Weekend Reads #64

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It's been proven that criticism can stay with you far longer than ten times as many compliments. In the profession of blogging, I experience this daily. I can get so many supportive comments but will latch onto the one that is critical. I catch myself writing, expecting those criticisms on my grammar, my styling, if I've worn or written about the same brand too often, if my pricepoint is too high, if my disclosure on monetization isn't transparent enough. I focus so much on this, I get compliments and don't let them sink in.

Years ago, I had a thread on a message board that snarks on bloggers and social media influencers. It coincidentally started the same weekend I slipped on black ice and shattered my radius and was on disability for five weeks. I lay on the couch, doped up on Vicodin, unable to do much other than scroll through my phone and my self-sabotage hobby of choice was scrolling through that thread about me. It colored my whole world, made me question everything about myself, and drove my friends and family crazy. The only way I was able to get a grip on reality was with an Excel spreadsheet. I went through every page of that thread, made a column with screen names, then tallied how many comments from each user, and whether that comment was Troll (“she's fat and ugly and stupid and her husband is gay”), Constructive (“I hate how she started this, I wish she wouldn't do that, she'd be better if she did this other thing”) or White Knight (“I don't think she's that bad, I actually liked when she did that, I disagree”). It made me realize that while there were pages and pages, most were from just one screen name and in there were a lot of nuggets of constructive criticism. Each time I meet someone who is on that message board or another snark site, I encourage them to do this exercise, it helped me take it less personally and not drown in negativity.

The other way to rise above focusing on criticism? Step away. As a blogger or if you're the owner of any business, that's easier said than done. You can't really close down your shop or cafe or sealcoating business for a week or two and unplug and not end up with lasting financial issues. But I felt I had gotten to a point where I wasn't able to see the forest for the critical trees and took some leave without pay from Wardrobe Oxygen. I have three days left of this two-week vacation; I'm typing this on my laptop while sitting alongside a stream. I received an email from Fohr, an influencer network I am a part of, asking me to fill out a survey and see if I am a good fit for a future campaign. After, I went to check out my profile on the site and scrolled down to the follower recommendations. I shared a link on Instagram Stories and in the WO2 Community to this follower survey and scrolled through all of the entries and did some happy crying.  So many reviews (sorry they're hidden unless you're a brand looking to work with me), and so many that totally get what I'm trying to do with Wardrobe Oxygen. Taking the time to do the survey, and write such thoughtful messages was so incredibly powerful.  I am glad I did it now, with some space between me and the job so I could truly appreciate them.  I can't tell you enough how thankful I am for this community and for your support!

Charity of the Month

I am a bit delayed with the month-end results since on vacation but wanted to get your thoughts on which charity I should donate to this month.  As a reminder, I am donating $100 for every $1,000 I made in the month of July to a charity and will do the same for the month of August.

I will collect anonymous entries through the next couple of days and this coming week I will share a full recap of how my first month of my “summer vacation” went and which charity will receive the donation and for how much. If you would like a charity considered for August, leave a comment or send me an email!

Weekend Reads

Since I mentioned studies on criticism, I felt it made sense to share links on the subject…

We all know by now I love Dagne Dover bags.  I have the Landon XL and the Dakota backpack with me on this trip and wish I brought my Ace fanny pack.  The one thing I wished Dagne bags had was the sleeve to slide the bags onto the handle of a rolling suitcase.  Well guess what? They're relaunching their 365 collection with luggage sleeves!  I'm totally going to get them, they're going to make these bags even better for travel!

She practiced self-care for a month and realized her concept of the practice was all wrong. (EatingWell)

As a child, I had a nervous stomach.  Our pediatrician told my mom never to keep me home for an upset tummy.  He was right that it wasn't the stomach, it was just anxiety.  One in eight children develop an anxiety disorder, this piece shares how to recognize it and care for it. (Awareness Act)

How to know a pair of shorts are awesome? When you specifically packed a small vacation wardrobe and realize you packed two of the exact same pair.  I must have been so worried about forgetting them that I packed both pairs, one from last year and one from this.  And last year's pair is indistinguishable from the newer pair! They from Kut from the Kloth and this link has a variety of styles in the specific cut and the jeans go up to 14W and 16 (for reference I am wearing a 14; I usually size up for shorts but 14 works for me).

Another good buy that I had on this vacation were my Lands' End water shoes. They're on sale for $14.99 and then I got them during a 40% off promotion.  I got the black floral version and they have been awesome for walking around slippery rocks near the river, wading in the river, going to a water park, and I've even worn them after to go out for lunch. If you have wide feet, don't worry I do too and they're plenty roomy and comfy!

