Fear & Loathing In The Comments Section ... And Some Clarity

After years of silence, it seems like the right time to address some of your concerns.

Aug 2, 2012 at 9:00am | Leave a comment

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Hanging out with Jane Pratt on my first day!

Oh hey there, chatty xoJane readers!

First of all, I have to say thank you for your very enthusiastic & excitable response to my appearance! What a welcome. There's good & there's bad, but overall, mostly what I am seeing is PASSION! Passion for days! It's exciting. I've been scrolling through the hundreds of comments (!!!) & I wanted to respond to a few things. So here we go.

The first & most important thing I wanted to address is the mention of my behaving in a way that is racist or culturally insensitive. Years ago, I mentioned feather headdresses, & wore a bejeweled feather headdress in a couple of photos, with absolutely no idea that it was inappropriate to do so. It has never, ever been my intention to upset or offend anyone based on my actions or words; I am not a malicious person. If I have hurt any of you with anything I've said or done, I am deeply, deeply sorry & take total responsibility for that.

I'm from New Zealand, & I've been in America for four short years. In that time, I've learned so much about the intricacies of race & culture. I'm definitely still learning. I apologize for my ignorance on the subject, & you have my word that I will never do anything like that again.

As for the rest of it? I am who I am. As much as it surprises me, I accept my position as a somewhat controversial figure. You're welcome to love me, hate me, not give a shit or any combination of the above. It will never make an ounce of difference to the way I live my life.

I turned comments off on galadarling.com for my 26th birthday, & it brought me a massive amount of peace. I think it titillates people to think that I "had" to do that because I received so many negative comments, but as scandalous as that sounds, it's not true. I really didn't receive a lot of negative comments. (Lucky me! Oh, how times have changed!)

The reason I turned commenting off was because it's like having a second job. They are a major time-suck. I would post something in the morning & spend the rest of the day refreshing the page, desperate to know what people thought of it. I was addicted to the validation, & it was unhealthy. I had to cut myself off cold-turkey, & I learned to value my OWN opinion of my writing. That was a very valuable lesson for me.

So I understand that for a lot of people, the fact that xoJane has a commenting section is the perfect opportunity to give me a piece of your mind. It's cool, but most of what's been said has absolutely nothing to do with the content I've written here.

The Internet rumor mill is a crazy thing, & a lot of people have the tendency to believe everything they read. After years of silence, it seems like the right time to address some of your concerns.

Some people say the advice I offer is impractical. I don't totally agree with that, but I will admit that my advice, life path & beliefs are unconventional. To be fair, if you want to be told to go to college & get a job, there are hundreds of millions of people who are happy to tell you that.

That route didn't work for me, & there are plenty of other people for whom that advice doesn't gel, either. Not everyone can afford to get a degree, not everyone suits formal education, & getting a college degree doesn't guarantee you a fulfilling life.

I didn't go to college, & I love the work I do, but I'm not in any way dismissive of the value of getting an education. It's a personal choice we each have to make.

I do what I can to offer a balanced view of things, because obviously not everyone who reads my site wants to live my life. Over the last few years I have interviewed & profiled so many women on my site with a wide range of jobs & life experiences.

Other than that, though, I can only talk about my OWN experiences, not anyone else's. I can't be everything to everyone, & I have no interest in trying.

One popular story about me is that I have a trust fund. This is an awesomely effective way of invalidating me & what I do. ("You can't succeed! She has only done well because her parents are bankrolling her! Don't be fooooooooled!") Or at least, it would be if it were true.

Newsflash: I do not, & have never had, a trust fund. My life is not an episode of "Gossip Girl." I don't even think trust funds exist in New Zealand! That is an American thing.

My parents worked -- & are still working! -- their fingers to the bone, & expect me to do the same. My mother is 65 & she still goes to work every day. I don't think she'll ever retire! I'm so incredibly thankful for the education they gave me, but once I left home -- & this is crucial -- I was on my own. Actually, even before I left home, when my parents made me get a job. The direct quote? "There are no free rides in this house."

If I DID have a trust fund, my life would be very different. I'd probably model myself after Hedonismbot from Futurama, and spend my time sunning in the Bahamas!

I started my blog with no job & a credit card with a bullshit limit (around $3,000, because I was 23 years old). I always saw my blog as a business, & I took it very seriously from the start. I have been very fortunate to be able to build a brand & monetize what I do, & it has taken a LONG time & a lot of hard work to get to this point.

I understand that it's more exciting or scandalous to think that my parents, husband, ex-boyfriends, etc., are funding me, but as much as I sometimes wish they were (!!!), they're not.

I work extremely hard: That's the simple & unglamorous truth. Beyond that, I have no interest in discussing what's in my wallet.

Yes, it's true that I was able to heal from an eating disorder, crippling depression & asthma by using an alternative healing method called EFT. This is the complete & utter truth, & I would gain no benefit from making something like that up. I recommend this technique to others because it's free and easy and it worked so well for me that I would feel like a total asshole if I kept it to myself. I tried psychotherapy & medication & it never made an ounce of difference FOR ME. Even so, I recognize those methods do work for some people, & I make an effort to recommend traditional paths alongside my kooky ideas.

Options are good; we all respond to different things. It's pretty simple, really: If you don't like my advice, don't take it. (Our serious-pants managing editor Corynne requests that I reiterate the obvious: I am not a medical professional, & anyone who is interested in exploring EFT should first consult their doctor. MMMMHMMM!)

Am I shallow & materialistic? I guess in some ways I am, & in some ways I'm not. As much as I can appreciate a beautiful dress, I know that owning it won't change my life or make me any happier. I like "things" but I don't think they're important.

I've been writing about fashion & style since the very beginning, & let's not fool ourselves: I have yet to read a fashion or beauty column that is not, in some way, materialistic or shallow.

As long as we're not spending ourselves into bankruptcy, I think that's OK. It's OK to enjoy life & buy beautiful things. I'm no monk. You're not either.

My happiness & positivity grates on some people. I understand, especially because I didn't start out happy: It was something I taught myself. (Optimism can be learned, which is so awesome!)

In my experience, we get more of what we focus on, so I choose to pay attention to the good things in my life. It's such a simple shift, but operating from a place of gratitude has really helped to transform my life.

You may think I'm "too happy/sparkly/pink," but I believe there is no such thing... & I would take that over how I used to feel any day.

I think we all have the right to live a life that makes us happy. In my weird, unconventional & perhaps irritating way, that is what I'm trying to encourage women to do. What I really want them to know is that they have options, that they don't have to live the life that their parents or their friends think is acceptable.

All I really want is for women to appreciate their bodies, to honor their genius, go out there & really LIVE. Being able to write & inspire people every day is a dream come true.

I have received thousands of emails from women who say that learning to love themselves has changed -- & in many cases, SAVED -- their lives. There is nothing better than that.

So if you continue reading my pieces, enjoy them! I have lots of things to say about weird beauty treatments, the very best false eyelashes & fantastic ways to whip your skin into shape. Beauty & style is meant to be fun & frivolous, so please take it in the manner it's intended!

On the other hand, if you really do find me so terrible, Jane just hired about a trillion new beauty writers, & they are AMAZING! They will be spilling their best beauty secrets every day, & I know there will be something in there that you will love.

I hope this clears up a few things. No matter how angry you might be with me, I still love you! Thanks for reading.

P.S. I fully intend to participate in the xoJane community, through comments & tweets & whatever other newfangled technology is conjured up! It's just gonna take me a little time to find my footing, so I appreciate your patience. LOVE!