When YouTube launched in 2005, I was 16. I can’t remember when or how I first came across it – 99% of my internet usage was MSN instant messenger, MySpace and Bebo (blasts from the past! Who remembers them?).
There is an unbelievable amount of content on YouTube now – and it’s not all funny cats. There are tutorials for EVERYTHING. How to fix your car, fix your computer, do DIY, clip your dog, experiment with makeup, braid your hair. I’ve watched of all these and more (but, not gonna lie, I mainly watch cute puppies).
In fact, I was checking out an eye shadow tutorial earlier when the question behind this post popped into my head. What would my formative years have been like if I’d had access to the YouTube of today?
Growing up in a small village in relatively rural Wales, my world was limited when it came to beauty, fashion and style. The only ‘modern’ fashion store was a tiny New Look with an extremely narrow range. I once went to a birthday party where 3 of us were wearing the same Eeyore t-shirt…
I was never a very girly girl and I didn’t really get ‘into’ clothes and makeup until my late teens. I don’t have any sisters and they weren’t common topics with my mum or my friends. However, like any teenager, I remember stressing about my appearance. I felt insecure when socialising because I wasn’t confident about how I looked.
My point is, if I’d had a resource such YouTube at my fingertips, would it have made those years any easier? I think I could have done with a little more ‘life’ education. Maybe, with it’s power of connection to real people, YouTube could have expanded my horizons. Yes, it’s a largely one-way connection, but any connection is surely a benefit to a shy young person trying to work out their place in the world. Focusing on the positives, would it have helped me develop my own style or use makeup to help me feel comfortable in my skin?
Teenage years are difficult in any situation, so maybe not. But yay for Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube today – they have helped me experiment over the years. I could focus on the perceived negatives of social media here. That it’s making us insular and narcissistic. That it promotes fast, disposable fashion. That it tells you a ‘natural’ makeup look takes 37 products. But I won’t. I’m a grown woman and I use it, with a healthy dose of awareness, to help me make choices which suit me and make me feel happy and confident.
Wishful thinking about the past is easy. I wouldn’t change my upbringing. It was sheltered, but it was safe and very happy (and made me the person I am today, etc etc…). If I’d grown up watching beauty videos every day, who knows how different my life could have been!
(Almost made a pop culture reference to Sliding Doors there. Then I remembered I’d never seen the film. Just googled the trailer. Worst trailer ever???)