On Being “Just” A Beauty Blogger

I hate backhanded compliments. You know the ones.

“You’re so pretty when you make an effort.”
“I wish I could just let it all hang out like you.”
“You’re definitely not as cocky as I thought you were at first.”

Compliments like that suck, because they’re actually insults dressed up to make it seem like the person cares about you. There’s one particular backhanded compliment that I’ve gotten quite a lot since I started blogging. It takes a few different forms but the gist is always basically the same. That someone with a little bit of talent and influence like me should be talking about something with more gravitas than beauty.


The temptation to just toss my hair and yell “MY CORNER OF THE INTERNET, MY RULES” is pretty strong, but I think there are a couple of important points to be made about this opinion that beauty blogging is somehow “less than”.

First, the smart girl/pretty girl thing is a false dichotomy.

That’s right, I’m dropping the false dichotomy bomb, biatches. This is what happens when you annoy a political philosophy geek.

Basically, writing about beauty doesn’t mean that I’m stooping to the stupid girl level, and being smart doesn’t mean that I don’t care about how I look. I can recommend you an awesome cleanser. I can also give you a potted history of the Middle East. When pushed for time, I can probably do both at once. I can’t believe I’m actually having to type this, but girls can be both smart and beautiful. In fact, most of us are.

I think a lot of the scorn that gets heaped on the beauty blogging community is just pure sexism. A lot of beauty blogs are sweet and fluffy and not particularly deep, but so what? When did it become a crime to do something just for fun because it makes you feel good? I never see the same smirks directed at video game bloggers, music bloggers or food bloggers as I do at beauty bloggers. Beauty is seen as trivial, even shallow in a way that other realms of blogging just aren’t. And I think a lot of it has to do with it being a community created primarily for, and primarily populated by people who present as female.

Sorry, boy bbloggers, I love you all lots, but you are very much the minority group here.

Things that women do are constantly scrutinised and patronised. We’re either saying too much or saying too little. We’re brash and opinionated or we’re boring and weak. We’re ugly or we’re vain. That’s the way it goes. And with this undercurrent running through our culture, maybe it’s not so surprising that women banding together to share pretty-making tips is viewed as a self-obsessed, unimportant trend. But I’m calling shenanigans on that right now. Think lipstick is boring? Cool! Go read about something else! I think cricket is totally boring…you know what I do? I don’t read about cricket. I don’t get in touch with people who are really passionate about cricket to remind them that THERE ARE CHILDREN STARVING IN AFRICA AND SOME PEOPLE HAVE CANCER AND INEQUALITY SUCKS. Because I figure they already know that. Because it’s totally possible to write about cricket and still care about the other stuff that’s happening in the world. Same with beauty.

But the reason that these particular comments really get under my skin is because I think that the things I write about are important. I think that the vast majority of my posts go way beyond what foundation to buy or how best to shape your eyebrows.

Again, I don’t mean this in any way to be disrespectful to people who publish beauty reviews and makeup looks and stuff, I love to read your stuff and think it’s really fun and awesome.

But my idea of beauty is mainly about learning to love yourself and feel fabulous in your own skin. I write about the stuff that goes on inside as much as I do about the stuff that goes on outside. And in a world where being female and having a body, occupying space or generally existing is a political and often offensive act, I think that the stuff I write about is pretty damn important. Women are taught to hate their bodies, to focus on their imperfections, to mask their differences, to look perfect, but without making any effort, to suck in, to shrink down. And if you don’t think that fighting back against that is important, I think we are living in very different worlds. And that you probably weren’t bullied as a kid for looking different.

What I wouldn’t have given when I was fourteen to have someone be like “Hey! Why don’t you wear some purple lipstick? You won’t look like everyone else, but that’s okay, it can be really fun to be different!” To have someone tell me that there was more than one way to be beautiful, and that about 80% of gorgeous is that glow that surrounds you when you feel amazing. To be able to turn away from the cookie cutter women on TV and in the adverts and see a massive range of ladies being sexy and wonderful in their own unique, amazing ways. Because the biggest difference between beauty blogging and beauty features in the mainstream media is that beauty blogging doesn’t try to mould everyone to the same ideal. We control the narrative. We control the ideal.

