Are Bloggers Over Fashion Week?

Over the last couple of seasons I’ve started to notice a trend: a lot of of the big bloggers are skipping out on fashion week. Chiara Ferragni isn’t strutting her street style, Kristina Bazan is posting brunch snapchats from LA, Julia Engel is on vacation in the Bahamas. I feel like New York Fashion Week used to be the difference between the big luxury bloggers and the mid-range small fish.

But now it feels like people are sort of over it? Can it be?

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Major bloggers like Chriselle Lim, Aimee Song, and Danielle Bernstein are all still hitting the shows (as well as style-famous editors like Shiona Turini and Elaine Welteroth) but it doesn’t feel like the same fanfare anymore. I feel like the shows used to be a status symbol – look I can get invited to Calvin Klein – and that bloggers attended regardless of if they worked with the brand. But with more and more influencers getting invited to shows and the collections being immediately posted onto social media, a lot of the bigger names seem to be opting out. They seem to be over it.

There’s been an interesting conversation happening around the Grammys (other than #GrammysSoWhite): are we just over big displays of what is “good” and “cool”? I think fashion shows are different because they aren’t attempting to definitively label other’s work, but they are known for leading the way of what will be cool next season and defining trends.

Does this work in the landscape of fashion bloggers and street style photographers? I think fewer and fewer people are looking to brands for inspiration and more are looking to see how their favorite social media star styles the pieces. In this moment of uber personal style how can brands keep up?

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I think two patterns have emerged the last few seasons:

  • Supermodels are making a comeback. Models are back in the public eye as celebrities in their own right – The Hadids, Kendall Jenner, Jasmine Tookes, etc. Designers are putting recognizable faces on the runway again to bring attention to the brand, but I also think to make people feel more connected to the clothes.
  • Brands are moving beyond models. A few designers have hired “friends” of the brand to act as models – J Crew did it this season, Mansur Gavriel has done it in the past. This definitely feels like an attempt to embrace style as an element of personality, that the clothes are enhanced by the individuality of the person wearing them.

With brands trying to address personal style, bloggers ignoring NYFW is really an amazing act of rebellion. For bloggers to say they don’t need the validation of the fashion industry just as that industry is realizing how much they need personal style bloggers shifts the power dynamic, especially after the industry was pretty resistant to the rise of influencers in the first place. Obviously this doesn’t peg to everyone, but it’s interesting that bloggers seem to be less and less involved in the mainstream fashion stuff as their own platforms become more powerful.

So what’s next? Personally, I don’t think blogging is going away any time soon and I think brands are going to have to find ways to better integrate influencer marketing into their strategy. In the meantime, you keep on brunching Kristina.

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Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life…WTF?!

Okay, I know I’m a thousand years late on this BUT this weekend I finally finished rewatching the entire original seven seasons of Gilmore Girls and sunk my teeth into A Year in the Life. And now I have a lot of feelings…

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Let me cut to the chase: I did not like them. I thought Rory was shitty, the drama was strained, and the whole thing seemed like a big “look who we got to come back and be in the reboot!” Especially after watching the original series literally into the new ones it was like a slap in the face – it seemed like everyone was playing at Gilmore Girls instead of being in it.

Everything just seems off. Lorelei and Rory don’t have the same chemistry, Paris is getting upset seeing (not real) Chad Michael Murray at Chilton, Sookie is eating dirt and letting Rachel Ray take over her kitchen? I just don’t buy it! It felt like a totally different world from the original seasons.

Which leads me to this very important fan theory that actually makes me feel WAY better about the whole thing: Year In the Life is the only real Gilmore Girls universe and the first seven seasons are actually the book that miserable 32-year-old Rory wrote to make her life seem way better.

Frankly, I like this theory a lot more than the idea that Amy Sherman-Palladino just wrote a really shitty and inauthentic script to make bucket loads of money ten years after the fact (even though that’s definitely what actually happened).

Anyway, I’m sure everyone is completely over this by now but I had a lot of feelings and needed to share… That is all.

Operation Boozeless: Week One

So after my sort of distraught post from last week, I thought I would follow up on how my first full week without alcohol went. To be honest, not that much was different – I have in fact gone a full seven days without drinking before so it wasn’t too crazy. But I did notice that my thought process has changed a bit as I prep for a longer stint on the wagon.

