This episode of How to be Sound features none other than international skincare guru, Caroline Hirons, talking all things, well, blogging. We chatted about Bloggers Unveiled, how to wrangle a free car and whether or not bloggers deserve the crap they get online. Here’s the transcript of all 41 minutes of our chat – please do share with any friends with hearing difficulties who may be interested in learning How to be Sound!
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Is Caroline Hirons a celebrity?
Rosemary: Hello and welcome to another episode of How to be Sound where you are joined by me, your host, Rosemary Mac Cabe and a bona fide – can I say a bona fide celebrity, Caroline Hirons?
Caroline: No, you absolutely can not!
Rosemary: No, I absolutely can. I feel like, Irish people, we have very loose definitions of celebrity as it is… but we have such a low calibre of celebrity, when anyone comes over who’s been on This Morning, or who might be on first name terms with… even, I was going to say Victoria Beckham, but even, like Trinny Woodall are bona fide celebrities. So I think you’re it!
Rosemary: Thank you for being with me!
Rosemary: So tell me a bit about, what is it that you’re doing in Dublin?
C: I’m here for a Cloud 10 event. You’ll have to excuse my Stevie Nicks voice, as well, it’s been off and on since Christmas. We have a customer event tomorrow with 300 rabid beauty fans which should be fun if my voice can withstand it.
R: Maybe you could get cue cards.
C: Yeah! Well, the place not to come when you’ve lost your voice, is Dublin.
R: That’s a very good point, and now I’m sorry that I’ve made you come and do a podcast interview.
C: That’s okay!
Being picky about collaborations
R: Tell me a bit about… working with Cloud 10. I know you’re – or, I assume you’re at a point in your career when you have to be very selective with your collaborations. Is that fair to say?
C: I always have been. I’ve always been a snobby bitch.
R: But that’s good!
C: Yeah. I just don’t see the value in, one, endorsing something I don’t use. I mean, ultimately, you come on one of two sides. Either your opinion can be bought, or it can’t. And mine can’t. Which has cost me a lot of money, but never mind. I’ll cope.
R: I was kind of having this conversation with somebody yesterday when they were saying, they’re sick of bloggers taking money to say that they love things that they don’t love, kind of thing, and I said, well, do you think if you were offered €1,000… not necessarily to say that you love this iPhone, but to show people this iPhone, would you take it? And they were like, that’s not the point. But for a lot of people, that is the point.
C: Well, it depends how much you’re endorsing it, and what it is. Everyone uses an iPhone. Not everybody needs a skinny detox tea that actually won’t do anything.
R: How many skinny detox teas have you been asked to promote?
C: Ah, none. One, because they wouldn’t dare approach me independently and, two, because if my agent ever put that in front of me, I’d get a new agent.
R: Oh, of course. You kind of forget, because I had an agent for a while… and now, I just… I don’t get asked to do enough stuff, so I just do it myself, it saves the hassle of having a middleman. But you do forget, that is the one big advantage of having an agent, you don’t get the crap that you absolutely do not want to do.
C: That would never cross my path.
R: And what about, so, I mean you said that your opinion can’t be bought… If it could, would there be a figure? If I was like, I’ll give you five million pounds…
C: To do what, though? Endorse Trump?
R: No. To endorse these makeup removal wipes…
C: Ha. Then you know that I need that five million because I’d never be able to work again. So if I never wanna work again, or have any kind of reputation… and also, I don’t actually think I’d be paid five million pounds. [laughs]
R: Sometimes I think it would be quite nice, if someone said, here’s five million, I’d be like grand, I’d live off the profits.
C: Well I’d need more than that. I’ve too many kids.
‘I woke up to hundreds of messages from boys…’
R: Ha! That’s kind of something I wanted to touch on. Because you, whether you meant to or not, have become kind of an internet celebrity. And how do your kids… because, a lot of the time, when you have very small kids, they don’t care.
C: They’re oblivious.
R: But yours aren’t small. How do they feel about the fact that their mum is an internet celebrity, quote-unquote?
C: Thank you for that. They, in varying degrees, like it, are irritated by it, find it hysterically funny or are mortified, depending on the situation and how embarrassing I’m being. But I think, at this point, if you’re one of my kids… It’s hard to embarrass them. At all. I ended up on some random gaming drama channel by accident, earlier this year, and I woke up to hundreds of messages from boys… that are still virgins, but play a lot of computer games, telling me that I was… Well, I won’t swear, but you can imagine. And I could see their pictures, and they’re still in school uniforms. And I thought, well, that might not be pleasant for my kids. And my 13-year-old, who’s clearly raised better, came home and said, ‘Mum! How did you end up on so-and-so’s drama channel?’ And I said, ‘oh, I don’t know, love, you know what I’m like on Twitter’. And he said, ‘it’s so funny!’ And that was it. And I thought, if he’s not bothered by it, then I’m cool.
