Back in April, a Jezebel contributor coined the term Marthettes to describe crafty, stylish bloggers who post a seemingly endless stream of perfectly composed photos of themselves, their lives, their food, and their craft projects. She went on to say that these bloggers filled her with feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy.
Back in October, reader Lynette asked me to weigh in on the Marthettes and, more specifically, the fleet of personal style bloggers who appear to have lithe bodies, unlimited fundage, and their own personal paparazzi.
I am definitely aware of a segment of the style blogging population that has taken some flak for posting the fabulous and avoiding the mundane. And I’m aware that seeing these women looking model-esque in their free designer duds, posing seductively in perfectly-lit photographs has inspired a lot of envy and disdain. Many folks feel that style blogs are valuable BECAUSE they differ from fashion magazines, and BECAUSE they are run by non-model non-celebrities. The vast majority of my favorite personal style blogs are run by women like myself who shop at malls and thrift stores, who have cellulite, who are over 17, who make do with whatever lighting is available when they get home from work, who vent and ask for support when life gets ugly. So I get that.
But here’s the thing: No blogger reveals her whole self to her readership. Not even me. Not even Dooce or The Blogess. Reading someone’s blog gives you access to a tiny sliver of her life, the sliver she has chosen to share. And filtering out the bad stuff is her prerogative, as is focusing on triumphs, prized skills, amazing photos, best outfits, and cool new purchases. Style bloggers who absolutely never post an outtake photo, or fess up to wearing knockoff shoes, or talk about feeling ugly or lonely or stupid have made a conscious choice to showcase the shiny and the pretty. It may seem disingenuous and it may irritate you, but it’s well within the spectrum of acceptable blogging behavior. And just as it’s their choice to focus on the shiny-pretty, it’s your choice to read other blogs instead.
There are women in the world who look like models and dress like celebrities. And some of them blog about personal style, and some of them are very young, and some of them get loads of freebies, and that all may seem unfair. Blogging has created a new paradigm of fame that makes free merchandise and near-celebrity status available to people who create and run successful style blogs. And being a gorgeous, tall, thin, young woman with access to designer clothing and a fantastic photographer is a nearly foolproof formula for a successful style blog. I’m not saying that’s right, or that it’ll last forever, but that’s where we’re at right now. And it can be hard to stomach because, unlike traditional celebrities, most bloggers haven’t earned their fame through the sanctioned channels of artistic or athletic talent. Bloggers seem closer to normalcy than actors, singers, media personalities, and athletes, so watching them get showered with attention and goodies can inspire jealousy. After all, aren’t these just regular women like you and me?
And they are, at the core. But I tend to look on most of the high-polish personal style blogs as an extension of the mainstream fashion media – one-woman, online versions of Vogue and Bazaar. I’d wager that most of those women aren’t looking to break new ground in the realms of personal style or social media. They’re looking to make themselves interesting to the existing fashion media and clothing manufacturers, to send up a flare that says, “Hey! Over here! I’ve got what it takes!” And those women have confidence and savvy and a boatload of chutzpah, and for that I admire them. But they can also be a little less emotionally accessible as bloggers.
There are millions upon millions of women who have more money than me, more opportunities than me, more socially-sanctioned beauty than me. And I could work myself up into a jealous froth about that if I wanted. But instead I try to remember that their situations in life have nothing to do with my own, and that any comparisons would be apples to oranges.
Besides, those other women may appear to have “more,” but I can see only tiny, carefully-chosen slivers of their lives.
Anyway, that’s my view. Do you ever look on certain bloggers with envy? Or feel badly about yourself because of some other woman’s blog? Do you believe it’s wrong or dishonest to mask the mundane and focus on the perfect on a personal blog? If so, why? If not, why not?
Image via weheartit.