Relate-abl or Aspirational: The Endless Blogger Debate
Why do you read blogs?
Why do you visit and revisit the same pages, week after week, waiting for a new post to drop, stalk an Instagram page, watching all the stories and chiming in with a comment or a string of emojis? Why do you care really what someone you have never met and will likely never meet is doing, feeling, consuming, or mulling over?
Why do I read blogs?
With the current introspective tone of bloggers the world over, with the heated debate raging of aspirational versus relate-able, realistic, raw, I’ve been finding myself mulling over this quite a bit. Do I read blogs and manically consume every known YouTuber’s hauls, from Primark to ridiculously luxury high end coats I would literally never wear, because I’m looking for someone I can relate to, or a vision of something I can aspire to?
To be honest, I think it’s a bit of both.
I get this really odd shiver of excitement when I stumble on a new blog I’ve never come across before. It’s almost like an addiction at this point. I imagine the way I feel is exactly the same as someone feels throwing back a sugary donut, sits down to a glass of wine in the evening, or hits Place Order on, you know Asos (but that’s alright because an addiction shared by 90 per cento the population isn’t really an addiction anymore is it? It’s a part of human nature).
It’s a bit of a problem but its a good problem, an enriching problem, and a problem I have no interest in addressing or changing ever. But I digress.
When I find a new blog, it’s like stumbling on a treasure trove, not knowing what I might find, how I might feel, but rapidly clicking through post after post to find out. Blogs have really really enriched my life. I grew up in a very transient city where people often came and went, and many friends ended up in really far flung corners of the world- and now live in a city where I don’t speak the language and am one of very, very few foreigners- so blogs provide a sense of community that I crave a lot of the time.
But what kind of blogs do I come back to?
Within a couple minutes of perusing my newest little find I can usually tell what camp it’s going to call into. There are two camps as far as I can see: the blogs by people like myself, who produce content I could feasibly produce, have lives I can relate to, and probably haven’t hired a photographer in the last three months.
And then there are the blogs where the images are so slick and professional, I want to run out and hire a photographer on the spot just to get the perfect shot of me putting on my new eye cream in the mirror, with the my silk pajamas on, and my makeup fully done whilst I get ready for bed. You know what I mean. The kind of blogs I want to revisit, but am pretty sure I could never ever produce.
That sounds like I prefer the former doesn’t it? That I prefer the relatable, she could be me, we could be best friends, kind of blog. But the truth is I don’t.
I feel like both types of ‘blogs’, or rather both types of ‘influencers’ if we have to put it that way, have a real place in my life. And I’m grateful for both of them.
Relate-able bloggers, and let’s be honest what one person finds relatable may be totally out of the sphere of possible for another, or completely removed from their own world for someone else- but relate-able bloggers to me, provide me with a warm, comfortable feeling that I absolutely love. Whether I’m reading a post or watching a video, or even more likely, watching their Stories, relatable bloggers make me feel like I’m normal. Like there are girls out there I can understand and who would understand me.
If they go out and buy something, I probably want to try it out too. If they’re writing about something, it’s probably a topic that sparks my interest or makes me mad too. I feel like I can tweet back to them and not sound like a total fool. I feel like I want to consume what they produce, curled up in bed, right before I sleep, when I have a few moments to myself and want to feel relaxed, soothed, and you know, have all the cozy vibes.
That’s not exactly how I feel about larger influencers who are quote unquote aspirational.
‘Aspirational’ bloggers, those with lives just out of reach and just a little too perfect, actually really really inspire me. I know that’s not what their lives look every day. I know they need a team of people to help them, large or small. I know exactly how much Lightroom is involved in their sunny blue London street side shot. I’m not inspired by the reality of their lives, because at the end of the day, when you strip back the events and the press trips and the freebies, their lives are a lot like any of our lives. But I am inspired by the image they portray, knowing its just a little impossible to achieve, because it pushes me to be the best I actually possibly can be.
I absolutely don’t want to be living the life that some ‘aspirational’ influencers live. As mad as this may sound to some, I really wouldn’t want to have to wear fancy bags and well cut dressed from a French brand I can’t understand. It sounds taxing, and frankly quite irritating, to have to dress that well every day!
But I do want to be living the finest version of my own life, with my own preferences, my own tastes, my own not entirely sleek and minimal home decor.
Does it have to be a competition? Is one way the right way? Why is there an underlying feeling that the more relate-able the blogger the more they’re doing the world a favor and the more aspirational the blogger, the more they’re creating anxiety, comparison issues, and stress in their readership? Is it even that clear cut what the boundaries or relate-able and aspirational and are? What if I aspire to be more like someone whose decided to pitch themselves in the you can relate to me mold? What if someone who ticks all the boxes of the aspirational figure is someone I really don’t want to be like, or even respect, at all?
What if someone who is safe because they’re relate-able is really someone I can’t relate to at all?
I find myself thinking again and again that both ends of the spectrum can take it too far. It’s every bit as possible to be too relate-able as it is to be too aspirational. I love bloggers who share their everyday foibles, the fact that they’re maybe still lying in bed at 11 am because they’re having a wobbly day, and I totally respect that and feel like it serves a purpose to the wider audience- to say quite loudly and visually that it’s alright to have a messy room or a messy head or a messy life.
But seeing that too many times a day before you’ve even had lunch can also sometimes lull you into the idea that its alright to take it easy today, tomorrow, the next day. It’s alright to not want to do anything today and follow that instinct. Except. It’s not always alright is it? It may be alright for one blogger one day of the week, but when you see it over and over, or other similar admissions, maybe it’s not alright for you, the reader. Maybe that’s the point at which a little friendly competition from an ‘aspirational’ online figure can push you to get up, get moving, get started, and feel better for it at the end of the day.
There’s no perfect balance. There’s no perfect person to follow, who will give you just what you need, not push you too far, not lull you into less than you’re capable of. There’s no one who won’t by virtue of being a permanent fixture in your phone, in some ways influence you the wrong way. There’s no type you need to follow, no type who will ultimately and absolutely serve you better than the other.
What readers need to realize when they’re consuming blogger content is that it’s very much a work of art for the creator. Some people see art in the ordinary, and some see it in the extraordinary. But blogging is a form of creativity and art, and art is made to inspire us. So dose it matter really if that injection of inspiration comes from someone just like you, or from someone entirely unlike you?
I definitely have space in my life for both bloggers who I can completely relate to, even on a bad day, and for bloggers who are just slightly ethereal, slightly unreal. I derive different benefits from both, and both push me in different ways, both comfort me in different ways. Together they say, you’re great as you are but you can be even better. And that suits me just fine.