Today is International Women’s Day! In honor of this holiday I thought I’d share a more personal post of sorts. I have had this post written in my head for a while now but today inspired me to actually write it down. Also, sorry, totally forgot we were supposed to wear red today! I’ll wear it IRL, off of the blog. 😉
I gotta tell you. At the end of 2016 I was really struggling with the blog, mostly just wondering what the point is, and what I was doing. Sure, of course, my blog supports me and earns money and is fun to write and all that but I always like to feel like I am doing something substantial that is making a difference in some shape or form. When I was at BaubleBar, I took a lot of pride in being a good boss and in helping to build a company from scratch (I was one of their first employees so watching that growth was really cool and incredibly satisfying). Blogging has been really cool – building this community, watching my site and social channels grow… but at the end of the day, running a lifestyle blog can feel pretty damn superficial at times. Buy these clothes! Try these beauty products! Yay! I’m not saying it isn’t fun, I’m not saying I don’t love what I do (I do, desperately!) but when current events start going haywire, you start to really think about stuff and question everything.
We talked about the election and how that made me feel. I felt like crap. I’m not here to get political today but I will say one thing – if there is one good thing that came out of this election it’s how informed and interested (obsessed?) in politics I’ve become… and I can say that about a lot of my peers. Two years ago I barely read the news and was so out of touch. I am really ashamed and sad to admit that, but it’s the truth. Now I read the news every day and finally feel like I can keep up with conversations about what is going on in the world around me.
Outfit Details: Harris Wharf London Jacket // Tibi Peplum (a couple years old but love this, this, and this) // Good American Jeans // Nicholas Kirkwood Lace Ballet Flats // Chanel Purse // Celine Sunglasses // BaubleBar Pom Pom Earrings (also love this, this, and this)
So anyway, blogging is really fun. It started as a side project and became my full time gig and I am so thankful for that. BUT, sh*t started hitting the fan in November and I started to think, and think really hard… am I making a difference? Am I doing good, or just making people buy stuff?!? I felt kind of bad about myself. I’ve never had a hard time coming up with content for the blog. I can usually talk about eyelashes and pink and face creams and Tulum and Charleston and Net-a-Porter’s latest arrivals until I am blue in the face. But it started to feel really hard to write my usual content when there is so much other stuff going on in the world (and frankly, if you have limited time in your day I would prefer that you read the news than read my blog. Epiphanies aside, I still feel that way, for the record.).
But I kept at it (of course, because it was Q4!) I posted twice a day most days, and just forced myself to write no matter how hard it was.
But then over time, something wonderful happened! I started to touch (rather lightly) on a few issues that are important to me (feminism, staying informed, staying sane, transgender rights) and you guys responded so well to them. Your comments, your tweets, your emails… it was amazing. I felt renewed, and started to remember why I loved blogging again. And more importantly, it made me think… hey, maybe I can do both! Maybe I could make this blog a place where yes… most days it is an escape… (and through your comments I’ve started to realize the wonderful escapism that comes with reading blogs… kind of like watching that THREE HOUR Bachelor episode on Monday – that was my escape) but also talk to you about the things that are important. And so that is what I have been doing, and your response has made me so so happy. I post, on average, ten times a week and maybe one of those posts reflects current events and issues… the rest of the time we talk about the shinier, sparkly side of life… and it’s completely reinvigorated me.
The Fug Girls posted this tweet the other night and I thought they say it brilliantly. You can still care about politics and global issues but love pretty shoes and lipstick. And you can still want to make a difference in the world but also like to look nice while doing it. You can care about your hair but also know that it doesn’t define you. These things are not mutually exclusive. So that’s that. I want to do both. And I’m going to. In a bipartisan way, in a graceful way, but in a way that gets us to have a conversation. That’s where you guys come in. Your comments on these more personal posts are everything. They keep me going and in many cases a) keep me on my toes, b) make me see the world a little bit differently, c) teach me something new, or d) inspire me to just be a better human.
Today, on International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a few things that I want for you. Maybe these are things I would say to my daughter if I had one but I don’t have a daughter so I’m saying ’em to you. And to me, too, because it’s important to take your own advice.
ONE // I want you to understand that it’s fine to care about looks and feeling good about ourselves but our looks aren’t what defines us. What defines you is the person inside. We all have our hangups. Do I wish I was a few pounds skinnier? That my forehead weren’t quite so big? That my hands were daintier? (Seriously guys, my hands are gigantic – it’s actually funny.) Of course. But at the end of the day, looks are looks. If looking good and feeling put together gives you confidence (hand raised), that is wonderful. But the thing that matters most is who you are on the inside. So don’t feel guilty for caring about the superficial stuff… but focus the bulk of your energy on how you are helping others and what you’re doing to make a real change in the world.
TWO // I want you to be assertive and not care so much about being likeable. I am so guilty of this. At heart I’m a people pleaser and I care deeply about what other people think. But at some point (I think it was this summer, at the ripe old age of 34) I decided I’d had enough. The only person I really need to keep happy is myself. Of course it’s important to be a good friend and family member, but keeping strangers and acquaintances (or men I was dating) happy? That’s really not all that important. Lately I’ve taken to just saying what I feel. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s not. If a new friend is flaky, I’m less likely to make plans with them again. If a guy does me wrong, he’s going to hear exactly what he did and why I’m through with him. (Why do we have to be silent about this stuff? Speak your mind, ladies… I truly believe that guys get away with the crap they pull because we are too focused on being cool – no one calls them out! Call. them. out. At the end of the day, if a man is misbehaving it is probably not going to work out, so why not?)
