Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cupcakes & Jealousy

I'll admit it now, without qualm or reservation, I am a jealous person. I am jealous of the skinny, the musically talented, the blonde, the productive, the confident and the focused. I envy the girls who stole the hearts of all my men and I envy the "it girls" of the world, who manage to garner attention for doing practically nothing. Although jealousy is hardly a valiant emotion, I think it is a noble thing to own up to it, for it is jealousy which is responsible for much of the bullying and intimidation that goes on around us. If we can take responsibility for our jealousy, we can untangle our desires, our motivations and possibly prevent the exclusion of a person who doesn't deserve to be an object of resentment.

I write this, as I recently had a remarkable surge of jealousy. My mother pointed out her picture in some Sunday lifestyle magazine. She was featured as some kind of an "it girl". She posed for a photograph and elaborated upon her kitschy, eclectic style. She mentioned clothes I would never have the bravery to wear, they would either too feminine or outrageous or else incompatible with my hip to waist ratio. When I knew her in primary school, she was a big girl, perhaps the biggest of our group. Since then, she has slimmed down dramatically. She is glowing and ethereal. She is a "blogger".

I visited her blog to survey her purported empire. It was doused in bright, rainbow colours, mixed with vintage hues. There were thousands of pictures of herself, posing. In one picture, she would be thinking of something serious. In another, she would be thinking of something fierce. She poses without doubt or reservation. Sprinkled among her self portraits were cupcakes. Photographs of perfectly designed cupcakes, so perfect that I wouldn't be surprised if they were made out of plaster of Paris. She spoke of making cushions, clouds in New York and her innumerable media appearances. Media appearances? Why? What for? What are you actually saying?

I was confused by the whole business. How could she possibly convey such a positive outlook when her upbringing was so similar to mine? How could she see so much beauty in the world, when she lives a few streets away from me? The jealous, insane part of me cried, it could have been me!, but I know it couldn't possibly have been. My world isn't rainbows, cupcakes, fairies and denim shorts. I do not have the candour of a nine year old child. Quite simply, I do not have the vanity to do what she does. I cannot post thousands of photos of myself online in the belief that my readers see any value in it. I say that in a somewhat bombastic acknowledgement that this is precisely what many of my favourite fashion bloggers do. But as much as I am attracted to their makeshift glamour and self-developed exhibitionism, it just isn't me.

All this makes me wonder if I am truly jealous of her. I think I am. I envy her cohesive visual aesthetic. She appreciates the quaint, the innocent and the beautiful. I am jealous of her remarkable output, even though she doesn't really say anything of great depth, it's great that she can produce so much in such a little space of time. I am perhaps most jealous of her purported fame. I say "purported" because I don't know if it's real. Is she a real celebrity or simply one in her own head? She has hardly any comments on her blog entries, does anybody care what she has to contribute? If she stopped, would anybody accost her to ask why? I wonder if she thinks these things, as I do. I know if she did, she would keep her thoughts well hidden from public view, as she is meant to.

I am certain that I'll likely be jealous of everyone til the day I die. I am becoming progressively more comfortable with this fact. I have to be comfortable with it, because I am forever examining at the qualities and attributes of others. I do not do so for the purposes of resentment. I believe I do it to refine my own values, to establish the personal qualities that I admire and long for within myself. I see a lot of value and inspiration in my old friend, but there are still so many questions left to be asked. As she progresses further and further up the "it girl" trajectory, I have to wonder: is she really the person I knew?


  1. This is so true but its a strange vortex isn't it? There are some blogs I love reading, specifically for outfit posts, but then there are others that really grate on me, even though they feature the same kind of content. There is a an article on Jezabel about this kind of blogging (prefect interiors and homemade cakes etc) that I think you'd really appreciate, just can't remember what it was called...

  2. Thanks so much for your comment!

    I tend to think that fashion blogging can be an aspirational means of expressing personal style. You don't necessarily have to own all the things that you find trendy or beautiful, instead you can figure it all out on Polyvore. Tumblr is perhaps a perfect example of this, not so much analysis, more images siphoned from other places.

    When I find a blog that I do not like, it does not necessarily reflect upon the quality of the blog. It is my problem. I mean, all expression has value. Everyone is entitled to have their own space to express themselves. I have an issue with myself, a jealousy that very much reflects upon an inability to work towards something I want to be.

    I look forward to explore more and more blogs as time goes on though, it's better to find those sites which inspire you to work, instead of those sites which make you recoil.

  3. It's really just about posting styled outfit pictures in scenic locations that you really don't plan on wearing anywhere, but it makes for a incredible picture and food you don't ever intend to eat, but the pics are magazine quality. It's pretty silly really, but it has turned into a viable business for many.

    I don't think of these bloggers as 'celebrities' because really they not in that category. A large majority of 'home-grown' viral bloggers like Cashmere and Cupcake are not part of the entertainment or fashion industry as most people know it like actors, editors, stylist, models, etc who are represented by agencies or agents.

    The bloggers that get more press then others like a Cashmere and Cupcake or Karla's Closet are recruited by advertisers, and they do the bidding of the companies and designers, that chose them to promote their merchandise; because they've identified these blogs as a trend that they can capitalize on to sell their goods or services. It's just a new way for retailers and clothing brands to advertise and promote their goods among a younger demographic, since the printed page is losing subscriptions and eyeballs. That's it. These retailers promote the bloggers website and pay for their rating position among the search engines. They may even pay for them to attend fashion week and other blogger type conferences to build their exposer as a advertise tool for the companies goods they are promoting through their individual blogs. The shopping magazines like Lucky and In-Style pick up on this and throw one or two of the most popular bloggers into a monthly feature here and there for good measure. It's all marketing! Retailers will continue to court these bloggers until another more effective on-line vehicle comes along, or there is a downward trend in this method of advertising.

    What may have started off as something cute and fun has turned into a business for many of the most advertised bloggers. I really would not equate their over exposer to pure 'people choice' kind of popularity as there is a lot of manipulation and promotion going on behind the scenes by their sponsors.

    I hope I've brought some perspective to this new phenomenon.