Above: photo from Sex and the City. I was not able to watch this series until several years later, because I was thirteen and thought HBO was for kids with rich parents.
On my vanity sits a jar of night cream. Most nights, the ones I can remember, I slather it across my face. This petite jar of overpriced cream is my nightly reminder that wrinkles are well on their way. I do, however, understand that an arsenal of beauty products will ultimately fall useless in the hands of time. Why else would celebrities pay thousands of dollars for injections and cat-like facelifts? The cream is just not enough. And for the record… that is totally okay.
When I met my husband, I was twenty-two and cellulite free. I would hear talk about a stage in a woman’s life when her metabolism gives up, and gravity drops her underarm skin down. I was still wearing bandage dresses from Bebe when a woman told me that when I hit thirty, I’d only be able to eat soup. Everything else would make me gain weight too fast. She told me this with sadness in her eyes—like she never appreciated solid foods when she had the chance. Like maybe out there, somewhere, is the cheeseburger that got away. Perhaps the hamburglar is to blame. These haunting stories of liquid diets seemed like a distant myth to a twenty-two year old with a Richard Simmons energy level and wrinkle-free completion.
Until one day, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and wasn’t familiar with the tired reflection. When did this happen? I started to panic. I mean I like soup; I just don’t like soup that much. You know? Luckily, if there is one thing I’ve learned in my relationship with David—it’s that nothing brings people together like flaws. It could be a piece of food in your teeth. Feeling comfortable enough to unbutton your pants in the car after a big meal. Somehow continuing to wake up with the acne of a pubescent boy and wiry grey hairs of an elderly woman.
But what’s more important to me is that David recognizes that I’m funny. This way when I become grey and old and cute in the way old people do—he’ll still find me entertaining enough to hold on a few more years. It was in the first season of Sex and the City that captured my feelings on finding true love when Big said to Carrie, “But the thing is, after a while, you just want to be with the one that makes you laugh.” Now why this took Big six seasons to figure out that was Carrie, I don’t know. But I truly believe that laughter is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Unfortunately for David this means I’ve become a broken record, “Tell me I’m funny. Tell me, damn it. I know one day it’s all I’ll have!” That, and of course, a beautiful set of dentures to eat steak with because I will refuse to eat just soup. These expensive creams can try to keep age at bay, but underneath the makeup and muscle, I just want to crumple up like a raisin with someone who accepts my flaws, and I his. I just hope he thinks I’m funny.
Tell me I’m funny.
Above: long lost images used on my first blog in 2007. My tagline was "don't waste the pretty". And it was long before I worried about my arms looking fat in photos. Bask in the quality.
Some years ago, I decided to start a blog about styling one’s closet. It was suitably named Closet Styl*d. In my mind—the asterisk added just the right touch of flair. It’s okay—I know it was awful. Amateur even. Like someone designed it whilst drinking a bottle of red wine. Which was true.
But I needed to write. I was bored and working in a retail store. The content presented itself to me and I could not resist it. Like a birthday cake sitting in the office break room. Who has that kind of willpower? It could not be denied. I shared my love for stylish tips and notable moments with coworkers and clients that I encountered on the sales floor. Everyone knows I love a good story and the retail industry offered a plethora of doozies. Like the curly haired brunette that I found sloshed in a puddle of champagne inside a fitting room. Somehow she concealed the bottle in her Prada bag. I was actually impressed.
The blog platform was created for people like me. I embrace my generation's need to overshare. Photograph what I bought on sale. Express my feelings in 160 characters or less. I grew comfortable in such a vulnerable place. (The Internet.) Eventually I shifted my kitschy closet blog into a space that helped me find my voice. But with the overwhelming amount of change in the blogger realm—I lost it.
What I remember was an excitement to write about something I truly was passionate about. And as we grow—those things can change. I can’t remember the exact moment I noticed my content shifting, but my undoing came from writing five-to-seven posts a week about trends and outfits, working full-time, and worrying about what everyone thought about me. And that’s not to say I didn’t find success. I had clothes sent to my door. Retailers were willing to give me money, not much, but some compensation to have an ad on my site. Parents and friends were impressed. They didn’t understand it. But hey, they were impressed!
I feel like I should tell you that I never started a blog to make money. I remember my writing professor on the first day of class speaking from his gut, “If you’re here to get published and get rich—you’re in the wrong class.” It made me smile. I just wanted to write and be authentic in my pursuit.
After awhile, the air of competition in the blogging realm became too thick. Blogs were conceived like bunnies. Women were copying content, layouts, and keeping their secrets to readership success to themselves. I was lucky enough to make incredible friends despite this. They are glimmers of what’s real in a community that is often criticized for being contrived. It’s hard to see genuine content through the lens of professional photographers and products being pushed for monetization. It’s hard to know what is real on fashion blogs anymore. It’s a business now, and I learned that’s not for me and that’s okay. Some people are great at it. I would let it die like my Tamagotchi pet I had in the seventh grade. I just can’t keep up with its demands.
When I started Closet Styl*d with the ugly asterisk, I was twenty-three. I’ll be thirty this next summer and like I said, as we grow—things can change. I believe all bloggers, at some point, ask themselves what can I do different? For me, it’s going back to square one. Write about things that don’t fit into a box. Write the content that presents itself so well that I cannot deny it—like that birthday cake in the office break room. I’m going to stick to just being a writer: a writer who really likes cake.
I wondered where It came from as I drove home from an event on Thursday night. I attended an event called the “It Girls of Instagram” and the name alone had me curious. My initial thoughts applauded the smooth marketing tactics surrounding the event. Impressed by Neiman Marcus for creating an event that integrated local influencers (the It Girls) and Instagram (the It social media platform of the moment). Thus, conforming devout followers to shop, drink, and eat like their favorite It Girl.
Add makeovers, giveaways, and cocktails and you have yourself a bona fide event.
The it-list of local women came to no surprise to me. I’ve met most of them briefly. Chatted over cups of coffee. Wrote about them in local publications. They’re all kind women with striking Instagram feeds. A few of them seemed genuinely surprised to be chosen—I liked them.
As I stood there, I quickly regretted my choice of red lipstick. It glared among the sea of neutral lip colors—and my mind began to ask questions. Do the other women attending this event wish they were an It Girl? And what makes an It Girl "It"? I thought about this at length as I sweat through my checkered blouse.
When I got home, I poured myself the glass of chardonnay I was denied at the event because they “ran out” and we’re “trying to find some”. Which I gleamed as some poor schmuck running to Whole Foods across the street to buy some, and if they’re anything like me—the sample cheese probably distracted them.
I started to Google “It Girl” to learn about its origin because figuring out where phrases/words come from brings me undesirable pleasure. Like finding a dollar bill in my back pocket. My search lead me to the earliest use of the term “It” in which the context may be traced back to a short story from 1904.
Richard Kipling wrote, “It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just 'It'."
I kind of love the ambiguity of it all. A far cry from today, where an it-factor can be calculated by the amount of followers you have on your social media accounts or likes you receive per post.
To me an It Girl is an elusive woman that people can’t seem to define. She might have a large following. She might be the best-kept secret. Either way, she has It because she knows she has it. No matter what color lipstick she wears.