‘Ghost fleet' of sunken warships in Maryland declared a national marine sanctuary and I need to visit it! (National Geographic)

Target is re-releasing 20 of its past designer collaborations.  I often think of my zebra-print corduroy pencil skirt from the Isaac Mizrahi collection; I sold it to a reader over a decade ago.  And I had a dress from the Proenza Schouler collection that was my JAM even through my pregnancy. Read about this release at this post. (Vox)

And another story about Tarjay – Target is releasing Halloween costumes for children in wheelchairs. (Kid's Activities)

Hey local yokels, especially those on the Virginia side: The largest collection of Ross’ paintings to ever be displayed at one time will be shown in the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 15. Just an hour outside of DC, the Loudoun County public arts center will present 24 original Ross works created during his time on “The Joy of Painting.” (Washingtonian)

In high school, my friends and I were inseparable. We grew up in the same church with the same faith. How did we all drift so far apart?” (Slate)

Your fat friends need you as an ally. This is how you can be one. (ABC Life)

For Your Entertainment

Well you KNOW if there's a new Lizzo video I'm going to share it.  Even better when Missy Elliott is part of it! And now I want a faux fur cape for this fall and winter…

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I try to leave only positive or at least constructive comments on the blogs I regularly read. I’m well aware you’re providing free content. And I really appreciate that. Over the course of the month you’re giving me the equivalent of a magazine free. And a lot of solid information. I don’t love every thing you write so some posts get less love from me. And I’m okay with that.

    You keep doing you. I remember how much I missed you when you went silent while you were struggling with arm issues. And I hate that trolls were nasty when you were so vulnerable.

  2. On a lighter note, I am thrilled that Target is bringing back the Mizrahi clothes – if only in a limited way! I loved those pieces and hung onto them for a long time (even after they no longer fit me!).

  3. Here in DC, SafeShores supports and advocates for children who have suffered violence and trauma (usually in domestic situations). I’ve volunteered with them before and really admire the work they do.

  4. HI Alison – as I am a Canadian, I don’t know many of the charities and will trust you and your other readers to choose one. I wanted to thank you for your blog (which I read very often) – and appreciate your honesty and sense of ethics, and although I am taller/different size than you, I have purchased some of the clothing you reviewed. Finally, I wanted to say something about negative comments on the internet. I don’t know why but for whatever reason, people (including me) have an impulse to write negative things that they would never think of saying aloud or “owing up to”. My husband says the internet “amplifies”. I think that’s true – it amplifies our emotions and somehow gives us the feeling that we can safely say anything. I carefully watch/stop this tendency in me – constantly asking myself why I’m having a reaction and what I can do that is positive to deal with my own thoughts/feelings/emotions rather than projecting them on someone else!

    Thank you again for everything you do on the blog – including the risks you take. I admire you.

    1. I’ve totally been there. Have a bad restaurant experience? You want to race to Yelp to rant. See someone do something annoying? So easy to text it to a friend or leave an anonymous comment. I’ll admit I was on that snark site as a member before I became a subject because it felt good to have a community of others who were as annoyed as I. The internet makes it sooo easy. But it never makes us feel good. it’s a quick rush but it deepens our negativity. It has taken a long time to get to the point where I can even write this and I do have to watch myself from returning to that negative place.

      And THANK YOU!!! <3 Seriously, thank you.

  5. Since we just suffered 2 mass shootings in less than 24 hours, might I suggest an anti-gun violence organization be considered next month? 2 that I’ve seen suggested are Moms Demand Action & March 4 our lives. There’s also the Brady organization, although I don’t know how active it is anymore. And Gabi Gifford has an organization. None of these is a recommendation – I’m tough on full disclosure, I want a high percentage of donations to go to the work not to admin & fundraising & it’s going to take more digging to satisfy me.

    And hand-in-hand with gun violence goes mental health care. I have no idea what would be a good organization to suggest there though. We have PP, we have Komen, we have local crisis hotlines for domestic abuse/violence against women, but I am unfamiliar with any organization that’s trying to fill the mental health care gap. Perhaps other readers have good suggestions?

    1. I fully agree with both of these suggestions. As for mental health care, I too am not sure all that is out there, but I have donated to RAINN which is there to provide help to those who have been sexually assaulted, the Trevor Project which supports LGBTQ youth, and Project Semicolon which works to reduce suicide incidents.

