Category: culture

Bell Sleeves – When Trends Go Too Far?

February 5
2 Comments

When your blog is focused on new fashion, you see some alarming trends come through. Sometimes, I can only stare in bewilderment as my Instagram feed fills with the latest odd item, like I’m the last non-zombie person in a dystopian wasteland who does not own a furry sandal or rose gold sneakers.

One trend that’s coming in hot for spring 2017 is bell sleeves. Sometimes this trend is mixed with last year’s off-the-shoulder trend, creating a garment that is perfect for the woman who has skinny shoulders and fat wrists.

As all trends go, this one can look innocuous in small doses. In fact, some bell-sleeve items are totally work appropriate:

Bell sleeve spring 2017 trend wear to work

1: Black dress  // 2: White pom pom top ($21) // 3: Houndstooth bell sleeve dress //

However, the trend quickly became a mockery of itself, spawning the offspring below:

Spring 2017 trend: bell sleeve wrap tops

1: Gray top ($20) // White tiered bell sleeve top ($21) // Pink top ($23)

How are you supposed to take anyone who wears this seriously? How are you supposed to walk up to the woman wearing the white monstrosity above and say, “Hey Karen in accounting, can I get my tax forms back when you finally disentangle yourself from the jellyfish that are consuming your arms?”

And when the trend is taken to the extreme, the clothing looks like a downright hazard:

Bell sleeve spring 2017 trend

1: Blue gingham dress // 2: Black and white top // 3: White flare sleeve top with bows ($43)

“Oh Karen, I’m so glad you found that picnic blanket that I misplaced! You seem to be wearing it!” At this point, I think the only people that could get away with wearing a trend like this are bloggers who don’t have do any work during the day. How do you type at a computer with such large sleeves covering your fingers? Or write legibly without smearing your ink? If women want to be taken seriously in the office, we can’t go to meetings looking like we have giant flappers for hands, and we shouldn’t look like we are reenacting that romance novel with the hunky pirates on the cover.

But even as I puzzle over how absurd this trend is—who the hell needs 2 yards of fabric for one sleeve?—maybe this trend is actually the ultimate ninja garment. Maybe covering our fingers is a type of office subterfuge, where you cover your work so that Greg can’t steal your ideas and take credit for them. Men can’t manspread on the subway when your sleeves take over the entire subway bench.

And even as I complain about this wasteful trend, I kinda want that white top with the giant sleeves and the unnecessary bows. Giant bell sleeves may not be the most practical, but I would be happy to indulge in a micro-trend that allows me to swoosh around like I have something hidden in my wizard robe sleeves.

It’s Still Summer, People

August 31
2 Comments

Michael Kors Gabriella bag and off the shoulder white topOff the shoulder white blouse and ripped jeansWhite off the shoulder top and purple Sam Edelman flatsBow tie faux leather chokerMichael Kors straw picnic basket bag and roses

Top: Lulu’s, similar here from Urban Outfitters // Jeans: Charlotte Russe // Shoes: Sam Edelman // Bag: Michael Kors // Necklacehere from Asos

Youth is wasted on the young, they say. In the same way, the end of summer is wasted on the fashion industry and the blogosphere. In the past week (mind I remind you that we are still in August?), I have seen countless blog outfits featuring boots and scarves. Retailers are pushing thigh-high boots while I am still by the pool, tanning my thighs in the sun.

Let us enjoy the last of warm weather, I say; summer does last 3 more weeks. Why are we in such a hurry to rush through life? We as a society make Pinterest boards for weddings when we are years away from being married, start making pumpkin spice products earlier and earlier each year, and take Instagram shots of sweaters and booties in 80 degree weather. Autumn will come, as will all things: age and time and death claims us all in the end (*dramatic music*).

I’m being hyperbolic, of course, but there is more to existence than pre-shopping for the next season. This outfit is a perfect example of how I’m soaking in the warm summer sun in preparation for being buried alive in scarves until next May. Now, join me outside by the pool!

