There are a few things you should know about Annie Mai Thai Seuss, the fashion blogger who tried to profit off of 9/11. The first thing is that she is a serial copycat: she has copied outfits and photos from Extra Petite for years. There is no debate about this. Smart people have reached a consensus. Annie has plagiarized outfits for so long that there is a photo gallery of her outfit plagiarism, which I found on GOMI.
Here are some examples (the original outfit from ExtraPetite is on the left, the copycat from Annie is on the right):
(Outfit plagiarism, by the way, is the lamest form of plagiarism. You might plagiarize an essay to meet a tight deadline. But copying other people’s blog outfits and then posting the same outfits on your own blog just days later? Can you even call yourself a fashion blogger at that point?)
(Annie’s blog name used to be “ReallyPetite”–which was suspiciously similar to Extra Petite–but she has since changed it to StylishPetite after backlash).
Another thing that you need to know about Annie, and her blog StylishPetite, is that she really, really love affiliate links. When you visit Annie’s fashion blog and click on a link, her links are actually “special” tracking links that embed cookies in your browser. If you click on a link to a retailer’s website and buy something from that website, Annie receives commission for directing you to the retailer.
I’m fine with bloggers using special links that generate commission when readers buy items from a blog post. I use affiliate links in my own posts. Affiliate links are highly rewarding, enabling some bloggers to earn income just by showcasing their outfits and linking to the retailer.
Annie takes this practice to a new level. On the front page of her blog she has one hundred and thirty affiliate links. She basically affiliate links every other word in the sentence. If you find a full, coherent sentence on that blog that isn’t an affiliate link, let me know. And if you click on one of her links, you can generate $$$ for her blog.
Even the pictures on Annie’s blogs are affiliate linked! See the screenshot below, where Annie has written “Click on ANY item that you like!”, without revealing that you will be redirected to purchase an item once you click on the picture.
This is probably against government policy, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which requires bloggers to disclose when they are using affiliate links!
But using shady business practices hasn’t stopped Annie. She even affiliate links her instagram pictures. In fact, Annie’s entire Instagram feed, like her blog, is filled with affiliate links. Almost every picture has something called LiketoKnowIt.
LikeToKnowIt allows people to “shop” Instagrams. See the “www.liketk.it” link at the end of her photo description? You can sign up for LiketoKnowIt with your email, and every time you see an Instagram pic with a “liketoknow.it” link, you can double-tap the picture to receive an email telling you where to purchase the items in the Instagram pic.
Of course, the email is full of affiliate links that will reward the blogger whose Instagram picture you “liked.” In the above example, if you had “liked” Annie’s photo, you would have been sent an email telling you where you can buy her mug and her socks. If you end up clicking on anything in the email, your purchase generates commission for Annie.
Annie abuses LikeToKnowIt like no one I’ve ever seen. She affiliate links her nightstand:
She affiliate links her kitchen (?) (Because her instagram fans totally want to know where she bought her refrigerator).
So Annie affiliate links the flowers on her kitchen counter, and copies other bloggers. But maybe I’m being too hard on her? Maybe she’s just trying to maximize her blog earnings and needs outfit inspiration. I had decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I followed her on Instagram so I could occasionally shake my head at her greedy affiliate links.
This is where my post really begins. On a warm, solemn day (9/11/15 to be precise), I scrolled through Instagram, admiring people’s heartfelt memorial posts about 9/11.
Then I saw this:
To be honest, I stared at the picture for a full 2 minutes. It felt surreal to me. Annie had posted about 9/11 by affiliate linking her sofa.
I couldn’t believe what I saw, so I “liked” the picture and received the email linked to Annie’s 9/11 instagram picture. The email was full of affiliate links for Annie’s table, the gold spikey thing, and the lamp.
On 9/11, a day of national mourning for a tragic terrorist attack that killed thousands, Annie tried to use affiliate links to sell her fans some furniture.
