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Aspirational vs Relatable: Which Side Are You On?

In the red corner we have, weighing in at a svelte and 6-week-yoga-retreat-in-the-Maldives, 8 stone and 2lbs (which includes the gifted Gucci bag)… Linda…Luxury… Lifestyle.

In the blue corner, stands the nation’s sweetheart, weighing in at a ‘jolly and lovely’ humble stone and kind lbs (which includes 4 bursting, Primark bags)… Racheeeeeeel Relatable.

vix primark relatable aspirational bloggers

Two very distinct types of influencers, celebrities and regular people who are constantly pitted against each other – in the media, online and in all areas of society.

We all know a Linda Luxury, whether she’s an A-List Hollywood star, who instead of pretending to visit Kenya every 2 months to help feed starving children, she’s rolling around parties, events and catwalks wearing the most extravagant outfits with probably a serious case of RSI from lifting up her diamond encrusted finger to sip a Fuji water.

We’re obsessed with her. We snap, ‘YASSS QWEEN’ every time she speaks in the 3rd person and is more Mariah than Mariah. We envy her lavish holidays to the Maldives and we revel in rumours of her divaish behaviour (did you hear that she tells her management to warn people not to look at her?).

Then there’s a Rachel Relatable. She effs too much in interviews and spills copious amounts of coffee down her brand new Primark PJs and ugh, she fell flat on her face at her last award ceremony.

We are equally obsessed with her. We comment, ‘SAME’ on every Insta post she writes with those oh-so relatable captions. We cry when we hear she’s been proposed to because we’re so glad she’s found someone to love and we GIF the life out of her award ceremony gaffs.

But often we pit Linda vs Rachel in a way that suggests one is better than the other.

‘We love you because you DON’T have a Gucci bag.’

‘We need more people like you who are real.’

‘You should be way more successful than you are because at least YOU don’t rely on your looks.’

or

‘My life is normal so I don’t want to see someone just being normal.’

‘I want to see someone out there succeeding and affording big houses and badass holidays.’

vix primark relatable aspirational bloggers
vix primark relatable aspirational bloggers

I took to Twitter to find out what types of influencers, celebrities and well, PEOPLE others prefer and I was met with a range of responses that went from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Some insisted that ‘relatable’ role models were better because their lives were more real, whilst others argued that they looked up to ‘aspirational’ role models because they show their lifestyles in a real, sometimes achievable but often fantastical, way.

But there was something that clicked as I was reading responses and as people pitted one side against the other…

This battle has never really been between Relatable and Aspirational, between JLo and JLaw, between the prom queen and the band camp reject – it’s always actually been between honest and genuine vs fake and fantasy.

vix primark relatable aspirational bloggers

Most of my responses stated that they preferred ‘relatable’ role models because they saw themselves in them – in what they wore, where they went or how they achieved their success.

On the other hand, others argued they preferred ‘aspirational’ role models because they inspired their lives and gave them a pedestal of designer bags, first class flights and giant mansions to work towards.

It could be as simple as, ‘different strokes for different folks’ HOWEVER who’s to say that someone who presents as ‘aspirational’ hasn’t actually come from nothing, styled their Gucci with a Greggs or speaks openly and honestly about their struggles?

In the same way as someone who appears to be ‘omfg super relatable’ actually hides the fact they come from an extremely privileged background and can spend thousands on high-street wares because of someone bank rolling them.

SO WHAT DO WE EFFING MEAN BY RELATABLE?

For some it means, warts and all, no filter, no censor and possibly twatting about a Primark trying on silly sunglasses for fun.

For others though, we must accept it means someone with money, using it to lead an expensive lifestyle.

Because we ALL come from different view points and backgrounds and to be relatable it just means that the person who looks at you sees some of you in them.

vix primark relatable aspirational bloggers

Clarity Is Relatable

Upon reflection and following on from these discussions, it made me really understand why we have the role models we have.

Often those who are now aspirational rose from being SO RELATABLE that they became extremely successful.