My Perfect Fashion Blogger Life

April 1
8 Comments

Perfect fashion blogger life morning teaLast weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. It’s always a treat to wake up to a cup of tea but even more so when there are fresh blooms in the room.

Gold diamond hoop earrings pink turtleneck sweater NYX Istanbul lip cream

Easter weekend was absolutely amazing!!! We had lots of Easter festivities and everything felt happy. It was kind of a stressful and really busy few days leading up to the weekend so I was really excited to escape a couple hours with friends. We had so many laughs, yummy food and rosé while out in the spring sunshine all day. White hollister off the shoulder dress This white dress is an absolute favorite of mine. I think everyone needs a classic white for spring and summer! Also I love this dress from Nordstrom here. And here. And this dress. And here, here, or here. I also found a similar one here, or one for $30 here, or one with a v-neck here and here and here. Momoya sushi lunch special Friday & Saturday nights are our date nights. We tried to take advantage of our time together this weekend! It’s cheesy but one of my favorite things to do is go to dinner! And get a smoothie. For dessert, macarons are the way to go. Along with a plate of donuts and cupcakes arranged artfully around my shoes on the table. This nail polish is one of my faves – I love the way it looks. It’s so stunning and will go with so much of my wardrobe!

Here’s to a smooth-ie start for the day. #smoothie #strawberrysmoothie #strawberries #tropical A photo posted by Brittney (@beautyvbrainsblog) on

After a long, hard day of running errands and brunch meetings, I love to relax with a spa day and a face mask. I put on The Bachelor and do my nails.

Gosh, I’m so relatable, with my life of leisure. I can’t wait to take pictures while twirling in a flower field, before getting some avocado toast. Thank you so much for stopping by!! <3

 

 

 

 

Ok, so this is pretty obviously an April Fool’s post making fun of how bloggers write and showcase their lives. In case you thought I was being over-the-top when I wrote this post, I mostly just copied and pasted from blogs like Gal Meets Glam, Barefoot Blonde, and The Sweetest Thing.

The best satire is the truth, usually. Us bloggers sound like a superficial and insipid bunch.

This April Fool’s, I wanted to pull the curtain back on blogger behaviors so that we aren’t fooling anyone. Sure, bloggers portray an aspirational lifestyle where apartments are bright, and where desserts are colorful yet doesn’t make anyone fat.

The reality is a little muddier. Bloggers work with affiliate programs that teach us how to take the perfect Instagram shot (so we can sell more products). Instead of presenting original content, often bloggers are tempted to sell out and became mouthpieces for established clothing brands. When readers get tired of the sponsored content, bloggers often censor comments and ignore “haters.”

How fashion bloggers take Instagram pictures

Today, I’ll show you some of my reality. This is how many shots it takes to get the perfect Instagram picture to show off the flowers that I bought. I kept the flowers alive for a record 9 days (so I could reuse them in more photos).

IMG_8329

Brittney, in real life, doesn’t pose perfectly with one hand in her windblown hair, looking off to the side. The real Brittney smiles like an idiot for an outfit photo (without realizing I still had the tag on my sweater) (and completely oblivious to the child face-planting in the background).

Labbit birthday cake

What’s real-life Brittney’s most treasured possession? It’s not shoes or bags. Instead, it’s this stuffed rabbit with a mustache on its face (seen here attending my little sister’s birthday party). Sure, these styrofoam plates aren’t Insta-worthy, but this day was surely more memorable than some picture of latte foam art and my #bagoftheday.

IMG_8333

The real Brittney sends tons of weird selfies on Snapchat (follow me 👻: beautyvbrains). My Instagram and blog are “curated” to present a clean, streamlined image to the world. But I’m never as well-dressed or as pensive as I might come across on social media.

The truth is that I oversleep for class, I stress-eat entire chocolate bars and then skip breakfast to make up the calories, and I have had to crop my blog photos because I still have pasta residue on my face in some pictures.

I’m a mess, I laugh at Vine videos in the middle of class, and I listen to old Jonas Brothers songs when I’m at the gym.

