1 August 2017

Real Talk: Green Blogging, Disclosure, Fearmongering, Elitism, Ingredient Shaming + More

It’s been about a month and a half since I published a blog post and while some of that is life and schedule-related, it’s also because I’ve been feeling disconnected from the green beauty community over the last several months.  When I first started blogging in 2011, this community was a lot smaller and while I think it’s fantastic that the community – and overall interest in green and natural products – has grown so substantially these last six years, it also brings with it challenges – growing pains, if you will – and a few things just haven’t been sitting right with me of late. 

Regular content will resume shortly, but first I want to clear the air and put into words what it is that’s been bothering me lately.  If you’re only interested in product-related content, feel free to skip this one!


Ingredient-Shaming + Green Competition
To me, green beauty is predominantly about making healthier choices.   Choices that you, as an individual, are comfortable with.  It’s not about being greener than anyone else or judging other people’s choices.

Still, I regularly see people being shamed and dismissed on Instagram and in green and natural Facebook groups.  Specific instances I’ve seen in the last few months?  Ganging up on a green blogger for going back to some conventional products, dismissing someone's shower gel with phenoxyethanol as "not even natural," berating someone else’s use of prescription acne medication, and ridiculing yet another person who had yet to switch from conventional mascara and deodorant.  Not to mention non-beauty related examples like mouthing off at someone for feeding their children boxed cereal, enjoying an occasional French fry, or using a disposable coffee cup.  

It’s not okay.  Please don’t be someone who polices other people’s choices, even under the guise of help or concern.  I get it – I’ve had my more strident ingredient purist days too, but remember that your standards are just that – yours – and don’t carry over to anyone else.  

Fearmongering
I'm also so turned off by the fearmongering that some brands (and influencers too!) put out there.  I  don't doubt that it sells products in this industry, but it's so tacky.  
  
I really think it should go without saying -- just don't.  There's so many better ways to sell green living and natural products than fear of chemicals and cancer!

Elitism, Overspending + Overconsumption
Luxury beauty will always have its place, but I’ve always believed that there’s a space for everyone (and every budget) in the green beauty world.  I feature products across a range of price points, but I think most of you already know that my heart particularly goes out to affordable gems.  

Whether it comes comes from having more wiggle room for a larger marketing budget or something completely different, a lot of the content out there focuses on high end natural products.  I'm in no way bashing those brands or products, but I hope we'll see a shift towards better representation of all the great inexpensive options out there too!  Better quality ingredients do cost more, but that only goes so far – a $100 clay mask vs. $25 one, for example, is usually more a matter of marketing than ingredient quality.  

I also cringe a little at the overall overconsumption and overspending that’s so rampant in the beauty world as a whole.  I believe basic skincare – and even makeup – can be considered necessities, but beyond that, we’re in luxury territory.  I love seeing gorgeous shelfies and rows upon rows of fantastic green goodies on Instagram as much as the next person, but I do wonder how much it perpetuates an idea of beauty overconsumption as the norm.  

Disclosure, Paid Content + Dishonest Influencers
I’m all for bloggers and influencers being paid for their work, but nothing gets my goat more than undisclosed paid content and brand affiliations.  Earning a living as an “influencer” is still somewhat new and while there are certainly people doing it right, there’s also a lot of questionable behaviour and unscrupulous product-pushing. 

Accepting free product or compensation doesn’t make anyone dishonest, but I think readers and followers have a right to know what’s paid and what’s not so they can judge that for themselves.  The FTC has been cracking down on huge celebrities like Kim K for not disclosing sponsored and affiliated content this year, but since green beauty is tiny fry in comparison, there’s not any real supervision in this regard right now.  

Where do we go from here?
I hope this post doesn’t come across as too negative!  Despite feeling somewhat disenchanted with these particular things, I'm still really excited about other parts of the community and I've got some great content planned for the next few months.

To wrap this up, basically, what I want to say is ---

Be as green as you want to be.
Buy or don’t buy.
Take social media for what it is – a glimpse of a person’s life and what they’re choosing to share with the world.  And also a way to earn a living.

