And Now on with the regularly scheduled programme.....Recently the cleaning girls came. Usually there are two of them but this time there were three, a new one was being trained as my two regulars are leaving. Apparently the company is terrible to work for and people are quitting constantly. It leaves me undecided about what to do, as I don't wish to support a bad company but whomever the next people are who get assigned to cleaning my home need jobs too. Anyhow, putting that concern aside for the moment, I was amused but pleased to overhear the new girl commenting to the other two about my home. I heard things like, "Oh my God this home is so eclectic; I just love an eclectic home." And also, "Oh I love that mirror and I love this too. When I see things like this I always wonder, where do people find this stuff?" Several minutes later, she repeated similar sentiments to me personally. I explained that many of my things, particularly furniture, are hand me downs and inherited things from family "Oh", she said, "I am always trying to convince my grandparents to give me their stuff." To which I replied, "Well, mine are actually dead." It seemed rather pertinent at the time but sounds a little callous now.
Internet websites as well as many popular magazines abound with porn (no this is not a totally random topic switch) and not just the naked humans kind. There is food porn, house porn, fashion porn and probably plenty of other types. On popular blogs, Pinterest and Instagram there is something known as lifestyle porn and also lifespo (which is lifestyle-inspiration just as there is fitspo and thinspo and probaby others) Like many people I do enjoy beautiful images but I am well aware that everything we see, not just the models in Vogue, is styled, photo-shopped and presented at the very best angle and with the very best light etc. Along with all of these inspiration images has come the over-used term 'curated' and while once curating was something done in a museum or art gallery it is now something people claim to do with their homes, their possessions, their wardrobes. It is fancy talk for either selecting only what you truly love or, if you are very confident about your taste, selecting only what is truly good. Some people collect curated images of curated lives. How complicated this all gets and yet in so much of it the proponents are claiming to achieve and be promoting a sort of minimalism!
I have very minimal photo re-touching skills, and a limited version of iphoto in which to do it. At most I straighten, crop or make up for the cloudy grey weather by adjusting the light on my uploaded photo. The ability to straighten the photo after uploading it has made me shockingly lazy about putting the camera onto the tripod properly to begin with. I don't use Instagram and I don't know as much about my camera as I should so I am clueless about filters. I didn't even understand that people were using them until quite recently but I did wonder why so many Instagram photos had a that sort of faded, dissolving, I-was-taken-using-that-awful-film- of-the-seventies look. Now, I get it. It's a thing. So while I understood that images in magazines were far from realistic, it took me longer to realise that many blogs had a high degree of
Sure we all generally want to present ourselves in our best light literally, so we take ten outfit photos to pick two we think look good, or we take photos of our decorated living room to share on our blog but not the disaster of a den that we haven't yet gotten around to fixing up and is still storing the baby carriage and crib we last needed twenty years ago. Who wants to see that? Blogs are meant to be inspirational, right? Well actually, it had not occurred to me that they were all supposed to be inspirational and I tend to favour the more realistic ones. A blog in which I see one or two fuzzy photos a day of a skinny girl with beach-wave hair posed nicely on her beautiful sofa or artfully disheveled bed, drinking tea or making it in her picturesque but minimalist kitchen is, in my opinion, rather dull.
During a recent insomniatic night, while aimlessly wandering the internet and following suggestions from Sally's Lovely Links, on her blog Already Pretty, I came upon a couple of sites ranting about this phenomenon they were calling the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl. This is a variation on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of course, and she could even be both manic and minimalist. This highly curated concept minimalism is very popular right now in decor, wardrobe and lifestyle, all being very white and expensive but supposedly looking effortless and artless. I suspect it is a very American fascination and is tied in with the also very American fascination with the mythic French chic.
Since I am not much attracted to minimalism myself, I am a bit immune to the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl's charms, whether she is promoting her wardrobe, her home or her lifestyle. But there is a so called bohemian version of this too and my Pinterest boards are full of these images. In them there are rooms full of books and plants and candles and sticks of incense just like my own home, but they are usually contained in a building with impressive architecture, wood floors and huge windows, there is a turntable and a vast collection of old vinyl because hipster and boho sort of overlaps in internet land. All of these images are designed to make us want something other than what we have or to somehow improve on what we have. Maybe we need less of something, maybe more, but somehow we are not getting it quite right, are not as cool, effortless or beautiful as the people in the images. We expect this from a magazine but it seems many people were caught off guard in discovering it exists in blogs too.
So, fashion bloggers photo-shop themselves thinner and model free designer clothing they were given. Lifestyle bloggers are pretending their visually gorgeous simple life is easy and inexpensive when probably it is not. Whether or not we should rail against this or just sigh and move on depends on what battles you plan to pick. Whether or not railing against this constitutes not supporting other women or whether it doesn't is something my brain will be working on for awhile. I see the points being made in both arguments and I am not sure which side has persuaded me and maybe neither ever will. I do believe in women supporting women. I do believe that women are often highly competitive and deliberately undermine each other. I believe there is a way of calling out questionable practices without accusing the individals of being bad people but having said that, if someone criticised how I present myself on my blog I would absolutely take it personally and be hurt. I am not selling anything and I am not making any money from my blog. I am a small fish in an enormous pond so I don't expect anyone to actually care how I present myself.
I did decided to take some photos of my home that are a little bit different. They are totally real and I really like them because they show imperfection. I also think they show beauty. There is no photo here of a pile of dishes in the sink or the food Miss Mathilda has spilled all over the floor, though my hideous green and yellow cork kitchen floor does show up in the background of my photos often. It cannot be hidden! The photos below are snapped quickly. They are imperfect photos of imperfect but much loved spots in my home. I think that if my blog is about anything it is about the joys of imperfection. Go ahead, be inspired to aim for imperfection too.
I call this one Nearly Dead Flowers for the obvious reasons. It usually takes me a couple of days to clear away a bouquet that has expired. I hate the wall colour and this is by no means a minimalist setting. Whether or not you are inspired is up to you. Other notes: my tea is just regular breakfast blend from the grocery store and it is only a happy accident that the glasses cleaning cloth matches the flowers.
This one is called Unfolded Laundry and features clean but crumpled bedsheets and a basket full of unrolled socks. On the floor, sitting on top a discarded pair of jeans is my hair dryer. I sit there in that spot to dry my hair because all sophisticated grown women sit on the floor to do their hair. Other notes: I really dislike the beige carpet and I got paint splotches on it that I couldn't clean off when I painted the room last summer.
And also in my bedroom, this one is called Morning. Pixie dream girls are often sitting on artfully rumpled pure white beds and while I think my bed is very pretty, I would have a different frame if I could and this rumpledness, which includes pink pyjamas discarded at the foot of the bed and fuzzy pink socks and a big white hoodie for wearing when I am up late and cold, this rumpledness is exactly how everything looked when I sat up, pushed the covers back and got out of bed. It stayed this way all day. Why make the bed when it looks this great? Other notes: the curtain situation is still an unfinished one and I am contemplating getting blinds for the window as well. There is too much light at night.
The photo could do with a bit of straightening but I am too tired to bother. Vivre L'imperfection!
Sources for further reading:
The Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl, Who She is and Why I Hate Her
The Trouble With Lifestyle Blogger Envy
Your Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl Does Not Exist