But, in general, my daughter was embarrassed about it until it became useful to her. So, we were in Victoria’s Secret once, and she wanted something off… her size was the only one left on the mannequin, and she said, ‘oh, I’m sorry, the only one left is on the mannequin’, and the woman serving her saw me, and said, ‘oh we’ll take it off the mannequin for you!’ which I found hysterical, because that never happened to me. But it happened to her benefit, and suddenly, I was okay. And for 10 minutes I was cool, and then she hated me again.
R: And that is one of the shops where they don’t really do that.
C: They don’t do that.
R: Like Zara, if you go in and say, I want the thing in the window, and they go, ‘no, there’s one left’. And I’m like, ‘I can see it in the window and I want it.’
C: Well, I won’t go into Zara because their customer service is so atrocious. It causes me to feel violent and ruins my day.
R: You know, I used to work in Zara, when it first opened in Dublin, and I had to go and do my training in London for two or three weeks and it was such a baptism of fire, because coming from retail in Ireland where… and it’s changed a little bit now, but back then it was super, not really American, but super nice, there was kind of an innocence to it, and going over to London, working with these… that I was literally, like, these people are so scary.
C: They’re rude.
R: They would be like, ‘next! Next! Can you move over?’ And it was just not the way we would talk.
C: Rude, just, obnoxious. Two people on the tills, 50 people in the queue, 50 people putting stock out, to restock the stuff from the people who are in the queue…
R: But, you know one of the big issues, in Zara, that they have cashiers and they have floor staff, and they don’t mix. So if you have 20 cashiers and only two people in the queue, and five floor staff, the cashiers don’t go on to the floor.
C: That makes sense! [sarcastically] That seems like a really cohesive working environment. There you go. And I don’t take it out on the staff, I just think it’s an appalling management situation, higher up the chain. And there’s a reason why he’s one of the wealthiest men in the world.
R: Yeah… although you know, when I worked in Zara, I was there at Christmas, and every single member of staff – I think about 120 of us – got a huge box of Spanish salami, Spanish meats, a big bottle of wine, a bottle of whiskey. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever got a gift like that from anyone I’ve worked for.
C: Well, I’m glad. I’m glad you got a nice gift. [On second listen, perhaps sarcastically. lol!]
R: That did endear Mr Ortega to me.
C: No, I’m not endeared by him. I want to have a word with him. I think he needs to have me as a consultant for a week. I want to sort that business. When I did a video with Trinny, she was like, ‘darling, darling, Zara’, and I was like, ‘no, Trinny, two things – the customer service, and my arms don’t fit any of the clothes.’
R: The arms are a big issue.
C: What’s the deal?! Why would you have an XL and have the arms be something that would fit a sparrow.
R: It almost feels like they just don’t change the arms. They make everything on an XS model…
C: …and they stick the same arms on everything!
R: …and they just balloon the top and leave everything else the same. It’s funny, I was listening to The Lifestyle News Hound [podcast], with Trinny, and she was talking about what she wears on the plane, and it was just worlds apart. She was going, ‘well, you know, I wear this and I wear this and I wear this, and then I change on the plane’, and I was like, you’re clearly not getting Ryanair to London like I am! Where would you be changing?!
Caroline Hirons: the persona
R: So, your online persona… well, persona’s a gross word because it implies that it’s different to your actual self…
C: …which it isn’t.
R: And that’s not the impression someone gets from looking at your channels, either. Was that something that you thought, oh Instagram’s getting big…
C: I have never made a tactical decision in my life regarding social media, ever. The only thing I do now that’s tactical is, when a new platform comes along, I’ll get in there first so I can have my name, and then I’ll leave it alone. So I’m on everything, I just don’t use them. I’ve never been tactical. If I was, I’d have a much bigger Instagram following. I was very late to the game. I was early in comparison to some, but… no. I’ve just, what, hit 200 thousand or something? But I’ve never had – it’s just not why I do it. I don’t care. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate every single one of them, but that’s what happens when you grow organically and you don’t, a, get your credit card out or b, have a plan. And to be completely clear, I am not suggesting that everyone with a huge audience bought it, but they often have… a grid. They don’t have pictures of Jon Bon Jovi, or…
R: Actually, someone I follow, the other day, was recommending accounts to follow and every single account they recommended was one of those, colour schemes.
C: How do you have the time to do a colour scheme? I don’t have time to do it with my bra and knickers, I’m not going to do it with my Instagram.
R: I tried to do it for a while. I think a lot of people use a different app… to line up what their Instagram will look like, in a week.
R: Yes – it’s called Unum.
R: So you filter, edit all of your photos in VSCO or Instagram or wherever, then you save them down, then you put them in Unum, to see what your grid will look like…
R: …and then you put them up, in that order.
C: It’s a miracle I’ve got any kind of career.
