So, I was thinking last week about reviews because we had a really good discussion about blogging, reviews, and free swag last week on Hollaback. Some readers don’t like reviews, especially when the blogger is getting stuff for free, because it makes them feel like they need to spend a bunch of money to be healthy. And I started to think about this and I realized…Wow, I do a lot of reviews! Do I really just LOVE everything?!
Actually, kind of. The thing is…I just love stuff. I can’t watch infomercials. I can’t watch Oprah. I love tech stuff, kitchen gadgets, food, books, lingerie, workout clothes, and beauty products. This is why I’m generally fucked if I go into Target. Part of the reason I started Shedding It is because I was giving informal reviews to my friends all the time. I was constantly getting e-mails and Facebook messages from friends (and randoms from high school) who know I try a lot of stuff and wanted to know my opinion on things before they bought them. My friends call me from Sephora and the grocery store all the time. I just wanted to be able to have a place where I could put it all. Want to know how I whiten my teeth? HERE. A LINK! Want to know if you should buy the Magic Bullet? (My friend Erica BBMd me this question on Friday. I told her what she already knew I was going to say and now she owns one.) I feel like I come from a, “I try it all, so you don’t have to” perspective. Sometimes that applies to things like diets, workouts, and foods and other times it applies to kitchen gadgets and workout gear.
Do I love everything? No, but I do usually love the things I buy because I put a lot of thought into it and buy things I’m 95 percent sure I’ll like. (And I read tons of reviews first!) This is something about me that’s changed since I’ve gotten older. When I was younger, I’d just buy anything and everything and it led me to having way too much stuff. Now it may seem like I buy anything and everything, but I actually do debate for a while before buying things. (And I’ve talked about how to decide when to invest and how to stretch your budget.) So that’s why I don’t do a lot of negative reviews; I just avoid things that don’t suit my tastes. I don’t do frequent DVD reviews because besides the handful I’ve already shared, I don’t really like workout DVDs very much.
In regard to getting free stuff, I do get some, although I’ve become more careful about only accepting things I’m pretty sure I’ll like instead of just saying, “OMG!!! FREEEE STUFFFFF! SEND IT TO MEEEE!!!!” to whatever PR person contacts me. (Oh and I’m required by law to tell you when I got something for free.) I really try to review things that I think you guys haven’t tried before or haven’t read ten other reviews of in the past week. Sometimes I review trendy things, like coconut oil, because I’m assuming you’ve heard some hype and want to hear about it from a “friend.” I review books because I love to read and I can get them free from the library. And a lot of times I don’t review new “hot” things — that’s because sometimes a product that’s been around for five years is exactly what I need right now — maybe I was too young to notice it the first time, or just too stupid — so even if I’m sort of the last person to get on the bandwagon, I always assume other people can benefit from my, “Duh, Rachel!” moments. And that would be the “getting it” I really meant when I named my blog. (But that’s evolved a bit, as we all know.)
While Leah said it well — I “don’t exactly discourage consumerism” — I hope you don’t get the impression that you need things to be healthy. You really don’t. And I don’t expect anyone to buy all the things I review…I really don’t! The reviews are meant so that if you’re wondering, “Hmm…what ipod should I buy?”…well, now you know! (Because since 2004 I’ve had ummm…five different ipods. When I bought the ipod Touch last summer, I wish someone had told me that I should really have gotten a Nano. Ugggh!) I read every magazine so I try to share the best info I find in them (which really isn’t much these days, sadly). In terms of make-up reviews, I’m not even going to pretend I don’t love beauty products and don’t think a beauty product can change your life; I do think that. (But I’ve also noticed that you guys actually seem to like those reviews best, especially when I share new nail polish colors.) And I think of food reviews as swaps as opposed to “your pantry runneth over” — i.e. I’m assuming you already buy peanut butter so I’ll tell you if you want to switch to macadamia butter this month. You don’t need to have eight kinds of nut butter at once.
So when I review things, know that it’s from the bottom of my heart. If something has helped me, I assume it can help other people too. Just like I’m here to say, “Don’t get hooked on fake foods; they will mess your body up!” I’m here to say, “Don’t waste your time on a knock-off Magic Bullet; it will die so you just need to buy the real thing!” (Seriouslyyyyy.) I’m a little materialistic. I know this. It’s sort of a joke among my family and friends and I feel ridiculous saying this but it’s honestly who I am. I’ve been like this since I was a little kid. If the house were on fire, would I save my Magic Bullet and leave my dog behind? Of course not. But would I find cheaper ways to socialize so that I can save up for a Kindle? Um, I sat at home last night, so you tell me.
So just like I own a lot of stuff, I’m also owning this aspect of my personality. But I really do my best to talk about things I think you guys want to know about or that will help you if you’re seeking a solution to a problem. (Like how the Nike sensor is a solution to wanting to buy a Garmin.) And I would love to hear more from you about the kinds of products you’re interested in. Yes, this enables my habit — a reader last week had me all craving a BodyBugg again, something I have talked myself out of several times — but like I said last week, I love getting ideas from you! So feel free to holler at me with questions in the comments or “Hey, have you seen…?” e-mails.
Seth Godin calls people who talk about products or ideas “sneezers.” They “sneeze” and spread the “ideavirus” to other people and that’s how things get around. Well I’ve basically had a bad cold my whole life, so you can consider me your personal sneezer. Gross image, but I think you get the idea.