The Edition: No. 211

Feb 9, 2021

There are years that ask questions and years that answer. // Zora Neale Hurston 

+ One year into the pandemic, mothers are on the brink.

+ Banana Republic’s True Hues line creates ‘nude’ shades for most women.

+ Meet @deuxmoi, the Internet’s accidental gossip queen.

+ Comfortable and flattering, here’s a wrap dress in plus-size and one in misses.

+ Listen: Career Contessa has five tips to maximize your career in 2021.

+ Leather jackets jazz up any outfit. Love this ivory one and this mahogany one.

+ A field guide to the friendship breakup.

+ Headed back to work?  Start rebuilding in the Ann Taylor sale section.

+ Milestones, Interrupted: What COVID has taken from us.

+ I bought this 3/4 sleeve dress and speckled button-up for work.  Love them.

+ Marcella Hazan’s tomato/onion and bolognese are the best pasta sauces.

+ Need a good serum for beginners?  Try this super fruit serum and roller from Revolution.

Long Read. The pandemic is halting many women’s childbearing plans.

Last night, my husband and I watched Fake Famous.  In the documentary, a team of social media experts try to create an influencer by buying followers, setting up photo shoots, and faking engagement.

Some found the documentary incredibly entertaining.  Some have said that the documentary mocks influencers without really understanding them.  And I agree with some of that, but the documentary does bring up valid points.

When social media looted and pillaged blogs, influencers became overnight sensations.  If you were willing to document every minute of your life, wear the clothes sponsors pay for, spend your time promoting others and yourself, and work practically every minute of every day creating a life that other people want to watch, you could be famous.

When I finished law school, I had an agent telling me that I could be really famous if I would just play the game.  Take the photos. Go on the trips.  Share, share, share.  And I tried it for all of 10-minutes before I realized that it wasn’t for me.

My life isn’t perfect.  I spend most of my day in business suits that other women don’t need for work.  I come home, cook dinner in my leggings (or pajamas depending on the day).  I watch Netflix.  I play with my dogs.  Maybe I get in a workout, dye my hair, or paint my nails.

This is not a glamorous life.  It’s mine and I’m proud of it.  I can’t share my work day, because I work in law and for the government, and much of what I do is private.  My husband doesn’t want to be an Instagram husband or an extra in my nightly Reel.  And frankly, I don’t need one more thing to do in between work, blog, newsletter, family, husband, and self.

I like following influencers online.  But I’ve never liked following those who sell their lives as aspirational.  The ones I like talk about their real lives and are just busy being themselves.  So the idea that becoming ‘fake famous’ should be anyone’s goal isn’t something that appeals to me.

If that makes me a bad influencer, so be it.

Workday Reading

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  1. E says:

    Eh, the influencers with “aspirational” lives just make me feel bad about myself because I am not achieving the life that they model (how could I? I have a full time job that isn’t influencing!). Your blog gives me actual content (not “content” that is ads for products that may or may not be worth buying). Said it once, but I’ll say it again. This blog is your best dressed friend giving you the real scoop on what she buys, likes, and what actually works for her. I keep buying products that you recommend because I know you’ve tried them and tested them. Just goes to show that you can’t buy trust.

  2. JBindc says:

    Have not watched that documentary (adding to watchlist!) but can definitely say that what you wrote about it is one of the reasons I am happy to be a multi-year follower of yours! Your authenticity shines through. My life is similar to yours, and I am also (mostly) happy with it, and I don’t (usually) aspire to whatever it is other influencers are selling me. Not to say they’re all bad – I certainly follow and enjoy many, but also still look for authenticity and genuine interest. But, I tend to only buy recommended items from a few, and I find your recommendations actually benefit my real everyday life. So, thanks for being/staying you, and being honest with us, and for all your effort in making this a great space.

  3. Faith A says:

    All of that makes you one of my very favorite “influencers” because it’s real and your life is more like my life than those others!

  4. Katherine Mencarini says:

    This is why you’re one of my favorite blogs to follow. Clearly, the constant posting and partnered posts are working for some people, but I’m more interested in the recommendations from a person who works and lives a more common/relateable lifestyle. Thanks for keeping your content genuine and transparent. I hope Capital Hill Style continues to make you happy because it’s something I look forward to reading.