R: But it also does feel very boring, and like there’s no room for originality, and that’s why your Instagram is popular, because it’s spur-of-the-moment.
C: And I do have the karaoke, Rosemary, I’m sorry.
R: Yeah, but karaoke is always good, though. But – do you mime? Or do you actually sing them?
C: I mime. But I sing them when I’m not on camera, obviously, but I mime because, otherwise, my voice would be louder than the song I’m playing.
R: Well, if you were in hair rock, that would be a distinct advantage. So maybe you have a potential second career.
On trolls and internet trauma
One of the things that really interested me, obviously, is that lately I saw that somebody had left you a really nasty message and I can’t remember exactly what it was, but you put it on your Instagram, basically going, ‘this is the kind of shit that I’m getting from this person who…’ I think you’d gone into their account and seen, this person does X… oh, no, it was that she said she was a Christian, and you were like…
C: You’re not being very Christian!
R: So that tells us a bit about where you stand on trolls and negativity. Are you in the camp of, let’s call them out, rather than saying nothing, or… you do a bit of both.
C: I do a bit of both. As with everything… Here’s the situation you’ll get. You’ll get people saying, ‘you have to expect it; it comes with the territory’. Or, ‘you put yourself out there. What do you expect?’ or, ‘you should just rise above it.’ And I just call bullshit, because, everything that’s said to me, unless that person is psychotic – which, you’d let them off – or, incredibly brave… they would not walk up to me on the street and say that to my face. Firstly, I’m five foot 11. I just want to put that out there – in a non-threatening manner. [laughs] And I think it’s unacceptable. And I think that we, somehow, have decided that it’s become acceptable. And it isn’t. And if you would… Having said that, the other side of me is, whether it’s going to bother me depends on my mood… Am I pre-menstrual? Have I just had a row with my husband? Or is it sunny out and I’m hanging out with my kids and I’m not going to give you any energy?
R: …and you just don’t care on that day because you’re like, it’s grand.
C: And also how personal you’re being about something that is none of your business. So when people say… To be honest, I don’t get a lot. So I shouldn’t really react to any of it, if I was being sensible, because I don’t get that much. But when I do get it, it’s usually very aggressive, always from women… The boys, you can ignore, because they’re just computer boys, they’re kids. Men don’t tend to dish it out in that way, and when they do, you’re like, ‘well clearly you’ve got more problems than I can ever help you with.’ When it’s another woman doing it to another woman, I kind of get more offended on my friends’ behalf. When you know people in real life, you think, you’re calling this person out because you don’t like the way they’ve chosen to make a career decision, or are living their life, or what they’ve named their child, and you think it’s appropriate to spew your vile, usually expletive-ridden – not always – but, so when this particular one… All it did was dissect my appearance, but if I did Botox and filler, I’d be called out for not being real. So you can’t win. Once you get past the fact that you can’t win, it’s easier to ignore. So yeah, they basically dissected my appearance in a really nasty way, and basically said I was no better than a used car salesman… and I was like, okay, well I know for a fact that I sleep easy at night. I have never taken money for a job on a product I never used, or didn’t think would help someone. And I do very little sponsored content in comparison to most, which I will happily say to all of my friends – we’re all fussy. And that particular day, Rosemary, I took umbrage! as they would say in the back of The Sunday Times.
The other thing is, if you put them up there, you get, well now you’re bullying them. But you started it! If we were in school, you would have to apologise. Don’t @ me if you’re not ready for me to @ you back. Doesn’t mean I always will, doesn’t mean I’m giving you the energy, but if I’m going to @ you back, my interest is not in protecting your identity. If you are stupid enough to be a woman of a certain age – because she was my age, or older – with, what later transpired, I think it might have been one of her grandchildren, in one of her thumbnails, and linked to family videos on YouTube, using her real name… Why am I going to try and protect you? It’s not like I went into her private and tried to find out who she was and outed her. I clicked through twice and found all of her details, and when I said, in my YouTube comment, which has since gone because obviously she ran, like they always do, and deleted all her comments, “I think you should be really careful, because your address, everything’s out there”. Obviously the numbers are all blocked out, as they are on social.. you know. And then, of course, I get, “you’re threatening her – are you going to go to her house?” And like, I don’t think you can read, because what I was saying was, if it was easy for me to find her information, how easy do you think it’s going to be for your employer?! Use your brain! I have zero responsibility for how your vileness is projected across the internet. If you’re going to come at me, in the same way, if I am going to go after someone… I really don’t like this politician, and I @ed this politician on Twitter and I said, “I think you’re a blah, blah, blah…” and they retweeted me, that’s my responsibility. I put it out there. It’s not the politician’s fault, for retweeting me. Take responsibility. Own it, move on, get off my page.
