Spanx. They aren’t just for Moms.

I wouldn’t say that I have “anxiety” about wearing Spanx (and honestly, no one SHOULD have anxiety about wearing a brand of sucky-in-y underwear – because that’s essentially all they are) but I HAVE noticed that when I’m wearing a tight dress, along with – what is essentially a modern day girdle – I feel, a little…. well, anxious. Stiff. Uncomfortable. There’s a tightness in my chest…/abdomen. 

I mean, most of that is the sucky-in-y part of the underwear that I paid $50 to literally wedge myself into so that I could look good in a dress for a few hours, but you know what I mean. I worry. The Spanx alter blood circulation to my brain (probably, I don’t know.  You’d think they’ve got to be cutting off some circulation around my torso. Otherwise, are they even doing their job?) My inner fat girl that needed the Spanx in the first place starts sending paranoid, worried signals to my brain. 

“What if people can tell?” I think. “Can people tell that I’m wearing a girdle?” 

I honestly do not know how anyone would ever be able to “tell”, unless they came over and lifted up my dress and said, “Hey I see you’re wearing some funny underwear under there.” And if someone ever does that to you, I can PROMISE you that the the highlight of that story will not be “I was wearing Spanx”, it will be “A stranger lifted up my dress. It was weird.”

Sometimes I worry that if I give someone a hug, they’ll be able to tell. Like they’ll feel it under my clothes and be like, “HEY WHAT’S THAT?” or worse – “Wow! Your core is ROCK SOLID! Have you been doing Pilates? Let’s see that six-pack!” 

Again. That would require me to lift up my dress. And the highlight of that story would be, “Someone asked me to lift up my dress in order to show them my super rock-hard abs. It was weird.” 

But what if they can FEEL it, I think. What if someone has their arms around me and feels the top of the Spanx? Or that little rod-stick thing that goes down the sides of some of them like a legit corset? I mean, I’m wearing this super tight dress. Surely they can FEEL that stuff.

In all of my years of hugging people – all of the people, including ones who are wearing tight clothes – I have never once embraced someone long enough to literally FEEL THEM UP. I have never tried to rub my hands along someone’s side while hugging them, unless I was, like, DATING that person. Because otherwise it’s super inappropriate – and the highlight of THAT story would be, “Someone tried to feel me up while they were hugging me. It was super inappropriate.” — not, “Someone tried to feel me up while they were hugging me and THEY COULD TELL I WAS WEARING A GIRDLE. IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING.” 

The “What’s in my bag” post.

My first bag came from Aeropostale. And I didn’t call it a “bag”, I called it a purse. Because I was ten, and believed everything my mom told me – bags are used to carry groceries, purses are used to carry all of your little trinkets and treasures that you can’t leave home without.

I mean, she didn’t put it EXACTLY like that. My mom wouldn’t call her used Kleenex and traveling pill case a “treasure” per say, but you know what I mean. It’s a purse. She kept her wallet and her tissues and her breath mints and her receipts and her tiny, little traveling pharmacy of Advil and allergy pills in a “purse”. 

So – my first PURSE came from Aeropostale. It was – hands down – the smallest purse I’ve ever owned. It may have actually been the smallest purse, ever. To exist. This would have been around the year 2001 when “the small purse trend” was in… I think? I don’t know, I was ten. Maybe it was just “in” for ten year olds, because ten years old didn’t have a bunch of stuff to lug around in 2001. All I needed was a place to keep my twelve dollars in cash and… like, that’s it. What else do you need when you’re ten? A pager?

It’s not like I had keys to worry about, because I was always with an adult who had to carry around the keys. I didn’t need a cell phone, because I was ten and it was 2001. I am now part of the generation that sees a ten year old with an iPhone 8 and says, “Well back in MY day, we didn’t have cell phones when we were ten” – as if we grew up Little House on the Prairie style and were all forced to churn our own butter and read by candlelight. We might as well have grown up on the Oregon Trail (which most of us did, as a computer game).

I don’t know why I remember this purse. Maybe because I carried it around for so long. In hindsight, it looked like a children’s purse (which is fine, because I was a child – even though I thought I was a lady. A little ten year old lady). It was tan colored with an embroidered butterfly in the center and a skinny brown strap that was – PROBABLY? – supposed to go over your shoulder? I mean, I don’t know. This tiny, little “purse” went over my shoulder and was so small it basically just hung out right there under my armpit. So it was basically a wristlet that wasn’t a wristlet. It was an armpit-let.

