In the generation of the internet, we’ve found ourselves in a time where we can literally become whoever we want. No longer is a formal education a necessity for one to call him/herself an expert. Just turn on your computer, read a few articles, watch a few YouTube videos, and voila! You are now…. A photographer! A foodie! A stylist!
There are several reasons why I hate this about our generation and why I find it insulting.
First, I believe in the power of education. I don’t care how many degrees you have or what schools you attended, but I do care about the classes you took and what you actually learned from those classes. I also believe in non-formal education. What books are you reading in your free time? Are you shadowing people respected in their field?
We live in a world of Photoshop, Fotor, VSCO Cam, and Qwik where it’s become so easy to take “pretty” pictures. But what about the history of photography, what about the art behind it, the technology, the science behind it.
True photographers make a living off of their profession (or try to), but how insulting is it for them to work their asses off to buy equipment, put themselves through school, and then barely make ends meet working freelance, when the 19-year-old girl on Instagram who takes pictures of random crap is getting paid $$$ by advertisers just because she has 80,000 followers?
Foodies. Effing foodies. Millennials are notoriously known as the foodie generation. Congratulations, you know what sriracha is and you can pronounce foreign words.
I like trying new food, checking out new restaurants, and occasionally having high standards for what I eat, but I don’t call myself a foodie. Why? Because I don’t know anything about ingredients, the culture and history of where that food came from, nor the chemistry of what happens when certain ingredients are combined.
If you can confidently say you know exactly how to answer all three points, then great, you are a foodie. But don’t insult those who have dedicated their lives to the culinary arts with your passing hobby.
And finally, fashion. Fashion holds a special place in my heart, because I went to grad school for it. This probably makes me way more critical of this industry than any other, because it’s such a washed out field. But there’s so much being lost in the world of “fashion bloggers.”
“Omg you studied fashion? What do you think of my clothes? So you’re a designer? What’s the trend right now? You must own hundreds of outfits. You go shopping a lot, don’t you,” are the most common reactions I receive when I tell someone I went to Parsons for Fashion Studies. I understand their curiosity, but it pains me because their assumptions generalize and trivialize my passions.
If you don’t know what Fashion Studies is, a more appropriate approach would be, “Oh cool, what’s that? Is that similar to fashion marketing or fashion design?”
In the simplest terms, Fashion Studies is the analysis of fashion history and theory. We are taught to critique high fashion, the fashion system, and consumerism.
We don’t ask questions like “Does that top go with that skirt?”
Instead, we focus on questions like “Why do people pay $5,000 for a Chanel handbag? Is it worth it? Why are people obsessed with brands? Why is Forever 21 so popular? How is fashion destroying our environment? Who makes our clothes and what ethical laws are being placed to protect them? What is the connection between fashion, identity, and gender? What happens to our clothes when we throw them out or donate them?”
When I tell people I have about 40 pieces of clothing total including coats, pants, and dresses, they’re completely shocked. When I was in New York, I completely cleared out my closet and donated everything I haven’t worn in a year. For me, fashion isn’t about following the latest trends, but it’s about finding clothes that reflect your identity and sticking with it. I assume the more clothing a person has, the more insecure they are.
True fashion isn’t about having “good style,” it’s about having a style and owning it. One of the biggest misconceptions is that all fashion designers dress “well” but if you know anything about designers, you’ll notice they usually dress very unconventionally, look a bit disheveled, a little homeless, or even like a 4-year-old dressed them. Why do you think that is? Think about it.
Yes, I have pieces from H&M and Forever 21, but I also have pieces from independent designers and ethical brands. The key is, before I buy anything I ask myself, “Will I wear this in 10 years?”
Please, think about these things before your next “Food Porn” post, “Fashion Haul,” or “Outfit of the Day” vlog.