Several weeks ago, there was an event at a local store. A blogger I like was hosting it, I emailed all my real-life blogger friends (and friends who would not want to slit their throats attending a “blogger event” with bloggers) to round them up. Let’s go to the event, support our friend, get our swag bags, and then go to a nearby bar or restaurant and consume something other than room temperature Korbel and mini cupcakes. Friends agreed, we set the date. The date came… and I had NO DESIRE to go. I was tired, I was having a bad hair day, I didn't like my outfit, I just wanted to go home. And sometimes a blogger event just sounds like a lot of work, especially after a long day at the 9-5. On top of it, Karl had to prep for a shoot the next day so I couldn’t leave him home alone all night. But these were real friends, and we’d balance the air kissing and Instagramming with gossip and cocktails. I psyched myself up… and then I spilled a cup of coffee all over my dress.
Now, even if you’re not a blogger I think you can understand how awful of a situation that is. I burned my belly, my underwear was soaked, and I had a big brown stain on my light colored dress. This was beyond the capabilities of a Tide-to-Go pen. So I mopped up what I could, hid in my cubicle the remainder of the day, then skipped work half an hour early and raced to Ann Taylor, one of the few stores between me and the Metro with clothes larger than a size 10.
I raced around Ann Taylor in a panic. I had to be at the event in an hour, especially since I needed to leave at a reasonable time to get home to my family. I had a pair of leopard pumps under my desk, so I looked for something that would match them instead of my coffee-soaked sandals. In the fitting room I tried on a dozen different items, all looking awful. Did I mention I was wearing my Comfy-But-Makes-My-Breasts-Look-Wonky bra, the one that is so high cut that it peeks out of a v-neck? Yeah, good leading by example, Ms. Fashion Blogger.
Thanks to a lovely salesperson, I ended up with a dark red ponte dress with a peplum that covered the muffin top from my bad undergarments and a neckline high enough to cover my dreadful bra. I snagged a bracelet that coordinated, tried to make my sweaty so now curling hair calm down and redid my face, though it was still blotchy from stress my lips were all splotchy as though I finished a marathon makeout session. I did yoga breathing to try to cool my core and my mindset, shoved my coffee-drenched original outfit into the bottom of my (thankfully large) purse and headed to the blogger event.
I never was able to cool myself down, it was as though I had actually drank that cup of coffee and five more after it. I was stressed, I felt anxious. Why am I going to a blogger event instead of going home to put my daughter to bed? Why did I just drop almost $200 in Ann Taylor on a dress I don’t even really like? WHY DO I BLOG? WHAT IS MY POINT IN LIFE?? Yes, I started having a blogger crisis in the overheated Metro car.
I got to the event, and it wasn't bad. Zero calorie pastel-colored drinks in place of Korbel (though still warm), iced cookies in place of cupcakes, A DJ playing pop music through big speakers, bloggers who are just as nice in person as they are on their blogs. Met some new people, tried to relax and enjoy myself and the good company, but it just seemed really warm and crowded and overwhelming. I was still sweating, and for some reason it was focused on my face and scalp. Dry body, dripping from the neck up and it just wouldn't stop.
FLASH FLASH FLASH there’s the pro photographer for the event. I’m flushed, I’m sweaty, and my boobs look as though they’re 400 years old and have minds of their own. I know that these photos will be used by the brand and be on a couple different blogs within the week, all linking back to my blog (which is good blogging etiquette but I'd be okay with bad etiquette at this point). I go into a corner of the store and try to do some damage control, slicking back my hair into a low ponytail and adding more lipstick. I put the bottle of pastel water to my forehead, then back of neck hoping it will cool me. I then guzzle it, thinking maybe that will help. Straighten my wonky boobs and head back into the throng.
My friend Instagrammed a picture with me in it (yep, the one right above). She adores me, I adore her, and I know she would never share a photo where she felt I looked bad (Yes we bloggers have a unwritten rule that we try to never share an unflattering photo of a fellow blogger we like or respect. If a blogger shares a really unflattering photo, she likely doesn't like that blogger, or is new to the blogging scene and is not familiar with the Blogger Code.). I saw that picture while still at the event (because we were Instagramming like mad because that's what we bloggers do to show off that we were there, to possibly win a prize, and sometimes because we promised the brand to be nice or to get paid) and knew it must have been a good look for how insane I must have been in real life. I saw that photo and knew it was time to head home. My style, my heart, and my mind wasn't in it, I wanted to be home in air conditioning and comfy pants. I gave air kisses to those I hardly knew, big sweaty hugs and kisses to those who loved me in spite of it, and headed back to the Metro.
