Sunday, August 19, 2012

Smells Like Twenties Spirit



Hello there! In case you thought I was dead, I am here to assure you that I am certainly alive, just not willing to blog with the frequency of a Alvin the Chipmunk on speed. There's just something about summer that makes me wear nothing but "jorts" day after day and really, no one needs to see a picture of that.

Besides lack of style inspiration, another reason for my absence is because I feel like the internet has gone on this obsessive tangent with this whole Rookie/girl-guts, pastel hair, sparkly feminist aesthetic. It's all fine and good and I think Celia and Tavi are incredibly lovely girls and great role models, but I just don’t buy into the cult of perpetual teenagehood. I have plain brown hair that I don’t want to dye purple and my wardrobe isn't particularly colourful and all of a sudden I have been displaced by a whole new crop of "weird girls."A big part of fashion blogging is validation, and when you feel like your look isn't really what is being validated in the moment, you stop feeling motivated to put yourself out there in hopes of attracting a waning number of comments and "likes." 

It's okay though, because I've been doing what feels right, which is wearing a lot of black in the summertime and focusing on my actual writing stuff. I write articles weekly for the Toronto Standard, and am a newly-minted contributor to XOJane.com (I haven't even had a first post yet!) which is my favourite site on the whole internet. If you're hungry for more of my outfits, I am now a part of FASHION magazine's Style Panel.
EDIT: Wow, I had no idea the firestorm this would cause after posting this. This post is meant to reflect my personal feelings on fashion and style, and is in no way supposed to be a dis to anybody else. Why would I denigrate Rookie as a place for teenage girls? That's dumb. The content on Rookie is obviously for teenagers and I think they cover super important and worthwhile topics - I was simply observing that the dreamy, hazy aesthetic seems to have taken the internet by storm these days.

Just a reminder: things that also perpetuate "girl-hate" include calling me a "privileged girl moaning about… well, nothing of substance really" or telling me how judgemental I am. Words mean different things to different people, but to me, these words reflect me living my own life, not telling anyone else how to live theirs.

54 comments:

Tori Bonaventura said...
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Low Couture said...

Yah, as someone whose teenage years are decidedly OVER, I'm not into the faded-out, young, hip and jobless thing. I'm like, I want a job and if I get to wear my cut-offs on my days off, that's f-ing great.

Love the looks! Love the writing.

x Peter

Mana said...
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Mana said...

and by the way. i love your blog :)

Xu Box said...

FUCK YEAH! YOU'RE BACK!!!!

Ok, now I feel embarrassed for having my hair dyed. If you didn't mention this trend, I would have never noticed. I guess I have been seeing a lot of the "glam and colourful" looks from all corners of the fashion word. Can I redeem myself and like you said, "validate" my authenticity by saying that I didn't do it because the internet fashion girls started it? Woah, that's also so cliche.

Fiona said...

What you're saying is very true, and pretty relevant to how I feel about my own style. I constantly worry that my style isn't blog-worthy and that I should try harder, all because I'm under the impression that doing so would be 'dressing for myself'. Well, my style hasn't gained me any followers outside of IRL friends, but I'm pretty comfortable the way I am and I don't have to change.

OrigamiGirl said...

Woo! I missed your blog. I think you have a totally different style from anyone else I read. I think it is easy to be sucked into it when the aesthetic is everywhere. (I have found myself wanting lavender hair, but not as much as I want bright red). Fortunately for me all the mod-cloth faux vintage dresses are too expensive for me and I have to continue buying random clothes from charity shops so I don't have a clear look at all.

I hope you still enjoy blogging and I will check out the sites you mention.

DuskCloud said...

Amen!

Abby said...

Love this post! You look amazing in all these outfits too :) xx

http://beautyandablogger.blogspot.co.uk/

Meli said...

Wow, sounds like things are going really well for you! Glad you're alive and kicking!

Victoria said...