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1. Pay more attention. I went out to brunch with a newer friend on Saturday and even though we have a lot in common and I really like her, we’re still getting in the groove of being friends. We’ve also spent most of our time going out together so a lot of our conversations have been wine-fueled. I love a good boozy bonding moment as much as anyone, but I had this moment at sober brunch where I thought “This conversation would be way easier if I had a drink.” What? This is really the state of my social skills? I’m better than that and my friend deserves better than that!

So I perked up, took a breathe, and listened better. And you know what? We ended up having a really good time, talked way after we’d signed the check, and made plans for another weekend. Boom! Definitely realized that I lean on alcohol sometimes because I’m just plain lazyyyyyyyy.

2. Change doesn’t happen all at once. In preparation for my boozeless month I started reading a bunch of articles on the benefits of cutting alcohol. More energy! Clearer skin! Better sleep! The list goes on, so I was psyched to become the pure, zen, Gwyneth Paltrow version of myself. Color me surprised when after 7 days I pretty much feel the same! Because duh, I’m not going to change overnight and no one is going to erect a monument in my honor for not drinking one weekend of the month.

I am still hoping that by the end of the month I feel a difference in my body (because that’s the entire medical reason for this experiment), but I need to have some patience with myself and realize that cutting  wine will not make me a super hero. Although fingers crossed I’ll feel like one by March.

3. I’m not that different after all. So on a typical Friday night when I don’t have any plans I’ll usually crack a bottle of chardonnay and then ultimately end up crying over the Gilmore Girls reboot. I guess I always blamed this on wine, but low and behold I do the same thing completely sober… This is actually sort of a relief – that I am still pretty open to expressing my emotions even if that means weeping over Lauren Graham’s face lifts.

So all in all I would say this has been an enlightening week. It’s funny what happens when you just change your mind set and how taking away a crutch like drinking makes you realize how much you don’t need it.

But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for week 2.

What’s Your Morning Ritual?

I know it’s a little late for New Years resolutions, but I’m starting to feel settled at my job and finally have more energy to dedicate to life outside work (whaaaa?). I’ve been an aspiring morning person for a long time so I picked up Laura Vanderkam’s book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast for a little advice…

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In it she talks about using mornings to focus on personal growth through activities like exercising, writing, or meditating and sustaining them over long periods of time. She claims the benefits of morning rituals: people feel more fulfilled, have long-term career success, and are more focused and productive during the day. Her reasoning is interesting:

“Getting things down to routines and habits takes willpower at first but in the long run conserves willpower… Ultimately, self-control lets you relax because it removes stress and enables you to conserve willpower for the important challenges.”

I like the idea and, in turn, have been getting up early to write for an hour before work (almost) every day. Here’s what I’ve liked and disliked so far…

Pros

  1. I feel like a superhero! I’ve gotten up, eaten breakfast, caught up on email, and written for an hour before most people in my building are even awake.
  2. I like investing in my creative life. My job is really technical and it’s nice to still flex my artistic muscles even if its not my main focus right now.
  3. It makes me more focused at work. I’ve had a chance to brainstorm and daydream before I even get to the office so I’m not so distracted.

Cons

  1. Waking up is hard. I love sleeping, hate mornings, and it’s so easy to get derailed.
  2. Writing now feels like a chore, which duh is the point, but I’m surprised at how quickly I burned out on something I love. It make me wonder if I’m fostering my creativity or forcing it.
  3. It’s another thing to push through. Sometimes my writing goes great and I feel awesome, but other days I feel frustrated or disappointed, which is a tough way to start the day.

Looking at my list, I definitely feel like it’s worth it to keep up my writing ritual (it was actually kind of tough to come up with cons!), but it makes me wonder if I’ll eventually lose my love for it because I’m forced to do it everyday. Or will I just love it more because I do it everyday? The jury’s out.

So, I’m curious: do you have morning routines? What do you do? Is it something you love to do or something you feel obligated to do? Any tips on keeping it up? Hit me up!

