I struggled writing this article because I have always used my own reflections and stories to share lessons that I have learnt and this particular sharing is not one that I have personally experienced but one that I see has been happening a lot lately – a really disturbing and weird “trend” – of young girls (i.e. “Instagram Celebrities) “endorsing” brands or “reviewing” labels after getting free products from business owners. At first I thought these forced “OOTDs” posts were just off-putting, but after speaking to some girls about it, I realised that the situation is quite worrying.
Before I started to write this post, I wanted to sincerely hear opinions and collect thoughts from sisters across various backgrounds – sisters who were the everyday consumers – the girl-next-door, sisters who were entrepreneurs themselves and sisters who are, what some of us would say an “IG Celebrity” (most of us would define an IG Celebrity as one who has amassed a huge following on the platform and one that has successfully grown a community of “fans”). Hearing from all of them made me understand their point of views and perspectives, and I felt even more compelled to write this article as I personally feel that there’s a few things that we can do to make our community not judgy-judgy but one that is only filled with respect, self-worthiness, compassion, purpose and lots of sisterly love.
It all started when my youngest sister (she’s 14) told me very casually that she seldom posts anything on IG unless she was wearing something beautiful, or if she has something cool on to show because IG is more permanent whereas Snpachat (the platform that all younger kids are on now) is more temporary, “quick, and it vanishes in seconds” so no one has the chance to scrutinise your every outfit detail or comment on that pimple you have. Obviously I laughed it off, saying, “Kids these days!” and then a few days later I got a very heartfelt email from a Sister who told me that she is “stuck in this media world of wanting to be ‘popular’ to get sponsored. It was a depressing moment when all you have to do was to just put make up on and dress up & I could not keep up. I was unhappy. I soon realised that it was unhealthy.” The last trigger before I thought to myself that “I should really write something about this” happened last Sunday when I was in bed, cosying up and wrapped in my sheets, hiding away from the cold, impending winter, and I was on my IG’s (it’s like reflex isn’t it? to check it every few hours.) EXPLORE page and bam, every photo on that grid has a lady immaculately dressed – she’s either twirling or behind an “Instagrammable” wall, all fancy. Some were smiling, some has that “faraway gaze” but wow, were they all beautiful.
And being extremely curious, I clicked on one and the next and the other one and at first I was blown away by how many “likes” each post has garnered and then I asked myself, what does she do? Is she a writer? A teacher? An activist? Maybe an artist? A baker? A musician? Something????? But I couldn’t find anything substantial, nothing. Just OOTDs. And every caption I read is about a brand, or an Insta-Shop, or a label and how it’s a “shout out” and that all of us must check it out. And I was wondering… why? Because you told us to? Or because you truly, really believe in the products you are wearing, you know its roots, you know if it was made by a pair of hands, you can guarantee its made of the finest quality and you stand behind the brand one hundred percent because you are sure that it was made in ethical environments. Why are you really endorsing it?