R: Yeah. That is something that I do a lot, on Twitter actually, that I’ll retweet people, kind of out of a self-care thing, because I’m going, hey guys, look at what this mean person is saying, I need you to be nice about it! Like, help me, because this person is being really awful. And people will kind of row in and say, oh ignore them, and then I still slightly better, which is maybe silly, but sometimes I do feel like you need a little team.
C: But I’m much older than you. And with age comes IDGAF.
R: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah.
C: I won’t swear on your podcast. I’ll be a lady!
R: No, you can, we’re Irish.
C: I genuinely don’t… I do it more as a, your behaviour is unacceptable, not, you’ve hurt me. You know?
R: And did you hear anything back from her?
C: No, not a word. No. Odd, that!
R: Very strange.
C: That’s what happens 99.9% of the time.
R: When I actually shared some comments from Reddit a couple of weeks ago, we were chatting about at the time, somebody then messaged me and went, “you know this person whose username is in that is actually really upset now that people think she’s a bully.” And I was like, I don’t care. She’s on this forum… It makes no difference to me.
C: Not your job to protect them.
R: But I was interested there that you said you don’t get that much hate.
C: I’m sure I do, I just don’t go looking for it.
R: Yes, but you don’t get that much direct, adding your username. But you did mention before we came online that you’re kind of following this @bloggersunveiled, the Irish blogger exposure saga.
C: Well I actually unfollowed it, and then I looked at it again today, because obviously I’m in Ireland…
R: And you wanted to be up to date?
C: I just wanted to know what was happening. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s the only country in the world that’s… and I don’t… coming from a totally outside point of view, I don’t have a point of view. But there’s a difference between calling people out and being personal. That’s what I’ve always said about me – if you want to question my ethics, go ahead. I’ve got receipts, I’ve got emails, I’ve got bill payments, I’ve got invoices. I’ll tell you who I’ve been paid by, what and when and where. If you want to come at me and say that you’re not happy because I let my eye bags droop, then we’re going to have a different conversation that’s going to involve me telling you to go fuck yourself, frankly. So… I don’t go looking for it because I don’t base my opinion of myself on others’ opinions of me. So if there’s a room of 50 women and they’re all talking about me, metaphorically speaking, I would walk into the middle of it and go, could you not be doing something better with your lives? And also, I don’t give a shit what you say about me. I know who I am – as a woman, as a person, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as a blogger. I’m not going to learn anything from you calling me – pick something, I’ve been called everything. Fat, ugly, horrible hair, horrible face, droopy… After a while it just becomes noise because it’s meaningless. It’s utterly meaningless.
R: I know that, for example, there are a lot of UK bloggers who get a lot of shit. When Zoella brought out her Christmas advent calendar, and there was the whole, Zoella is cancelled…
C: As if she’s ever going to be cancelled! Please.
R: There’s been a lot of targeting of Lydia Elise Millen, too – people calling her out, exposing her tax affairs? I’m not really sure. I’ve seen bits here and bits there.
C: I think trolls exposed her tax affairs. For some reason, she is… she gets it a lot.
R: Tax affairs are something that people are insanely interested in. I was talking about disclosure the other day, and how bloggers should declare… talking about the branded content tool on Instagram, and I didn’t actually realise at the time that not everyone has that.
C: Yeah, not everyone has that capability.
R: Yeah, and I was saying, “everybody should use it!” And then loads of people were like, well I can’t, and I was like, oh, crap. When I was talking about the branded content tool, a load of people messaged me saying, you should be paying benefit in kind for this, and I was like, my tax affairs are none of your business. I’m talking about the things that we are obliged to disclose…
Where do I sign up for this free car?
C: What do they mean, like, benefit in kind?
R: Essentially, according to Irish tax law, if you are given the use of a car for a year, you should pay tax on the value of that car… say, for example, if you leased that car for a year and it would cost you ten grand, you should pay benefit in kind tax on that ten grand.
C: [whispers] Where do I sign up for this free car?
C: Who gets a car?!
R: I had a car for a year once. Volkswagen gave me a car, it was great.
C: Oh, lush! I use Volkswagen – I’ve had one for years! What did you get?
R: I had a Volkswagen Up!
C: Oh, I wouldn’t have wanted that. You can keep that.
R: [laughs] Well, you’re clearly never getting a Volkswagen now. That was very non-strategic.
C: No, I am a Tiguan, and now a Sharan, and I’m going back to a Tiguan, because I want a jeep.
R: I actually went to Berlin when they launched the Tiguan, and I got to drive it around. It was really, really nice.
C: That was my first car.
R: Maybe this is the problem – because I feel like there are a lot of Irish influencers who have got free cars. BMW have given people free cars…
C: Shut up!
R: MINI… Land Rover…
C: I’m moving to Dublin.
R: Land Rover, I’m pretty sure, have several brand ambassadors… Rosanna Davison gets a new Polo every year [it’s actually a Beetle].
C: Yeah, but isn’t she Chris de Burgh’s daughter?
R: Yes, and she was also Miss World.
