I feel I need to clear the air about the SA Beauty Blog Awards situation. The shortlist was posted this past weekend and I have received many messages and emails from readers asking why my blog does not appear on the list. I initially wasn’t going to write this blog post, because I honestly didn’t think people would care whether my blog appeared on that list. It seems the SA Beauty Blog Awards has become a bit of a sensitive subject amongst a lot of South African bloggers out there. People either love the idea of this particular initiative, or they hate it. Before you run off judging or hating me for what I am about to write, I ask that you suspend judgement long enough to at least hear me out.
Normally I wouldn’t waste my time and energy writing ranting blog posts, but I do want to set the record straight because of an incident on Twitter yesterday. This particular incident made me lose a lot of respect for SA Beauty Blog Awards. A couple of my blog readers tweeted them and asked why Pink Peonies did not appear on the shortlist. SA Beauty Blog Awards replied to them and I quote: “Unfortunately its always a tough decision with these competitions and only 10 could make it through.” I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like they are implying my blog is not on the list because it’s not good enough. I think it’s highly unprofessional to twist the story like this.
I really resent the fact that they tried to imply that the decision was theirs, that they feel my blog doesn’t qualify to be on that list. The truth is my blog isn’t on the list because first and foremost I questioned their professionalism and credibility from the start (which in hindsight was a good thing because they proved me right), and secondly because I don’t want to potentially be crowned ‘Best SA Beauty Blogger’ by 4 judges who I feel are not necessarily all experts on the subject. To advertise that this is an SA Beauty Blog Awards suggests that it is a highly prestigious and nationally recognised platform, but who created this initiative? Here are my reasons why I questioned this:
I received an email from the creators of the SA Beauty Blog Awards (created in June / July 2015) informing me that my blog had been nominated for ‘Best Content’, ‘Best Overall Blog’ and ‘Best Design’. I went to check out their website, and at that stage there was hardly any information on how the winners would be chosen or what the criteria was, plus there was a ‘TBC’ under the Judges tab, so I didn’t really think much of it. There was no clarity on rules or criteria. Was it going to be a ‘Vote For Me!’ competition where your followers would vote for you? Were they choosing professionals who are relevant to the industry to judge the blogs / bloggers? And who was qualified to make these decisions? I had no idea exactly who had decided to create this South African blog awards website, or why. The only thing that was very clear, is that it is sponsored by Tan Organic.
A few weeks later I saw that Pink Peonies appeared on the long list, along with almost 150 other beauty blogs. That’s a very long list! The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. The website still had exactly the same amount of info (which was limited), plus I had no idea how exactly the bloggers were going to be judged. Did the amount of followers you have on the various social media platforms count towards anything? Would you be judged on how long you’ve been blogging for? The quality of your photographs / content? Whether you engage with your readers? Whether your readers engage with you?
Again, I didn’t really think much of the nominations at that stage because I had no idea whether my actual blog readers had nominated Pink Peonies, or if the creators of the SA Beauty Blog Awards had just chosen random blogs (or as many SA beauty blogs as they could find online) for the purpose of creating a hype.
If you nominated my blog, I would like to thank you for being so supportive – I really appreciate it. And please don’t think I am ungrateful, it’s not like that at all.
I think what frustrated me most at this stage, was that no one had sent a professional email providing me detailed information on exactly what the nominations entailed, what would be expected of me, who the sponsors were, or who the judges were. After about a week, I received a generic email from them asking whether I was still happy to be on the long list. I’m guessing they sent this email to everyone on the long list because quite a few bloggers had publicly (on Twitter) asked SA Beauty Blog Awards to remove them from the list. I quickly checked out their website again, and was relieved to see that the judges had at least been chosen at that stage – the founder of Tan Organic, an actress who started blogging about beauty in 2014, and a digital expert. I also noticed this sentence under the ‘How It Works’ tab: “A shortlist will be selected with 10 blogs per category. This is based on a score for each individual category involving quality of Design, Content, Author Experience, and Social Media activity.”
What does that mean? I still find it very vague because are they judging you on how many social media followers you have? Or how many times per day you tweet? Or how many of your followers interact with you? Are they judging the actual design of your blog i.e. the WordPress / Blogger template or theme? Or the quality of your photographs? Author experience? Is this based on number of years or journalistic capabilities?
