GROUP CHAT: SOCIAL MEDIA AND SELF-PROMOTION
We here at Couturesque love the connective, collaborative, and supportive power of social media - each of us using our Instagram and Twitter feeds to express our feelings, unleash our creativity, and raise our voices. However, social media has also become rife with #sponsored content, overnight influencers, and unattainable aesthetic expectations creating an unrealistic (and fickle) atmosphere of success. For our #GOALS issue, we turned to members of our team to talk about the positives and negatives of being a creative in fashion during this age of social media - from the definition of success to their favourite accounts for inspiration, thoughts on “aesthetics,” and how to deal with feelings of comparison and competition. The takeaway? Just do you.
Autumn Breeze, @im_autumnbreeze
Let's start with who you are? I am Autumn Breeze - writer, student, and the Fashion Market Editor at Couturesque.
How old are you? 21.
Where are you currently? My Southern Illinois hometown atm, but New York City in the fall :)
What is your preferred form of social media, and why? It’s a real toss-up! I am a massive Instagram fan due to the fact that I am such a visual person, but I find myself turning to Twitter more and more to get my news, put in my two cents, and hear all that’s late-breaking. It is a draw between those two. Facebook and Snapchat are kind of dead to me, to be completely honest.
What, or who's, accounts do you look towards for inspiration? How do you channel those inspirations? This list is vast and varied. I could go on for hours rambling about who I Instagram stalk and why, but some major ones for fashion are @evemeetswest, @vbiancav, and @annejohannsen; @emmachenartistry, @katiejanehughes, and @filipinogrndma for makeup; for moodboard/meme/nostalgia are @thisishollywood, @motelatmidnight, @nightlydrunklovers, and the crown jewel of early ‘00s magic @bitchbewithyou; then @champagmemani, @jordanrisa,@gabyavillalta, @margaret_zhang, @noellateran, @aishahatter and @matildadjerf just because. I am always saving posts from these people into different “Saved” folders, using them like a moodboard (of sorts) to draw outfit, makeup, and photography ideas from and create a patchwork of images which express *~me~*.
How has the need to have social media presence changed the landscape in regards to breaking into/succeeding in the fashion and beauty industries? I think social media has completely reshaped the field in those regards. On the one hand, it has allowed those with drive, talent, creativity, and ambition to rise above all of the bureaucratic barriers the fashion and beauty industries have built (re: nepotism, classism, etc.) and independently thrive, which is important, amazing, and so necessary. On the other hand, I feel it’s calcified those very barriers as well. Celebrity, name, and notoriety bring the followers - and anyone who models themselves after that can cash in, too. It makes for a toxic online culture. Followers, sponsored content, and all of this doesn’t measure success or ability or talent.
How do you approach the concept of social media "aesthetic"? Just a couple of years ago, I thought crafting a social media aesthetic was one of the prerequisites to “success” on social media. I would spend SO much wasted time pouring over the accounts of others, painstakingly trying to recreate their images, grinding over the #content, fishing for the like. But that’s exhausting. Hella exhausting. I use that energy for more important things now, and remind myself that the social media is just a construct. I realized what those “aesthetics” I liked so much and tried so desperately to recreate had in common: originality and authenticity. The best aesthetic to have is to not have one at all - just be you.
Do you ever find yourself comparing your social media to others? What feelings manifest from those comparisons? Like I said, when I subscribed to all of these ideals of how to maneuver as a fashion creative on social media (aka before I woke tf up) I was exhausted - and disappointed. I tried so hard, then looked at my - like - 200 followers and 12 likes and felt totally defeated. Now, I mean, I’m not going to lie... I fall into those same moments of self-worthlessness, anxiety, and inadequacy. I go back and forth on posting images sometimes. But I think that’s just me being a human being.
What do you do think we can all do to keep social media fun, creative, collaborative, and supportive? The Internet - the whole world quite frankly - will be a better place if we not only appreciate but celebrate the beauty in everyone’s abilities and differences. I think simple ways are commenting positivity on peoples posts (even if it’s just one emoji), sharing (and crediting, fam) the work of others - especially when it moves or inspires you, and reaching out to people who share in your interests. Positive connectivity and free, uninhibited self-expression are #goals - forever and always.
Tia Elisabeth Glista, @tia.elisabeth
Let's start with who you are? My name is Tia, I’m a student and writer, wannabe artist/filmmaker, and I’m the founder and Editor of Couturesque.
How old are you? Recently turned 20 :)
Where are you currently? Currently Toronto, apartment hunting in Manhattan.
What is your preferred form of social media, and why? I’m an Instagram fan, but I think Twitter is having a bit of a renaissance for me right now as I’m trying to bolster my writing portfolio and also returning to some more activism-based interests. I don’t have Snapchat and only use Facebook for groups or to keep in touch with long lost friends.
