I have no shame in admitting the fact that my blog started up as a place to share new nail polish buys and lipstick trends. There was no depth to it and no long term vision, it was just a little place online that I could take about what was new in Boots and why hot pink lips were totally on-trend for the new season. As time evolved and my writing gained momentum, I became known as a blogger who wasn’t afraid to share an opinion or be controversial – not unlike my ‘real life’ persona! Over the years I’ve been vocal about many issues and stood up for what I believed in, even if I’ve found myself in hot water or blocked by a certain demographic in the bloggosphere, because that’s who I am as a person: I’m passionate, strong-willed, empathetic and have a deep-rooted desire to make a positive impact during the time I have on this earth.
I’ve written about cancer, period poverty, smear tests and domestic violence, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a passion for sharing insight and advice on the more vacuous topics of fashion, beauty and travel. My belief is that we need inspiration as much as we need education, and sometimes a little advice on overall wellbeing can go a huge distance in having a positive impact on a person’s day or overall opinion of themselves. But recently there’s been a wave of bloggers and influencers starting to champion causes they believe in, crying out that we should be using our platforms and voices for good; my feeds are all of a sudden awash with veganism, cruelty free beauty, menstrual cups, conscious fashion and plastic straws as we become more aware of the global impact we’re having and how something needs to change.
It’s got me thinking: should every blogger use their voice for positive change?
Should every influencer have a ’cause’ or charity they champion, or should we just stick to what we’re good at – eyeshadow tutorials and styling up leopard print?
During times of crisis I do find myself navigating towards those with strong opinions and strong voices, as a way of both educating myself and also reaffirming my own thoughts. Every one of us is well rounded and *should* have opinions on newsworthy topics, so it feels like a natural extension to take these opinions to our audiences in a healthy and balanced way. Even if you don’t know what to say or don’t have a fully formed opinion of your own, often sharing comments by others or retweeting insightful articles can make the world of difference and ensure information is proliferated to those who could benefit from it. Personally I think it a real shame that bloggers and influencers have such incredible platforms and influence, only for it to be used to sell new mascaras or talk about the latest episode of Love Island – because, as someone once said, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’
On the flip side, I also believe that every individual should have the choice to use their platform and voice in whichever way they want. We shouldn’t be forced into sharing political opinions, jumping on the Me Too bandwagon or critiquing the latest YouTuber scandal if it’s not what we want to do; just like there’s always one mate in the pub who couldn’t be less interested in Brexit, there are those who have no interest in topics that feel fundamentally important to many more of us. And that’s ok. If you’re only comfortable sharing your latest beauty buys and using pastel filters on your photos, that should be respected as much as someone drumming up a storm over the lack of diversity within the fashion industry.
There will always be those of us who want to be well informed, who want to learn and want to grow; we’ll seek out influencial voices, read everything we can and form our own opinions; we’ll turn the conversation over lunch into one with a little more depth than who watched what on telly last night, and we’ll try to do our small bit for the good of humanity in whichever way we can. However, there will also be those who prefer to live their lives surrounded by butterflies and rainbows; they’re not interested in politics, economics or world events, but they do provide something else incredibly important: a moment of escapism and positivity, that may otherwise be out of reach for so many struggling or experiencing hard times.
We can never underestimate the power Primark haul to someone who’s had a really hard time of it, and just wants a way to lift their spirits; we can never underestimate the power of a makeup tutorial to someone who struggles with a confidence draining skin condition; we can never underestimate the power of a goofy challenge video to a kid who is living in poverty and needs that giggle more than ever. Because as influencers we offer so many things to so many people – and we shouldn’t all be expected to create the same kind of content in the same kind of ways. If we did, the internet would be a very boring place indeed.
If you’re an influencer and you do want to start using your platforms for ‘good’, how can you get started and what can you do to make a difference?
1. Find topics you’re passionate about. Whether that’s cruelty free beauty, reducing plastic waste, raising awareness of cancer symptoms or talking about domestic violence, it’s important to find what’s an important topic for you. We all have different reasons for sympathizing with certain issues, and not every injustice or topical event will be what you want to get behind; once you’ve found a couple of things you’re interested in, that’s the first step.
2. Share information across your social channels. Don’t underestimate the power of a retweet, Facebook share or Insta Story post – those little bits of information build up to tell a story, and you never know how positively they could impact other people.
3. Stimulate conversation on your blog or YouTube channel. Keep the chat going and discuss why your chosen issues are so close to your heart, helping to tell stories or provide information that will make a difference. I’m hugely passionate about cervical cancer and regularly write about attending smear tests, as well as everything to expect before / during / after, because people have told me how much it put their mind at ease. Find your passion point and get creating.
4. Connect with charities that can help. It’s not just about raising money, but often raising awareness and campaigning for change – whether that’s a ban on plastic cups and straws, more ethical practices in clothing production or the consequences of diet pills. Find charities that can support your content, that can provide information and can help you on your journey to giving something back.
5. Find other influencers who are doing great things. Some of my biggest inspirations are influencers who are using their platforms to have those difficult conversations, and who aren’t afraid of saying what many of us are thinking; connecting with likeminded bloggers will help to guide you and support your goals, as well as reinforcing what you’re trying to do.
Whether you want to start using your platforms to make a change or just want to stick to reviewing eyeshadow palettes, the choice is yours.
But remember all those little voices build up to create a mighty roar – and yours could definitely be part of it.