Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
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The last two weeks’ events woke me up to a lot of things. As someone who carries the title of an “influencer”, I couldn’t help but take this time to really evaluate what it is I stand for and communicate to my audience on a daily basis. I personally feel it was a time for us “influencers” to check ourselves, as recent history has shown we can do a hell of a lot better. This post includes my honest thoughts about it all.
If you look in the dictionary, the definition of an influencer is explained as: “a person or thing that influences another.” Specific to marketing, this can also be: “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.”
I’m not quite sure how to properly quantify my experience as an influencer. I’ve been doing the online thing on and off over the last decade. After Instagram launched in 2010 and bloggers started becoming insta-famous left and right in 2013, I decided to take things a bit more seriously. A few years of experimenting in personal blogs focused on “Making the Best of What’s Around” and figuring out life as an “Upper20Something” led me to launch this blog, The Grey Edit in 2016 focused on inspiring life and style — and it’s been an evolution ever since.
Experience aside — if I’m being totally honest, referring to myself as an influencer makes me uncomfortable. It’s just always felt a little odd that me, an everyday girl, can have influence over a larger group of people. Who’s to say what I put out is right all the time? I don’t know everything. I only have my opinions and personal experiences.
On the flip side, I love following other people who are everyday people, as I can feel that I can relate to them. And the people I flock to the most aside from some aesthetically pleasing feeds here and there are those who take an honest approach to sharing. The ones who don’t make it about themselves. The ones who prioritize connecting on a vulnerable level. The ones who promote overall good. The ones who take time on the content they create and make sure it either inspires or gives some sort of value to their audience.
Being an influencer has taught me a lot. I’m not talking about how to edit photos, write engaging captions or grow a following. Sure I’ve learned those things. Instead, I’m talking about self-reflection. I’ve learned things that have taught me about myself, about others, and most importantly, how I want to show up for others.
You see, what I’ve come to realize something after building up my small platform, is that no matter what the platform is that you have, rather if you have any platform at all, you should take the time to evaluate what you’re going to use your platform for. The messages you’ll be sharing from that platform. And not just once. You need to constantly revisit and edit over time.
Because if you have a platform, you have an advantage over others. You have a voice. A voice that gets heard and seen more than others. And using your voice for things that can actually make positive change is extremely important. Important at all times, but especially right now…
It’s a really heavy time in our world. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Our economy is tanking. Our ecosystems are collapsing. Racism is still a prevalent issue. And to top it off, we have a President who lacks leadership, integrity, honesty, empathy… the list goes on. So I can’t help but feel that of ALL times, influencers of ALL kinds should be reevaluating what they stand for and their message. Because if you want to continue to hold that power of having influence, you better be damn sure you’re deserving of it.
Last week really shook me. After watching the horrific video of a man being killed due to hate I was woken up to just how naive I’ve been as a white, privileged American. To realize that people of color don’t just get to wake up and live their life on the daily. Instead, they have to fear.
I watched videos of men and women in the Black community who were brave enough to share their stories about things that have happened to them and continue to happen to them daily due to racism. The videos were shocking and infuriating. I also watched videos of fellow Black women with influence address White women of influence with critical feedback and ways we need to change. They were uncomfortable to watch but they were necessary. Realizing that there are things we do or do not do that supports the current happenings in our world without us even realizing it.
In all honesty, I have always been one to avoid engaging in political banter — with friends, with family and especially on social media. Call it the Libra in me but I often avoid conflict at all costs. If there are negative things happening on the news I try to seek calm elsewhere. But these recent events and countless stories have opened my eyes. Avoiding the negative can’t be done anymore. It doesn’t DO anything.
I’ve been trying to self reflect and confront the way I go about my life. The unconscious biases I have due to my upbringing. The things I don’t do. The things I need to start doing so that I can do my part and actually try to make a fucking difference. Making an effort to change my habits. Submerging myself into more diversity — from the platforms and media outlets I visit to the outside in the world in everyday life.
As a new mom. I want to be informed and to be able to speak to my children about the world. About equality, about the unfortunate unfairness that we’re accustomed to and how we can go about changing that with love, kindness, acceptance and sticking up for what’s right.
It was eye-opening to see how my peers in this community reacted. The responses and lack of responses that occurred were more shocking than I think I was prepared for.
There was the #amplifymelanatedvoices movement to which people vowed to mute their personal content from June 1 -7 to actually amplify BIPOC’s voices — who deserved the platform more. The #blackouttuesday movement to which people vowed to be silent for the day. Then there was the hashtagging issue with if you’re using #blacklivesmatter in your posts, then the black squares were actually wiping out important information that would normally be associated with that hashtag. People were getting caught up in shaming others rather than applauding them for speaking up.
Personally, it didn’t feel right to put out any content of my own. It felt insensitive and discrediting to the level of seriousness that needs to be had with what is actually going on in our work with regard to racism. As someone who was born with white skin and born into privilege, I took some time to really stop worrying about what bullshit of my own to share, and listen to those of color who actually deserved the platform to share their stories. I felt as if I owed at the very least one point on my “influencer career” to shut the hell up.
I wanted to do the right thing. I don’t know if I did the right thing still. I muted myself for the week and tried to share helpful information while highlighting people, brands and businesses of color. I took the time offline posting about myself to educate myself and take action (see the full list of things I did here). I did what just felt right to me.
The amount of deep thought and consideration I was trying to have with every word tied to every share made me realize that this is the type of approach I should have with every post. Having intention. And I think every influencer out there should be realizing that they need to do the same.
Influencers, it’s time to check ourselves…
We need to take constructive criticism even when it’s uncomfortable, without defending ourselves. It’s how we grow.
We need to realize that our feeds are curated and built to what WE want to see. If these home feeds didn’t include diversity before this last week, Recognize that. Sit on that. Change that.
We need to stop complaining to our audience. Put aside the fact that we haven’t been able to go to a mall or restaurant for months, and that we “need” to get our nails done. There are bigger issues right now that deserve space.
We need to stop checking boxes. Just because we see others doing tactics to buy and grow a following, doesn’t mean we need to. The same with promoting things that we don’t truly believe in or cause our environment harm.
We need to engage with each other in an honest way to promote genuine connections. Take time to read posts instead of scrolling, tapping and only commenting on outfits.
We need to share content that reflects an aesthetic that feels true to ourselves. Beyond the blown-out filters, tippy-toe poses and excessive try-ons you see others doing.
Being an influencer has made me want to do better.
It’s time to pay more attention to what we consume and who we associate ourselves with. It’s time to take a big hard look at ourselves and what we’ve set out to do.
I’d love to learn if you agree.
Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor.
I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Get To Know Me
Mother. Wife. Blogger. Photographer. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Hi, I'm Cortney
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