what’s going on?


Photo: The Wall Street Journal

What’s going on? What’s going on in social media, and what’s going on in the world of the Instagrammers, bloggers, fashion, beauty, and style writers? You may not want to follow these people, but I still do. While I spend less time on social media than I used to I’m unable, or unwilling, to give it up entirely. Old dogs, new tricks, blah blah.

So here are three people I have feelings about.

I’ll start with the bad news. One of the first bloggers I started following, from her very start, was Garance DoréOh, how I loved her.

I loved her style, her freckles, her insouciance!

She was a fashion photographer for God’s sake, and she was from Corsica! And like all proper French persons, she used to wield a mean and sexy cigarette.

I loved her. I loved that she was so reluctantly French, an all-in New Yorker for a time, and not exactly lucky in love. But then she moved to L.A… 

I admit to a strong preference for everything East Coast, so from the start I didn’t want to accept Doré’s move. I predicted bad things. And damned if I wasn’t right. I think she moved to the West Coast partially due to a man, and maybe that was the problem? I think she has a tendency to move for men.

Before L.A., she moved to New York partially for Scott Schuman, aka The Sartorialist, probably the world’s best known street-style fashion photographer. And now she’s in New Zealand and… but enough about men.

In the beginning, Doré’s blog posts were fun, honest, and endearing. Here was someone who seemed real, someone with a glamorous job and lifestyle whom you could actually relate to.

And then, clunk, everything started to become just a bit too glossy.

She handed off her New York enterprise and hello Happy shiny people, she went all West Coast, ostensibly, in order to get off the treadmill, in order to live a more sane and balanced life. In L.A. things seemed to eventually become more of the same, the Left Coast version of just too much cool entrapping Doré once again. And if there’s one thing I can say for her, Garance does not like being entrapped. 

Cut to the chase, long story short, now she has her own skincare brand. That’s ok, we all have to make a buck and make changes, and sometimes even rationalize what we’re doing in order to make sense of who we have become and what we currently need. But, what’s going on? To me, there’s something sad about both Doré’s trajectory and where she’s landed — I expected more.   

Here’s more: Jessica DeFino. Jessica seems to be one of those women about whom people say ‘she is a force to be reckoned with’. I, at least, would say that about her! She comes on strong and that’s what I like. If Garance Doré is like the French friend you never had but always wanted, Jessica is the girl in college you knew but were always intimidated by. She is also an antidote to the current incarnation of Doré, selling nothing but her excellent newsletter, The Unpublishable

Her byline is: ‘a sample of truth serum with every subscription.’ Yes, Jessica writes about the beauty industry like it matters — because it does matter, very much. It matters to us: consumers, some would say victims, of the beauty industry. It matters not just in some esoteric or philosophical way, but in a much larger, more urgent way.

We have been fed, and continue to be fed a line.

The line is that if we don’t take ‘care of ourselves’ —our bodies, hair, skin etc.— we will not be happy, let alone have a chance of being our ‘best self.’ This means you and me, this means young and old, black and white, rich and poor. All of us, everywhere.

I admit to falling victim to the fashion and beauty industries and their lines. 

And, to one degree or another, I continue to fall and then tow the line. But I realize that while we could just loathe ourselves for our subservience to the industries that pursue us, it’s much better to be aware and to continue to delve into the whole phenomenon. It’s much more interesting, anyway.

This is where Jessica DeFino and her newsletter come in. It’s rich not only with information but with ideas:

‘The anti-aging sector often uses the language of “feeling like yourself again” as a sales tactic. It perpetuates the idea that you, as you are now, are not the real you. It capitalizes on the innately human quest for identity and convinces you that you will not be real until you are beautiful (with beauty, in part, being defined as youth.’)

If you want to delve in, you’ll have to subscribe.

Cathi Rae is another ray of hope. For me, she’s all kinds of really good things: creative, bold, honest.  

Photo: Ray Gumbley

How she describes herself:

‘a poet, spoken word artist, body positivity model and campaigner against ageism…’

I’m thrilled to find someone in social media who’s unstudied in her presentation, and someone who can say so much in what she calls her ‘tiny corner of Instagram.’ She seems to have managed to braid many different areas of concern and interests together in a very compelling way that I truly admire. Her honesty and energy are contagious. 

Cathi is a slow fashion advocate who really understands and communicates what the whole slow fashion thing can be about. In a world of virtue signaling and green-washing, she brings us back to what’s good and simple about this pursuit. Refreshing!

‘Don’t be afraid to use primitive skills to alter clothes.

Something too long…hack some off. Don’t like the sleeves or neckline…cut into them. Too many frills or embellishments…remove them. You don’t have to be able to sew to alter the look of a garment. And if all your wardrobe is preloved and thrifted…the worst that can happen is you lose something that cost next to nothing.’

Follow Cathi here!


Next time: Madonna’s butt


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