AM I A NARCISSIST?
Let’s get one thing straight: the short answer to the title of this post is probably ‘yes’, and I say that as a fashion blogger myself! However, the question of narcissism in blogging is a more complex one that it seems, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few days, so hear me out. If you’re following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that my grid has become entirely fashion based in recent weeks. What this essentially means is I’m posting a photo of myself at least once a day everyday, and on Instagram, the people liking the photos are generally doing the same thing. No judgement passed. However, all of these photos also go straight to my Facebook page for my friends and family to see, and I know at least one of them has thought ‘Why does Martha post so many pictures of herself?’ at some point along the way. Even I have to admit that before I was participating in it myself, the culture surrounding blogging and Instagram seemed heavily narcissistic to me. So have my opinions changed?
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Narcissism in the form of selfie taking and fashion blogging has become much more culturally acceptable in recent years thanks to the rise of social media and the smartphone. People will argue that it isn’t narcissistic to post photos of yourself online, but truly and honestly, it is. I feel totally comfortable saying so because I do it myself! However, I don’t think narcissism is necessarily a bad thing, and furthermore, I think a lot of people misuse the term. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the definition of narcissism as:
Excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.
The important word in that sentence is ‘or’. I don’t admire my appearance. In fact, I can list one hundred and one things I hate about it. My hips are too wide, my shoulder blades are wonky, my scars are ugly etc. Does it sound like I have excessive admiration for myself? I didn’t think so, but despite this, I continue to post photos of myself online. Why?
Well, you may not believe me, but actually, I’m not that comfortable with it. I’m far happier sharing a photo of some flowers than I am of my dramatic hair flick, hence why I started a second account for all of the images I’d rather be posting! However, Instagram rewards narcissism, and my best performing posts on the platform are consistently those which feature my face. I don’t know why, as I don’t consider myself especially attractive, but it’s true. Since making the decision to post exclusively outfit photos, my follower count has climbed past the 1000 mark, and I can see that it’s my path to success on Instagram. Am I selling out against my values then?
A HEALTHY DOSE OF SELF LOVE
Don’t get me wrong – I think my style is great and I wouldn’t share photos of myself if I didn’t think I looked my best. Furthermore, I think it’s actually helped my body confidence to see that people actually think I look alright. So are we seeking validation from others by posting photos of ourselves? To some extent, yes. I think it begins that way and transforms into a declaration of self love as we grow in confidence – and what’s so bad about that? In a world where girls and women struggle with body image thanks to the representation of the female body in the media, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrating the way you look, especially if the boost to your confidence helps you succeed in other areas of your life. The important thing is that it doesn’t become the only thing that matters.
A LITTLE BIT OF NARCISSISM NEVER HURT ANYBODY
To me, it’s about utilising the platform to the best of my ability to achieve the most reach. All of my life goals are related to getting creative online – from music to writing to artwork – so if a little bit of narcissism on Instagram grows my audience and, therefore, the amount of people who see the things that matter, then hand me the selfie stick! We all have our own reasons for sharing photographs of ourselves online, and as long as it isn’t dangerous (either because of the people viewing them or the risk of basing our self worth around them) then this culture of narcissism is hardly a global cause of concern.
MOVING ON UP
So is fashion blogging narcissistic? Well, if you mean narcissistic in the sense that posting multiple photos of yourself online demonstrates a certain amount of self interest, then yes. However, narcissism doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Fashion bloggers aren’t simply a generation of self absorbed young women with no other prospects in life other than their looks. In fact, a number of fashion bloggers are using their love of clothes and accessories as a catalyst for their other interests, because *gasp* a woman can be intellectual and like shopping! I place myself firmly within that category, and if others want to judge me as a narcissist on a surface level, then it really doesn’t bother me as long as I’m edging closer and closer to reaching my dreams.
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Do you think fashion blogging is narcissistic? Does it matter to you?