I Lived Like A Lifestyle Blogger For A Week And It Kind Of Sucked
What's it really like to be Zoella irl?
One MTV writer gives the #bloggerlife a go…
I am 100% guilty of the hypocrisy of mocking lifestyle bloggers while also obsessively following them on every social media platform.
For years I’ve been watching lattes go from coconut to matcha to turmeric, food go from avocado to courgetti to acai, and outfits go from in front of brick walls to on top of bicycles to anywhere pink. And I - like I’m sure many millennials - have thought to myself time and time again: ‘Hey... I wonder if I could do that?’
It seemed like a lot of effort, and probably required a decent amount of money, but the formulae seemed pretty much worked out. So, friends, I decided to see for myself. I narrowed down what I thought were the biggest lifestyle clichés and spent a week living the life of a lifestyle blogger.
Let’s just say I learnt a lot…
#OOTD aka Outfit of the Day
The one thing I wanted to avoid in this process was the one thing all bloggers (of all kinds) have in common: sharing whatever heavily stylised outfit they were wearing that day. I work at a non-profit that has a strict no-dress-code dress code, so walking up in a floor-length cardigan, torn-to-shit denim shorts, thigh high boots, and disco buns would not achieve ‘cool,’ but instead achieve ‘moronic’.
I did my best to deviate from my uniform of turtleneck + high-waisted jeans + ankle boots to my best ability, but mostly failed. This was probably my least favourite thing all week, because it just showed how a) boring my style is and b) how awkward I feel in pictures. I will say this has made me more inclined to step up my game and feel more comfortable branching out, but it definitely wasn’t an enjoyable lifestyle change.
Confession: I am already a yoga enthusiast and have been for a long time, so this addition to my life wasn’t really an addition at all. I absolutely love yoga and it is essentially the only form of exercise I don’t actively hate and dread, so I can’t make an objective observation about what it’s like when added to yoga-less routine.
However, I will say, as a friend recently texted me after trying yoga for the first time in a year, ‘I forgot that it’s actually difficult’. It looks smooth and easy on the outside, but it can be tough (making even the fittest people look idiotic).
As a long time sufferer of anxiety, I was actually looking forward to this one. I was gifted a subscription to the app Headspace this Christmas and this seemed like a good a time as any to give it a whirl.
Not only did I think it really helped calm me down and give me perspective, I noticed myself physically relaxing and my tension melting away. Meditation can be hard and sometimes not that fun, but I would argue this one isn’t just a bullshit lifestyle fad.
When looking at the clean eating lifestyles of many bloggers, I was able to cut it down into a few categories, four of which I gave a try:
Imagine making a curry from scratch, getting to the bottom of the pan and thinking, ‘You know what would go great with this slightly burnt, glued-to-pan matter? Milk’. Well that’s basically a turmeric latte (aka Golden Milk), a drink that’s currently all over almost every healthy/clean eating blogger’s Instagram and website, and something I was (naively) pretty excited for as a lover of homemade hot drinks (see chai tea, mulled wine).
But honestly, I couldn’t hack finishing either cup when I tried it two nights in a row. It’s savoury and bitty, and so unpleasant it’s frankly offensive. I've tried drinks that seem a little out there, but were ultimately good (see my next point), but the turmeric latte is an absolute scam.
Over the course of the week I drank three different types of green smoothie: tangerine and banana, vanilla lime, and strawberry banana (all of these getting their green from spinach). After the turmeric latte nightmare the night before, I had relatively high hopes for the morning smoothie.
I've had green-ish smoothies before, but ones where I threw in a few spinach leaves in with an unholy amount of yogurt and berries, therefore making it imperceptible beyond just kind of ruining the texture. All three of my morning smoothies were sort of disappointing, with little flavour because of being packed with spinach, but were all still an improvement on the disaster of the preceding turmeric lattes from the nights before. Although none of them kept me full enough to even make it to lunch, the green smoothie is less scary than it looks and is at worst just a bit meh.
