I‘m just going to say it: sometimes liking fashion – and particularly blogging about fashion – makes some people assume you’re stupid.
I’ve known this for a while now, but it was really brought home to me a few weeks ago, when I posted a running-related photo on Instagram, and got a handful of comments which, while obviously well-meant, and intended as jokes, were nevertheless just a little bit condescending. It was obvious from the responses that some of my followers found the idea of me running absolutely hilarious: they imagined I would only do it if it allowed me to wear something pink and sparkly, and probably with a full face of makeup, and perfectly coiffed hair, into the bargain.
As it happens, I’ve been running for years now: I don’t wear make-up, I buy my shoes for the fit and comfort rather than for the style, and wear my hair scraped back in a sweaty ponytail. You wouldn’t know that, though, because I don’t show you it: why would I? No one needs to see my tomato-red, post-workout face, my worn-out running clothes, or my ratty hair, just like they don’t need to see the pile of laundry waiting to be folded in the kitchen, or the dirty paw-prints on my living room floor. They’re real, and they’re honest, but they’re not exactly Instagrammable, so I don’t bother to document those moments. Instead, I post another photo of a red lipstick or a pair of sparkly shoes… then I wonder why people talk down to me sometimes, or assume I’m shallow.
But then again, why should people talk down to me just because I’m partial to red lipstick, and have never met a big skirt I didn’t like? What is it about fashion and beauty (and blogging about fashion and beauty) that makes people assume that anyone who’s interested in those things cannot possibly be interested in anything else? Blogging is my job: it’s not who I am, and the things I choose to blog about aren’t the only things I ever think about. If I met an accountant, say, I wouldn’t assume that she’d only want to talk about numbers all night, or that I’d have to get out a calculator to keep her entertained. I have certain acquaintances, however, who feel they must mention shoes in every single conversation they have with me, because my blogs have convinced them that shoes are the only thing I ever think about. In a way, it’s hard to fault them for that, because when you only show one side of yourself on your blog (or on Instagram, or whatever), people will assume that one side is all there is.
I could argue for days about whether or not that’s a reasonable assumption, but the fact is that it happens, and people make assumptions based on whatever information you provide them. I don’t blame people for looking at multiple photos of me twirling round in a pretty dress, and thinking I’m a little bit shallow, but I do wonder what I can do to challenge those assumptions, and make it clearer that my love of fashion is just one aspect of my personality – it’s not ALL of it. That it’s possible to like fashion, but to also like other things – and to be capable of holding down a conversation without any mention of shoes.
The problem is that I don’t really want to change the way I blog, or the way I run my social media. I’m not about to start airing my dirty laundry on Instagram, just to prove that I have it, and I’m also not about to pretend that I don’t enjoy fashion, and all of the other frivolous things I write about here, and at my other sites. I do love fashion. I do like makeup. I did buy some new workout clothes to try and motivate myself to get back onto the treadmill – they’re not pink, but they are mint green, which is almost as bad, right?
But I also like other things in life. I don’t choose to write about those things here – or not often, anyway – because that’s not what this site is about, and because I wouldn’t really enjoy it. I also choose to avoid topics like politics, for instance (even although I enjoy a good political conversation as much as the next person), because I know posts about politics tend to turn into arguments, and I don’t come here to argue, or even to debate. This is a place where I focus mostly on the frivolous: it’s a place where I can indulge my love of 50s dresses and red lipstick, and connect with other people who share those interests.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed that I spend a lot of time in “real life” trying to defend the fact that I have an entire room full of clothes and shoes (“It’s because of my job!” I tell everyone who sees it. “I get sent stuff by brands all the time! I didn’t actually go out and buy them all!”), and I actively dress down for some things, because I don’t want to be seen as empty-headed because I’m wearing a pair of high heels, or a dress. (The annoying thing about this is that no one I know in “real life” has ever said anything remotely negative to me about my love of fashion: or not people who know me well, anyway. So my feelings of defensiveness come purely from myself – or from reactions I get online, or from casual acquaintances.) I don’t know many people in real life who’re particularly into fashion, which is one of the reasons I started writing about it in the first place: blogging gave me access to a community of like-minded people, but it also changed some people’s perceptions of me, and made them assume there’s nothing more to me than what I wore today, and which lipstick I’ll choose tomorrow.
But there is. And hopefully one day I’ll find a way to put that across, and to make it more obvious that although I may choose to illustrate my posts with pictures of my shoes, there’s a whole lot more going on behind the camera.
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