But up until that moment, I had always thought to myself, “Why would anyone carry a PURSE? That’s so dumb. Then you have to CARRY IT AROUND. Why don’t women just carry their money in their pockets like men do? What is so hard about that?” 

Because then we don’t have any place to keep our trinkets and our treasures and our used Kleenex, Little Jenn. That’s why.

Fashion bloggers always do a post about “What’s in my bag” – and it is usually called “What’s in my bag”. Like we’re expecting them to say they’ve been carrying around a sword in there.

I don’t know what the fascination is with these posts, but I fall for it every time. When my favorite beauty blogger does a “What’s in my bag” post, I read it. And I mean, I read it with the expectation that they’re going to say something other than “my phone”, “my keys”, maybe some some headache medicine? I instantly assume – before even reading it – that there will be SOMETHING in there that is going to change my life. Something that’s going to make me say, “That’s such a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that?!”

How to dress yourself skinny.

I like to call this pose – that thing you do when someone says “look natural” and you totally DO NOT LOOK NATURAL. Fashion bloggers use all of these tips and tricks when they’re trying to model. Like “stand on the balls of your feet” and “stand with one foot in front of the other” and “know your angles”

What are my angles? I knew I should have practiced this in the mirror before we left the house.

Eventually my boyfriend, who is also my extremely patient photographer, was like “What are you doing? Just stand still so I can take your picture.”

Look, I get it. You’re supposed to look natural. I mean, they don’t say that in any of the fashion blog-y photo tips, but it makes sense to look natural as opposed to someone who looks stiff and uncomfortable. So I strive to “look natural” –  but not like TOO natural, because my ACTUAL natural state is  “slouched over with an occasional case of Resting Bitch Face”, so… you know. It’s really all about trying to look skinny. Right?

This concept was lost on me as a teenager. I didn’t know know how to look skinny in pictures. I was just doing what all of my friends were doing and wondering why I – being 5’9″ and 155 pounds – didn’t look like my friends who were 5’3″ and small enough to say things like “Ugh. They didn’t have a size zero, and the size two was too big!” 

I’ve never been “fat” fat, but I’ve also never been thin enough to complain about swimming in a size two. When you’re sixteen and buying clothes that are literally three times larger than that of all of your friends – it can make you feel “fat” fat. In my mind, my friends looked like normal teenage girls, and I looked like the momma duck. I had these hips that made me “curvy”, and a stomach that was – I don’t know, enough to make me uncomfortable wearing a bikini.

So I tried to fit in. I mean – I didn’t try TOO hard, because it wasn’t like I started doing sit-ups or trying to cut out pizza, which would have been the healthy way – but I learned that if I stopped trying to wear “belly shirts” (yea, remember when those were a thing?) and low-rise jeans, I could LOOK thinner. MAGIC. Optical illusions. Laziness.

How to Instagram like a fashion blogger.

Oh, Instagram. It took me forever to figure out that it wasn’t Facebook.  I mean, I obviously KNEW the difference – but you know what I mean. If someone Friend requests me on Facebook without annnnny sort of mutual connections (“Did we at least go to high school together? Grow up in the same town? Are you a friend of my mom’s?”), I immediately feel violated. “How did they FIND me?” I think. Like I just caught them with a telescope peeping through my bedroom window. (Sometimes even if there is a mutual connection, I think to myself: “Why are they adding me? Do I KNOW them? Did we meet once and I forgot?”) But Instagram? Haha. That’s totally fine. Follow me. Ask your friends to follow me. Encourage random strangers to follow me. FOLLOW ME. I NEED MORE FOLLOWERS.

If you’re a fashion blogger, you’re probably already on the ‘gram, and you probably already have more followers than I do. Right now I’m trying to break 300.

Not 300k. Not 300 million — (haha, does ANYONE have 300 million?) I have 300 followers. Well – actually, no I don’t, I’m trying to GET 300 followers. I’ve been batting around 287-295 all summer.  I don’t know if I can even call myself a ‘blogger’ at this point, even people who set their accounts to private and only follow friends and family have more followers than I do. When I hit 300, I should buy balloons and throw myself a party. You know, like the real bloggers do after they’ve hit substantial numbers.