I think I’ve had enough of the year-round April Fool’s joke that the fashion blogging industry has perpetuated: no blogger goes to brunch every day (always ordering the same boring mimosas and avocado toast) or come out of Pilates class with dewy makeup on. No blogger maintains their size 2 figure by eating all the macarons and donuts and ramen on their Instagrams. Some bloggers aren’t even size 2 to begin with, but we photoshop so well that you can’t tell the difference.

So I’m going to continue being the snarky jokester, exposing the fashion blogging stereotypes that have become a tired riff, and I hope more bloggers will join me. After all, it’s not hard to laugh at bloggers when we are constantly writing the jokes about ourselves.

 

Giving Up “Brains” for Love

October 22
6 Comments

debate champs

I was 18 when I was certain I would end up with my high school boyfriend. And there was nothing my parents could do to force me to attend a better college, in a city far away from him.

Looking back at my silly high school self, this story seems so irrational (and unbelievably out-of-character). Sometimes, I don’t even believe that I ever acted that way, until my parents bring up the stories: “Do you remember offering to clean the house so that we would let you go to the same school?” “Do you remember fighting over schools for an entire month?”

I could blame the whole thing on teenage hormones and drop the subject. But now I realize what I didn’t know then: my willingness to give up mind-broadening opportunities for love is something that plenty of women do everyday. And women compromising for men may be a new externality of the dating market—an unavoidable consequence of women being too darn smart for their own good.

The most romantic prom photo ever.

When I was in high school, being in a solid relationship was #goals. I wasn’t popular, and I desperately wanted to believe in true love, the kind that would post “flair” on my Facebook wall and write me poems set to rock music. My favorite movies (A Walk to Remember) idealized young romance, the kind that went straight from graduation into marriage. (I’m having trouble typing these words. Young me was a USELESS romantic).

High school Brittney had plenty of good grades and plenty of awards. What I really wanted was a boyfriend, who would prove that love might exist for nerdy, awkward girls.

The problem was, the boy I started dating at the time was astonishingly different from me. If he didn’t do well, he complained about the fairness of the test and blamed the obstacles surrounding his failure. This was completely counter to my family’s attitude that systemic obstacles could always be overcome with a little work and cleverness. Soon, I too adopted his attitude: there was no point in trying if the whole system was rigged.

This attitude soon manifested in ugly ways. My boyfriend and I took Comp Sci together, and although it was one of my favorite subjects, my quiz grades started slacking. Like Cady from Mean Girls, I couldn’t seem like I was out-doing my crush, so I sabotaged my own success (Ironically, this boy is now a Comp Sci major, so at least one of us enjoyed that year of Comp Sci). I also tried to get him into competitive academic events, but when he announced that his intelligence couldn’t be measured in a timed test, I too gave up that event (although I retained my domination in other events that he had no interest in). And perhaps most shockingly, I never had my varsity letter jacket embroidered because my boyfriend had never lettered in any event. I couldn’t seem like I was better than him, could I?

I studied non-stop—when my boyfriend wasn’t there.

Things came to a head when love-struck Brittney told her parents she would rather attend the public university where her boyfriend was going, instead of a prestigious private college. My parents, who didn’t believe in true love knew better than an 18-year old, trotted me off to private university. And even by the end of my freshman year, I knew they had done the right thing. A guy should never stop me from achieving, right?

The trouble was, I didn’t stop my bad habits once I got to university. I started dating another guy, a bright engineering major. He wasn’t into competitive events either, so my decision to join Speech and Debate was hard on our relationship. For Debate, I travelled almost every other week to other universities to debate in 3- or 4- day tournaments. I missed a lot of school, a lot of social events, and I really didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked in my “college love story.”

My college debate team, looking smooth.

I was just about to drop Speech and Debate when the relationship ended, which was actually a great breaking point for me: I was able to throw myself into my passions completely, and achieved success at the national debate tournament. I also started writing a fashion column for my college newspaper, and became interested in Asian-American advocacy work, landing two back-to-back internships in Washington D.C.

