Finding Purpose: the Long Way.

I’ve spent the past two years of my life attempting to avoid mentioning what my job title is to every human being that I’ve encountered. I mean, try mustering up the balls to exclaim, “I’m a fashion blogger!” to a dinner table full of baffled onlookers; rarely will that statement elicit a positive or well-regarded response. Recently, though, I experienced a few ah-ha moments that crystallized my understanding of why I feel embarrassed, if not blatantly ashamed, at the mention of my career choice.

The catalyst for this line of thinking occurred during New York Fashion Week when I decided that with two years of blogging under my belt, I would attempt to emulate some of my favorite influencers, participating in as much front-row action as possible. In retrospect, I allowed that seven-day interim to serve as a sweeping benchmark of how much success that I had — or had not – achieved during my stretch in the industry. After styling and steaming enough outfits to induce pangs of nausea at the thought of receiving my next Amex statement, I became unrelenting in my pursuit of PR reps who hadn’t responded to my initial requests for admission to shows (If your invite somehow gets “lost in the mail,” simply forego any measure of dignity or self-respect and ask to attend anyway; it’s not desperation, it’s ambition, I told myself!)

With each event that I participated in, I became increasingly fluent in the verbiage of Fashion Week dialect. It included much of the following: wear avante-guarde everything in a silent quest to get ‘papped’ while walking into shows, ensure that someone is on-hand to Snapchat photographers clamoring around you so that you can demonstrate your it-girl status on social media, produce an onslaught of instastories when sitting front row that showcase your stellar vantage point, and never mingle with anyone who has a lesser number of followers than you do. Instead, certify that your girlsquad includes only those who have achieved the same – or a greater – measure of success. To be clear, this mentality doesn’t apply to a number of the deeply humble, warm and hard-working women who I’ve met in this industry, but by and large, it’s an accurate representation of what I repeatedly observed. Although I logically understood the absurdity of the situation, in the midst of my excitement, it didn’t matter to me. I, too, slipped into outfits for the purpose of having my picture taken, googled my name to see if the images had been published online and proudly announced that I was walking into insert ___ (prestigious show name here).

And then, in the unexpected way that it always does, disaster hit. Without getting into the minutiae of it all, it suffices to say that I became violently, harrowingly ill. Clawing my way forward, though, I insisted that I’d still make it to the Alexander Wang show. After all, Wang is to New York what Chanel is to Paris, I reasoned — at least from a popularity perspective, and I’d spent weeks begging a close friend for a coveted ticket of entry. If I could still manage to look presentable enough to attend, I might be able to salvage what was left of Fashion Week. Standing beside some of the world’s most distinguished magazine editors and celebrities, I might even feel confident about my own identity as a blogger. Opting for a retro glam look, I sat silently through hair and makeup, praying that I wouldn’t vomit on myself. But before I could slip into my metallic mini, the Carven number that I reserved for this very occasion, the room began to spin. Like a prom queen, plastered for the first time – eyes darkly lined, hair messily teased – I strew my body across the bed and set out to take a quick power nap. When I woke up the following morning, sun spilling through the windows, I was overcome by a tsunami of self-loathing. How could I have missed the biggest show of New York Fashion Week? I single-handedly destroyed my chance at playing an important role in the action.

While most members of the industry then jetted off to Europe for another month of sitting in front of Gigi, Kendal and Bella dominated catwalks, I sulked alone in my apartment, wondering if I would ever truly make something out of this endeavor, out of this “career.” What was the purpose of my infrequentlty updated blog, anyway? And then, I received an email. It read:

“Brooke:

After a decade of watching fashion bloggers take over my blogger feed and then my instagram (and then my magazines, etc.), I realized just how badly they were making me feel about myself. What was once inspirational (regular girls in affordable clothes!) become another version of celebrity, and yet another reminder of how I’m not loved/pretty/thin/rich/successful enough. So I quit them a few years ago and never looked back.

Your Instagram popped up for me and intrigued me. I finally felt I saw something new and different in terms of the looks you were putting together. I headed over to your blog and then proceeded to spend the night reading all your archives. And I want to be 100% honest: yes, you’re beautiful and thin and decked out in Gucci like many of the fashion bloggers out there. But it quickly became evident to me that you’re smart, a stellar writer, motivated, and despite your material success and wealth, actually give a shit about current events and being a good person. On top of all that, we share some similar life experiences – I lived in NYC for four years (the best years), I too went to law school, and I too struggle with depression.”

I felt like the young, female version of Bernie Madoff, running a ponzie scheme rather than living an authentic existence. I’d just dedicated a month of my life to excessive self-promotion — glorifying the most vapid, vacuous aspects of our culture, falling prey to the ideals in which I claimed to be so disinterested in. When I first entertained the idea of starting a blog, my intent was to interact with women on a personal, word-of-mouth basis. I wanted to parlay the resolutions that I’ve explored regarding self-acceptance, for instance, into digestible, implementable pieces of advice. As someone who was once a suicidal, self-loathing wallflower, I sought to serve as a vessel, channeling decades of intensive therapy and physical/mental improvements into one digital forum. The blog was never supposed to be about me, per se; it was meant to be about you. And yes, there’s an obvious visual component to this, which I believe should be largely aspirational, creative, and fun (hence, my retro glam death glare in the midst of December atop a subway platform), but ultimately, there’s a huge difference between a career and a calling. I mean, even if I were to become the most well-known, celebrated blogger in the entire universe, would you be that riveted by seeing my backstage blurbs and front-row highlights, anyway? Maybe you would; those things are unquestionably fun, but you can also observe them in glossy magazines and on E! News. I’ve come to realize that after undergoing various forms of trauma, abuse, mental health issues — and finally managing to feel strong and happy regardless, the most beneficial thing that I have to offer you is transparency with respect to the many ways in which you can do the same.

[Dress] Zara [Shoes] Zara [Clutch] Gucci [Earrings] Bauble Bar

  • kelseyybarnes

    This is such a beautiful post. It’s so rare to find honesty and openness in this world of blogging. I’m a new blogger myself and have already felt the pressure to post what everyone else is posting (hello, Black Friday sales and Christmas guides). It’s so great to follow a blogger who isn’t cliche and posting the same thing as everyone else. Thank you for keeping it fresh!

  • Margauxleo

    Thank you for sharing your story with us and that’s also why i prefer reading your posts than other blogger like Caro or Bridget (that i also really love tho) but you are sharing something plus, something more like a piece of your real personality and a piece of your story even tho it’s not always bright. I admire you for this because i personnaly have SUCH a hard time sharing my dark/bad times, it’s like I’m a bit shy and i actually never really shared them with anyone beside my husband..
    Xoxo
    Margaux Leo

  • Annette

    Honestly, I wouldn’t classify you as a “fashion blogger” b/c you actually share much more of who you are, what you care about, how you’re feeling to be so narrowly defined. Yes, you’re beautiful with an amazing wardrobe and beauty entourage, but unlike many other bloggers, i, too, sense you have much more to offer than just an attractive slideshow of designer clothes or a sparkly curated online life. I enjoy your instastories tremendously and would love for you to keep blogging – like this – about your life – the ups and the downs. Thanks for sharing with us!