Fashion bloggers consider Instagram to be a faucet of their business. They have a fashion blog on the Internet – they post pictures of themselves wearing a bunch of different outfits, what better way to advertise that than Insta? It probably helps them to get a ton of new followers. I say “probably” because they have thousands, and I have – ALMOST – 300. But I also don’t post as many #ootds. Mostly because my “photographer” is my boyfriend and it is a special occasion when I can get him to take a picture of me. I purposely try to look extra fashion-y when we go out, so that I can pull him aside as we’re leaving a restaurant and say “Hey, can I be weird for a second? Will you take a picture of me looking out into traffic?” And he says “Ugh.” and then gives me two minutes to be weird, because he loves me.

I’ve tried to subtly hint that I’d like to spend a few hours one day taking pictures “around town” (a few months ago we moved to a picturesque little suburb town about 30 minutes outside of Chicago that reminds me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls). “Our town is so cute!”, I say. “There are so many places where I want to take cute blog pictures!” But the idea of spending 2 or 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon just taking pictures of myself to put on the Internet…? It’s still a little… I don’t know, it makes me feel a little weird. It’s kind of like Senior pictures all over again… but not really. Because I’m not doing anything super momentous that should be documented. I’m just killing a Saturday afternoon because I want to show everyone that I know how pick out my own clothes.

How to take photos like a fashion blogger.

One of my biggest worries is that my boyfriend will one day see my Google Search history. It’s not that I have a bunch of dirty Google secrets – I’m not hiding things from him, but I fear the day when I’ll have to explain to him why I’m looking up weird stuff on the Internet like, “What kind of salads do the Kardashians eat?” or “How to get more followers on Instagram”. You know. Personal things. Things between me and Google.

This almost happened last week when I was showing him a picture of a nature preserve where I thought we should go hiking. “Oh!” He said, “I should show you” (some forest preserve that had mountains and stuff) “Hang on, let me Google it”, he said, still holding my phone.

Panic set in. “I’ll do it!” I said, yanking the phone out of his hand. Like – straight up, grabbed it. Ninja style. Like he said he was about to scroll through my photo album and see all of my selfies and screenshots of inspirational quotes (this is my second biggest worry, by the way).

“Geeez.” He seemed a little confused. I have no idea why, especially since I was being TOTALLY NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL. “What don’t you want me to see?” He asked.

“Nothing!” I realized by this point – you know, after the fact – that I was being super weird.Like, DEFINITELY-hiding-something weird. Great. He probably thinks I’ve been looking up porn. “I’m just excited to see the place you’re talking about! What was it called?” 

“I was going to look it up.”

“I know! I just…” *Cricket* *Cricket* “What was it called?”

The thing is, my boyfriend is the kind of boyfriend who would probably let me use Google on his phone. He wouldn’t yank said phone out of my hand. Because he’s not looking up weird things like “What really happened with Corinne and DeMario on Bachelor in Paradise?” and “Is Corinne coming back?”

But, really. What happened?

We bypassed the awkward moment – he knows me well enough by now to know that I was probably just looking up dumb stuff about the Kardashians and not ‘how to smother your boyfriend in his sleep’ – and gave me the name of the forest preserve to search. As soon as I typed the letter ‘H’ – sure enough, another embarrassing Google search came up: “How to take photos like a fashion blogger”. 

It could have been worse. It could have been that time I asked Google “How to vote for America’s Got Talent” (asking for a friend). 

But, like, seriously. Taking pictures of my outfit? How do I stand? Where do I stand? Where should I look? Should I look away? What should I do with my hands? How can I make myself look thinner? These are important questions. You have to figure this stuff out if you want your picture to look like a #FashionBlogger picture, and not like something that belongs on your Myspace page from 2007.

Here are the tips that I found for “fashion blogger photography”  so that you don’t have to add another embarrassing search to your Google history. I’ve been Googling tips like these ever since I started this blog over a year ago, because I was looking for a way to stop feeling ridiculous every time I asked someone to take a picture of my #OOTD. “Do people really DO that?”, I thought. “Like, they ask their boyfriends or their friends or whomever to take a picture of them while they’re posing like a model? No one thinks that’s weird?” 

I live in Chicago. People do that all the time. No one thinks it’s weird. Promise.