22 August 2012

the weird girl trope.

I have been trying really hard not to say anything brash in response to Isabel's post, mostly because I respect her and consider her a really cool lady who has helped me out on occasion, but I'm really fucking bummed and personally insulted at her last post and I can't not say anything. (And I'm not impressed with the girl-hate going on in the comments section -- a moderated comments section, where people are calling other people shallow for choosing to wear "pounds of" makeup. A lot of those commentors are my readers too, so I'm going to call you all out. Hi, I'm mad at you.) Note, this is 100% my own personal view, and I'm not speaking on behalf of Rookie or Girl Guts, though I do contribute to both. Oh, and I had purple hair. And I have a colorful wardrobe. So, there's that. You can see why I'm kind of insulted. 

Me, in my colorful wardrobe and purple hair, about to perform a ritual to invalidate your existence. 
Listen. I pay attention to all the criticisms I see about Rookie, about GG's, and a lot of time it's 100% valid -- yes, we do need to try harder to be more inclusive. Sometimes we mess up. But what really annoys me is when the criticism about these venues is that they are summarily just Manic Pixie Dream Girl establishments, that they are snowglobes of teen nostalgia about things we might never have experienced ourselves, and that is bullshit. In fact, a lot of the media coverage of Rookie has summarized it to be this little shrine of Tavi's fondness for Daria and whatever for 20 somethings, when it is not that at all. (Putting aside the fact Tavi isn't in her 20's herself yet...) And a lot of the criticisms on Rookie being this shrine to teenage girl nostalgia are really just bizarre to me because.... Rookie is a website for teenage girls. As in, that is the purpose. So duh. That is the space in which ist intentionally occupies. That is who it's for. It's not about you if you're not a teenage girl, though you are welcome to read it, of course. You just aren't the priority.

It's not supposed to be a website dedicated to becoming an adult, it's a website where teenage girls can read stuff about being a teenage girl, and are treated like mature people whose lives revolve around things they care about, and they are taken seriously and their desires and hobbies are celebrated, it's not about their relationship with boys and how to get them to notice you like so many other 'teen platforms' are for. Someone literally wrote, "Why is Rookie pushing a youth-centric agenda? What's wrong with growing up?" And I... I'm speechless, because like..you're missing the damn point. Rookie is a website for the youth. It's about appreciating your adolescence. And if you don't like that, well, ok then, but complaining about it like it is doing you a personal disservice by not doing exactly what you want when you aren't the target audience seems  like a waste of your time and energy. 

Read the about us for Rookie here. Note the distinct lack of "website for twenty something's to be nostalgic about stuff and be twee" in the description. 
I also feel really grossed out and shamed by the idea of me having displaced anybody just for my personal decision of dying my hair purple/green/whatever and for my decision to wear colorful clothes. My appearance isn't a vessel for your own existence to be defined off of. I don't exist just to upset or make you feel more real. We're not being existentialists here. And as someone who has known me / read me / blah blah for years, you know my style is something I treat as personally and as intimately as my thoughts, so for someone to say I have displaced them just for my personal attire, that I have essentially invalidated their own presence in the blogosphere, that is something I take personally, and it hurts and it makes me angry. Because if you leave the blogosphere, that's on you. I've said it before that the blogosphere is fucked up, but it's not something you can blame on the "weird girl" trope, it's something to be blamed on the larger system of capitalism and privileging a more marketable ready to sell appearance over sincerity and unique voices. It's certainly not another person's responsibility to validate you as a person. If you are blogging for validation, you are going to be disappointed, because at what point is x amount of comments going to be enough? How many likes will make you happy? There is always going to be a desire for just one more comment. Just one more reblog. That is so exhausting  and it's putting he power over your insecurities in their hands.You're looking for happiness in other people, and you're shaming them for their own appearances, for them taking up space you wish was yours, when there is plenty space for both of you to exist peacefully. 

If I wear black and white, it cancels out the purple hair, so I'm not a Weird Internet Girl anymore, right? Am I doing this right?
If there is anything, anything that I have ever wanted to make clear through my blogging is that yes, there is enough space for you to be whoever you want, to create your own identity. We should be building each other up, not shaming each other. There is enough of that everywhere already. Celebrate your identity and I will 100% be there with you, as long as you don't fuck with mine. And my identity happens to include purple hair and colorful clothes, but it is certainly not the end all be all, and to be reduced to the trope of being simple another "weird girl" who sells the idea of a cult of perpetual adolescence, it bothers me. Because I don't want my identity to be reduced to that -- it's more than that, all of my personal appearance choices are things I've made purposefully and meaningfully because they help me feel like the person I'm supposed to be, and my own decisions validate the person I hope I am. Everything I wear and do is to celebrate the fact that I exist and I can make my own choices and be whatever the hell I want to be, and none of that takes away from you being the person you want to be. At all. The purpose of my blog is not to make someone else want to be me, it's just to share who I am and hope that someone is inspired enough by my honesty and my sincerity and acceptance that they want to be who they are, too, and to explore who that person might be. This is not a place where I prioritize looking good for other people, it's a place where I prioritize looking good and feeling good about myself and where I can be honest about my insecurities and dreams and my feelings. 

I am not a 2-D Teen Weird Girl of the Internet made to serve you and make you want to dye your hair too, and if you see me as that, you aren't seeing me at all. You have failed to look closer. And that is your loss. 

edit: this post was not to meant to be a "isabel is so wrong let's bash on her" post, so please don't resort to mud slinging -- i've responded to comments in the comments section and i consider the matter closed. thank you for reading.