I have this drawer in my bedside table filled with lotions, deodorant, nail polish and lots of other beauty products. As I reached to the back to grab my mango body lotion the other day, I found a pile of makeup.
I don’t wear makeup often. The only times I will are when we go out for a fancy dinner, party, or wedding. Other than that, it’s my bare face and me against the world. Which is why this pile of makeup really bothered me.
I remember buying these six items at Target (yes, I did just go count them) for about $60. That’s a lot of money to spend on Target makeup, especially for someone who’s experience with make up is very limited.
At the time, my justification for spending this much money on something I rarely wear was “It’s for a blog post!” Yeah… I never did a blog post, but I did learn how susceptible to advertising I
Most of the products I bought were ones that I’d seen promoted by beauty YouTubers that I watched. I used to watch channels like “Zoella,” “Tanya Burr,” and “Estee Lalonde” religiously, but now I see their videos through a different lense.
Each one of these YouTubers mentioned above, plus every single other beauty YouTuber out there does videos that are just huge ads, whether they are paid for by a company or not. For example, they’ll do “haul” videos. These consist of the YouTubers filming what they bought at a variety of stores, and because viewers are seeing products endorsed by someone they look up to, the chances are, people are going to go out and buy these products.
I know that’s exactly what happened to me. I would watch these videos and if I saw something that looked good on them, I would jot in down in my Notes app for the next time I went shopping.
This is wrong for a number of reasons. The first being something that I’ve touched on in a previous post. I am Indian. The three YouTubers I listed are white. The products they endorse, makeup or not, are not always what’s going to work for me. I have darker skin, thicker hair, etc. The way they promote the products, though, doesn’t take into account the differences we have, and it turns out I don’t really think about that until after I get home with lipstick that looks terrible on my skin color.
The second reason this is wrong is that I’m literally buying into what they’re selling just on their word. Watching videos on YouTube gives the viewer a false impression of a close relationship. They share their day with us using this intimate platform which builds a one sided relationship between the content creator and the viewer. This relationship is then being exploited to sell goods and make money.
I’m not blaming the viewer for getting ensnared. I’ve 100% bought into this system and I’m probably not done getting sucked in. I just want to open your eyes to what’s going on, because if you’re aware, you’ll start to see the advertising tactics everywhere. Not just in the case of YouTube, either.
The scariest thing about advertising, for me, is when I’m forced to question my own free will. Did I buy this product because I genuinely like it or because I saw ___ wearing it in a magazine.
I know this is a long post, but if you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around. I’m currently taking a Popular Culture class at school and one of the topics we’re covering is advertising. I find the subliminal (and sometimes not at all subliminal) messaging both fascinating and terrifying, so I thought I’d share.
Let me know what you think about advertising and the media in general. I’m always interested in other opinions!