You’d think that I would have learned my lesson. But maddeningly, I kept making the same mistake over and over: “dumbing” down my achievements in order not to intimidate my new dating partners so I could become more accommodating to their time demands. When I was accepted into schools and internships, I actually found myself comparing the distance between them and my then-boyfriend’s place of work, just so that I could be closer to him. Never mind the academic credentials of the institution!

capitol

Here we are doing very important internship business.

Each time, my parents or my better judgment would prevent me from making the emotionally-tempting decision to give up my ambitions for my love life. But I kept coming back to this tug-of-war. Wasn’t I an educated, smart woman who shouldn’t be bound by these constraints? And why did none of my dating partners think of moving or changing career paths to accommodate me?

Sad thing is, I’m not alone. Even now, at law school, plenty of my female classmates and I discuss whether to search for jobs in a smaller, secondary market just so we can be closer to our boyfriends/fiances. A few female law students wonder how many years they’ll last in the workforce before they will have to leave to start families.

Other female law students bemoan a slightly different problem: the lack of educated guys who can keep up with them. The ironic thing is that they maybe be objectively correct: there is a lack of educated men in the dating pool because more and more women are being admitted to college, which makes dating more difficult for seemingly brilliant women.

highlights

These law school ladies are smart AND their highlights look amazing. What more can you ask for, men?

Does this mean that I had the right idea to hide my intelligence to get more guys? I want to say the answer is “NO,” and of course the answer should be “no.” But when a woman’s intelligence might lead to increased chance of singledom, and when studies show men are intimidated by smart women even if they say they prefer an intelligent partner, I’m actually really confused whether my 18-year old self was high on hormones, or if she was onto something deeper.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to people seeking a life partner who “prioritizes their life in a way that’s compatible with how you prioritize yours.” Unfortunately, women are the parties who are likelier to accommodate others. Maybe there is a dating discrepancy for smart women because men haven’t gotten around to the idea that they can change their life to support their female partners.

leadership

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, because I wanted to show my little sister and her friends (hi guys! thanks for reading) that women shouldn’t have to give up academics for love, and that chasing intelligence is just as rewarding as beautifying one’s appearance. But really, the answer is much more complicated. Maybe you’ll have more dating opportunities if you don’t intimidate men with your grades. But do you really want to date a guy who would disappear if you beat him in a math competition (happened to me…)? Or a guy that says he can’t “do long-distance” with the implication that I should move to a new city (also me…)?

Rice graduation Jones College robes

I decided the best way to let readers make up their own mind is to recant my own personal tale, up until this moment. I started dating my current boyfriend right around the time I got into law school. After calling my parents to inform them of my admission, I immediately asked the boyfriend if he would be okay with a long-distance relationship.

“I can just go to another school,” I had said, “if that will be closer—.”

“Brittney,” he said. “Are you crazy? You got into Harvard. Go to Harvard. I wanna see you kick butt.”

harvard

The enormous relief that I felt at that moment was overwhelming. I didn’t have to choose between my future success and my future romantic prospects. I don’t want to think about what I would have done if he had an actual problem with my plans, but I sincerely hope that I would have had the wisdom to pursue my academic dreams nonetheless. Now I feel free to show off, because someone wants to see me soar and my boyfriend will admire my success instead of letting it threaten his self-esteem.

Moreover, he keeps reminding me of how short-sighted I am when I try to downplay my achievements. (“Brittney, why in the world would you not accept that job with a prestigious law firm. You’re smarter than this.”) I’m hoping his attitude becomes more commonplace, so that we don’t live in a world where a girl’s grade in Comp Sci will send boys running for the hills.

I’m not saying it’s a fairy tale ending for me, yet. But it’s nice to know that those movies didn’t lie to me—love for brainy girls may exist after all.

“There Is No Boy Cute Enough or Interesting Enough to Stop You From Getting Your Education”

-Michelle Obama

Fashion Blog Haters: Women DO NOT Have to Support Women

October 7
50 Comments
Fashion bloggers, fashion blogs, haters, and trolls. How to deal with constructive critcism

It warms my heart that women and girls today are realizing that we need to help each other in a world that disadvantages our gender. Women are primed since childhood to see other women as threats, especially if the other woman is beautiful. But because we know exactly what kinds of issues other women go through, we should do our best to make that journey smoother.