  5. Jenn S. says:

    Today’s last word really resonated with me. A lot of people fall into the comparison trap with full-tilt influencer content because it isn’t always clear to everyone that it’s just a curated, manufactured mess. I haven’t watched the doc but I hope it helps open some people’s lives that there’s no such thing as the lives being peddled by these content creators.

    At best, it’s slapping a coat of paint, and some procrastination on the reality bits that we all face, they have to deal with them eventually too. Some deal with it better than others, but it is also EXHAUSTING to be in front of a lens constantly (as many people have learned from this last year of Zoom Hell).

    There’s also something to be said about career longevity. The influencer model is in a relative infancy; how long, as a model, will it last? Even if the model endures, how long will a given creator’s content remain relevant? What is one’s post-influencer career?

    • Erica says:

      A similar thought to this. You: living your life, trying new things, highs and lows, inspires me. I’ve never struggled with comparison to your life, I just enjoy your perspective and following your journey. Quite different than the few influencers I follow.

      • Jenn S, says:

        I agree – the highs and lows are relatable by virtue of existing even if not necessarily in specific substance.

        The 24/7 always-on influencer thing isn’t. It might be, “content,” but it isn’t substance.

  6. s-p-c says:

    Although I’m interested to check out the documentary, I can’t say I have any interest in influencers – I like what I like, and with the limited time I have for online content, I’ll keep on turning to real, relatable content like yours – especially because it’s well-written and a pleasure to read. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  7. Allison says:

    The mother’s on the brink article made me cry. My situation isn’t as drastic as the mom’s in the article, but I relate. I’m beyond burnt out, I was burnt out in May, now I’m an unrecognizable husk of my former self. My husband is a wonderful partner and parent, he pulls his weight, there’s just too much weight right now. We both work full time. I’m so sick of my employer patting themselves on the back by being “family friendly” by offering the headspace app, and being supportive of seeing kids on camera. I don’t need headspace app or your acceptance of the inevitable that my child will pop up on camera. Give me what I actually need, which is a break. I need reasonable workload, reasonable work hours. 9 executive level working moms have left one department in particular, and they don’t think they have a problem. They just promoted a single woman, who is not qualified, to fill the gender gap, and I know it’s because they know she won’t be a mom anytime soon. It’s all a bunch of bull shit, we are invisible.

    • Christine says:

      This is exactly how I feel! I’m so sick of my company saying take a day off, we care about you, etc. when the reality is they want us to perform at a higher level than before Covid, produce more, and do more which means I’m regularly working 12 hour days. And on top of it they decided no ratings for staff in their APR this year. Why should I be motivated to keep killing myself when I know it won’t pay off?

  8. Sarah says:

    And we all keep coming back because you are a breath of fresh air. We love this “bad influencer”.

  9. cincinnance says:

    Would love to know the influencers you follow! I am outgrowing some of mine (yet another off-the-shoulder top or tutorial on how to curl my extension-full hair?) Just not my thing. So far The Mom Edit and Fashion Jackson (and yourself, of course) are my most reliable sources….

  10. mxj says:

    I read your blog, engage in the Thirtyish Facebook community, and follow you Instagram precisely because you are NOT like every other influencer out there! You keep it real, and I value that! I don’t read other blogs or follow other “influencers” the same way I engage with and buy your content because it feels like I’m just subjecting myself to being advertised to. You create and curate meaningful content and make solid product recommendations. Thank you for retaining your authenticity in your corner of the internet!

  11. Rachael says:

    Your commentary and conclusions in the Last Word are EXACTLY why your readers are here, and why they remain so loyal over the years. The world is starved for what is real versus what is being packaged and sold to us as “real”.

  12. V says:

    Abra, I have followed you since the early days of your blog. I can’t think of another blogger/influencer that I still follow from those days. Thank you for all the hard work you have put in to your website over the years, work that we have all benefited from. Sometimes playing “the game” just isn’t worth it.

    From one anonymous reader, I just wanted tell you that you are enough just the way you are.

  13. Rachel says:

    I appreciate reading your content because you are an aspirational influencer who is totally real-life about things. Your taste is fantastic, your experiences are interesting, and your life does look pretty – it’s why we follow you. But I love feeling that your life/career isn’t so vastly removed from mine that I shouldn’t bother trying your recommendations.

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