This one was straight out of the Zoella playbook and I was massively sceptical before trying it. You usually have to put something pretty strong into water for a significant amount of time to get any trace of it and it often just tastes water with some floating bits.
HOWEVER, I’ve been absolutely proved wrong. I did three different ‘infusions’ of lemon, lemon + lime + orange, and strawberry + basil and although I found the citrus ones just fine, I unironically liked the strawberry + basil option best. It was aesthetically pleasing, smells incredible and is something I actually anticipate adding into my routine.
Finally, this was the cliché clean eating task I was dreading most of all. I eat meat every single day and the thought of cutting it out of my life, even for a week, breaks my heart. So, I may have cheated a bit, but rather than doing heavily ‘raw’ meals with avocado roses and cashew nut cheese and doing them for every meal of the week, I took a major deep dive into the vegan curries of the world and did a few vegan dinners. And, actually, it brought out some pretty good results.
I made a kidney bean curry and chana masala, both of which proved to be tasty (and not even just for vegan food) and were cheap as hell. I would not manage vegan eating as a full lifestyle change, but this made me feel more inclined to have more meatless days and even the odd vegan meal.
Bullet journaling is a relatively new craze to the blogger world and is essentially a fancy way to put together your to-do list and track anything you want to, well, keep track of. Although in theory they are really simple, the Instagram version shows an array of sleep trackers and brush lettering that is a hardcore eye-candy hashtag to scroll through. This is the ‘spread’ I attempted, brushletter attempts and other mistakes included. I drew in a habit tracker and a sleep tracker (common in bullet journals) as well as tracking what I had for breakfast and dinner and how many glasses of water I’d had that day.
What I found was, despite the aesthetic and the fun reflection time at the end of the week, it was far more time consuming than was worth just to know I drank and slept the same amount every single day. I won’t stop checking out other people’s hard work online, but this was too much time spent on a glorified to-do list.
Okay, I’ll admit it: This was so much goddam fun. Through a logistical shipping error, I managed to get my hands on three (count em, THREE) Birchboxes that were personalised for my sister, whose taste happens to be very similar to mine. I’m not sure how you can’t have fun with this if you even vaguely like beauty or skincare products, because it’s just pretty boxes of free swag catered to your interests.
My time as a lifestyle blogger was coming to an end just before I was about to go on a week-long beach holiday, so I decided to treat myself to a salon trip on the last day of this experiment. However, I decided I wouldn’t be getting the true spa experience if I didn’t take advantage of both ends of the spectrum of treatments.
So, I booked myself in for what I would argue are the polar opposites: a luxurious, massage-including, moisturising spa pedicure and my first ever, gruelling, terrifying bikini wax. And dear f***ing god, did both live up to the hype to their respective hype. What started out as a lovely, calm lotion and polish on my feet violently turning into me screaming obscenities for a good 15 minutes. My the woman doing my waxing had to become my emotional therapist, endlessly telling me that the worst part was over, when of course it wasn’t. This hour session ended up being the perfect metaphor for my week; something that looked nice (and was nice) on the outside, with a painful lack of glamour underneath.
One immediate revelation I had was that lifestyle bloggers don't actually do that much. I was putting together the list of stuff I wanted to do over the week and I found that, really, you don’t need that much to do it. If you have a decent eye for lighting, access to literally just an iPhone 6-or-later camera, and enough cash to splash on glitzy items, then you too can be a lifestyle blogger. It’s a pain to actually go ahead and do the list of things when they aren’t a normal part of your life, but the things themselves aren’t actually hard.
In the end, the blogger lifestyle is a lot of flash for very little pay out on the end of the person living it. Pictures and spin would make my life look a lot more stylish than usual, but it was largely just an added headache with benefits so few I could count them on one hand. I found it so much more stressful to style my life than I enjoyed any aspect (and the ones I liked most tended to be, at their core, not that aesthetically pleasing). If you want to take the time to make things look good for the ‘gram, then by all means, make the effort. But I suspect most people would prefer their lives without the tedium.
- Words by Sarah Manavis.