When I moved to Chicago in 2009, I started this blog as a way to document my adventures in a new city. I was never a very consistent blogger, but when I had something to say or traveled to a new place I wrote about it.
Now it seems that everyone and their mom has a blog and a lot of the blogging world consists of lifestyle blogs featuring fashion, food, DIY, home decor, crafts, and family. For many women (and some men) it’s not just a hobby, it’s a career – connecting with like-minded writers and readers, promoting their Etsy shops and, in some cases, receiving attention from mainstream media outlets, is a full time deal! As Holly Hilgenberg writes:
For many, blogging is a relatively easy, low-cost way to share personal anecdotes and explore interests in an accessible medium. And, in contrast to mainstream lifestyle media (Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living) that tends to be more intent on raising ad revenue than bolstering women’s spirits, lifestyle blogging puts representation into the hands of the homemakers themselves. At the same time, there is something a bit uncanny about the genre. Click through enough of them and you’ll start wondering: How is it possible that so many women and their toddlers spent their Saturdays in blanket forts made from vintage quilts found at a swap meet? And does the world really need more Instagram shots of early-morning trips to the flower market? One may get the impression that the Stepford Wives have swapped their pastel sun hats and starched blouses for sewing-machine tattoos and Rachel Comey shoes. The pastels; soft-focus and color-saturated photo filters; optimistic, sunny tone; and tendency to address readers as “sweeties,” “darlings,” and other diminutives characterize many of the most visible lifestyle blogs. Coupled with the focus on domesticity and the home, bloggers start to resemble a contemporary, superwoman version of a stereotypical 1950s housewife. These women don’t just maintain squeaky-clean, camera-ready homes and adorable families, they also run independent businesses, wear perfect outfits, rock exquisitely styled hair—and find the time to blog about it.
So this got me thinking… What would this little space look like if it was a lifestyle blog?
First of all, it would have artistic pictures of my perfectly decorated and super clean house.
However, my house is sparsely decorated and stays clean for exactly 3 minutes after being swept and mopped.
If this were a lifestyle blog, it would also include recipes that I prepared while wearing 3″ stilettos and accompanied with pictures that would make your mouth water.
Unfortunately, I don’t own stilettos, have yet to master the art of Asian cooking and it’s very expensive to cook Western-style so I usually eat out more than I cook in. Plus I almost always forget to write down the recipe when I do wind up cooking something (like when I made Panang curry and mango pancakes with mangoes from my yard). And the one time I remembered to write down the recipe (when my friend, Lat, taught me to make Lao Salad), I forgot to take a picture.
And finally, no lifestyle blog would be complete without daily pictures of my wardrobe (definitely with perfect hair and makeup, and preferably in a cute pose with a good backdrop).
So this morning I put on a typical outfit – sinh (traditional Lao skirt), button-up shirt and my Crocs. And I even put on makeup! The last time that happened was in February because makeup doesn’t do well in 115° heat and humidity. I went outside to take a picture and found that my gate was still locked. I was too lazy to get the keys so I just posed in front of it instead. And then Jack was feeling neglected and wanted to dance.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not a lifestyle blog. My house has powder-blue tile floors, the world’s most uncomfortable “couch” and creepy crawlies around every corner. While I love cooking in America, I haven’t quite found my rhythm in Laos. And my appearance? Let’s just say that most days I think PTL no one from home will see me like this!
No, this is definitely not a lifestyle blog. It will never acquire thousands of views or circulate Pinterest and I’ll probably never post a DIY how-to (unless I make mittens for the geckos living in my house or turn mothballs into a picture frame).
And that’s just the way I like it.