Shower Thoughts III: Are we living in the age of influences?
This isn’t really a hot take, and I hope we’re all in agreement, but we’re living in what feels like the age of influences. Whether we’re talking about influencers, celebrities, or the random woman on your FYP telling you you need to get the Dyson Airwrap, I’m really starting to doubt I ever have, or ever will have an original thought. Thank you easy flow of media and information!
Influencers and all that aside for a second, what I’ve been thinking about recently is the thick rose tinted glasses through which we view celebrities. The more you think about it the weirder the behaviour starts to seem. I mean Gwenyth Paltrow was able to successfullysell a candle called “This Smells Like My Vagina” for crying out loud. Fans will relentlessly follow Harry Styles on the street despite multiple pleas not to, follow up on the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial like it’s a reality tv show and religiously praise Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner for their immaculate styles.
Don’t get me wrong, I was, and to a certain extent still am, right there too. I’ve pinned Bella to my Pinterest boards and my flatmates and I religiously watch the Kardashians every Thursday night as if it’s the 10 o’clock news. None of this is even to say that celebrity idolisation is something new- my dad followed Queen’s tour through 4 different countries when he was younger. What he didn’t do, is pin up photos of Brian May or Freddie Mercury to his wall and relentlessly look for dupes of their outfits to ‘recreate’. And I’m sure other people did, stylists and fashion-lovers were definitely sourcing and curating renditions of their outfits- let’s be real, Freddie flew so Harry could sprint- but I wouldn’t say it was a 'universal' experience.
And we’re back to today, where I truly and strongly feel as though the act of idolising the style of people like Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner or even Jacob Elordi, to name just a few (we’ve all got our kryptonite), is the single biggest blocker against originality, creativity and personal style, and it’s also highly misguided. But why do we care so much? What are they doing that emerging creatives, designers, artists, writers, aren’t? I feel like you can find far more inspiration walking the streets of London than scrolling on Instagram, without necessarily fixating on recreating specific outfits.
Let me try to break it down:
By putting celebrities on a pedestal they begin to appear both godly and dehumanised at the same time. Everything they do becomes elevated. We scrutinise celebrities in a way we would never our friends. We praise them for doing the bare minimum, for seeming like a nice person or being aware of social injustices. We see a celebrity wearing low-waist jeans, a crop top and an oversized blazer and we’re immediately sold- next thing you know you’re scouring every shopping app on your phone for a blazer that looks the most similar. Pair this with the fact that we buy 60% more clothes than we did 15 years ago, and you begin to see the toxic cycle. We let ourselves be influenced by people who haven’t even been dubbed as marketers or influencers without really realising it. Furthermore, we’ve stopped using these ‘idols’ or ‘icons’ as sources of inspiration and began just blindly copying them with little personal input.
Why do I call it misguided? Because we give all the credit and praise to the celebrities and sometimes forget the enormous teams behind them. More often than not, Hailey Bieber’s personal style isn’t her personal style (sorry Hailey if you’re reading this, just an example). It’s what her stylist has picked out for her on a given day or for a given event. Something they have picked out from (more than likely) a selection which has been sent to her from a partnering brand or designer. So why do we never say “wow, her stylist has amazing taste!”?
And as I mentioned, the more you think about it, the more ridiculous the whole thing starts to feel. And as I turn the tap off and step out of the shower I start to think- WHY do we do this? HOW did we get here? Seriously though… let us know if you have the answer it’s really starting to eat me alive.
When you really start to deep it, these people are singers, actors, models, whatever. That’s their job. But it’s our inexplicable investment in their personal lives that makes them more than that. Why can’t we appreciate an actor for the character they play and the good job they do and stop there. Why does it have to become an unhealthy level of infatuation? Because I can tell you now, I definitely don’t idolise my dentist (who does a stellar job btw) the same way I would someone like Emma Stone. But that’s really the common denominator- they’re both people who are really good at their jobs. But let’s think for a second, can anyone go into the acting or music industry wanting fame or recognition, and not expect their talent to be a second point of interest, below their personal lives?
I hope you didn’t come here looking for an answer, because as you might know our shower thoughts are always usually an open discussion. In this case, it was me feeling increasingly flabbergasted the more I started dissecting the topic. I guess all of it was really to say that maybe it’s time (for me) to grow out of the fangirl era and start distancing myself from celebrities, and appreciate them for the good job they do in their respective fields- the same way my parents do.