Tag: essay

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.

 

This Fashion Blogger Tried to Profit from 9/11

January 14
11 Comments

Stylish Petite blogger tries to profit off of September 11th anniversary instagram post

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):

Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite

(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.

Annie Mai Thai Seuss Stylish Petite gomi affiliate links

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.

Annie Mai Thai Seuss Stylish Petite affiliate links gomi

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.

Annie from Stylish Petite affiliate links everything using LiketoKnowIt including her socks

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:

Annie from Stylish Petite affiliate links everything using LiketoKnowIt including her nightstand

She affiliate links her kitchen (?) (Because her instagram fans totally want to know where she bought her refrigerator).

Annie from Stylish Petite affiliate links everything using LiketoKnowIt including her kitchen

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:

Annie Mai Thai affiliate link 9 11 September 11 anniversary instagram never forget

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:

Annie Mai Thai affiliate link 9 11 September 11 anniversary instagram never forget

Don’t try to tell me that Annie wasn’t trying to profit off of September 11th:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

Stylish Petite blogger Annie affiliate links 9 11 anniversary to profitStylish Petite Annie can GOMI for trying to profit off of September 11 anniversary

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

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

I Don’t Fit in Brandy Melville – When One Size Fits All Doesn’t Fit At All

December 10
67 Comments
Brandy Melville crop collar tee doesn't fit one size fits all

Brandy Melville one size fits all doesn't fit me

If you told me a month ago that my 5’4″, 124-pound self would not be able to fit into an entire store’s clothing line, I would have laughed. I would’ve told you that a brand that doesn’t cater to my size (and above) would be bankrupt because it would be excluding most women in America.

But Brandy Melville, a relative newcomer to teen fashion, has done exactly what I said above: make big bucks selling clothes marked “one size” (which corresponds to an x-small or small in regular sizing). Now, if any store was going to sell “one size” of clothes, you’d expect them to make them generously sized to maximize the number of customers that can buy the items, right?

            THE CLOTHES          

Brandy Melville crop collar tee doesn't fit one size fits all

Brandy Melville caters to the carefree Cali teenager with really good genetics and $30 to blow on a shirt. Most of their line revolves around crop tops, one of which I’m modeling above.

You can immediately see that I am not the target audience for these crop tops. Between the tight, tight Brandy Melville shorts and the unforgiving fabric of the top, I look like I the biggest muffin top in the world. But as you can see from my regular outfit posts, my normal clothes don’t make me look nearly as bulky. What gives?

Brandy Melville super soft shirts use viscose

Part of it might be the fabric that Brandy Melville uses. Customers rave about the soft material of Brandy’s shirts, but I’m not impressed. The fabric content reveals that the shirts are 40% viscose. If you don’t know already, I try to avoid viscose or rayon as much as possible, because those materials wrinkle easily, cling to every lump on your body, and pill after a few washings. I guess longevity is not on the minds of the teenagers that shop at Brandy, so that might not be a problem to anyone else but me.

How do Brandy’s bottoms look on me? This cute fringed pair looked promising on the rack because of their elastic waistband. But the “one size” waist only expanded so far, and wrinkled really badly at the seams. Technically, according to the models, the shorts are supposed to ride up higher and flare out, but there is no way that I could’ve pulled these shorts any higher past my hips.

I obviously didn’t learn my lesson with the black pair of shorts because I also tried on a light blue denim pair, and the bunching was so bad that I don’t want to upload a picture of it here. If you want, you can click over to imgur and see for yourself.

Brandy Melville striped t shirt dress

The shirts and dresses weren’t much better (I don’t know if I’m wearing a dress or a shirt in the pic above, they both look the same in some cases). Sure, the oversize fit is nice for a change, but it seems that I also need some abs in order to wear the dress without unsightly bulges.

Brandy Melville plaid shirt runs large

One bright note were the plaid shirts, which were roomier and less constricting. I’d say that the plaid shirts will fit you if you wear a small-medium, although 1) that is nowhere near “one-size-fits-all” and 2) I suspect that the shirts are supposed to fit slightly oversize instead of slim-cut.

        THE STORE       
The Brandy store itself is a cozy, warm haven and the store decorations inside reminded me of hunting cabins (infused with a California beach vibe. Does that even make sense?) I thought it was a great atmosphere for shopping, but when I came out of the fitting room, the guy friend I had brought along had some strong words to say about the store’s atmosphere.
 
“Everyone’s sizing each other up,” my guy friend said. (I trust that he had plenty of time to observe, since I had taken forever in the dressing room). He claims that it was really uncomfortable watching groups of girls come in, because the thinner ones would immediately start shopping while their not-so-thin friends would shuffle around. “They’re looking around and making sure that everyone knows ‘I can fit in this!'”
 
I didn’t get that vibe, but I’m not surprised if it was the case. After all, Brandy markets itself to a certain body type. If you’re thin enough to fit in the clothes, well, congrats, you’re in and hip and trendy! But as a girl who has never really been excluded from stores based on fit, I was really surprised at how much it hurt to be completely “sized out” of a store. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I imagine it must be really hard to find that to be the case at more than one store.
 
         THE VERDICT       
Will I shop at Brandy again? I don’t think so: not only am I too old for denim shorties, but the quality is not worth $25-$40 a shirt. Additionally, I felt really odd that every single model and picture in the store was of Caucasian women, with zero diversity at all. And of course, I don’t feel entirely comfortable supporting a business that prides itself on being so exclusive that only a size 0 would be able to shop there. 
 
My sister asked me if I was just writing this post because I was mad that I couldn’t buy anything at Brandy. Maybe. But I think there’s a deeper undercurrent behind my disappointment. If I, a relatively average girl in the prime of my life, cannot fit into Brandy clothing, what does that say about the kind of bodies the brand is cultivating and promoting? 
 
I’m not saying thin is bad, and I know that naturally thin women also have a hard time finding super small clothing. In fact, I would feel better about Brandy if it sold small clothing, but marked it as such: PS, petite, size 00. Instead, they market the clothing as “one-size,” with the unspoken presumption that this “one size” will fit anyone who is worthy to buy their clothes. This sure makes their customers happy, but is a slap in the face to most women.
 
At the same time, I did find that shopping at Brandy was a breeze. Because everything was the same size, I could just sweep through grabbing what I liked, because if I fit in one item, I would fit in all the items, and if I fit in none, I would just leave. I think a store that sold a standard size—say, like the 5-7-9 stores that were popular a few years back—would be a great idea, because it cuts down on having to grab multiple sizes or asking for a size restock. As demonstrated by this Buzzfeed article, one-size clothing is excluding a range of beautiful women, and I just wish that more of us could take advantage of a streamlined store concept like Brandy’s.

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.