C: Yes, so that’s kind of negated… The fact that I know that, we won’t discuss.
R: Amy Huberman and Brian O’Driscoll get cars… Pippa O’Connor and her husband, I’m pretty sure, get Land Rovers, or did at one point get cars, one car each…
C: So they’re saying you should be paying…
R: No, no… but tax aside, I’m wondering if maybe the whole Bloggers Unveiled thing is because Irish influencers get more than English influencers do…
C: Sounds like it, bloody hell!
R: Maybe that’s where the disgruntled…
C: I do not know one UK blogger… I know US ones. I do not know one UK blogger who has a car.
R: I’m trying to think what else.
C: Not one. No one that I know from Gleam world, all my girlfriends – Ruth, Lily, Anna, Lydia’s never had it… They’ll get to use the car for the day and stuff, and I’m like, why would you give me a car for a day, you wind-up merchant? No! Get your own free… Sorry!
R: It is actually really nice, because I don’t have a car, they’d go, do you want to test drive this for a week? And I’m like yeah! I’m gonna go to Ikea, I’m gonna go do the big shop…
C: I’m gonna do the big shop!
R: It’s very exciting.
C: No, I wish I was sponsored by Volkswagen. It would save me a lot of money.
R: In the UK, though, you guys do get a bit targeted on Guru Gossip and stuff… maybe we don’t have the same forums.
C: You must get Guru Gossip, don’t you?
R: I mean, we can access it, because we’re not in Cuba, but I don’t think there are any Irish people on it. Or if there are, there are one or two…
C: I wouldn’t know.
R: See, I do go on them…
R: See, I was saying this to someone the other day, that I think people are divided into two camps: the sensible people, who are like, I never want to know what people are saying about me, and then the people like me, who are like, I can’t not know.
C: Why?! We’ll have to talk.
R: I think it’s a weird, self-flagellating…
C: I’m going to have to give you my number and every time you feel yourself going to open a certain forum…
R: My God, it would be four times a day. “Caroline, I’m there again!”
C: No. Step away.
R: No… I can’t access it now.
C: No good can come from it. What good could possibly come from it?!
R: I know.
C: Here’s the thing though, that’s different. I have four kids, right, and my husband and I have been together nearly 30 years. If I want the truth told about me, I will ask those five, because if you want the truth telling… if you say, d’you like this top? One of your kids is going to go, no. No reason – just no. Or, your husband will say, your arse looks fat in that… I mean, he would never say that, but if I want the truth, I have plenty of people around who will give it to me. I am not someone who needs grounding, put it that way.
I remember coming home from my very first massive Clinique event, and there had been a five-hour queue of people. People had travelled in… We didn’t get out of the shop til ten o’clock at night. It was the Clinique shop, their shop in Covent Garden, so I said, I’m not leaving – I am not going home until every one of these people has been seen, which I’m kind of known for now, so now, when I do my events, they’ll start them at like eleven. They’re like, “we’re just going to start it early, because Caroline won’t go, you won’t get her out of the building!” I got to the end of it and I got home, got a car home, my voice was like this – this is from weeks of events. This is from my flu from Christmas. I’d lost my voice, so I got home, my husband said to me, dinner will be ready in five, Max has just pissed all over the floor – will you get it while I put the kettle on? I don’t need grounding.
R: Is Max your son or your dog?
C: He’s my son.
C: At the time, he was much younger.
R: [laughing] Poor Max!
C: When I say… mothers of sons. When I say, pissed on the floor, he’d just missed the bowl. He was just lazy. Max is the child that would stretch while he was having a wee, I’m like, I used to walk past the bathroom door and go, YOU HAVE TO HOLD IT! So that was after my Clinique event. Yeah, Max has just pissed everywhere love, I’ve put the kettle on, can you clear that up? I was like, yeah, okay. By the way, hundreds of people queued to meet me today.
R: Do you think that’s the same kind of conversation Victoria and David have, when she gets home?
C: No, I don’t think that’s the same kind of conversation they have when she gets home.
R: It would be nice to imagine it.
C: It would be nice to imagine it, but imagine it is all it’s going to be.
R: It’d be hilarious. You mentioned, as well, that most of the negative – or bitchy, for want of a less gendered word – comments you get are from women. but do you think that women online get it worse, in your experience, than men online? Or is it because there are fewer men doing what you do online?
C: It’s a mixture. I think we get it more because we’re in the beauty forum, and there’s more women… But I also think women are more sensitive to it. So if you get 20 comments and 19 are saying, you are the most amazing, incredible human being I’ve ever met in my life, and one says, I don’t like your coat, you’re going to go, why don’t you like my coat? Right. So I think we’re more sensitised to it, and that’s been ingrained in us since we were kids. As a girl, you have to make people happy. Smile; give so-and-so a kiss. But if you don’t want to kiss him… I raised my daughter with, don’t kiss them if you don’t want to. It took grandad – my dad – years to get approval! I think we’re conditioned to be more open to criticism, whereas boys, it just washes off their back, unless they’re a particularly sensitive soul. I’m not saying there’s that massive divide between boys and girls. I have three sons, I k now they are sensitive beings. Boys tend to be much more, “you’re a dick”. Boys don’t go, “you’re jowly; your eyelids need doing; you’ve got dark circles and your roots are showing.” Boys are much more about personality. Girls go for your appearance.