What, or who's, accounts do you look towards for inspiration? How do you channel those inspirations? I stalk different accounts for different reasons - for photography, I love @dudihasson1, @spencernotspencer, @steviedance_, @_sabrinasantigao…. for art, I’m digging @newyorksunshine, @bellekrol, @cheryl_humphreys…. for fashion, I’m drawn towards @alwaysjudging, @realmp, @yasminsuteja, and @maria_bernad. I’m obsessed with “saving” stuff on my Instagram into a bunch of organised folders, so that if I’m trying to come up with an outfit or something to paint or put on a moodboard for a shoot, I can reference my favourites and figure out what it is that I like about them, but also get some kind of coherent glimpse of how different things that I’ve saved maybe have some semblance of unity…. I’m determined to figure out what that is, because I think that that is really interesting.
How has the need to have social media presence changed the landscape in regards to breaking into/succeeding in the fashion and beauty industries? It’s interesting because so many people who were high up in fashion used to tell me how important having a large following on social media was for attracting collaborators and employers and essentially “proving your worth,” but I kind of hate that. It feels like a very capitalist thing, where the “image” of who you are is more important than who you actually are and what you have to offer. I want to write - it shouldn’t matter if I’m posting pictures of my morning routine or the newest beauty products or trendy boots. I don’t care about that stuff and it isn’t relevant to what I’m trying to do. Luckily, I think the tide is turning and after so much oversaturation, we’ve reached a point of such image fatigue, where now content (hopefully) is more valuable than just having a ton of followers and showing off how fit or rich you are. Interesting is always better.
How do you approach the concept of social media "aesthetic"? I cared a lot more about it a few years ago, when I thought that you needed to fit into a certain aesthetic “box” to make it or attract followers. Now, I can tell that the kinds of accounts I am most drawn to are ones who are totally their own and think “outside of the box,” so that is what I’m more interested in. Incidentally, that can in and of itself become a point of stress and overthinking too. My effort and concentration now focuses less on having a consistent, salient aesthetic than being able to capture “me” with it. But it’s all image - I have to remind myself - it’s not real and there is no such thing as perfectly distilling the “self” into an outfit picture or something.
Do you ever find yourself comparing your social media to others? What feelings manifest from those comparisons? I don’t care a lot about likes, in general, but what does bother me is how Instagram’s algorithm prioritises images from brands and celebrities, or selfies and brunch and beach pictures, so they will be seen by so many people and outperform photography or art by young creatives who are trying to get their voice out there.
Self-comparison is natural, but you have to remember that being an imitation is never going to be satisfying because a) it’s impossible to perfectly execute, and b) it’s about satisfying someone else’s vision of happiness and not yours. Take inspiration, but not aspiration, and always do what you believe in and not what you think you need to post or appear as in order to “fit in.”
What do you do think we can all do to keep social media fun, creative, collaborative, and supportive? Don’t take everything so seriously, and remember that social media is heavily influenced by structures of capitalism that want to use you as a tool, when it should go the other way around.
Clio Reynolds, @clioreynolds
Let's start with who you are? I’m Clio and I’m a fashion contributor here at Couturesque.
How old are you? I’m 18 at the moment.
Where are you currently? I'm currently based in Toronto.
What is your preferred form of social media, and why? I’d definitely say I spend most of my time on Instagram. I feel it’s the social media platform where I have the most creative rein to create my own content.
What, or who's, accounts do you look towards for inspiration? How do you channel those inspirations? I feel like I constantly find new accounts that house inspiration, but three of my go-to’s are @c__l__o, @monikatatalovic and @vibes. I think it’s super important to always give credit where credit is due so if I were to ever post a picture based off of someone else’s work credit is always necessary.
How has the need to have social media presence changed the landscape in regards to breaking into/succeeding in the fashion and beauty industries? Social media has become such a popular tool in such a short time; in a way it’s scary. Social media has opened up so many doors in the fashion industry that it’s driving the industry to evolve in a new fast pace it wasn’t necessarily used to. Although it can be nerve-wracking, it can be exciting to see what effects social media will have on the industry in the upcoming years.
How do you approach the concept of social media "aesthetic"? I feel, especially on Instagram, I have a very specific aesthetic I try to stick with. Although I do like to maintain a certain look, as I grow as a person and experience new things I believe the aesthetic I present also grows in a way. I think it’s super interesting to go back to the start of my feed and see how things have changed over the years. I probably put too much time and effort towards keeping up the aesthetic that my Instagram holds, but as it is something I enjoy doing, I don’t regret it.
Do you ever find yourself comparing your social media to others? What feelings manifest from those comparisons? I feel like it’s hard to not compare yourself to others. I wish I could say that I don’t but I just don’t think it’s realistic. In a strange way I do feel that to an extent slight comparisons can be ok - because they push me to create more content which in the end always feels good. It can all be a bit overwhelming when you look at the big picture of it all. But since social media has been such a large presence within my generation, I personally no longer tie too many negatives to it. I try to just move on and do what makes me happy.
What do you do think we can all do to keep social media fun, creative, collaborative, and supportive? Instagram especially can be so one dimensional and superficial, influencers can have teams of people working with them to make sure their account is constantly maintained and I believe that fact can often be looked over. Not everything is as easy as they make it out to be. I feel at times we all just need to take ourselves a little less seriously. Obviously continue to use social media as you wish, but at the end of the day we all need to remember it is just an app.