Perhaps different people have different starting points in life. If someone (me) came from a council housing, can’t-afford-Nikes-for-school-so-ShoeStretcher-will-do, Iceland 3 for 2 dinners background, we may look to those people who came from similar backgrounds who we feel like we could be mates with.

Others may come from backgrounds where they are used to consuming a more lavish lifestyle and will always pick LK Bennett over TK Maxx. They may feel like they could be mates with a more aspirational star.

The key has and has always been – clarity. Honest and genuine over fake and fantasy.

People look up to those who are honest about who they are.

If you’re more Maccy Ds than Maccy Jacobs then own it.

If you’re more Versace than Very catalogue, fabulous – admit it.

But relatability doesn’t work without clarity. People can see through faux-relatability (omg guys I just spilt my Elan Cafe £7 latte down my £65 Ted Baker top – ugh silly me) just as easily as they can see through 3 rented Range Rovers and the receipts from sending back your £1000 ASOS Haul.

vix primark relatable aspirational bloggers

Relatability is Relative

Above all else we need to remember that we are sentient adults who can make decisions about the media we consume.

What we choose to consume is no one else’s business. Who we choose to look up to is our choice and ours alone.

And do we really need this divide? Is one type of role model better than the other? Do we need to put down one to boost the other? Can we just get rid of the ‘relatable’ and ‘aspirational’ labels as if one person can’t be both things (or NEITHER)?

Especially when we realise this…

RELATIBILITY IS RELATIVE

It stems from where you’ve come from, where you are, where you’re going, your personal tastes and what you’re feeling IN THE MOMENT.

Yes, I watch, follow and pick my friends because they are similar to me – working, young professionals, similar backgrounds, VILE SENSE OF HUMOUR and a penchant for pepperoni pizza but you can bet your arse I’m bingeing on ‘MOVING TO A NEW MANSION’ vlogs, living for Madonna stories about her washing her toes in caviar and liking 6 million pictures of a luxury jet.

So hopefully we can decide not to pick sides. Moving forward, we can choose our role models for different things. Not just for what they have, what they look like or how they shop but maybe we can have role models who are honest, clear  and respect their audiences enough to be truly them – relatable, aspirational, who gives a fuck, just real.

*and if our role models could use their platforms for a bit more ‘good’ that would be fab too, OK, enough, I’m going…

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, over in my Insta DMs or on Twitter.

Photography by bae Kaye.

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15 Comments
  • Eunice
    March 13, 2018

    Love how witty and fun this post is but also very very real and honest. I couldn’t have said it better!

    http://www.fashionenth.com

  • Linda Hobbis
    March 13, 2018

    Well my name might be Linda but the luxury lifestyle doesn’t seem to have turned up yet. Love your point about it being about relativity and, more importantly, owning your likes and dislikes without feeling embarrassed. That’s what’s really relatable and attractive. If I think about all the people I naturally gravitate towards online as well as in ‘real life’, they are the people who say what they think and don’t give a stuff about censure. I hope to get there one day! I think a lot of bloggers ‘tailor’ their likes to appeal to brands but you just can’t keep that up can you….

  • Frances Hemmant
    March 13, 2018

    This is without a doubt my favourite post of yours EVER. They just get better and better! I honestly couldn’t agree with you more, the need to be ‘relatable’ is splashed everywhere at the minute, but actually I LOVE reading posts or watching videos from people who live such a different life to me. What I love is their honesty and knowing they are being genuine to their followers, that is what really makes me interested in someone. And there are also people I avidly follow who I can relate to in terms of their lifestyle. You hit the nail on the head, and explained your point soooo fluently!

  • Chloe Griffiths
    March 13, 2018

    I am living for these photos.

  • Lynsey MacGregor
    March 13, 2018

    Love this post!
    I totally agree that it’s about being genuine!
    I follow both sides on instagram & Twitter. Some I follow for being funny, have same point of view as me, others I follow as they are bad ass boss babes and I hope being self employed myself that some day I may have a beautiful home like they do.