THANK YOU. I was beginning to feel that most of blogger/tumblr had been taken over by pink haired girls talking about having hairy underarms, and that's all fine and well as long as it isn't shoved in my face as THIS IS WHAT FEMINISM LOOKS LIKE (cos that just isn't true) or making me feel like an angry hipster for owning creepers before Rihanna and the rest of the world wore them (it angers me when girls who used to mock me for wearing 'those chunky things' now wear them and don't know the history of them or anything! ARGH).

Though I love reading those things, I feel like I can't enjoy the last few years of my adolescence because it is constantly being celebrated for its awkwardness and I'm sure that makes twenty-year-olds feel a bit shit and older than they actually are... more shows like Girls are needed to deal with this I think!

I'm so happy you're writing for XOJane, I love reading posts by Emily and I'm glad they have a UK edition, though I much prefer the North American edition for some reason! Am off bookmarking your column on the Toronto Standard :)

Sofie Marie said...

Ahhh,it's good to hear from you again,I've missed your voice in the blogsphere .
I've been keeping up with your Toronto work,will check out your other writings soon.It's nice to hear you've got some opportunities going,as I'm currently making big decisions about whether I should go into writing.
Sofie

Charles said...

I really love that red dress, and I really appreciated the way you put all your feelings out there on style blogging & fashion in this post. I want you to know that I've always liked your blog, from when I first saw and I can't help but feel like sometimes it's much better to be slightly out of 'the loop' when it comes to what is and is not validated. To follow every trend blindly and appear on all of the best dressed blogger lists for doing so isn't really so great, because you are not really appreciating and expressing yourself for what and who you are, in my opinion. The best thing to do is to wear what is you, "the clothes make the (wo)man." and congratulations on your new writing opportunity! xx

http://wearingwolf.blogspot.com

Bethany Rose said...
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Northern Style Exposure said...

Killer pants! Great photos

www.northernstyle.blog.com

Peacock's Hat said...

I am experiencing the same thing somewhat... my summer outfits are not that exciting.
You know I finally got around to reading the 'Girl Power' book and I'm pleased that therefore I actually understand the references... I still like to dress occasionally like a 5 year old, but you're right, I feel like I had a pretty damn good childhood and I don't need to hang onto it. Too much of real adult shit happening now.
Also, I will always comment for you :)
And congrats on your writing successes you journo you!

owlinalarkworld said...

I read your blog because you post what you wear. It's simple and your not posing for a convention of fashion.
Hipster Musings is not displaced for me.

Laura said...

Isabel you always manage to write exactly what I'm thinking! The Rookie craze is disconcerting to me too in a lot of ways. Of course I think it's a nice idea, people seem to like it, it's better than most teenage mags, etc., but... it does sometimes seem to me like they are demonizing growing up a bit, and there is this obsession with the past (especially the 60's and 70's). I, for, one, have been SIGNIFICANTLY happier in my twenties, and I don't know why Rookie is pushing such a youth-centric agenda. What's wrong with styling yourself more like a confident adult that doesn't care about princesses and fairies and sparkles and etc etc?

What also worries me is that instead of encouraging girls to pursue their OWN style (like you do), Rookie seems to be pushing a single aesthetic. People are jumping on the bandwagon like crazy, but isn't it more important to discover what unique tastes you individually have and what can be creatively done with fashion? I loved Tavi when she ran her old blog, because she seemed approachable, mature, and very individualistic in her choices. Now she seems more like the demi-god of a mass of Rookie-obsessed followers who will convert to any aesthetic in the chance of being featured on her sight OR just feeling they are part of a "community." I also have to admit, when I see her in all those pounds of eye-makeup I shudder every time.

Okay, end of rant. Probably made me sound like the most out-of-touch spoilsport, but it needed to be said. Phew. Thanks for continuing to be a great inspiration, and good luck with your writing projects.

Angie Bitchface said...

yay, a new post!

congratulations on all your writing accomplishments!

even if you're not "the trend" at the moment I still think your outfits are awesome and very true to yourself :) and that's all that matters really. I love the first and third outfits especially! you shouldn't get sad over not getting validated though, you should only get sad if you compromise your ideals for someone else. I think you still have tons of fans and not everyone follows trends.