I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the content I create here on Naturalla Beauty.  Whether you’re fully green or just dabbling, I’d love to have you here.  I’ve always been and will continue to be fully transparent about paid content, PR samples, and brand affiliations.  Likewise, I'm always honest in my reviews and will never mislead you just to sell a product.  

Leave a comment and let me know where you stand on all this – I’d love to know if you feel similarly! – and stay tuned for regular beauty content, coming soon.  

     
     

21 comments:

  1. I think there are several of us feeling this way, myself included. I started blogging same time as you and I do miss that old community spirit. I recently dropped out of a few FB groups for the things you describe and I've had people "pick fights" with me over my lifestyle choices. I also try and offer readers affordable side of green skincare on my blog as it's fits my budget contraints, if you have the money to spend then great got for it but some of these high priced products I look at the ingredients and can't understand why it warrants the ££/$$

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    1. Thanks Sarah -- happy to hear I'm not alone in feeling this way! Sorry to hear you've had people pick fights! I'm not active in many FB groups anymore either, it's just too much unnecessary drama. I agree with you -- if you've got the money to splurge, that's great, but high end products are definitely not the only things out there. You know I'm a longtime Sugarpuffish reader + I've always appreciated that you cater to a range of budgets :)

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  2. SO.MUCH.THIS!!! Everything you said is 100% how I feel too. I've been blogging about as long as you too and I agree things were so much different back then - much more positive and accepting. I also used to be a militant purist when I first started out, but when I lost my job (when I had back surgery), I had to look for more affordable options. Now, I try and share a range of options for my readers because let's face it, not everyone has $100 to drop on a face oil. And I'd much rather see someone buying brands like Pacifica and Tom's of Maine over Covergirl and Colgate. All of the green shaming and elitism you mentioned has been definitely turning me off for awhile (in fact, I've written a few posts on it too) as well. It's one of the reasons I don't really participate in some of the GB FB groups much anymore. I wish people could just support and applaud others for any healthier choice they make, instead of pointing out all of the bad ingredients in what they are choosing and how it's not green or clean enough! I think this is part of why I am having a hard time getting or staying motivated lately. :-/

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    1. Thanks Sabrina! I know you've written about green shaming before too -- it drives me crazy to see it still happening so much! I stick to pretty pure ingredients myself, but I'm definitely not as strict as when I first started blogging either. I agree with you -- anything healthier than mainstream is a good thing, even if the ingredients maybe aren't perfect. I think if you have the money to spend on expensive products, that's great, I just wish affordable options got a little more coverage -- I hear over and over from people who think they can't use natural products because of the cost!

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  3. I started around the same time as you and I agree with everything you said in this post. I think the community has changed so much and it feels very different now. I've personally struggled a lot with the kind of content I want to create now and I've been sort of leaving natural behind and focusing more cruelty-free but still being mindful of not using the really bad ingredients but it's so scary because I don't want people judging me or being unkind. It's already so hard to put yourself out there and then adding in harsh criticism makes it that much harder. I'm quite guilty of reviewing high end and expensive products, though, but I understand where you're coming from. I haven't liked many of the cheaper products and/or brands but I think it is important to feature a range of things that anyone could afford. Thank you for sharing this post. I really appreciate what you have to say.

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    1. Thanks Kassie! I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying or reviewing high end products, I just wish there was a better representation of the full spectrum of options/price points out there. Not trying to put that on any one person, moreso just my thoughts on green beauty content as a whole. I also think it's completely understandable that the type of content you put out will shift when you've been blogging as long as we have -- I mean, people don't stay the same, why would blogging content? Natural is still important to me, but even within that frame, I'm far from the ingredient purist I was when I first started :)

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  4. The fearmongering is the worst in my opinion. I also think the word "clean" is terrible and is itself a form of scaremongering, because everything in the world is made of chemicals, and branding certain chemicals as "dirty" is ridiculous and distasteful.

