Aspirational Vs Relatable (And Somewhere In The Middle)

#Relatable – possibly the most overused word within the blogosphere. During the rise of blogs and vlogs these ‘real’ men and women provided a refreshing relief from the over photoshopped and over commercialised magazines we were used to seeing; they invited us into their homes and into their lives, breaking down barriers and becoming a friend to every one of their followers. We trusted their opinions on the latest mascara, wanted to know where their latest outfit was from and took recommendations on everything from the hottest burger in town to where we should spend our fortnight holiday. Bloggers really were so much more relatable than a glossy magazine or a celebrity with a stylist helping them getting ready every day – they were just like us. As the industry has grown, however, those bloggers have been able to make a career from doing what they love; as their bank balances have grown their Primark hauls have been replaced with Net-A-Porter ones and their holidays to Majorca have been swapped for the Maldives. Many of them have moved from being #relatable to #aspirational, but does that mean they’re any less valid?

Over the last few months I’ve witnessed a lot of ‘blogger bashing’ and debate around the idea that we should remain ‘relatable’ at all times – but what’s ‘relatable’ to one person may not be necessarily so to the next. Just because you don’t have a spare fifty quid in your bank account at the end of the month, it doesn’t make someone who has ten times that completely unrelatable; just because one person chooses to spend a grand on a handbag or treat themselves to an exotic holiday, it doesn’t mean your own lifestyle choices are any less legitimate. We should never be shamed for being successful or having cash in the bank to spend on ourselves, and women should never bring one another down purely because of the lifestyle they choose to lead; we should celebrate each other’s successes and turn that pang of jealously into drive that moves us forward to achieve what’s important.

I’ve written my thoughts on the growth of aspirational blogging before,
and fundamentally my opinion remains the same: you do you, but always
think about how you’re being perceived by your readers and do your best
not to make them feel inadequate. A sprinkling of luxury gives us all something to aspire to or dream of, but when it becomes so far removed from our own choices it becomes as dream like as becoming the next Kate Middy. But that still has a function – the majority of us don’t buy Vogue for the fashion content or to pull together a new season lookbook, but to dreamily flick through the pages and take inspiration that we can make applicable to our own lives. 

Personally I find the relatable end of the spectrum more enjoyable than the super aspirational one, purely because I love to know when someone is juggling the strains of life just as badly as me; I love to know where you can pick up a bargain maxi dress or a dupe for a pair of YSL sunnies, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy flicking through a glossy site and wishing my images could be just like theirs. So when does that inspiration become potentially damaging, or just too much? In my opinion when it moves from aspirational to a feeling of perfection; when it’s not just living a certain lifestyle, but when that lifestyle is both unrealistic and over-curated. (Yes, I’m talking about fake birds and hot air balloons in every picture – that sh*t just aint real!) When it makes the reader feel inadequate and like a failure, because they don’t have a hope in hell of emulating any element of their favourite blogger’s life.

Zoella has built a multi-million pound empire, but she still shops in Topshop and enjoys a £3.00 bath bomb; no matter her drawbacks, she understands the value of remaining relatable to her audience and offering a piece of her own life to them (via a shopable link.) The most sophisticated blogger-businesswomen, in my opinion, are the ones that make everything seem super luxe even when they’re mixing up their latest Gucci purchase with something they picked up in Matalan; they’re the ones that effortlessly combine a pair of pumps from Next with the latest Chloe bag, providing a way of tapping into their lifestyle at the click of a button.

You don’t have to constantly ‘keep it real’ and talk about your life fails just to be seen as relatable; in fact it can get a touch unrealistic to constantly belittle your own abilities, interests and financial stability as much as it is to over inflate it – it’s all about balance. I’m a 35 year old married woman who worked hard to achieve the levels of success I have, benefiting from financial security and independence so I can treat myself whenever I want to; just because I own a handful of designer bags and spent my last holiday in Bali, it doesn’t mean I don’t still love supermarket fashion or spending a weekend hanging out in Five Guys. We all have different facets to our personality, and lives, and they evolve as we age and progress through our years. I don’t expect to appeal to a 17 year old, so why even bother trying? The right audience will find me and in the meantime I’ll just keep doing what I love.

Belittling or critiquing someone else’s choices because you can’t personally relate to them won’t make you feel any better, in the same way as aspiring to live an Instagram perfect life won’t make that any more achieveable. We should all be able to take what we see online as only a snapshot of an individual’s reality, using the aspirational elements to provide inspiration and the more relatable ones to reaffirm our own struggles. Bloggers became successful because they were just like us; but like us, they’re an individual person, not a melting pot of every member of society.