I like the aesthetic that these girls are into because I'm, well, an aesthete, but I have never been able to pull it off and never will. I simply do not have that much time to invest in my image, and I'm too clumsy to make my own clothes and decorations and stuff, and I'm pretty sure my hair would look stupid if I dyed it purple even though I've come dangerously close a few times. and so what?

Magnet said...

Oh man, THANK YOU, I agree with you 100% While I also respect Tavi and think Rookie is great, I just feel like it's created this teenage cult in the fashion blog world and that's all that exists right now... being a teenager. What's wrong with growing up? Sometimes I feel so weird being an almost 22 year old blogger because everyone seems to be celebrating the fact that they're 15-16 years old so much. I guess that's not an entirely bad thing, it's just, when I started blogging years and years ago, people didn't seem to focus on their age so much.

Also glad everything has been going well for you :)

Sarah said...

Such valid points. Thank you for sharing this. You eloquently put into words what I have been trying to write about for weeks.

Glad to see you're back!

Christina said...
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Lydia said...

I think the major problem here is that you think a big part of blogging is validation. Here I always thought blogging was about self-expression and sharing with others. I could care less how many comments I get or who likes my outfits, because I wear what I like and I "validate" myself. Maybe that's the real part of feminism you're missing.

Vanessa said...

Very interesting post. I don't understand the need that people have to critcize a group. It makes no sense. People wear or do what they like because they want to. Who cares, you shouldn't feel displaced. But be celebrating who you are and what you can do as a person. Long rant, Done.

hitchhiked said...

My two cents:

Yo, teens. Celebrate your youth. Celebrate it as much as you feel like it. Don't let any disgruntled twenty or thirty-somethings tell you it's wrong to enjoy or broadcast your enjoyment of your current position in life. There are definite good things about being your age that are worth celebrating. As if you even needed someone to point this out. Be as weird or as normal or as pastel-hued as you want. Your body, your life.

Yo, twenty and thirty-somethings. Celebrate your current life phase, too. If you can't see something on the internet that you can relate to, create it for yourself. There's no point in complaining about things that in actuality are not about you. There are great things about being your age too, and there's no doubt that you can celebrate it in the manner of your choosing. Your body, your life.

- a bill-paying, sticker-collecting twentysomething

Cristy said...

"but I just don’t buy into the cult of perpetual teenagehood" So you say re: one 20-year-old, just one year past official teenagehood, and one actual teenage girl? It's not being in a cult of perpetual teenagehood if you're still a teenager, or if you're technically no longer one age-wise but may be transitioning into adulthood. You make it sound like there's a clearly defined line between how a teenager dresses vs. how an adult dresses, and that there's an exact time when this should happen for everyone, when there isn't.

"It's okay though, because I've been doing what feels right" And these "weird girls" that you're criticizing are doing what feels right to them.

Also, ditto hitchhiked's comment.

M.Mendoza said...

I'm not certain how hair dye and colourful clothing is associated with teens. My thirty one year old coworker had magenta hair, I had purple streaks at thirty, and my thirty two year old coworker usually has blue or pink streaks. We're not trying to recapture our youth because we are young.

Insofar as perpetual teenagehood & as others have mentioned, celebrating being 15 or 16, goes, maybe you're just associating with the wrong circles? I've been blogging for 12 years, and yeah, I definitely see a fair amount of images of women with amazing pink hair, but young teens celebrating being teens? Not so much. There's a place within the blogosphere for people at any age.

Emily O'Neill said...

I try not to read comments on posts the same way I try not to read product reviews of electronics (things typically end up in a negative, poisonous light and nobody really benefits) but i get what you're saying about the whole girl-guts movement. You and I are at an age that is just past the one the media (even alternative media) fetes constantly, which is way more disorienting that I thought it would be. Being 22 and un-moored is really difficult, especially when you are interested in aesthetics, art, and culture and find yourself on the outside of a cultural zeitgeist that just doesn't resonate with you as much as it does with everybody else.

