Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why the Indian Beauty Blogging world kinda sucks!

Image courtesy Wedding Bee

Without sounding (too) whiny, I would like to talk about an issue that has concerned many of us bloggers in the past. I would specifically like to address the beauty blogging world in India. Recent forums like "Beauty Bloggers' Confessions" on Facebook have become yet another place for nasty comments to fester. What was discussed in bitchy detail within the confines of private messaging is now out in the open, so I hope that what I write in the following paragraphs is an acid-free, honest, and heartfelt expression of what I have felt for a long, long time.

What I am saying is through my own personal experience, and this does not necessarily mean that you must agree with me. It is perfectly alright for you to have a completely opposite take on the entire issue at hand.

I began blogging many years ago because of two reasons. The first was my intent of writing things that might be of interest to the world. When I say "the world", I do not mean millions of readers who would make me an online celebrity. Even if my thoughts resonated with one solitary person, I would consider myself to be of some consequence as a writer. As I'm beginning to sound like a rather sad school teacher now, I would like to move on to the next reason.

The second reason is perhaps more important because it does not involve being a narcissistic snob. I blogged to read more. There was a time when I was an avid reader of books, and there were people who told me how useless that was. My interest in books waned over time, and I panicked at my lack of reading. One fine day however I chanced upon the blogging world. I was slightly taken aback. It seemed like an intrusion, almost like you're reading someone's personal diary or journal. The frequent updates were exciting and thrilling, and it gave a strange, voyeuristic pleasure to trace and follow what someone else was doing. So, I began to read.

The earliest blogs I read were by teenager girls not unlike myself. Half of them wrote about their friends, where they vacationed in summer, their crushes, their long list of problems that certainly meant the world was ending... Then there were the serious ones who blogged about more real problems that really did mean the world was ending. But both got old and depressing after a while, and I began looking for a sunnier place. There were food blogs, mommy blogs, blogs about travel and photography, and... and... and then I saw heaven! Right there, in its infancy, was the tiny world of beauty blogging! The photos were blurry, posts erratic, and reviews uninformed. But there they were, these handful of people who were talking about makeup and skincare, posting about products available locally, posting for the definitive "Indian woman". I began to spend a lot of time online reading these posts and leaving comments, and the small circle of bloggers and readers soon began to grow.

As the numbers increased, the content on the blogs became infinitely richer. People began meeting up, contests and giveaways were organised, and lengthy, friendly discussions began occupying the comments section. It became every bit of the cliched "happy family", just that we never realized how some things really are too good to be true.

I sensed some discomfort within myself when there emerged apparent groups within the beauty blogging world. Some of the readers were loyal, fiercely so, and any slight on the part of any rival blogger began to be taken very seriously. Snide comments and personal jokes became a regular feature, and even readers with whom I spoke expressed how weary it was all getting. Bloggers began competing for high-end products and often I wondered whether this left any space for the ubiquitous "Indian woman". Competition was rife, and while some blogs became brands in themselves, some of the smaller ones who were in it for some fun began to suffer from undue pressure.

Several other problems emerged as things took a sour turn. I can only speak for myself, what I saw. I began to notice how the quality of posts on some blogs deteriorated significantly. There seemed to be a complete dearth of novel ideas. Writing became shoddier, and I wondered whether there was any editing involved at all. The posts began to look like they were uploaded straight from the drafting stage. I also noticed how uncritical the comments were, praising every damn thing that the beauty blogger would say. And that is when I saw past the smokescreen. There were no genuine friendships there! In fact, it would be completely naive to believe so in the first place. What was happening was nothing short of a full-fledged business, I scratch your back and you scratch mine. All this and more, until the seemingly cold-war among beauty bloggers burst forth in the most grotesque manner possible. I began to lose heart, and soon stopped commenting. My doubts were reconfirmed when beauty bloggers stopped commenting on my blog as soon as I stopped commenting on theirs! So very sad! All in all, I could not commit myself to one clique, and felt sorry for the beautiful beauty blogging scene as it once was.

This left a bad taste in my mouth. The bad taste turned awful when I approached a trusted blogger friend. I requested her to publish a few articles written by a close friend of mine who was in need of some money. The blogger in question asked me to email the content, which my friend did. There was no response from said blogger. I called her repeatedly, but she stopped answering my calls altogether and has till date never got back in touch. All this after we spoke so often over the phone and even met each other on several occasions! Very disappointing indeed!

At least for me, beauty blogging was now officially a massive bitch-fest, and I hated it with a vengeance. I withdrew into a shell, not wanting to have anything to do with anyone from that glittery world. I deleted all bloggers and readers from my Facebook page, and stopped interacting with them everywhere. The disgust I had was so intense that I could not bring myself about to even log in to my own account and write! You can see how sporadic I have been!

Much time has passed since all this happened. I don't religiously follow any blog. If there is something I wish to look up, I use trusty Google. I don't really care what blog it leads me to. Perhaps the beauty blogging world is too big for me now. I do not associate with it at all. There are a few people whom I still think about, and I wonder what they are up to now. There are some who continue to write well, who do it for the pure joy it gives them. They have an established and steady fan following. I sneak up on them sometime, like a ghost, not leaving any mark. But it is a long lost love!

I'll remember beauty blogging for the happier times, when it was more real. When I could write for whomever I wanted, and post my pictures without breaking into a sweat.

With this I end my eulogy. A mourning for what once was, and what it sadly became!