So today is going to be a bit of a different post for me. If you follow me on Instagram (link here!) you may know that I handed in my dissertation this week. It was a long, laborious process but I am so happy now that it is done. I decided to do my dissertation on Instagram, more specifically on fashion bloggers on Instagram. So I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned from the whole experience!
I’m not going to go into the specifics about who I studied and what my findings of my research were. I haven’t got my mark back yet and I think that would be unwise! But I am going to talk about what I have learned, as a blogger, about Instagram and fashion blogging in general from the whole experience.
Fashion Blogging Has A Bad Reputation
This was something I found constantly whilst reading academic literature. Most articles focus on the biggest fashion bloggers in the world, like Chiara Ferranghi and Aimee Song. These women are hugely successful and obviously earn a lot of money from the businesses they created from their blogs. However, by focusing on these women who lead extremely glamorous, luxurious lifestyles it paints fashion blogging as this sort of social climbing activity. Which it isn’t!
Yes – the biggest fashion bloggers in the world have now transcended what fashion blogging was like originally. But by focusing on only these top 20 blogs out of the millions of fashion blogs in the world, it obscures what I would call the true culture of fashion blogging.
The majority of fashion bloggers don’t have Karl Lagerfeld on speed dial or appear on the cover of Vogue. Most of the fashion bloggers I follow wear accessible brands and are shooting photos in their local area – not from 5 star luxury resorts. Even if it has changed a lot over the last 10 years, I still think fashion blogging is more relatable than what you’d find in a fashion magazine.
What is relatable anymore?
This brings me onto my 2nd point. One of the most discussed subjects in fashion blogging is what is ‘authentic’ and what is ‘relatable’. Both in academic literature and in the blogging community. After doing my dissertation, I’ve come to realise that authenticity is a grey area especially on Instagram.
Instagram is the ‘highlight reel’ of people’s lives and as it is such a visual platform, it’s a place where people want to show their best possible imagery. That is natural! But obviously this makes it less ‘real’. Personally, I think this is just something we all have to accept and keep in mind when looking at Instagram.
Obviously, some bloggers and influencers lead what looks like the most incredible lives. Exotic holidays, luxury hotels and designer labels are not exactly what you would call ‘relatable’. But I do think these type of Instagram accounts have a place because they are aspirational and kind of entertaining.
I feel like that was quite ramble! But my point is – being relatable isn’t really a prerequisite of fashion blogging anymore. At least not for the biggest and most successful bloggers. Especially on Instagram, where everything is meant to look polished, it’s a bit of a grey area.
Instagram is like an art form
Ok now onto the fun part! I really enjoyed studying Instagram as a platform – it is so interesting. It has it’s own culture in a way and it has produced it’s own style of photography. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Instagram ‘themes’ and curating your grid. But after doing my dissertation on Instagram, I realised there is so much more to this ‘Instagram culture’.
I personally think that Instagram is like an art form. Carefully editing and curating images so that they all go together is really quite difficult! If you have tried to create a ‘theme’ for your Instagram, you’ll know this yourself. But more than just making the feed look good, there is a whole different style of photography on Instagram.
I first noticed this when I lived in Montréal – I was obsessed with looking through the #mtlcafecrawl and #montréaljetaime tags on Instagram. These tags are filled with beautiful images of very ordinary things. Coffee cups, brunch, buildings and other seemingly everyday things were made to look really visually attractive.
This sort of style of photography is one of my favourite things to see on Instagram and part of what makes it such an amazing platform. It kind of glorifies the simple things in life, which I think is a great way to balance out all of the extremely aspirational imagery on the platform.
Ok so those are some of the things that I have learned from doing my dissertation on Instagram! I have found a lot of other things, but they make up the actual findings of my dissertation and I don’t really want to talk about that until it is marked.
I think overall, I’ve learned that Instagram is a very unique and complicated platform. It has it’s own culture, rules and norms that influence the way that people both create and share their images. It can be so creative and inspiring – that’s why I love it!