I don't think what you did in your post was hateful towards the people who are finding success and celebrating grrrlhood, because I've followed your blog and other writings for quite some time and girlhate is not something you're about. But I do think that maybe any of us who are not into pastels and perpetual teenagerdom need to find one another. So, hello, I'm Emily. I think you're rad and brave and excellent to be so honest about feeling alone. I feel alone a lot of the time too. I hope each of us knowing that the other exists will help, even for just a minute, when it seems like nobody gets it or wants to.

Keep telling the truth. I admire you for being exactly who you are.

julia aka garconniere said...

i have to say i agree and disagree... i have been debating whether or not to publicly explore my own feelings about this, as a twenty-six year old who has been sharing my outfits and thoughts about fashion online for more than a decade.

my problem though is less about a dominant "look," and more with the dangers of "this is what a young feminist looks like" kind of script. don't get me wrong, i am thrilled to see all of these young girls who are proudly calling themselves feminists, but what does it really mean at the end of the day? wearing a female symbol hair barrette and having this kind of uniform of "mermaid hair" and flower headbands while blasting bikini kill? i'm sort of worried that people will feel they need to look a certain way if they have politics that align with those folks, and personally i find that dangerous (not just because it excludes me, but thousands of other folks).

i think you're pretty clear in this post that this is about your own feelings, and not a personal attack on any of the people involved in girl-guts or rookie. i don't think people are realizing how pervasive these kinds of scripts and uniforms can start feeling when you just scroll through tumblr dashboards. i live in a smaller city and very very rarely ever see anyone who dresses the way i see them dressing online, and so i've been unfollowing left right and centre.

this has been an incoherent ramble courtesy of too much coffee before 8 am.

Anonymous said...

wonderful, you've managed to articulate an odd feeling I've had about the whole Rookie phenomenon that I haven't being able to put my finger on... whilst trying to encourage 'be yourself, be awkward, love yourself!' ideas they are also setting a specific aesthetic and taste that is really, really acute... also, feminism for 'fashion's sake'? no no.
Isobel, you're MY demigod ;)

Michelle said...

YES YOU'RE BACK! No hate here, just love for you. Tbh being in mid twenties my main concern is now about getting a job and getting laid. I'm less bothered about the need to affirm my 'identity' through the medium or fashion, internet or otherwise (however not diminishing its importance here, I'm privileged to live in a liberal, laissez faire part of England where being different is not a source of contention).

Personally I don't find what you wrote patronizing or offensive to anyone in particular. If you don't identify with a certain aesthetic, you don't. There's no reason to be apologetic!

Anonymous said...

It seems that one of the main reasons media outlets such as Rookie and Girl Guts exist is to counter the widespread cultural mentality that when a given thing has a distinctly "glittery," "colorful," or "girly" theme, it deserves to be reduced to nothing more than an immature "tangent," whereas masculinity expressed in the same arguably unrealistic extreme is celebrated and respected.

On another note, haughty arbiters of "weirdness" are ironic and question-begging at best and soul-sucking at worst. If a certain type of stylistic expression catches on or becomes a trend, why fear and criticize it simply because it wasn't your idea of great? Chances are your idea, along with the ideas of every other imperfect being operating under an imperfect culture, are also imperfect and conditioned in ways you haven't even realized. Trends and trendiness are not inherent fallacies. Though there may be SOME truth to the assertion that SOME people have blindly followed trends for trends' sake, it is disrespectful, unfounded, divisive and unfeminist to to make that assertion of any individual other than oneself.

Anonymous said...

You are completely entitled to your opinion and I completely agree with your opinion. It was gross of Arabelle to call you out like that. Celia totally ignored your compliments towards her and chose to jump on the offended bandwagon too.
What confuses me most is how they post these essays claiming they don't need to feel validated, only to receive hundreds of notes and comments receiving validation.
I admire you for speaking up, even though it was only an opinion and did not deserve this backlash.

Sofie Marie said...

I'm pleased that there's been some discussion on this(except if it's reduced to hurtfull comments,which just makes me sad),and I also got what Arabelle was trying to say.I respect both you ladies,and appreciatte both of your opinions.