Weekend Roundup: Sweet Home Chicago

It feels really good to be home. The last several weeks have been crazy to say the least, but no matter where I go in the world there’s nothing like coming back to familiar places and loving people. I’m honestly just starting to feel settled back into the US and a big part of me still feels like its in Ireland, but having some down time to write, run, and catch up with my favorite people has been really centering. Here’s a little recap of what I’ve been doing, reading, and loving this week…

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What I Did This Week

1. Got dragged to a visiting artist lecture at the School of the Art Institute by my mother, a former student, and actually completely loved the whole talk. The artist, Tal R, is this sweet, silly painter from Copenhagen who preaches being “irresponsible” with art, something I totally resonated with after years of being told to be diligent and thorough while making theater.

2. Sat in on a rehearsal of my friend Kevin’s contemporary choir at Northwestern and heard a preview of their super interesting piece “Consent” by Ted Hearne. The text of the piece is a combination of love letters, marriage rituals, and text messages from the Steubenville rape case and explores the ways we use language of ownership and sexual violence to express romantic relationships. Haunting and fascinating. Looking forward to seeing more of his upcoming concerts!

3. Headed up to Concord Music Hall to catch Kaytranada with my brother and our friends. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, it ended up being a fun night of DJs and dancing. I loved one of the openers, I think a local female DJ, but didn’t catch her name – if anyone knows, would love to hear more of her!

Culturally Consumed

1. Finally got around to reading Animal Farm after all these years. Such a quick read, but I see why its required reading in high schools around the country: political commentary, easy to grasp and specific metaphors, and it’s actually engaging – I read the whole thing in like 2 hours. Feels good to start reading for pleasure again!

2. This ultra-brief gem from one of my very favorites, David Sedaris, on this election. Just when I think things can’t get worse too…

3. Love this new series that Cup of Jo is doing. I’ve always been fascinated by personal style and its so fun to hear people talk about why they wear what they wear. Especially obsessed with her use of the phrase “bitchy accessory” to describe a structured, see-through bag. Like I resonate with that term soooo much – definitely need more bitchy accessories (and clothes and shoes) in my life.

4. Also, I know that Stranger Things has already had its moment in the sun, but I would like to take a moment of silence for Barb. She was the real MVP.

Coming Up Next

1. Heading out West on Sunday for a little bit so stayed tuned for some picturesque views and me pretending to be outdoorsy.

2. A HUGE guide to all things Dublin that has actually taken me a century to put together, but I’m super excited to share.

3. A to-do list for all things fall! Fall has always been a huge time of change for me (and this fall is no exception) so I often feel this time of year the way I imagine people feel about new years. Time to get into new habits, shed harmful and distracting practices, and open myself up to saying yes more. I know it all sounds so cheesy, but we all need some inspirational cheeseballs when we’re going through shit, am I right? Stay tuned!

9 Tips for Writing Your Thesis

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Over the summer, I wrote my master’s dissertation and, oh boy, was it tough. Writing a 16,000 word paper is one thing, but to do it basically on your own was certainly another. I’ve always struggled with setting my own deadlines and sticking to them, so this was like self-discipline boot camp! I finished the whole thing in late August and I learned so much about how to accomplish long-term writing projects and picked up some tricks that helped me along the way.

Since I know many are in the throes of thesis writing season, I thought I’d share what worked for me in case that might be helpful to anyone out there. And to those taking on a thesis – you can totally do it! I never thought of myself as a serious writer, but I just took it a day at a time and worked hard and was so proud of myself by the end. You’ll get there, I promise!

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1. Start somewhere. I’ll admit it – I can be a little bit of perfectionist. But this can be so paralyzing when you’re starting a longterm writing project. I often feel like if it isn’t just right, I can’t write anything! But take a step back and remember it’s easier to edit something that already exists than think of something completely new. Also, a glass of wine helps if you need to relax.

2.Don’t fight your work habits. I’ve always heard that writing in the morning is the way to go because you’re distraction free, but I’m a huge night owl and could never get myself motivated in the morning. I was always beating myself up if I didn’t write right away or I couldn’t focus first thing. Eventually, I let myself fall into writing at a later time slot, which comes more naturally to me, and felt sooo much better. Don’t believe the hype – you do you.

