I’m a Leo. I like attention. Any person who is a writer likes attention, because the feeling of your first byline is one of the most powerful in the world. And while I am inclined to take a #selfie here and there—as much as I loathe that pretty-much-still-fake word—it’s not my favorite thing. It’s not what I’m about. It’s not a part of my personal brand. I.e., I am not a personal style blogger.
So when, on the first day of fashion week, I decided to take an Instagram of my outfit—a DKNY dress and a pair of Nike sneakers—I captioned it with the self-deprecating phrase “normal person #nyfw outfit.” Because, as big of a weirdo as I actually am, my clothes are pretty normal when compared to a lot of the street-style bait we saw this past week and a half.
The post did well—72 likes! pretty big for me—and I realized that maybe it might be an interesting experiment to do this every day for the next nine days. So I did.
And what I learned is that taking a picture of yourself every day for nine days is emotionally exhausting. And at the same time, kind of boring. At first, I was excited about all of the compliments and comments I was getting. “Too cute!” said one friend. “I’m loving this series,” said an acquaintance. On Day 2—when I was wearing a J.Crew skirt, Madewell top and Chloe flats (that I bought on sale—remember, I’m “normal”)—the photo got 106 likes on Instagram! Wow—I’m reaching people!
Day 3 was fun, too—Steven Alan dress, Mansur Gavriel bag—but by Day 4, I was bored with it. As a freelance writer, I attended and reviewed about five shows every day on top of the other features I was working on. So while I basically never go out during fashion week—a party reporter I am not—I was pretty tired at that point. And the last thing I wanted to do was have my photo taken, even if I was wearing my prized Altuzarra blazer. (Not normal, I know. Really, I’m not fancy. But I am a shopaholic.)
And I started thinking about the women and men who pose for a living. The style bloggers who take hundreds of selfies every day, choosing just one or two to share with their massive social media followings. I barely prepped for my “shoots”—which you can see from the garbage bags and Swiffers lying about in the background—but it still felt like work. A chore.
So why do people do it? I could only come up with two reasons. One, they’re addicted to the rush of a “like”, of acceptance, of popularity. But, I think, for the most successful personal style bloggers—Susie Lau and Leandra Medine come to mind—it’s much more than that. They want to share their ideas with their readers, and quite often, those ideas just happen to be visual. (Of course, both of those women also write, but visuals inarguably tell a lot of the stories on their respective sites.) It’s not much different from what I do.
Overall, I think the “normal person” experiment was worthwhile. It taught me a lot about myself, but also a lot about what goes into building a personal brand that is based on imagery. I can’t imagine making #selfies part of my every day life—let alone my work. But maybe it’s because my rising sign is Capricorn?