On the ride back to the ‘burbs, I munched on an iced cookie in the shape of a corset and drank more lukewarm pastel water, ignoring the Metro rules about no food or drink. It's was late, this was going to end up being my dinner. Luckily I got an air-conditioned car that wasn't too full, I could have a seat to myself and let my sweat turn into icicles. I thought about why I subject myself to such torture… and realized those who see such events from the outside probably think they're pretty glamorous and fun. And I thought… they CAN be fun, if I had the right mindset.
Maybe I'm jaded because I have been doing this for so long. Maybe it's because I have a family at home I really adore and feel I don't see enough as it is. Possibly it's because I still have a full-time not blog related job that I care about. But I find blogging events to just be more work, even if I am not the one hosting it. I feel the need to dress a certain way, to look super polished because I know there will be flashbulbs all over the place. It's like attending a networking event where you get photographed a hundred times, wearing your highest heels and carrying your smallest or most expensive purse.
At the same time, gosh I have the coolest part-time job on the planet. I feel blessed to be based out of DC where so many bloggers are really amazing human beings and friends. That we do have a thriving fashion and social scene, where companies court us and pay to host events that we can go to. That Instagramming like a fiend is showing our appreciation for them realizing that DC is just as influential of a shopping town as the other big cities in this country. That some events are pretty darn spectacular (hello Goodwill's Art of Fashion) and renew my faith in blogging and the community. That with the growth of the blogging community, I find it even more important to support those I respect and believe to do a good job. That it IS cool to attend an event and get free food and free nail polish, and to complain about such perks of the job is being a spoiled brat.
I think the life of a personal style blogger is very different from what most choose to share on their blog. Many bloggers complain that we get criticized for just sitting around, eating macarons, sipping pumpkin spice lattes, and taking pictures of ourselves spinning in skater skirts and gifted ankle booties. I think people feel that because they don't know the actual work behind being a blogger. Bloggers who who are the most successful create a fantasy world of white lacquer, gifted purses, and crisp Autumn days where they skip down cobblestone streets with their adorable puppy or boyfriend. Brands want relaxed and happy and carefree. Whether you realize it or not, most of you readers (as we bloggers can tell by our pageviews, subscribers, and affiliate income) also desire this aesthetic. The blogs with the largest bank accounts and the largest following have the most glamorous or enviable looking lives.
I've talked about the behind the scenes of blogging before, and I continue to do so because I think it's important for readers to realize that be it a fantasy or reality, blogging is hard work and much of it isn't glamorous. It's not just sweaty blogger events in place of family time. It's doing a photo shoot you are contracted to do even though you're sick, you had a death in the family, your boyfriend just threatened, “it's me or the blog.” It's working your 9-5 (which is often more like an 8-6:45) and then coming home to 70 emails from PR people and brands and potential advertisers, 20 new comments (half either trying to spam their company or telling you that you suck), three contracts to go over with a fine-toothed comb to be sure you're not getting screwed or signing your life away, a handful of business calls, collages to create, blog posts to write and schedule, gifted items that take mega skill to figure out how to tastefully incorporate into a post or upcoming outfit, emails from readers asking for advice or to offer feedback or criticism on what you are doing. Then you check your stats and find another blogger or a message board saying you're lazy or you lack talent or you're stupid or your blog sucks. It's constantly networking, constantly educating yourself about new technology and updates to Google and WordPress. It's being up on the latest social media, the latest brands, the most recent news about technology, fashion, and the blogosphere. It's working until 1am and still having a mile-long to-do list and you have to get up in four hours to take care of your family, go to your day job, speak at a conference, hit the gym to maintain your enviable figure, plot out three shoots before the noon sun ruins your light and you have race to meet a brand at their headquarters and then race home for a Skype interview.
Yes, there are crappy bloggers who make dough off of putting together mediocre outfits, Photoshopping them to death, and posting them with a short paragraph laced with grammatical and spelling errors. The occasional collage to bring affiliate income and a couple tweets sucking up to brands and promoting their same blog post for the fifth time. But the majority of bloggers I know… our lives aren't that glamorous whether we lead you to believe it or not. Blogging is a job, a sweaty, stress-inducing job that often costs us as much or more than what we make from it. But we do it because we love it, and we hope you love it in return!