus' best interest. As consumers, we have to judge the honesty of people who are paid to make these videos.

This leads into another one of my concerns: consumption. If it weren't for YouTube, my makeup collection would be considerably smaller and I still would have been washing my face with just water. The crazy (actually it's perfectly logical) thing is that the more we see what we don't have, the more we want. In the words of Teresa of JuicyTuesday, "When are we going to have enough?" And that's when you realize that we are all pawns in the beauty industry. We are all consumers who are being manipulated into buying more and more things that we don't necessarily need. This is insane. Now I know how Karl Marx feels. Capitalism is some powerful stuff. I, for one, am always looking out for makeup sales, wanting to try new things, but mostly I want the makeup simply for owning it. I have always liked to collect things, and makeup is now my very expensive hobby. I can honestly say that I am addicted to it. This is ridiculous considering I wear makeup like 2-4x/week, and sometimes even less. I don't use that many products, but I always want more and more and more and more. Why? Maybe it's because there is so much out there, and I want to try it all. But when I stop and think about it, do I really NEED all this? No. Then why? With beauty and cosmetics, I guess we are always striving towards an ideal self. We're surrounded by ads, particularly ones targeted towards women, that tell us that we're not good enough, and that we need this or we need that. Sad, but true. Sounds difficult, but I think the best way to fight this is to accept the fact that we will be imperfect no matter what we do to ourselves, and then access what we really need for our bodies and our image. I've seen so many documentaries in my Sociology classes about boys and girls who live for other people. That is, they dress, shop, eat, whatever to reflect an image that other people will find pleasing. It's absolutely ridiculous to me that you forget your identity by blending into the mainstream culture, but I know that we all do this to some degree. So at this point, when will we have enough? Right now, I don't think we ever will.

Here I am, criticizing the integrity of beauty gurus and how we are all trapped within a world of capitalism--but I have my own beauty channel on YouTube. Then I'm just one big fat hypocrite right? I hope not. Before you judge, let me list my reasons for starting my channel. They are in no particular order.

1.) Money. I'm not going to lie. I'd love to be a YouTube partner, and make money off something I love to do. As a struggling college student, the idea of doing something I'm passionate about, having flexible hours, and being able to do it from the comfort of my own home/apartment sounds amazing. But I'm not nearly skilled enough as is so this goal is probably not going to be fulfilled anytime soon. At the same time, many huge gurus on YouTube are not very skilled. Oh well.

2) Outlet. My mom doesn't wear makeup. My sister doesn't wear makeup. My friends don't wear makeup. So who do I share my passion with? A guy friend. But as a straight male, he is not particularly interested in the products themselves, but he probably knows more than all of my girl friends. Sad. Still, it's not always the same. I turned to the online beauty community to be able to talk about products, things I love, etc. while getting feedback. YouTube is one of my outlets for doing so.

3) I love to teach. Especially if it's something I know a lot about and something I am passionate about. I'm studying to be a grade school teacher, and I'm hoping to be able to freelance at the same time. We'll see. But yeah, whenever I get compliments on my makeup by one of my friends, I get really excited and I talk about how I did it and how it is very easy for them to achieve the same look....and they just smile and nod politely. Seriously man. NONE of my friends wear makeup. I'm kind of alone in my passion.

I guess the main points that I really wanted to cover were that we should question the honesty behind guru videos, FTC disclaimer or no, and that we truly won't ever have enough. I'm definitely not saying that YouTube is a huge evil git that we should all avoid, but just like with everything else, approach with caution and make your own decisions. I love YouTube in that it is a great database for me. Now, I always do research on products before buying, but I also end up buying a lot more stuff that I didn't know about before. Haha.

Okay, this blog is long enough. I'm running on 3.5 hours of sleep and it's time for a nap. Good night.

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