R: But I think a lot of the comments, when they say, you’re jowly and you should fix this and fix that, what they mean is, you’re a dick. What they mean is, I think you’re a dick, but this is the way I’m telling you.
C: Oh, I don’t. I think some people think it’s their duty to tell me I need a facelift.
R: Do you really?!
C: Oh, yeah.
R: But, you know what? I was at an event during the week, and there was a woman there who was a skincare expert.
C: Was she a real skincare expert? Or an “expert?” Tell me afterwards, don’t drop yourself in it.
R: Yeah… I mean, you get a room now, I think you got a room 10 years ago with a skincare expert in it and people would go, “who? What’s your expertise?” But now, because the room is peppered with influencers and bloggers and we’re all… I think the standard maybe of people’s knowledge has gone down slightly… so our standards have slipped slightly in that we don’t question so much any more.
C: Oh, I think it’s the opposite! I just had the talk upstairs and basically said that customers are so much more savvy now. If you… Journalists have had to up their game, and arseholes like me come along and really upset the apple cart, and say, actually, that product won’t do that; they’re lying to you. So… what happened is, the magazines would always cover whatever the advertisers would put in. And they’d have two or three products from whoever had sent them on the best press trip that month. We all know that’s how it worked. But Joe Blogs, or Josephine, at home, didn’t know that was how it worked. But bloggers came along and went, actually, that product’s not great – I know it’s been a hero product for years, but it doesn’t work. And here’s why. And we dissected it. And now the brands have to come along… I have brands who won’t come and bring a product to me without their trainer.
R: Because you ask so many annoying questions?!
C: No, because I ask a question. I think now, what’s happened is, the woman at home is more clued up and savvy, so the brands have had to up their game in terms of, here’s what it will do and why. And that makes it so much easier to separate the good from the bad. Cos the good is, here’s where we trialled this product. Most indie brands can’t afford clinical trials, but what they will give you is information. It has this in it, and we have found that it works well with this. We hope you can try it. You might find that it does this, whereas big corporate goes, we trialled this across 16 women over a period of two weeks and 34% said they saw an improvement. It means nothing. What they’re doing is not telling you what’s in the product that’ll make a difference. They won’t tell you percentages; you won’t get a big corporate brand sharing percentages, ever. Most indie brands will share percentages. I’m not saying they should – but that’s the key difference.
Brands, journalists, bloggers – I refuse to use the word “influencer” – have made the whole place sit up and pay more attention. Maybe that’s just London… we don’t get cars though, so!
R: I do think London is always ahead. Ireland is always slightly behind. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but we’re smaller…
C: No, I know what you mean. You’re smaller. You’re not as behind as the US, so I wouldn’t worry.
R: Oh, yeah. TG – thank God. But, I do think sometimes people will say to you, we found this ingredient among the Inuits and we found that, when they were putting it on their fingers, their fingers were growing an extra inch. And nobody stops and says, what?!
C: Oh yeah, they do in London. Have you met Nadine Baggott?
R: No, but I’ve seen her on your channel.
C: And Claire Coleman.
R: To be fair, sometimes there are people who stand up and go, can you tell me the scientific study behind that?
C: Now, if that was men, 50 men in the room would go, how does it do that? Because we’re girls, we don’t want to upset anyone. We don’t want to be rude. So, instead of actually just asking a scientifically fair question, we sit quietly.
R: We feel awkward.
C: Or, we think, if I put my hand up, the PR’s not going to like me. So I’ll just email them afterwards.
R: I had my hand up once, at an event, and they didn’t get to me, and afterwards the PR said to me, I’m really sorry we didn’t get to you, and I said, don’t be sorry, because I was going to ask this – and she went, oh, thank God. But anyway. This is a very long-winded way of saying, the skincare expert – who, to be fair, is a dermatologist and a medical doctor…
C: Fair play.
