By: Kandice Hill
Multi-tasking at best at a MAC kiosk, I am talking on the phone and marking lipstick shade swatches on my arm in typical make-up lover fashion. And as I am flagging down an associate to see if they have a particular product, my boyfriend yells (as if he were watching football) in my ear saying,”You are buying make-up, again? Didn’t you just get some make-up?”
This line of questioning took place three days after Christmas. His mother had just purchased me an expensive make-up palette, and in his mind, that should have been enough. In a tone of frustration mixed with a “men just don’t understand” attitude, I explained to him how I saw a beauty guru on YouTube ranting and raving about this product, which totally meant that I had to have it in my collection of beauty holy grails.
Needless to say, I walked away from the kiosk with some lipstick and lip liner in shopping bag. (I have worn both items only once since my purchase, but we are not going to get into that.)
I have very dark skin. If I had to make a comparison of how dark I am, I would say that Lupita Nyong’o out glows me by a shade or two. They make very few make-up products that cater to me, so when a YouTuber mentions a product that is brown girl friendly, I feel obligated to buy it.But then some things dawned on me: my pockets, my spending, my self-esteem.
My boyfriend was aware of the palette his mother purchased for me, but he had no idea about the beauty blenders, foundations, concealers, and lip liners that I recently purchased for myself. Earlier that week, I spent hours on YouTube looking at holiday tutorials and hauls, writing down the names and shades of products to buy. And like it was supposed to, my bank account was a reflection of my YouTube inspired spending. At the time, I believed I had a problem that needed fixing.
Naturally, habits call for a moment of self-reflection. I had to ask myself several times: Do you have a shopping problem? Do you think you need to have make-up? Is this a self-esteem issue? The humiliation of getting caught talking to myself forced me to stop and my answer was no each time.
I wrote down a list of my latest purchases and I realized make-up was the only thing I impulsively bought and I only bought it after spending hours on YouTube. So I had to think about YouTube as a system. I had to wonder if my behavior was something YouTube put in place specifically to make money off of or if my purchases were exactly what they (YouTube) hoped for.
I watched a video from one of my favorite gurus and I noticed a few things that I had never noticed before. She had an entire collection of a new lip product in her possession and she said, “I just had to have all of them.” I used think I had to have items I don’t need all of the time, which made me wonder, if the language she used was intentional. I also noticed that she never mentioned how and where she purchased them.
I am 22 years old. I am critical thinker. The answer to all of my questions about YouTube is yes. Yes, your favorite guru did advertise that product for you to buy. Yes, Youtube is the reason why you keep actually buying. Yes, YouTube is a business that has strategies and objective to keep you buying. In fact, YouTube is like the Wild Wild West of advertising.
There is not one video where someone is not consciously or subconsciously selling something (reaction videos are sort of promo-y). The scariest part is that it caters to every type of person. There is gamer YouTube, baker/chef YouTube, natural hair care YouTube, bundle/weaving YouTube, etc. Whatever you like to buy, YouTube has a person or community readily available to sell it to you. Nobody is safe.
I feel an obligation to bring some things to everyone’s attention. And I believe on the topic of YouTube, my point here has been made. But before I go, I will say this: If you think you are becoming a product junky because of the internet and you are trying to save money, please get the hell off of YouTube.