I’m not sure where the responsibility lies here. Part of me wants to blame things like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging for it, even though I use them myself. I could probably toss a few spears at things like The Secret and various other manifestations of the positive thinking/law of attraction self-help school while I’m at it, too.
I’m talking about the desire to look like “the kind of people who.” I point the finger at a combination of obsessive documentation; the desire for a painstakingly curated, catalog-worthy home; and the belief that “faking it ’til you make it” will guarantee that you’ll attract the right circumstances to turn you into the person you long to be, living the life you long to live.
It doesn’t matter what comes after the “who”- travel, meditate, craft, read, does witchcraft, enjoy wine tastings, listen to vinyl, raise quail, build model hovercrafts in their sheds on the weekends–the end result is the same. Overpriced, vulgar attempts at portraying an authentic life grace the pages of catalogs and sites like Anthropologie, where for just a little over $2k you could appear to be “the kind of person who paints” (since, apparently, things like easels and paint are for poors. Besides, if you have to rely on your own handiwork, your easel might not get the perfect deliberately random paint splatters it needs to coordinate with the drapes for an Instagrammable living room reveal).
There’s a seedier side to some of this posturing, too– particularly in cases like the aforementioned $2k easel covered in someone else’s mess. There’s a fine line between trying to be “the kind of person who” and a sort of interior-decor-based poverty tourism, where the subject unintentionally glamorizes things like the “starving artist” trope (a gross fantasy where romance glosses right over circumstances like mental illness, dying of consumption in a garret, and burning your furniture for warmth. And which, for the most part, is inaccurate, out of touch, and perpetuates the myth that artists are not workers that deserve a fair wage for their craft).
Oh, to be an artistic, tortured soul living in Paris, sipping wine and just painting all of the time until you contract tuberculosis and die a slow, painful death on a freezing cot! Si romantique! Quelle vie!
It could be that I’m succumbing to some strange species of Poe’s law, too– maybe this easel isn’t intended as a serious decor piece. Maybe it’s a piece made by an artist, perhaps as an attempt at making the very statement I’m making here. I’ll probably never know. I do know that it was unironically photographed, bought, and sold as a decor piece once it was picked up by Anthropologie, whatever its original purpose may have been. Props to the reviewer who listed both its pro and con as being the “illusion of activity,” though.
Owning the right things and thinking the right thoughts may ease some of the cognitive dissonance that comes from not living the life you want, but it won’t do the work for you. Even the most amateurish attempt at something is far more authentic and praiseworthy than a curated life and the idea that happy thoughts can substitute for effort.
Don’t waste your money and life on wanting to be “the kind of person who” and hoping the stars will align for you someday. Be the person who does, imperfectly.
And don’t pay $2k for an easel. Seriously. They’re not that expensive, and I can guarantee you that it will look hell of Pinteresty once you’re done actually using it a few times.
Edited to add: Also, it is silly. Anthropologie is silly.