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    1. That's something I've been thinking about more recently too -- the language we use to describe green/eco/natural products can definitely be problematic. Personally, I don't mind the word "clean," but I see where you're coming from!

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  5. So glad to read this! I was disappointed I hadn't been seeing much new content here lately, and thought it meant you were "on your way out" of the blogging world. I am so glad that is not the case! I have always appreciated your honest reviews and your mindset about affordable green beauty--Whenever I have wuestions about a new product, I chexk here first to see if you've done any reviews on it.

    Can't wait to see more honest reviews amd learn about new products!

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    1. Thanks Lorie, I appreciate your longtime support:) Some of it has definitely been schedule-related -- working full-time just doesn't leave as much time in the day for things like blogging! -- but I don't think I'm on the way out quite yet! My first inclination when trying anything new is still to blog about it, so I really want to get back into a good routine here.

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  6. Not a blogger myself, but as a reader, I have been losing trust and faith in the opinions/recommendations of many influencers and not only the green beauty category either. (Yes, I am a "beauty fluent" user....meaning I go both ways!)
    At the end of the day, those bloggers who are honest and transparent will win the loyalty of readers. In the mean time, keep on doing what you have been b/c I think its wonderful!

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    1. Thank you so much! It's disheartening to see dishonest influencers, but I think you're right, people do clue in eventually. (P.S. I like that term, beauty fluent :) )

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  7. It's been a while since I've posted a comment on a blog as I usually follow blogs via Feedly nowadays, however I felt compelled to respond here. I started GB blogging back in 2012 and one of the things that I loved back then was the community spirit! I stopped the blog in 2014/15 due to various personal/lifestyle factors at the time but I've continued to follow the community & agree that it's changed lately for the reasons you mention above. I've just started a new blog about my wellness journey with chronic disease (natural products being an 'umbrella' part of that) & I've been posting relevant content on Instagram for a little while now - I love social media for inspiration, genuinely connecting with similar people & building a community but since I've become more active on social media again I've also felt (of late) that it's more of a competition / stage & sales pushers seem to be everywhere. I'd thought about all of this before you posted & wondered if it was just because I was getting older lol. Proves that many of us feel the same way though. For me, honesty will always win over influence. Dana :-)

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    1. Thanks Dana, I appreciate you commenting :) I missed your blog when you stopped writing, so I'm happy you're at a place to start back at it again! I did also wonder how much of this was just personal pet peeves or general ennui about blogging, so it's been refreshing to see how many people are feeling the same!

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  8. I wrote something similar myself a few months ago. I feel very lucky to have made enduring friendships from blogging and even though the community aspect is less than it once was, I still see little glimmers of it crop up. The controversial postings are in my opinion part of peoples branding now and it works because it sells far more than being level headed on social media. I don't intend to stop blogging anytime soon but it is hard to keep motivated after years of putting out content Xx

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    1. You're probably right -- it's a weird time for clickbait and over-the-top content! I feel much more connected with "old-timers" like you over those who thrive on more of the drama :)

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  9. This right here!!! You've captured what I've been feeling in this past year. I have unfollowed brands, stores and bloggers because of this. Thank you for voicing what was bothering you. I think it's something that so many people feel and I hope that brands that do this start taking notice.

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    1. Thank you so much! I agree, my hope is that more people speaking up will urge brands and other influencers to rethink their approach :)

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  10. Super well written. Completely with you. I have been thinking a lot about it lately too......x

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    1. Thanks Audrey! I appreciate that :)

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  11. I wrote about this awhile back and relate so much to what you said here. It's amazing how much the fear monger inn gets supported on Instagram. I've tried to comment saying it's wrong to shame people and people have jumped down my throat. Also, it's amazing how some bloggers are touted as being pioneers for green beauty when they are clearly promoting products without disclosing. It's a frustrating thing and I took a hiatus from blogging for a combination of these reasons. Now I'm just trying to have more tunnel vision and do my own thing you know? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

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