Here’s how it usually goes: Start a blog. Amass a huge number of followers. Grab attention of brands. Brands send products (jewelry, clothes, bags) to “highlight” on blog. Blogger carefully integrates products into posts so as to not loose following.
If you’re not familiar with the fashion blogosphere (one of the most successful spaces where women are turning their skills into a sustainable income while turning an entire industry on it’s head) you may be familiar with Tavi, the self proclaimed feminist and blogger who took the world by storm at 11 with her site Style Rookie. Besides Tavi, there’s a drought of feminist voices in this community where women are at the forefront of redefining an industry. As the fashion/style blogosphere remains a predominately hetero and femme-centric space, Nora Eakin’s GenderQueer Fashionista blog continues to be a breath of fresh air.
I talked Nora about her blog and how she negotiates the line between feminist, fashionista and gender bender.
POP CULTURE PIRATE: Your look is great for the blogosphere but I’m curious as to how your look received in the workplace.
NORA: I have been working in woman-centered offices and organizations since I graduated from college. Often, the feminine elements of my personal style and gender identity get accentuated and focused upon (by myself and others) while working and socializing in these spaces. Former co-workers in one office mostly ignored me until I decided to wear a dress to work; I was both grateful and frustrated that my feminine clothes and presentation had to be the bridge to building relationships with some of them. This tension between using my femininity as a way to relate to others and discomfort with taking advantage of that privilege is something I spend a lot of time thinking about.
POP CULTURE PIRATE: Once I asked Fran Lebowitz who her style icon was and she completely ignored the question. Who is your style icon?
NORA: Given the pervasiveness of boyish style for women in fashion at the moment, my gender presentation could also get read as simply a style, rather than a statement about my identity- or in realtalk, at a bar asking your friend, “hipster or ladyqueer?” In terms of how I see myself, my style is mostly about my gender identity. I am a boyish person with a flair for the feminine. This basically means that I find myself perpetually imitating and inspired by feminine gay men, from super starched collars and drapey, dramatic neckwear to my desire to be both masculine, polished, and pretty.
POP CULTURE PIRATE: How do you negotiate the line between feminist, fashionista and gender bender? I think many people would see them as mutually exclusive.
NORA: Through my tumblog, I’ve found so much solace and solidarity with fem/femme identified folks around the community and found my femininity validated in ways that feel much more healthy by transwomen and other feminine spectrum folks than they ever were by ciswomen in my youth. This has profoundly affected my feminism in ways that I am so grateful for. Coming out as gender queer gave me new license to explore my masculinity that I never felt growing up, having been socialized as a [super feminine] girl. But coming into my own as genderqueer had perils of its own: mainly, antagonizing my own and others’ femininity. Getting introduced and welcomed into the fem community (which not long ago I might have resented being a part of) helped me to finally face that antagonism and start to live my own ethos of embracing a full spectrum of gender identities.
Blogging and connecting my identity to my feminist politics helps me do a better job of being open and honest and living my politics every day.
POP CULTURE PIRATE: Thanks, Nora!