While writing this blog post, I popped onto the site again and noticed another judge was recently added to the list, plus it seems they are still sourcing sponsors even though the awards ceremony is scheduled for the 22nd of August 2015. This lack of organisation builds on my discomfort, and so I question their credibility. If it were me, I would have sourced the judges and sponsors way in advance, even before I started the nominations process. This is after all advertised as a national beauty blogger awards initiative.
The second reason why I did NOT want to be considered for the SA Beauty Blog Awards:
Blogging has never been about popularity in terms of number of followers, winning awards or receiving free products for me. I started blogging because 1. I wanted to create a space where I could be creative and challenge myself, and 2. I wanted to connect with like-minded individuals who love beauty and makeup just as much as I do. Perhaps even help someone in some way.
Theodore Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Such wise words. For most of my life, I would always compare myself to everyone else. During high school I constantly compared myself to my friends, I never owned a bicycle or computer (because my mom couldn’t afford those types of things) and I often felt like it was because I wasn’t good enough. I did ballet for a very long time, and I enjoyed it until the exams started getting to me. It was too stressful – being judged on what you could do with your body. If I received anything less than an A, there was nobody to blame but me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just give up on ballet. I sucked it up and kept at it for quite a number of years but by that time there was absolutely no joy left.
It is so easy for us to compare ourselves to friends, family, colleagues (or fellow bloggers) and it often leaves us feeling less adequate. Comparison breeds discontentment. We all have a unique makeup of skills, infirmities, strengths and weaknesses that make us who we are. Comparing myself to others simply removes focus from what I should be excited about within myself. I’ve said this time and time again: Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. I hope you understand that I am not saying you should NOT strive towards achieving something, or set goals for yourself. But don’t set those goals based on someone else’s skills or experience.
The only person I compare myself to, is the person / blogger I was yesterday because at the end of the day, that’s the only thing I have control over. Imagine having to constantly consider what other people dislike about you, and then try to change who you are to fit in. Because at the end of the day, that is exactly what something like this is about (in my humble opinion). 4 Judges will discuss what they like and dislike about 10 bloggers in each category, and then pick 1 winner. That leaves 9 people wondering what they did wrong or why they are not good enough. The process is too subjective in my opinion, and I think it creates a mindset that someone is better than someone else based on the opinion of 4 people.
I don’t mention this very often here on the blog, but the beauty blogging space is already SO competitive. There are certain bloggers who constantly belittle, scrutinise and criticise fellow bloggers. Perhaps because they are jealous, or perhaps just because they feel they can. The blogosphere can be very superficial and it can often feel like we’re all back in high school again dealing with people who have a ‘who is more popular’ mentality. To be honest, I’m not about that life – and I have made it very clear that I like to stay away from the drama. I’ve had to distance myself from a few people in the past because I felt that the relationships were toxic.
Getting back to the point, the beauty blogging world is already competitive, everyone is constantly competing for the same space on the internet. Competing to be noticed by the same brands. Trying to be chosen for the same limited amount of opportunities.
I would like for Pink Peonies blog to become a trusted source of information for a wide audience but not because I have been compared to anyone else but myself. I don’t like the idea of someone else judging me on something that I have poured my heart and soul into. I believe improvement should always be framed as a positive & collaborative activity, never a competitive one. And because of that I feel that only I can really judge my own skills, accomplishments and abilities.
Perhaps I will reconsider my stance on awards nominations later down the line, but for now, I am 100% happy with just sharing my experiences with my loyal readers without having to worry about being judged or scrutinised. Fighting for the same ‘winning’ position isn’t something that interests me, especially when the people who are making the ultimate decision don’t know anything about me or my blog.
I want to make it clear that I am NOT trying to take anything away from the bloggers who were nominated and who wanted to be considered for the shortlist. You should definitely feel proud that someone took the time to notice / nominate your blog. These are just my personal thoughts on the subject – just because I feel a certain way about something, doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. Good luck to all the bloggers on the shortlist.
Now, let me know what you think – I’d love to hear your thoughts!