It's like you walk down the street in your city and you see a lot of style that doesn't fit your aesthetic,and seems trend led. But instead of it being the city-It's the internet! That's all I read in your post-just a slight dissatisfaction with the current aesthetic- not some huge anti- rookie stance,or anti-coloured hair critiscism. I don't believe you were trying to make a personal attack on people who are into parts of the aesthetic you described,because I'm sure you are aware that enjoy an aesthetic is not the sum of who you are.

I just wanted to offer some support I guess.
Sofie

Anonymous said...

What Iiiii think... is you're also growing up (like you just graduated college, and those girls are still in high school).

You have tons of other interests rather than whats happening on the internetz, and thats GOOD. The internet, no matter what everyone wants to think, is not as real as real life. Being a blog/fashion/instagram celebrity isn't something you can brag about in 10 years or put on your resume. The things you CAN brag about, AND can most definitely put on your resume are the things you do outside in the real world, like with your writing.

This is the first post of yours where I truly felt you were being honest with who you are, if being a blog owner isn't you anymore, there should be no apologies :)

Paolina of Calur Villade said...

I would just like to say, that I think this post was completely misinterpreted. And I completely and utterly understand what you were trying to say. And I am happy you stuck by your opinion. I feel like people are giving you shit for something you didn't really mean to imply. It sucks because the fact is, that's the internet and that's life. everyone has their own opinions. And you most definitely deserve to have yours. And other people deserve to have their opinion. And that should be that. Not all people think alike.

I love you and your blog!

Paolina Alexandra Russo

Meagan said...

I understand what it's like to not be into what everyone else is crazy about, and that's cool, and you're still one of my favorite bloggers. I haven't seen the purple-hair craze but I think I know what you're talking about. I'm not sure if I'm in it but it doesn't really matter. I can agree with what you're saying and you should blog more etc. etc.

Jessica W said...

It's your personal opinion, not a personal attack. I resepct that you're able to share it.
I admit I feel a bit out of place in the blogging world right now too... ***brown hurr don't curr***

The Lovelorn

Anonymous said...

You may see the value of Rookie articles however it seems some of your "supporters" have seen this as a chance to attack it, without even properly reading anything on Rookie (which would make them realise it promotes being confident and embracing your own body and style)

The Iron Chic said...

I don't even read fashion blogs anymore, it's dead. Be yourself, publish your negative comments and don't give a fuck! Blogs are for opinions and people without opinions are dull.

ktmo said...

you are basically the smartest.

Anonymous said...

I don't really agree with this. While there is the whole pastel-hazy-punk-whatever fad, not conforming to that fad is not getting likes/comments and not getting likes/comments is not being "validated"? Isn't it better to "validate" yourself in the same way that clothes and makeup are for you to feel good, not to make other people happy? It seems like you're blaming something that's popular right now for your not being popular. (High school? What?) In the same way that you're expressing yourself, the girls on Rookie/girl-guts/whatever other "weird girls" you're referring to are doing so as well. Their intention is not to be a "cult of perpetual teenagehood", they're sites with a teenage girl demographic and they celebrate teenage girldom, among many other things.

I'm not really sure I understand what you were trying to get at here, but it's upsetting that you're dismissing "weird girls" as an attempt to get you to conform to a trend. (This post has a slight "I WANT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED FOR BEING DIFFERENT THAN THESE MAINSTREAM PEOPLE" feel to it.)

Pansy Lane said...

Will be ignoring all of the other responses in order to say: HARRY POTTER MURAAAAL! And I love you. That is all.

Nalleli said...

Love the looks and your writing. Keep it up!

Dalila said...

Hi Isabel, I'm not going to read those comments - just wanted to say I'm glad you're still around once and a while. Congrats on getting some jobs that you are interested in and keeping writing (and wearing what you want to)! Beautiful photos are lovely but there really is not enough real life portrayed (just the good parts of life) on many sites.

Missy said...

