About a decade ago, I loved to scour through home design magazines for inspiration. I also bought the occasional fashion magazine. It was a guilty pleasure but also a source for ideas. I still look for inspiration, but I've replaced most of the magazines with online destinations. This seems to be a trend for most people, as most of us are just as likely to peruse Pinterest or design websites or foodie Instagram accounts as we are to sit down with a magazine. The Internet hasn't completely replaced magazines, but it has definitely changed our habits.
What's fascinating about this shift, though, is that it has created this sort of inspiration marketplace where anyone can create inspirational content. And while I love the fact that the Internet has allowed creatives to publish their own work, it has also birthed an interesting phenomenon where people and personalities have become a part of the narrative. We're no longer just browsing a magazine of randomly curated interesting homes. We're not just looking at a fashion spread of anonymous models. We are looking at real people, real homes, and often, real families.
There are positive aspects to this, as it makes design and fashion seem more accessible. But it has also created a bevy of "lifestyle blogs" in which people are holding up their own lives as daily inspiration. They are photographing their homes, their meals, their outfits, and their children in the same style we might have seen in a glossy magazine. It's picture-perfect and Pinterest-ready and we eat it up because it's inspirational eye candy.
As a personal blogger, I've been in conversations with many other bloggers who have noticed this shift. Blogging started out as a kind of online journal, but for many it has morphed into more of an online magazine -- little snippets of real life that perhaps don't paint the full picture. It's the highlight reel ... and honestly? Sometimes it's very staged.
I don't think it's a requirement that every blogger air all of their ugly in order to be authentic. I certainly hold back and value privacy on certain things. But I do get a little cringey about the blogs that ONLY highlight a perfect domestic existent, complete with sun-kissed lighting, designer clothes, and perfectly-placed chevron pillows. It's not that these things are bad in and of themselves ... but I wonder what kind of message about life, and specifically about motherhood, these blogs are collectively sending.
Then last week, someone sent me a link to a new online magazine for moms. In fact, that's pretty much the title. I'm not naming it or linking to it because I don't think these are bad people who need to be scolded, but let's just say that it's a magazine about motherhood that appears to only feature thin, beautiful moms with gorgeous houses and trendy clothing. Every story is artfully shot, every picture is Pinterest-perfect. There are many posts about fashion, but clearly from the perspective that all mothers can afford, and are interested in, designer clothing. There was even a round-up of hipster rompers.
It's clearly selling to a certain demographic, but it just made me uneasy. Because this is not what motherhood looks like for me. And I'm worried that there are just too many Internet destinations selling an idealized version of motherhood that no one can live up to. Because motherhood is beautiful, but it's also messy. In fact, I would even argue that happy family life SHOULD be messy. A lifestyle blog of only perfect moments is not a lifestyle I'm familiar with.
So, in the spirit of keeping it real (and bringing it down a notch), I present Rage Against the Minivan's Ultimate Lifestyle Photo Retrospective.
This is how my bedroom looks about once a month:
This is how it looks every other day:
These are the curtains in the living room that I cut and had sewn because they dragged on the floor. Apparently, I wasn't paying a lot of attention when I cut them, and now they are uneven. I've been meaning to fix them, but they've been like that for months, and probably will be like that until I have a party or something that gives me external motivation to fix it. The boxes are full of string lights for the back yard. They've been in that spot for a few months, too.
I made an office for myself in the garage but I never work there. This is where I sit all day. The dumbells? I never use them. Also, please note the stack of new curtains I purchased to replace the wonky ones that have basically become a table for other crap I need to deal with.
This area of the dining room is where we just pile papers. About once a month I will go through the papers and realize all of the things I forgot to do/sign/deal with. The lamps are permanently crooked because I can't figure out how to fix them. You can pin that if you want.
Here I am wearing workout gear. Did I work out? No. I just dress up like I'm going to because it's a socially acceptable way to wear pajamas outside.
This invitation to a concert was hanging on our fridge for a month but we missed it. Why, you ask? Did we have work obligations? Were we out of town? Nope. We just FORGOT. So we had two kids on stage with no parents in the audience because we can't keep our $#!& together.
Here I am trying on a trendy romper. I know. I look ridiculous. I'm aware of that because that's exactly what my daughter Karis said to me before asking me to take it off.
I don't post photo retrospectives of what my kids wore because I let them choose and instead of looking like an Anthropologie ad, this is how they usually look:
We don't have quaint wooden toys or handmade dolls or cool vintage books. We have huge, gaudy plastic toys in our house. A lot of them. And books about boogers and farting and superheroes in underwear.
And last, let's look at my child's weekly folder. Jen Hatmaker, I see your bad end-of-school-year mom gig and raise you one ... I'm bad ALL YEAR. I am supposed to sign this every week. I've signed four times. Look, I've removed the papers from the folder. Why do I need to sign? It's just too hard. I'm a busy woman with important things to do like writing Bachelor recaps.
So, there you have it. All the lifestyle inspiration you've ever needed.