But that is not what I’m writing about today. Sometimes, “haters” are not actual haters, and a lot of the time, fashion bloggers need to be called out on their behavior. Sometimes, the saying “women need to support other women” is just not true and it should not be used as an excuse to disregard constructive criticism.

 

Real comments from a popular blogger’s controversial post.
 

Before I begin, I need to clarify that I DO wish for a world where women can get the support they need from other females. If you’ve read my blog, you know that I think it’s a tragedy that girls consider other girls as competition, a mindset which can lead to negative self-image and self-imposed inadequacy. And I agree, women need to help younger women break into corporate offices, reaffirm each other’s choices, and aid in each other’s goals. I am completely behind all of these ideas, but I want to narrow down and focus on fashion blogging in particular, and the problems I see with validating all blogging behavior.

The reason I have to preface my post with all these long, boring disclaimers is because I know I will end up making some other blogger angry, and they might send their fans over to my blog to accuse me of hating women or being a gender-traitor. But if you are one of those people, I want you to rethink for one second the “women supporting women” doctrine that has been carried into ridiculousness in the world of fashion blogging. Repeat after me:

A critique on a blogger’s deception, their affiliate link non-disclosure, or their attitude towards readers is not a personal attack on the blogger.

Or, to put it more bluntly:

“Women should not always have to support other women—especially if they are acting badly.”

Fashion bloggers, haters, and criticism

Now, before you give me a lecture on, “like, the rules of feminism,” let me explain. Other women should not get away with shady or devious practices just because they are part of our gender/sex and therefore entitled to more protection. Feminism gave us choice right? Including the choice to evaluate other women’s decisions. It did not bind our hands or take away our ability to stamp down unacceptable practices.

My point becomes obvious when you take it outside of fashion blogging. When a woman goes to jail for fraud, where are the supporters shouting “women should support all women!” Or when you see a friend doing something morally dubious, you shouldn’t encourage them; instead, you should be discouraging their unethical behavior.

And yet, the rules are somehow different for fashion bloggers. When a commenter or reader calls out a blogger for photoshopping their pictures, not crediting their recipes, or being rude to their readers, I find it absurd that the blogger (or their fans) will respond with: “wow, what a hater. Haven’t you ever heard of how we need to build up other women?” Um, not disclosing affiliate links or sponsored content is something the Federal Trade Commission requires you to do, and photoshopping pictures and lying to readers is morally wrong. So why do these actions deserve our respect?

While women DO need to band together because of the obstacles uniquely facing us, the truth is, a blogger should not get to use this defense when they engage in sketchy behavior. Some examples of said behavior:

  • A popular blogger affiliate linked her Instagram post about 9/11. She posted #neverforget on a picture, and then immediately linked to a rug and chair that you could buy online. If you did make a purchase, she would get commission (on a 9/11 post!!)
  • A popular Southern based blog has blocked countless readers for revealing where she buys her clothes. Because she does not get commission on her links when these readers inform other readers about the items, she simply deletes their comments.
  • Last week, I saw a blogger misspell the name of their own sponsor and, when a commenter pointed this out, they lashed out at a reader.
  • Another blogger constantly photoshops her pictures (not only are real pictures of her available on other people’s websites, but I used to have a huge problem with photoshopping my own body for a while I recognize her Photoshopping trail).
  • Many big bloggers now bury their affiliate link disclosures (which are required by law!) in their website footers (which breaks the law!).
  • And of course, you all know that I refuse to support Stylish Petite because of the years and years of extensive plagiarism and copy-cat behavior with blogger Extra Petite.
Stylish Petite and Extra Petite, side by side.

Yet these bloggers have chosen to censor comments, delete comment sections, or guilt-trip critics by appealing to the “womanhood” defense. I get it: it’s easy to pass off criticism as “hateful.” It also boosts your ego if you assume that your critics are jealous or inadequate.