THREE // I want you to have friends with differing political views than your own… Disagreement and debate is important. You may have gathered from reading here (or twitter) that I’m pretty liberal in my political beliefs. I am proud of my political views, but some of my nearest and dearest are conservative. And you know what? We have the best talks – usually over a bottle of wine. I always learn something new over these chats, and I certainly have developed a more compassionate approach to “the other side.” Another good way to get the other side is to sign up for The Polar News – it provides you with the biggest stories, told from both sides.
FOUR // I want you (us) to be able to openly talk about sexism. Especially in the workplace. I’m 35 and have been working for a long time and to be honest I don’t know if things have gotten better or if I just put myself into better situations (working for a female-led company at BaubleBar and now, working for myself.) I’m going to share three examples of things that happened to me in the workplace that really sucked. I’m older now and would have handled things differently, but these all happened before I had even turned 25 – it was really shitty to deal with them. It’s scary to even write them down now but I know a lot of you have probably experienced similar things, and I also know a lot of you are on the younger side. This stuff is not okay.
In my first job, I was an assistant buyer in the women’s fragrances department for a big department store. There were two of us assistant buyers in the office… a guy (Adam) and a girl (me). I was 22 years old… this was so long ago! We reported to the most wonderful buyer, Alan. Alan is and was still one of the best bosses I ever had and the three of us were a little family. But Alan noticed that the women we worked with treated me very differently from Adam. They loved him but complained about me (and my “attitude”) constantly. We had probably 20-30 women, (mostly all older – women who had been in the industry for years and years and years, most of the having had to fight and climb their way up from the beauty counter to senior level sales positions.) calling upon us every day to get their reports, share new product launches and line sheets, and so on and so forth. I loved my job but was having a hard time and was told that I was cold and unfriendly. (I was just trying to be professional!) One day, Alan pulled me aside and told me I had to “soften my approach.” Back then I was all business. I didn’t understand why I had to be all sugary to get my job done. But in this case, I had to. I started softening my approach and being more chatty. I’d compliment their blouse, tell them how pretty they looked, that sort of thing. Within weeks they were won over, telling Alan what a great job I was doing and how the quality of my work had improved. The funny part is that because I’d become so chatty I was probably doing less actual work, but no one really cared about that. The crappy part is that Adam could have said anything to any of these women, and he would still be a “doll.” In some cases, it’s women that are the worst to each other. This is an example of that.
Also in that job (by then I had softened up my approach and started to be my bubbly self again in the workplace), there was an office happy hour. The handbag buyer took it upon himself to give me “some advice.” Because you know, he really just wanted to help me. Give me some good career advice He then proceeded to get up into my face and tell me how no one would ever take me seriously because of how I looked and dressed and because I acted too “ditzy.” Mind you, I’d just had my first review and was one of the more highly ranked assistant buyers on the floor so I certainly did not need his “helpful advice,” but I didn’t know any better. I wriggled my way around him (somehow I had gotten pinned into a corner), and went home and cried myself to sleep. I actually don’t even know if I’ve ever told anyone this story. Back then I internalized everything so much, and took his crap “advice” to heart.
The last example happened in New York when I was 25, and was the most serious out of all of them. Ten years later I can see that I was just a pawn in office politics but it still doesn’t make it any better. I was working for a company that had been acquired by a bigger company. At the time we had two VPs of marketing, one of whom would eventually replace the other one. This was another big learning experience: acquisitions of companies can be very tricky, very political, and bring out the worst in everyone. At the time I was very junior (and also very naive) and my boss was on maternity leave. While she was out, I reported into one of the VPs (the new one, from the company that was doing the acquiring). You can probably see where this is going. This guy was one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. In hindsight, I learned marketing from him – he taught me how to think critically, how to take ownership for my brands, and how to lead a (small) team. In all honesty, I had a little bit of a schoolgirl crush on him (all of the girls in the office did as he was handsome and kind- but he was also so much older than us and married with three kids… ew, gross!). Well, someone – either the other VP or one of his cohorts (who knows!) started a rumor that we were sleeping together. Again, I reacted completely differently than I would today (so many tears, throwing up in the office bathrooms because I couldn’t believe anyone would think that I’d do that! My morals! My character!!!), whereas today I would have quit and gotten lawyers involved and sued the company for creating a hostile work environment. I took it so personally but at the end of the day I was just really a pawn in a stand-off between the two VPs. I didn’t know what a hostile work environment really meant back then, but it was – the looks I received in the hallways, the way my own boss treated me when she returned back to the office, the constant trips to HR… I had panic attacks every morning before work. It was truly awful. I literally wouldn’t wish any of it on my worst enemy.
This was oversharing, and hard to write. But as with so many things, I really believe that talking about this stuff takes the stigma out of it. And things are a lot better today but I honestly don’t know if that’s because of age, working for myself and/or a female-led company for the past six, almost seven years, or if things have actually gotten better.
So yay! Girl power!!!! Jk jk… TBH that term makes me cringe a little. Kinda like girl boss. Yuck. But you know what? Get out there and celebrate your fellow females today. Lift each other up, do something nice. Tell a smart woman in your life how clever you think she is. Call your mom and tell her how much you appreciate her. Tweet at your senator or your favorite female journalist and tell her she’s doing an awesome job. Send your best girlfriends flowers. Paint your nails. Or don’t – your nails are lovely without polish too. These are all good things. Do them.
PS – I’m on Shopstyle’s homepage today, talking about what it means to me to be a strong woman. 🙂
photography by Lydia Hudgens.