Harry Potter, freaking love it!

xx Missy
www.myconcretecatwalk.com

Zombie Lace said...

Aw. Haters gone hate. I love your candidness, personally! Keep dressing like the weirdo you are and write whatever you gosh darn feel about it!

Izumihiiiflower said...

the red dress is so cool!!!

Nell said...

I agree with you about the whole cult thing going on with blogging. As a teenage blogger, everyone expects me to be like a pastel sparkles feminist riot grrrl, and I am not. I don't idolize Tavi because I think, though she seems like a nice girl, I just want to be my own person.

Emma said...

Isabelle, I really love that you wrote this. While I really love Rookie and Tavi, I recently started noticing that reading this kind of teenage-oriented stuff was making me feel kind of sad and empty. I'm 18 and just started university, and I get that the site is dedicated to TEENAGE GIRLS, but technically I am still a teen and I'm starting to feel like I just can't relate to it anymore. You know, even my friend who is 16 is always saying, "man, I wish I was 15 again" - even though we both hate/hated high school. I've also been reluctant to post on my blog because I feel like I can't compete with this accepted aesthetic that I'm not sure I am really passionate about anymore (or maybe ever was?) - that there is all this pressure to dress like this and like this stuff so that people will read your blog, when I feel that your blog should be about what YOU are actually passionate about. While I do really want purple hair and to keep blogging, I would have to say that I'm not sure where I stand in the blogging community anymore. And it is refreshing to see someone openly talk about this, because I think that it is something that is affecting a lot of people right now. And because every teenage girl has to become an adult.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I'll out myself as a 20-something blog reader who enjoys blogs written by women of (GASP!) all ages. Secondly, I'll assure you I read male bloggers as well, lest the first imply that my blog consumption is sexist or limited. Thirdly, I'll assure you I do things other than read blogs. Sometimes.

And lastly I'll thank you for your beautiful words & decision to share them. We've all been both intrigued & annoyed by the "dreamy" yet narrow aesthetic promoted by the fashion circle, & regardless of any personal value of the trend, it's odd to see those aware enough to question society inflamed by the suggestion that they are any part of it. We are all participants in phases & constantly influenced by what surrounds us. No one is immune, not even those whose mantra is rejecting the mainstream. And while youth is phenomenal, it is only a small part of the human experience & certainly isn't the innate virtue to which our society elevates it.

It's refreshing to see someone who can appreciate youth without the egocentric tendency to pretend it's inherently the crux of meaning. It's also uplifting to see criticism taken so well by a mind that could just as easily be swept away by the refusal to consider the fact that desire--especially in the realms of aesthetics--is completely taught, even in its subversion.

Keep up the good work, & by all means forgive the fact that this old-timer is weeks late on the discussion.

Love from Celeste the Long-winded

Jessica Wood said...

I completely understand where you are coming from, I'm not within the bloggesphere but I have see many blog's that follow a 'Rookie' style. However from reading Rookie I have seen that they promote people being themselves and not being afraid to do so. I think that is why there is a big emphasis on opposing the norms of society and why there is just one aesthetic represented within the blog. (I do hope that they can become more representative of all types of expression!) But at the same time I really love the blog and I feel that one of the important messages they express is that of expressing yourself for yourself and not needing the 'validation' of others which you spoke of. For me the whole point of blogging is to express yourself and gather different references to share and learn from others, not to gain their approval. It seems that because your style is not placed at the centre of what others are looking at, you feel rejected because of the 'waning number of comments and likes'. I just feel that you have gone into this process with the wrong mindset, you want to have the approval of others to know that you look good etc (which you do! :) but you should have the knowledge and confidence in yourself to live without that.
Sorry if I have interpreted this completely wrong and I just want to let you know I didn't mean to cause offence, I love your blog and your writing, I just wanted to say what I got from reading your post.

Sasssquatch said...

gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous, the red dress is my favorite!!

The Working Girl Preetma said...

LOVE THIS. Hard to find a place on the internet for adults. Kind of why I decided to retreat as well to actually make things IRL! xx