  6. I was one of the people posting on the snark site you mention, and I definitely commented on your thread more than once. I am sorry for anything I said that hurt you or made you feel like shit. I was in a really bad place in my own life during that time and it was easier to bitch and moan about other people (and bloggers in particular) than it was to deal with my own issues. And to be honest I was very jealous of you and your happy marriage and lovely family and clothing budget and confidence and I handled that jealously in a very destructive way. I stopped following most of the blogs I snarked years ago, but I still read yours every week, because I enjoy it. And I do deeply regret any hurt I caused you back then.

    1. Hi Sarah, THANK YOU for this. I can relate to being in a bad place; communities like that can make us feel empowered and not alone. I really am proud of you to see that it was toxic, and to speak up. It’s not easy, but it means a LOT especially how things escalated between the two of us. Thank you. <3

  7. Regarding Lizzo: I can’t get on board with women calling each other “hoes.” I’m all for accepting various body shapes and sizes but can’t accept her crude lyrics and shaming the skinny women. That’s not doing our gender any favors.

    1. I don’t like calling women hoes or bitches, even if those words are used affectionately. I also don’t like anything rap. Regardless of those reservations, I think Lizzo is beautiful, stylish, and fabulous.

    2. I don’t see where she’s shaming skinny women. That slow songs are for them?

      There is a wave of feminism that is reclaiming terms like hoes, b*tches, c*nts, etc. A lot of marginalized groups have been doing this over the decades; it’s not something everyone will like and not something I myself use but I appreciate the sentiment.

      1. My opinion: I think calling them” skinny hoes” is shaming. I can’t condone the “N” word whether used by blacks or whites and I can’t condone the use of “b*itches” “hoes” or worse used by women or men. Words have such power. I don’t think we need to reclaim those words. We need to eliminate them.

  8. I am older too, but think Lizzo is the bomb! I hope you watched her NPR a Tiny (ass) Desk Concert, she was great as Lizzo only can be. See her if you get a chance!

  9. Love so much the charities you’ve suggested and voted for Southern Poverty Law Center today. Hate crimes are on the rise in our country since a certain monster moved into the White House & it’s good to support organizations that will work against them. Thank you for being you, Alison, even when you may get negative feedback. Enjoy the last bit of your vacation with your family. I’m humming a song right now from the movie “Lilo & Stitch”: no place I’d rather be…It makes me think of being with my own son & husband & how much I cherish the time we spend together in our little family of three!

    1. Thank you for sharing this! When I saw SPLC as an option I cringed. As someone who grew up in Montgomery, this organization does some good but it mostly a smoke show ‍♀️

  10. I appreciate the charity choices you have offered. I don’t think we can afford not to make a stand against the current culture of encouraging hatred. If we remain silent then we condone the ugliness imo.

    1. Agree! We can’t afford silent complicity and I for one APPRECIATE a blogger with a fucking spine who isn’t afraid to declare where she stands and who/what she supports. I wanted to vote for both Planned Parenthood and Southern Poverty Law Center.

  11. Please leave political activists off your list. Planned parenthood and Southern pPoverty have become an arm of the Democrats more than a charity. I have started to unfollowing blogs and Facebook pages that used to be just fashion, decorating, travel and fitness And now feel it necessary to make political comments. I get enough of that interwoven in every tv show at night. Thanks for reading

    1. Are you a regular (or even an occasional) reader of this blog? While I haven’t seen many blog posts I’d call ‘political,’ there are many that touch on social issues (including some that’ve been politicized though they’re not inherently political).

      Why not cast a vote, if you’re so inclined, for one of the five listed organizations you find less objectionable than the ones you’ve cited?

    2. What an unfortunate comment. Planned Parenthood largely offers reproductive health care services to low income folks, and I would know because I have used them for this purpose when I was paying for my own measly health insurance. And SPLC advances crucial cases that protect all of our constitutional rights.

      1. When I was a student I went to PP regularly for annual exams. They were very affordable and offered excellent care. They are a wonderful organization helping low income women (and men!)

  12. Oh, the voting form had not come up when I made that suggestion for your donation. Sorry! I have now voted for one of your possibilities.

  13. Count me in as one of your regular and admiring readers. I am old enough for you to have been my “menopause baby,” and my style is radically different from yours, but I still tune in daily to catch your wardrobe and beauty/fitness choices and narratives, and to appreciate your honest and constructive approach to blogging, as others have said so well.

    The Children’s Defense Fund, under the guidance of Marion Wright Edelman, would be a wonderful destination for your contribution. (Disclaimer: no personal connection)

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