By Carolyn Shields
Branding. Curating. Building an image.
I don’t know why I hate all that so much. My masters was in Emerging Media, and I work as a Communications Coordinator where I’m kind of developing our brand or whatever, and I love learning about all this…but there’s something about branding that just makes me think we are suffocating beauty by creating restrictions.
The Instagram debate about sharing beauty has been an old one. (And we wrote about it here). You’re probably familiar with it: does sharing only the beautiful and not the full picture of reality cause more damage than good? Instagram noticed the dangerous trend and created the Story feature to share non-perfect parts of our lives, but now this need for perfection has seeped over even there with the introduction of templates.
But as our culture has begun dealing with this phenomenon, it feels like we’re promoting beauty but now branding/curating/etc is suffocating it. It’s like a post-filter world. Whenever I come across a carefully curated feed, I’m drawn in initially by its visual aesthetic built from calculated and carefully considered posting, but then it’s like someone sketched deep restrictions into the expansion of beauty. These little white squares have suddenly given beauty a border: no, you cannot cross here. There, yeah sure, but not here. Beauty outside of this one dimension doesn’t belong.
I mean, shoot.
Today there are jobs about people telling you how to brand yourself. They offer proposal packages and advice on how to present your image online. And honestly, helping someone with their brand is freaking appealing, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m saying it’s kinda weird. Sure, some people need help being creative, and probably the best branders out there have you tell them what it is you do…but it is kind of weird that we would out source or get consulting from someone to tell us who we are, the best way to engage our readership/viewers/whatever, what we have to do to be relevant, or how to tell our story.
And okay, I get the importance of building a cohesive look or accentuating a certain angle, but the mainstream trendy stuff has got me itching. Why do we care so much about aesthetic that we would sacrifice archiving a moment because it doesn’t really ‘fit’ into the rest of the story?
For me, I always see beauty in imperfection. I think a ton of us do. The humid and curly hair. The weeds tucked between the flowers. The dilapidated buildings and scorched antiques. And maybe that’s the point. About the different ways to show beauty. Maybe I’m an anomaly who worries about not caring what theYCW feed looks like and aware that people won’t follow because it’s game isn’t tight and perfected. But that doesn’t make the beauty any less real.
Here’s what I’m getting at:
How can we expect beauty to actually save the world if we won’t let it free? If it’s not wild? If we’ve reduced it to fitting into a carefully curated algorithm?
Share your thoughts below because I’m genuinely interested in learning more! Do you do branding work? Help us understand the philosophy behind it. Do you think we are putting restrictions on beauty through this curating-craze? What are your thoughts on curated feeds?