R: She was one of these people who was impossible to age, not because she had incredible skin or because she had very good work done. She could have been 60 and she could have been 25. I don’t think she was 25 because she was talking about years working as a GP, doing X and doing Y. She was very beautiful, but… I wonder how… I think there’s a huge amount of pressure on people who work in skin to look like ageless 20-year-old sexbots. You mentioned there that you haven’t had work done…
There is no such thing as preventative Botox
C: Oh, I had my eyelids done, so I could see, basically. I did a whole video about it, I was very open about it. And now my tear duct, again, is, you see here, there’s a tear duct protruding. I have to have them done again. For some reason, our family doesn’t like to keep our tear ducts in behind the eye muscle, so it protrudes, so it gives you a heavy eyelid… My grandad had to have it done so he could drive. I genetically have really heavy, droopy eyelids. I had it done and it changed my life – because I could see. When I did the video about it, and I hadn’t cried at all, but I broke down because I remembered, clearly, talking to my husband. He asked me something, I looked up, but as I looked up, only my eyes lifted… I didn’t have to lift my head, to throw the skin on my eyelids back. I’ve had my eyes done. I haven’t had any Botox or any filler yet. I don’t think I need it at this point. If I was going to have filler, I’d probably do it where I’m a bit jowly. But there is an immense pressure. It’s up to you whether you let it get to you or not.
R: I do think… I mean, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, you haven’t been in Dublin very long. Did you just arrive this morning?
R: So, you probably haven’t been walking around, but I feel like a lot of women in Dublin – younger and younger and younger – are getting more and more work, more Botox, more fillers.
C: One of the questions was about preventative Botox, and I said, there’s no such thing. What are you preventing? You’ve either got a line or you haven’t. The new thinking… well, we’ve always known it. If you have one, big line, across your forehead, by all means, my darling, if you want to get it Botoxed, get it Botoxed, but all that means is, five years down the line, maybe sooner, maybe later, you’re going to have to get Botox in other places where your body naturally, instinctively, has to have a line. Because muscle movement – that’s what’s going to happen. So, as long as people are aware of that, that’s fine. But don’t call it preventative Botox. All you’re going to do is need it further down the road.
R: I do think it’s a slippery slope. One of my friends was talking about getting Botox, and I said, I’ve started to think about getting it above my eyebrows…
C: You don’t need it.
R: Well, this is it… I don’t really have lines, except for when I express…
C: You don’t need it!
R: I know!
C: End of conversation with you, Madam!
R: I realised, if I went and got Botox, I’d be in…
C: You’d be in!
R: I’d be in two weeks later, going, okay now I want to do something else.
C: Now I need a bit of filler. And then you look like a surprised tambourine.
R: I’d just look insane. Or I’d look like a ride.
C: I will get it at one point. I do think it would be fun to get more Botox above one eyebrow, so when I do the eyebrow, I’d go full Roger Moore, psychopath eyebrow.
R: Would you actually do that?!
R: I feel like that’s the Botox equivalent of, when someone’s shaving off a beard and they give themselves a handlebar moustache for a couple of days.
C: I could do that for a while… when I was dyeing my hair pink or purple or platinum. Not quite now.
R: Okay, so we are out of time, almost but, before we go, I wanted to ask: what’s coming up? There’s a lot of the year left, but what are you most excited about?
C: Oh, I mean, there’s always lots of stuff going on. I just, I have to say… I am asked to do a lot of podcasts, and I’m asked to do a lot of interviews, and invariably the subject strays to the negativity side. Because everybody is looking for that way to help them through it in their own life. Not everyone I speak to is a blogger. It might be someone who’s arguing with someone at work, who’s an arse. But I do want to say that, in terms of the blogging community, and in terms of friends I’ve made for life… There’s nothing like it. It has been, by far, the best journey I have ever been on – and now I sound like Oprah.
It has, by far, been the best experience of my life in terms of girlfriends I’ve made, opportunities I’ve been given, people I’ve been introduced to. And I think it’s really, really important to remember that the majority of people are good. The majority of people are hardworking people who scroll past your picture, don’t like, purely because they don’t like. I did it this morning, I had a like spree. Lily, Ruth and Anna are my girlfriends – bloggers – and I hadn’t seen any of their pictures for a week, because I’ve been travelling, and I went through and I was like, double tap, double tap, double tap, double tap, because I saw them in passing but didn’t have time to stop and go, boom. The majority of people are good. And I think you will reap what you sow – and if you focus on the negative, you are going to find the negative.
I have a few emails saved and I have a few letters, personal, handwritten letters saved, and I always go back to certain comments – so if I get one troll who says I’m a used car salesman. For every one like that, I have 200 with people saying, I cannot tell you how you’ve helped me get out of the door and face the day because my skin was so bad, and now I don’t cry every day. And that, to me – by the way, I’m not crying, I have a very husky voice. I’m not going to break down! That, to me, is worth it. That makes all of the Deirdres and the Barbaras – which is what I call my trolls – worth it. I’ve had people called Barbara email me and say, I love that you call trolls Barbara, don’t ever change it!
The reason I checked in on that Bloggers Unveiled page is that I didn’t want the negativity on my feed. Call people out if they’re being dishonest… if you’re just going to talk about how fat people are, you can do better with your life. Your mum and dad did not raise you to talk about how fat someone is on the internet. Do better with your life. But if you’re calling out people who are trying to persuade young girls to buy a skinny detox tea, and lying about being paid for it, 100% behind you. Do it! But let’s keep the appearance out of it.
