The frenzied dance between street style photographers and their bait is now a common sight at fashion shows and events, and it's upped the wardrobe ante for everyone. But as with any phenomenon, there tends to be a saturation point, and it seems like street style may be reaching it (just look at the growing hordes waiting to be photographed outside the tents at fashion week.) But because of the transient nature of the internet and our notoriously short attention spans, what happens when these women, who were previously in the spotlight, suddenly aren't interesting anymore?
In the beginning [being photographed for street style] was a little embarrassing. But sometimes now I think: ‘Oh, if I do not get photographed I will be miserable’, or ‘Oh my god, the outfit does not work any more.
Miserable is a pretty strong word, so we talked to a few professionals about the psychology behind street style and the ladies who chase it as an outlet of expression. Cooper Lawrence, who has a master's degree in developmental psychology and is the author of The Cult of Celebrity: What our Fascination with the Stars Reveals About Us, offered some insight about why people seek out this type of attention in the first place. "It means you're relevant," she told us. "If you don't see your own face you're not 'relevant'."
Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D., who is the senior editor of the Journal of Media Psychology and a contributor at Psychology Today said, "People who get attention love it and don't want to leave." And there's definitely a certain personality that needs this type of attention: the narcissist. Lawrence notes that the need for attention is the key to narcissism. "Someone who's focused 100% on their appearance, they say, 'I like to look good to feel good', but it has more to do with how others perceive them," she said. "If they're photographed, they equate it with well-being."
But what about surviving unscathed when you and your jaunty cherry fascinator are left on the curb?
"There should be a mindfulness in this highly media saturated world," Fischoff said. "There are casualties who do get that sudden affair with stardom and get addicted to the adrenalized experience, then find themselves shut off cold turkey." And it turns out that ADR's right to be worried about feeling "miserable." "The other half of narcissim is depression," Lawrence said. "If other people aren't making them feel special it makes them miserable; you're miserable if you're not being paid attention to."
Which may lead these previously well-mannered and smiley ladies to seek attention in other ways. And since narcisissim is a personality characteristic (as long as there's not a concurrent serious character disorder), Fischoff told us that it's "not necessarily amenable to therapy;" the only "cure" is finding another way to get attention. Lawrence told us that some people with a need for attention will start to act out and get "outrageous" (see: Lindsay Lohan posing with a gun pointed at her head.)
While Fischoff recommended that group therapy and anonymous forums where support from others going through the same thing can be beneficial (he points out that there are groups for former child stars who can't cope with becoming obsolete), it's difficult to imagine Anna Dello Russo or others on the street style circuit logging into "Tommy Ton Cast-Offs Anonymous."
But maybe it's the right time to set up that website.