    If they are honest then that’s cool with me,
    It is when some start to get above themselves and once they have made it in the blogging/influencer/fashion/business world and ignore their fans/followers/customers as it is them that got them there

    Lynsey

    http://www.larkandlily.co.uk

  • Margo
    March 13, 2018

    Spent the whole post laughing and nodding like a drunk little gnome. Agreed on every level. I’m an Insta addict, but I became kinda fed up with all the same-filter-same-fucci-bag pictures in Bali. So I unfollowed the crap out of all those accounts. I feel more comfortable with girls like myself (thats a weird thing to say but since I consider myself as Rachel)

  • Demilade
    March 14, 2018

    Loved reading this Vix, you’re so spot on! I personally love both and so I watch both. It’s interesting to see the lifestyle of those that are better off than I am and at the same time, it’s great to watch people whose lifestyle I can relate with. I agree, there’s really no need to have to pick a side or pit the two sides against each other. As you said, as long as there’s honesty and authenticity, it should all be fine 🙂

    Coco Bella Blog

  • Danielle
    March 14, 2018

    I wish I was more like one of the inspirational bloggers, but I certainly feel more like the relatable kind, and I am more than happy with that!

    Danielle xx
    http://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

  • Steph
    March 15, 2018

    So true. It’s all about being real and honest. I love reading relatable blogs because I can, well, relate to them. But I also follow aspirational bloggers who have holidays I envy and clothing that makes me cringe when I see the price but who they are and what they stand for are also relatable.

    Steph x
    http://www.wanderlustpulse.com

  • Kelly Prince-Wright
    March 16, 2018

    Oooooh YES VIX. Or is it YASSS QWEEEEN? Anyways, I loved this piece. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s OK to be exactly who you are, to like the content you like, but there’s a definitely ‘realness’ and ‘relatable’ that comes with what we want from content. I’m glad you’ve said it. Because why, seriously, why is everyone constantly so clumsy on Instagram? Surely no one spills food on themselves that often, right? Or trips and falls Jennifer Lawrence style everywhere they go? I’m not sure I understand it. Still, I think it’s good that we all like mix of personalities, broke af, budgeting or splurging on Insta. There’s something for everyone out there, I just hope it’s as real as it seems. xoxo Kel

  • Kirsty
    March 16, 2018

    You hit the nail on the head every single time Vix!

    Kirsty | The Monday Project | themondayproject.co.uk

  • Jodie
    March 18, 2018

    YES! I loved reading this while nodding along the whole time. There are so many more role models now than when the online world didn’t exist in the way it does today and with that comes some responsibility to be a good role model.

  • Ysabelle Graham-Smith
    March 22, 2018

    I’m obsessed with this post – I’ve been sharing it with everyone… it’s so bloody true. One of the main reasons I love your blog so much is that you are so easy to relate to, honest and just yourself.

    Ysabelle x
    http://www.thegrahamsmiths.com

  • Emma Harrison
    April 2, 2018

    Your posts never cease to make me smile, nod & snort when I inevitable choke on my glass of council pop whilst giggling at one of your outrageously spot-on comments.

    I love having a real mix of relatable and aspirational bloggers (because let’s face it, UK bloggers have the mean & moody Insta feeds down to a fine art and as much as I love them, I needs some sunshine on there too) and it really helps to motivate my ass to work harder. Why? Because yes I want to be relatable too, but I also want to get on a plane and head to those places too one day.

    Emma | HarmonyBlaze.co.uk

  • Amy
    April 3, 2018

    Your posts are always so good! I absolutely love following the rich, monthly-trips-to-the-Maldives bloggers on Instagram, and think you’re totally right with the fact we should own that. There’s nothing wrong with eyeing up those Gucci handbags and private jets whist lounging on the sofa in your ASDA PJ’s, right?

    Amy x
    http://www.whatamysays.com

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