Warning: It’s a longish read… so start only if you have the patience!
You know, the usual reaction I get from people when I tell them that I’m a fashion blogger is, “Oh!” (with rolling eyes and a snigger) … It’s either the expression that tells me, “you’re probably just a dumb chick who has no other skill and loads of money” … Or something that tells me “Oh look… another fashion blogger!”
Until sometime ago, whenever someone asked me what I did, I’d say I’m a fashion blogger… and would be very quick to add that I’m also a brand consultant… was working as a strategic planner for over 8yrs, and a post graduate in Luxury Brand Management from Italy, etc. etc… almost, as if I was apologetic about being a fashion blogger! And sure enough, the so-called intellectual people I met, were only impressed with the latter…!
It took me a while to realize why?! It’s because just like them, I didn’t value what I was doing either! I loved it… but I didn’t value it!
People look at me today, and think I got it easy!
Like, “oh.. she has the luxury of not having to earn her living!”…
“What does she do but look pretty and get her pics clicked!”…
And this, without even having read a word that I write! How would they even know what I create, how I create and what goes into it!?! Because all that they’re interested in, is looking at pictures (which I may have slogged out on creating but no one really cares), assuming stuff, and passing judgements!
Do they know what it takes to constantly slog, work like a maniac… invest whatever little you’ve saved, and get paid peanuts for your passion…; only to be asked – “Oh… so what do you even do? Just put up pictures, right?!”
These things would initially bother me!
My work, is a little more intense than the conventions of the fashion blogging world. I write only stuff that means something to me. I can’t write general outfit descriptions and be happy with it. I try to communicate through my style… tell a story, educate someone, stand for something! Not everyone relates to it. In fact, most people don’t.
And the sad thing is, that the world is run by people who don’t even want to!
Believe me… I have had someone, during the last Lakme India fashion week tell me – someone, who I know is a well-wisher – “You’re too unconventional ‘looking’! You need to look more conventional in your pictures. Maybe straighten your hair… only then brands will want you. Right now, not too many brands want to work with you, because you’re not good-looking, in a conventional way! You’re not fair, or tall. You’re not even that young but thankfully you don’t look your age! And then, you don’t have the contacts either!”
How do you think that felt?!
I’ve been suggested to straighten my hair, correct my smile, use more makeup, photo shop my pictures, lose weight, get in shape not because it’s good for me, but so that I could wear revealing clothes… all by ‘well-wishers’… because apparently that’s the only way brands will want to collaborate with me, and pay me!
Am sorry…, what does that have to do with my creativity, or my talent or my content… or even my influence?!?!
The thing is, that blogging was never really supposed to be about the conventions of beauty! It was always supposed to be about an intelligent point of view… something that people would relate to or something that would make them think! But today, with reducing attention spans and people losing the patience to read, visual media like Instagram have taken precedence, which have once again, relegated everything fashion-related to ‘pretty-looking things’!
According to “them”, I was either too real for brands to work with… Or too intellectual to get mass followers and numbers!
So basically… everything… that I thought was special and different about me, was apparently an issue!
Do you know what that does to a person’s confidence!?!
For a while I thought my blog, all my hard work, my creativity, everything was worthless…! I thought I looked like crap… Every time I looked in the mirror… I remembered myself in 7th grade, where my then best-friend and her other friends laughed at my nose and called it ‘Desi-pakoda’… filled pencil shavings in my hair; and mocked me for my crooked teeth!
Since then, I’ve been extremely conscious about my nose. Ask my photographer, I keep asking her after every shot, if my nose is looking too big! Why do you think you don’t see me smiling too much on my Instagram?! That way, the teeth don’t show!
Some childhood scars, never truly go away… but I never thought that fashion blogging would peel off those scabs and make those wounds raw again!
Everything, that I had, in all these years come to love about myself and made my source of confidence… shattered to bits!
But then someone told me something… “Never lose your voice… It’s unique, it’s special and it’s yours.”
I realized that while everyone else might be better looking, conventionally… But no one, can be me! And that was the whole point! And that’s when I started growing!
Being a blogger isn’t about being like everyone else or being invited to every event or even being approached by brands for collaborations….! Being a blogger is all about having your own unique point of view, your own unique way of working, your own set of opinions and sharing those with people. I realized that being a blogger, didn’t mean everyone had to relate to me… it simply meant, that I had to reach those people who would relate to me or appreciate my content for its worth.
And for that, I had to be convinced and proud of what I was creating!
I started working even harder, creating whatever made me happy! Intellectual, fun, slapstick… whatever I wanted…! Because the one thing I decided after this entire bout of self-doubt and depression was that I’m only going to work for myself! To do the kind of work that I like to do! Not worry about how many people follow me, or which brands call me!
I decided to drive FOMO out of my life!
I stopped checking updates from other peers, unfollowed a lot of people whose content I didn’t relate to, but was following to just ‘stay in the know’.
And most of all, I decided that the mirror was lying! That people were lying…! That I was only what I saw me as! I stopped seeking approval! I stopped showing my posts to anyone before posting!
And believe me, almost magically from then on, the mirror started showing me far more beautiful to myself than ever before! And so did the camera! Oh, and the brands started coming too!
Now, when I get messages, DMs and comments from people who like my work, who say I inspire them… who call my work a piece of art… it all seems so worth it!
Someone, on one of my posts recently commented saying… “you’re a work of art and not everyone will understand you. But the ones who do, will never forget about you”! When I read that, I knew I didn’t have to bother about pleasing anyone anymore!
Earlier when I started out, every negative comment on my posts would send me thinking about it for days! Not anymore. And now that I’ve ventured into Youtube, I thought that ‘dislike’ tab, would haunt me… but weirdly, it doesn’t!
Obviously, I still have a long way to go… and even now, there are days when I do feel the FOMO looking at what other bloggers are doing – be it bigger collaborations or winning awards!
But I feel happy about the fact that today, instead of feeling depressed about it, I feel inspired!
I think I realized that people will only think of me, what I think of myself! If I love myself, believe in myself and am proud of my work, that’s what people will do too!
So, for all those of you who think “She got it easy” … I’ve had sleepless nights, major bouts of self-doubt, depression, faced body shaming, criticism, hate comments and have been battling in an industry where I had no friends, having given up a career in which I would possibly be making 10 times the money!
What I did have, however, is an amazingly loving and supportive family, a partner who believed in me; and my own resilience, passion and intellect…; and now, also an attitude which doesn’t really care about anyone’s rolling eyes or callous judgements!
So now when people ask me what I do, I just say that I’m a fashion blogger… without finding the need to support myself with my past credentials… because hey, I AM a Fashion Blogger… And I’m Goddam good at it!
“Mirror Mirror on the wall.. you’re the biggest liar of them all!”
Your mirror might tell you that you’re too plump, too skinny, too short, too pigmented or have uneven skin… .
But that’s just an illusion it creates…
To get you to come back to it again and again… To seek it’s approval…!
Coz the mirror knows the reality… that you’re actually flawless..!
Coz ‘Flawless’ is nothing but a belief and ‘perfection’ is just a state of mind! .
What you believe, becomes you! .
So, believe that you’re perfect… That you’re flawless… And don’t let that mirror fool you, ever again!