3. Set boundaries for yourself. This became really important towards the end of my dissertation when I had an endless list of edits to make. I was driving myself crazy with guilt about leaving things undone. So I started setting myself boundaries: when I was done for the day, I was done. I would turn on Netflix, cook dinner, have a glass of wine, and let myself relax. As my advisor said, “There will always be changes”, so give yourself some time off too.

4. Get an editor. I had a really great experience doing this in undergrad because we had a Writing Center (which I actually worked at, too). I had an awesome tutor (thanks, Mary!) who I met with every week who read through my work, gave me feedback, and helped me talk through my ideas. It was seriously the best thing I could have done – it held me accountable for working between deadlines, allowed me to express any frustration, and generally improved my writing a ton.

5. Time yourself. This is an exercise I started doing whenever I was just not feeling it: set a timer for 30 minutes and set yourself a small goal, such as “find quotes to substantiate this point” or “edit your introduction”. Setting myself smaller goals and feeling the pressure of being timed helped me get the ball rolling and more often than not, I found myself working past the 30 minutes and really digging into whatever I was doing.

6. Plan out tomorrow before you finish today. Because my paper was so long, I always found myself struggling with picking up where I left off the day before. What argument was I trying to make? What edits did I need to make to this paragraph? So, I started making myself a to-do list for the next day before I finished that day’s work. I would include specific notes or short outlines to help ease myself into the next day. It was hard to push myself that last bit everyday, but it made me so much more efficient.

7. Use online resources. Two electronic resources that are invaluable: electronic copies of your most used texts and the Self Control app. I had both a physical and digital copy of my main primary source, so I could jot down notes while reading and search for quotes that I couldn’t quite put my finger on (lifesaver). I also used the Self Control app, which puts certain websites on a blacklist for a length of time, so when I was doing my 30 minute timed exercises I couldn’t just troll Facebook or Pinterest, instead. It’s a great tool for those addicted to social media, like me.

8. Talk to your classmates. This is particularly important if you are not in class while you’re writing – go get a coffee or a beer with your classmates and vent. DO IT. Even if you don’t know them very well or you’re exhausted from writing all day, just go. Isolation can become a major problem for long term writers so go be amongst other people who really get what you’re going through. It will help so much.

9. This project doesn’t define you. This is probably the most important one. This project isn’t you or your self worth, it’s just a project. I know it can seem like the biggest thing in the world (because it is in your world), but remember that it will end eventually and you will still be the amazing, intelligent person that you are, no matter the result. Just focus on your own personal growth and be proud of yourself for even taking it on. Let the rest go.

Love or Hate: The Neon Demon

Last week, my friend, Aoife, invited me to see an early screening of the movie The Neon Demon. I was excited to see a sharp critique of the modeling industry and beauty culture from the director of Drive. But what started as an interesting commentary ended up being something entirely different…

Warning: there are a few spoilers in this post – if you’re planning on subjecting yourself to this film then don’t read any further! Just know you’ve been warned.

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Louise O’Neill Interviews Lindy West

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Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of going to see Lindy West speak with Irish author Louise O’Neill here in Dublin. The event was part of Lindy’s book tour promoting her memoir, Shrill, but they also talked about body positivity, the #shoutyourabortion campaign, and Lindy’s ideal internet troll.

In their discussion of internet trolling, Lindy’s story for This American Life came up. I immediately remembered the harrowing tale of an internet troll who created a false online account of Lindy’s own father, who had recently passed away, saying horrible things about his ‘daughter’. The story has stuck with me since I heard it over a year ago, but I (dumbly) didn’t even realize that this was the same woman until that moment. Now seeing her in person and watching her light up the entire room, the depth of that story hit me all over again – How could something so horrible happen to someone so vivacious and warm? Are some people truly that threatened by other people’s happiness?

But what makes Lindy incredible is that she did not simply accept this troll and let him continue (although she did talk about when that is totally okay to do too), she actually confronted him and spoke to him for several hours about his own life and how he came to troll her for the last several years. Who confronts and forgives their horrible online trolls?! Lindy West, people. What a badass.

The two went on to discuss Lindy’s new book (which I’m totally picking up now so bravo at successful marketing), where she shares stories of her journey from quiet human to loud and proud fat woman and feminist. Just hearing her speak for that hour, I can tell that her voice is thoughtful, funny, and fierce and I’m excited to see how this translates into her writing. I’ll keep you posted!