R: I think that, if that page was truly… there for the greater good, they would turn off the comments. Because that’s where it all gets really dragged down.
C: Also, the anonymity of it. All of my negative comments… And the great thing is, if you come at me with a negative comment, constructive negative, you could have done this better; your sound is bad… and I know it’s a person, with a name, and there are pictures of them, and their profile is open… I will engage them in a dignified conversation. And I can tell, even if they have come at me on their worst day, and they’re just having a bad day, I will talk to them and go… Equally, it’s not my job to save anyone. I’m not Oprah. But I will come at them and go, I hear what you’re saying, however you sounded a little bit aggressive… And then, literally, nine point nine times out of 10, they’ll say, oh God, I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to sound aggressive, my kids are being shits today…
C: People are people! If you’re coming at me from a private profile with a name that says Sarah Smith and I know there’s no Sarah Smith with a private profile, and you’ve never posted… and you follow hundreds of people and no one follows you… you’re a troll. You do not get my attention.
R: And I actually… I mean, to finish, I would recommend that everyone go on, read your blog, and read some of the comments where… Some of my favourite things have been where people have come at you and they’ve been wrong.
R: About skincare stuff. And you’ve responded and been really polite, but really, like, no honey – actually, it’s X, Y, Z…
C: … and this is why.
R: It’s really nice and very informative, but it’s really like, no, shut up, you’re wrong.
C: I did once put up a picture – I’d done a quick Instagram of me massaging my face, I was cleansing. And this woman sent me a DM and she said, you’re being far too rough with your face. And I put it on to my Instagram Stories, and just put, “not my first rodeo, honey.” And it was fine – it was funny! That wasn’t aggressive. But I just think, you know, all I can say is, all I have ever met in Ireland… Dublin is my second biggest demographic after London.
R: Oh, wow!
C: London, Dublin, New York, in that order.
R: That’s so interesting.
C: I love coming here and it’s a shame, because it’s… All I meet is amazing people, but all I’m asked about is the negative side. And not you, by the way – it’s just been, I’ve done, like, three interviews before this, just to be clear. And, I mean, my question to the Bloggers Unveiled would be: now that they’ve become, ostensibly, a big… you know, they’ve got a hundred and twenty eight thousand, or something? Are they going to start monetising?
R: Well, a few people have asked me, during the week, is it me. Which really annoys me, because I’m going, if it was me, I would say it – if I had these things to say, I would say them. But I’m also like, if that was me, I would 100% have got some money from it by now. There would’ve been an ad two weeks ago.
C: And why – why are you anonymous? If you’re calling people out factually, there’s no need to hide. If you are calling people out and being aggressive and being a troll, you’re going to be anonymous. So don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to start a war. I don’t follow that site enough to properly comment, but when I have looked at it, it’s quickly descended into, they’re fat, they’re ugly… They’re too old… and I’m the wrong person to say that too! The wrong person to read that, as it were. If you wanna keep it… I think it’s now, for me, looking at that page today, which I did, I checked in with it… It’s make or break. You either keep on the path of what I think the intention was when you started, which I think was very good…
C: Cos what I understand… I don’t know, but from what I understand, there was a lot of backhanders going on in Irish blogging, and like I say, I don’t know! And I don’t know any names! I’m just saying that was what I picked up in London, and when I was here, because I’ve been here a few times in the last few years. If you stray from that path, and you become Guru Gossip… You’ve lost your core reason for doing that.
So, my message would be: call them out, but keep it factual. Keep it questioning. Keep it above board. And kill off the comments that just descend into, “and she’s an ugly slag.”
R: Well, we wouldn’t say slag – we’d say “SLUH!”
C: Well, I’m very sorry – I’m from London!
R: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.
R: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of How to be Sound. How to be Sound is produced by Liam Geraghty, who has his own podcast, Meet Your Maker, which is brilliant, and you can read all about it at meet your maker dot ie or anywhere you download and listen to your podcasts.
You can also become a patron of How to be Sound by donating the price of a cup of coffee, if you want, per month, on patreon dot com slash how to be sound – that’s P A TR E O N dot com, slash, how to be sound. And if you donate at the six dollar sixty six level or more, every month, you will get your name read out in each episode, by me, in a weird way. I’m going to sound awkward, like I do right now.
So – without further ado, thank you so much to: Rory Spellman, Catie Joy, Aoife Bradley, Niamh Ní Gheabhainn, Hazel O, Aoibhinn Mc Bride, Siobhan O’Rourke and Ciara Norton.
I am Rosemary Mac Cabe, and if you’re not following me already you can find me everywhere that social media happens in a good way, at rosemary mac cabe with an a in my mac or on rosemarymaccabe.com and I’ll catch you next time!