It’s about being able to go “Hey! I’ve never thought about wearing bright green eyeliner!” and not giving a damn whether boys would find it attractive.
“Does anyone know how I can control my mad curls?”
“I would never have put those colours together but it looks awesome.”
“You are gorgeous.”
“I am gorgeous.”
“We are gorgeous.”

Women supporting other women and helping them to feel like they can take on the world is basically my favourite thing. I’m lucky that I’ve been through a whole lot of appearance-related nonsense and have come out the other side with skin that might look like buttermilk, but that is as thick as a rhino’s ass. I love who I am, and part of who I am is the body that I occupy. I am dedicated to decorating and pampering that body however I see fit. I think I can take on the world, I just feel more prepared for it with a swipe of red lipstick.

And I refuse to apologise for that.

13 thoughts on “On Being “Just” A Beauty Blogger

  1. Fiona,

    Great post! I agree with you in every way. I’m “just a beauty blogger” as well but for women fifty plus. I get one added judgement piece, I’m supposed to have gravitas, I’m supposed to be over the looks thing, I’m supposed to have a real life. But the times are changing and I’m happy to fight what I see as a good fight. Here’s to beauty and brains.


    • fionalongmuir says:

      Exactly. Sorry if me feeling good about myself isn’t important enough for you! As if you can only choose one thing to champion. Tis nonsense. And doubly important when it comes to women who aren’t represented often, like 50+ women. Thank you so much for reading!

  2. This post is a masterpiece!!! This is everything about why the internet is such an empowering platform. I also feel like as women we’ve had enough of the impossible ideals of airbrushing and Photoshop that Glamour and Cosmo etc have bombarded us with for so long that we’re like “hey, you know what? We’ll start our own online magazines and that way we’ll have a form of media that represents a multitude of sizes and races!!” Beauty bloggers have started a revolution.

    Sinéad xo ♥ fabuleuse, toujours ♥

  3. Wow! I love this. Women supporting women is so empowering. And I know you find cricket boring, but I’m one of those ridiculously passionate people and I preach exactly the same message to my players. Hey women can be any mix of things they want to be!

    Kate xx

  4. so true, all of it. Wear what you want for you. And I dont think beauty blogs are shallow, I actually think that with a saturated market, its great to be able to get reviews of things from impartial people, rather than the paid girls on the counters!

    • fionalongmuir says:

      It so is! The blogosphere/twitter is where I get almost all of my recommendations from. And loads of fun ideas on how to use the stuff I’ve already got.

  5. You are spot on. I like how you spelled “Trivial?” with your makeup haha. But yeah, I hate how us women are expected to be beautiful at all times but no one takes us seriously on an intellectual level. It’s not just guys who do that, I hate it when a women who doesn’t wear makeup acts like she’s better. I’ve noticed that the woman who DO wear makeup don’t really care who does or who doesn’t, because it makes us happy! I’ve always worn makeup but I only started my blog last year because I started getting more serious about makeup, because I have lupus and struggle with medication weight gain and having a moon face, so I needed something that would make me feel beautiful and confident…

    <3 Hannah

    • fionalongmuir says:

      Thank you so much for reading, Hannah! I know, it’s strange that this idea still exists, but it does and it’s still powerful!

  6. Justin Megawarne says:

    One more point…

    There is a general cult of “beauty” that exists in society and is being (accidentally) instrumentalized by feminism. We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of upholding beauty to be any more of an “ideal” than there are ideals for any other aesthetic.

    I would prefer to say: “Should society have an ideal food? Ideal art form? How about ideal music? Or ideal clothing? No? Then why do you want an ideal body, you fucking boring old farts?”

    If you look at the overwhelming variety of sexual fetish out there, it’s clear that what people _really_ seek doesn’t converge on one notion of beauty. People get rowdy for all kinds of pretty weird shit, and there’s nothing wrong with some particular thing great or gross. What can you expect when you tack some higher cortical functions onto a barely higher primate?

    • fionalongmuir says:

      I love this comment hahaha. I always think this when I go on Pinterest (daft, I know). But there are so many things pinned with titles like “Oh my god, love” or “perfection” that I’m seriously not fussed on. I think it’s the only place where I can see what people like so clearly, so I can see just how different everyone’s tastes are. Thanks so much for reading!

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