Let’s break this down. Here’s the instagram picture again:
Don’t try to tell me that Annie wasn’t trying to profit off of September 11th:
- She used liketoknow.it on the picture. If she had really wanted a touching tribute to 9/11, she could have taken a picture of anything else in the world and chosen not to use affiliate links. Instead, if you “like” her picture and sign up for emails, you will get a lovely shopping email showing you where to get the items in the picture.
- She used the #neverforget, the top hashtag that day. This hastag is used for the specific purpose of recognizing 9/11’s anniversary. She probably used this hashtag to generate more views for her picture. This way, she broadens the reach of her links.
- She used emojis to convey her sadness about 9/11. Oh, a (sad face) and (American flag emoji) shows how much you care, when you’re trying to get people to sign up for LiketoKnow.it and click your links.
- Also, when people asked where the items were from in the comments, Annie did not respond directly. Instead, she asked them to “click the link in my profile for details.” The link in her profile takes you to her blog. Which is crammed full of affiliate links. She wanted you to mourn 9/11 by going to her blog and buying some Ann Taylor sweaters.
I’m not sure who I’m angrier at, Annie or the commenters on her Instagram pic who were too focused on Annie’s lamp to realize that she had just affiliate linked 9/11. Seriously, no one commented on how crass Annie was being?
Businesses have been criticized and received flack for offering 9/11 discounts for mattresses and golf courses, or for trying to profit from 9/11. How is Annie acting any differently than Macy’s sending you a 9/11 promotional email with the title “Today we mourn (sad face emoji) (American flag emoji) BECAUSE THESE LOW PRICES ARE ABOUT TO COME TUMBLING DOWN!”
Yet Annie is so proud of her 9/11 Instagram picture that–as of Jan. 10—the picture is still up for everyone to see.
I had tried my hardest not to judge as Annie copied other bloggers.
I rolled my eyes when she affiliate linked her home decor.
But now I realize that Annie is not just a shady, greedy, copycat blogger. She’s also a despicable human being.
I want Annie to know that I once interviewed a lady who had been in the World Trade Center towers when the plane hit. The lady told me how she was one of the lucky ones, who managed to find an exit door after running down hundreds of stairs through the smoke and fire. She had barely left the building before the rubble began raining down on her.
Had this lady gone out the other side of the building, she would have died instantly, because the tower would have collapsed on top of her. She was one of the last ones to leave. There may have been other people in the stairwell. She was not sure if everyone got out.
There are people on 9/11 who didn’t die from the fire, smoke, or impact of the plane. They were stuck on the floors too high up to be rescued. Many of them chose to jump to their deaths rather than burn slowly in the flames.
Firefighters who were not on-call that day still volunteered to help rescue people from the rubble. They chose to stay, some of them perishing during their rescue efforts.
I don’t care what you think about the Iraq War, 9/11, or U.S. policy. When I visited the 9/11 memorial last year, I could barely imagine 2,900 people slammed against the floor, screaming, burning, fleeing, as the towers came crumbling down. I can’t imagine anyone’s family members being there, struggling to breath, wondering if they should jump because help was too far away, praying they’d see their family again.
Most of all, I weep. I weep for how a community came together on 9/11, how brave the first-responders were, how even today, we honor the dead through sincere tributes.
I also weep for a petty blogger who cannot understand the power and significance of a national tragedy, a blogger who chooses to use the 9/11 date to affiliate link her furniture and knick-knacks, to sell us items from her living room.
It’s ironic that Annie used the #neverforget hashtag so she might gain some commission revenue off a 9/11 anniversary picture. Because now I’m writing this post—so that the Internet can #neverforget one of the worst fashion bloggers I’ve ever had the displeasure of eviscerating on my website.
Annie can earn her commission, and copy whoever she wants, but I have burned through the thesaurus looking for the right words to describe the pity, disgust, and disdain I feel for this narcissistic woman who will try to sell you the vase on her table before acknowledging the tragedy in a world outside of her commercialized bubble.
Oh, and if you disagree with me or disagree with my post, feel free to send me an email with your IP address so I can ban you from ever accessing my blog again. I’ll be so sad that you won’t be clicking my affiliate links and helping me make more money! (sad face emoji) #neverforget