Find the ones that you can personally relate to or take inspiration for, and don’t worry about the rest – because like finding love, there’s always a perfect match out there for you.

ASOS Midi T-Shirt Dress With Drop Hem | £28.00 | LINK

ASOS Leopard Print Point Espadrilles | £25.00 | LINK

Marks & Spencer Trench Coat | £45.00 | LINK
Topshop Circle Basket Bag | £24.00 | LINK
Starbucks of Choice: Coconut Milk Latte Macchiato


Photos Taken By Kaye Ford:


Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  



  1. last year's girl
    April 25, 2018 / 9:03 am

    Hear hear, Hayley! As I said briefly on Twitter the other day, I happen to find you one of the most relatable bloggers out there. I think it's because we're the same age and at roughly the same stage in our lives, like many of the same things and have a pretty similar sense of style (#HayleyHallInspiredShoppingList). But it's impossible to be #Relateable to everybody (would a 21-year-old be able to say any of the above?) and if we try to be, we'd only lose the individuality that makes us all worth reading.Lis / last year's girl x

    • Hayley Hall
      April 25, 2018 / 3:09 pm

      Thanks so much Lis – and yes, you have to find the people that you can relate to personally, or find interesting because of something in common. We can't be all things to all people. (Loving that hashtag too!!)

  2. Jade
    April 25, 2018 / 11:18 am

    I absolutely loved this post Hayley. You are completely right, I love the idea of posting a luxury bag on Instagram and then writing a blog post the next day about how to find affordable dupes. I don't think people should bash other bloggers if they personally don't want to see a luxury bag on their feed. Great post as always – P.S I love this outfit, you always have such gorgeous photographs! Jade

    • Hayley Hall
      April 25, 2018 / 3:11 pm

      Thanks Jade! And absolutely, I'm the same – I love designer bags but I love Primark and ASDA. I shouldn't be shamed for having worked hard to afford a Gucci bag, nor should I be embarrassed about saving money in other areas. Life is about choices, and if we all chose the same it would be a very boring place.

  3. Pam Scalfi
    April 26, 2018 / 8:02 am

    I love this post so much, and I find you very relatable, which is why I keep coming back. And I agree, I worked really hard for my designer bag but that doesnt stop me from shopping at Matalan nor do I try to portray that my life is so luxe all the time, because it isn't ๐Ÿ˜› I much prefer following relatable bloggers :)Pam xo/ Pam Scalfiโ™ฅ

    • Hayley Hall
      April 26, 2018 / 8:25 am

      Thanks Pam! And your support is so appreciated (and noted!) Very few lives are incredibly luxe and without issue, so why anyone would want to portray theirs as such is beyond me… I'm down with the mismatched socks and eating leftovers for tea ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Danish Pastry
    April 26, 2018 / 2:19 pm

    I love aspirational and relatable, I do think that both are valid. One is about dreaming (and we should never stop having dreams, even if they don't all come true), the other is about putting things into perspective and realising that everybody struggles at some point or other. I want to be inspired to save up for that special item (sometimes the wait is what makes it special), I want to receive advice (beauty, style or life) from someone having similar experiences to me. I don't want to witness trolls putting people down, just because they can do it anonymously (That's called cowardice). I don't expect to like every single post a blogger writes, and I don't necessarily expect to follow any particular blogger for eternity (lives and lifestyle converge and diverge constantly). I do expect a certain level of support, without petty destructive jealous comments.Put simply Hayley, I like what you're doing, the way you're doing it!

    • Hayley Hall
      April 26, 2018 / 4:43 pm

      I totally agree with everything you've said – and thank you for being so lovely too! I'm really glad you enjoy what I do ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Abigail Lewis-Savage
    April 27, 2018 / 12:29 pm

    You are completely right. I don't always love reading the super luxury posts some bigger bloggers now post but I'm so happy that blogging has given them that life and lifestyle, if that is what they dreamed of. I love reading smaller bloggers posts because I love a bargain whenever I can and also know that even though the super luxury lifestyles some people portray are enviable, they also have super bad days like the rest of us, and I like to read about that sometimes. I love this post and your images are gorgeous!Abi xo |

    • Hayley Hall
      April 27, 2018 / 1:33 pm

      Thanks Abigail!

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