Rather than taking this approach and automatically dismissing criticism, I see no reason why we cannot call out these mistakes and deceptions as unacceptable or fraudulent. It’s disappointing when fans or bloggers respond with “women need to build up other women and support each other! Don’t comment if you can’t say anything nice.”

But why shouldn’t I speak my mind? Are you saying that my critical thinking skills should be left at the door when I read your blog (if so, that’s hilarious: you’re basically saying your blog is so mind-numbing that I shouldn’t have to think while reading it)?

Are you saying that I can’t critique your outfit or your sponsorship because you are a girl and we have the same private parts?  Do you know what they call a regime where a person gets a free pass on bad behavior simply because of their gender affiliation? Sexism. That’s right, “good ole boys clubs” functioned on the same principle that these bloggers are advocating: overlooking a person’s indiscretions because they are immune based on their sex. Wow, we’ve come a long way.

The simple matter is, if you do something that deceives or bullies your readers (a blogger recently tracked down critical commentators and posted info that she found on their facebook), I reserve the right to critique, no matter if you are a man, women, girl, or boy. I call that equality.

Women making critical comments should not be silenced and prevented from expressing their opinion with the silly phrase “women need to support other women!” If women are doing great things, if they are truthful, open, and engaging, I see no reason not to support them. But if they are perpetuating negative behaviors and using this trite slogan as a defense, then they need to grow a thicker skin, because there will be a lot more criticism coming their way.

Here are some preemptive responses that I anticipate:

1. “If you don’t like it, don’t read it!”

Don’t worry—as soon as I see plagiarism or mistreatment of readers in a blog, I stop reading. But just because I boycott a blog doesn’t mean I can’t still write about its behavior, just like how you can boycott a store and still critique its abuse. Rather than burying our heads in the sand and avoiding a blog, we should also have the liberty to bring light to any unsavory practices.

2. “How they run a blog is none of your business.”

I’m glad you brought up the word “business.” Blogs these days are a business (if you don’t think your blog is a business, think about your use of affiliate links and reconsider). For instance, Pink Peonies is a licensed LLC business, and Cupcakes and Cashmere is on her second book deal. And like any business, consumers and readers are entitled to their opinions on the product.

Of course, a blogger can say, “I didn’t ask you to review my product!” But the truth is, by publishing material to the internet, promoting the blog, and inviting readers, a blogger has opened the gates to fans and critics alike. I’m sure restaurant owners on Yelp wish they could delete negative ratings, but consumers are free to give their opinion unsolicited.

On the subject of Yelp: has anyone watched that “Kitchen Nightmares” with Amy’s Baking Co.? The co-owner Amy refused to believe Gordon Ramsey; she claimed that her cooking was phenomenal and that negative reviews were just from “haters.” Amy wanted to keep on cooking (bad) food and not receive any repercussions on Yelp!

The internet exploded after that episode aired, with people calling Amy “delusional.” That’s how I feel about some public figures/bloggers who dismiss critics as “haters”: they are acting like Amy, demanding to be able to keep doing what they love, and insisting that everyone loves the end product.

3. “You’re advocating for women-on-women hate.”

No, I’m not: I am only saying that legitimate criticism should not be brushed off with this tired excuse that feminism requires eternal solidarity between women. I will be the first to leap to a blogger’s defense if there is any inappropriate or rude remark.

But in my experience, commentators who even dare to say “I think those shoes are impractical” or “I wish you would make your budget posts less confusing” are immediately censored as “haters.”

In my opinion, that behavior is more damaging than anything I’ve suggested above: it silences women’s rightful opinions and teaches them not to critically think about issues (god forbid any women disagree with a blogger!). Censorship in any form is a negative in my book.

Blogging is such a opportunity for women and girls to express themselves online and find a community. That’s why I feel so strongly against bloggers and fans who censor budding opinions and critical thinking skills. So I ask you to reverse the roles: if “supporting other women” at all costs is so important to you, then let us as bloggers create a space where all opinions are allowed and debated.

Young girls look up to bloggers to see how to treat fellow females. The least we can do is teach them to think for themselves.