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The whole night was actually a fantastic reminder that the feminist world is a rather small one and is full of women who want to help each other out. Because I’m on my own quite a bit, it’s easy to think that maybe I’m the only person thinking about this stuff, maybe I’m the only one feeling this pressure. Especially after leaving Bryn Mawr, where everyone talked about feminism constantly, the real world has seemed so barren in terms of these kinds of conversation. But being in that room with women (and men) who wanted to talk about these issues and share their real stories felt so good – someone even commented that they wanted to bottle up this feeling and carry it with them all the time. And I think that’s the challenge for feminists everywhere: how do we live our values every day in a world that tries to tear them down? To that, I don’t think there is one right answer, but last night definitely reminded me that solidarity is essential in making equality happen and allowing diminished voices to become amplified.

A huge thank you to Louise O’Neill and Lindy West for an incredible evening and a huge boost in my feminist confidence! Also shout out to Irish Tatler for the wine, mini hamburgers, and for sponsoring our sweet selfie – always appreciated!

Introducing… My Master’s Dissertation!

For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently writing my master’s dissertation here at Trinity College Dublin. Just me and 15,000 words all summer… soooo fun… The whole thing has been pretty solitary, which can be tough for me, so I wanted to share some of what I’ve been reading/thinking about/procrastinating with all of you.

Before you start rolling your eyes, I am not writing my dissertation on like 15th century clay pots or the habits of bug mating in South America (although I would probably still read a blog about that). I’m writing about social media, female sexuality, and young adult literature – more specifically, the way social media is used to shame and harm young women who either partake in consensual sex or are raped. So like pretty heavy stuff, right?

And I guess for me, the most important part of writing about this academically is to be able to talk about and share the things that I’m reading and discovering. Because as great as it will be to have another feminist piece of academic criticism on the books, that doesn’t necessarily start the conversation I want to have.

Since writing about my weird email experience (here), I have been completely inspired to make my blog a place of actual real conversation. It was so amazing to feel a sense of solidarity and real talk on the internet instead of trolling and tearing each other down and I want to keep that up. That doesn’t mean everything has to be heavy all the time (I’m sure there will be a fair share of silly/excited/fun posts as well) but I’m really trying to steer myself in the direction of my genuine opinions, which will also be a journey for myself as a person/writer.

SO with all that said, please feel free to give me real/candid/anonymous/whatever makes you comfortable comments on any of this stuff because the blog is just another page on the internet without you…

Now back to the main event!

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Above are just a few of the many books I’ll be reading for my dissertation, including my three primary texts Asking for It by Irish author Louise O’Neill, Gossip Girl the series that inspired the TV show by Cecily Von Ziegesar, and Good Girls by Laura Ruby. All three, in different ways and at varying degrees of technological advancement, deal with young women be criticized for sexual acts (consensual or not) on the internet.

Asking For It is by far the most recent, published in 2015, and is also the roughest one to read both in terms of sexual violence and patriarchal bullshit. Good Girls also has its fair share of infuriating moments, but promises more resolution and female solidarity than the others. Gossip Girl, I was surprised to learn, is rather different than the TV show, but is still packed with drama, nonetheless.

I have gotten several eye rolls/questioning looks from librarians as I’ve checked these out, so I would like to take a second to defend my choice in academic literature: These are books people read outside of school. Girls read them when they’re 13, adults read them to regress a little at night, people read books like these without an academic lens. But I think it can be dangerous to leave books that are widely consumed by culture (and particularly by young women) completely unexamined. What are these books really saying? Are they empowering or puritanical? Do they show girls that sex is a natural right or something to be feared? I’m not sure yet – that is kind of the point of all this. But I’m not content to let these books be tossed aside by academia simply because they are intended for young women.

As I go through this writing process, I’ll be sharing bits and bobs of what I’m researching hoping that someone else will find it interesting, too. And as a way of keeping my own sanity as I dive into the pits of patriarchal hell.

So let me know what you think! Have you read any of these? What else should I be reading? Seriously, recommendations would be incredibly, amazingly helpful because the internet is a deep dark place… Thanks so much y’all!