On fantasy vs reality

Perfect life

I'm just jealous, really...

My life was so simple before I discovered the wonderful world of lifestyle, food and fashion blogs. I was happy with my scruffy clothes and shabby house.

But now these bloggers dangle an impossible fantasy in front of my face, and I am completely beguiled. So here’s a brief imagining of the collision between fantasy and reality that now taints my life…

Fantasy: Awakened by sunlight streaming through billowing white curtains, illuminating my tastefully-decorated boudoir, resplendent with chic 40s-style dressing table and elegant wall decals (Cox & Cox, £73). My sexy, talented boyfriend has already got up to make me breakfast in bed, served in this chic crockery set (only £89 from Habitat – and that’s just the butter dish!)

Reality: Lurched into wakefulness by the mad woman next door screaming obscenities into the Hackney dawn. Boyfriend rolls over and farts. Bedroom (colourscheme – rental beige, with smudges of dead moth) festooned with saggy boy pants, laddered tights, cheap jewellery, abandoned craft projects and piles of junk.

Fantasy: I carefully select my outfit for the day – perfectly co-ordinating my designer silk underwear with a floaty dress and killer heels, c0mpleting the look with a few tasteful designer accessories (this Tatty Devine headpiece is so now, don’t you think? And only £62.75!)

Reality: What’s clean? Anything clean? OK – what’s least dirty? I can’t cycle in that skirt, it’ll have to be trousers.  Did you actually wash my jeans or not? Why are there never any matching socks, godammit?! I scrape the worst of the mud/toothpaste/oh God what’s that? off my £10 ASDA tunic and cycling leggings, teaming them with stinky trainers and kirby grips. Don’t even ask about the underwear. If it’s all black, it’s matching, right?

Fantasy: I head to my friendly local bakery, where I sip a latte and nibble on an extravagantly-iced cupcake while surfing the web, looking for items to showcase on my lifestyle blog, Household Whores.  Look at these shoes! (£97) And this bangle! (£207) And all these lovely shiny things! (£££££s) How did I live before the existence of designer egg-cups, door mats and teatowels?  I bust out my credit card and make a few judicious purchases of key statement pieces that will carry me happily into next season and beyond.

Moving on to munch on a tasty brownie, I browse a couple of interior design blogs, noting the latest trends – white, wood, chocolate brown…  This vase (£813) will look perfect in my tastefully-decorated, minimalist living room. Tres chic, non? I can almost picture it on the driftwood coffee table, nestling next to the chi-chi objets d’art and black and white photography books.

Feeling inspired, I head back home to laze on the chaise longue  (and just how lovely are these scatter cushions – just £43 each from Graham & Green) and drink tea (£9.20 for 100g, but worth every penny!) while I do a bit of light blogging.

Reality: Have we got any coffee left? I asked you to buy some. Ah, never mind. I’ll have some of that dodgy Greek herbal tea that my friend brought back from Kos last year. Was that a mouse? Must buy some more traps.  Who’s that bloke asleep on the sofa? No, I thought he was _your_ friend…

Shuffling aside a pile of pizza boxes, I slump on the badly-stuffed sofa, flicking through a copy of Heat magazine. There’s that funny smell again. It might be the bins, or it might be something to do with the mad lady next door.

The air is thick with the odour of stale cigarette smoke and male feet.  On the wall hangs the Brighton Photography Calendar from 2008. The month showing is March. It’s now September.

Feeling completely uninspired, I loaf around on Twitter for a bit, then go and eat a bowl of cereal standing up in the kitchen, ignoring the week’s worth of festering washing-up in the sink. I buy some overpriced shoes and ill-fitting clothes from ASOS on my weary credit card. Who needs to eat, anyway? There’s that bloody mouse again…

Fantasy: Cocktail time! I head to my well-stocked drinks cabinet and select the ingredients for a perfect Cosmopolitan. Sexy, talented boyfriend and I relax on our balcony and watch the sun set over a perfect urban landscape, nibbling on chorizo and olives from the fabulous local deli. I shoot a few photos of the sunset skyline, which get snapped up by the local magazine.

Reality: Is there anything drinkable you can actually make with brandy and lemon squash? Let’s give it a go… Hmm. Actually, let’s just drink the brandy neat. Or there’s that peculiar purple stuff that Emily brought back from France. You go first… and hand over those Pringles…

Fantasy: We head off to a new supperclub in Dalston, promising pigeon breast on a bed of organic samphire, followed by free-range beef tournedos with locally grown veg, and oloroso sherry and mascarpone trifle for dessert.  So retro! So chic!

The clientele are all super-stylish food bloggers, and everyone compliments me on my delightful charm necklace (£53 from a seller on Etsy that nobody knows about yet). I am so busy taking pictures of my dinner that I forget to actually eat anything.

Reality: Pizza again? Four cheeses with extra anchovies for me please. You phone them. No, it’s your turn – I phoned them last time.  Go on then, let’s have another glass of that purple stuff…

With apologies to the Domestic Sluts, 1 Million Gold Stars, The Beat That my Heart Skipped and all the rest. You know I’m just jealous, really…

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38 responses to “On fantasy vs reality

  1. Glorious. Absolutely glorious.
    “I am so busy taking pictures of my dinner that I forget to actually eat anything.” is the funniest thing I’ve read in days.

  2. I’m not sure if this was meant to be tongue in cheek but actually, I’m quite offended by this. I don’t quite understand what your point is, apart from trying to make the lifestyle bloggers you’ve targetted feel bad about they way they live their lives. Don’t apologise for being offensive. That’s like saying ‘I’m sorry but…’ at the start of something you’re not sorry about.

    Not once have I used my lifestyle blog to make someone feel bad about how they live their lives. Not entirely sure why you think it’s OK to do the same.

    • I’m sorry you’re offended – it certainly wasn’t meant as that, I completely meant it as a spoof. I love reading lifestyle blogs, and it was meant more as a reflection on my very unglamorous life rather than anyone elses.

  3. Hilarious stuff, lady. I lament the fact that I often feel like I fall more firmly into the italicised (sp?) category above even when I’m writing about lifestyle stuff and food. However, writing about it, even if I’m not living it 24/7, reminds me of what I can aspire to! 🙂

    BTW – I have frequently photographed my dinner. I have *never* forgotten to eat every morsel. I wish…

  4. Hmm, I’m struggling with this post.

    While I do think it’s very funny (“The air is thick with the odour of stale cigarette smoke and male feet”), I also feel a bit poked with a sharp stick (£74.76, Twentytwentyone) as a lifestyle blogger . Passages like “I head to my friendly local bakery, where I sip a latte and nibble on an extravagantly-iced cupcake while surfing the web, looking for items to showcase on my lifestyle blog, Household Whores. Look at these shoes! (£97) And this bangle! (£207) And all these lovely shiny things! (£££££s) How did I live before the existence of designer egg-cups, door mats and teatowels?” seem less a fantasy, more a pisstake of people’s work.

    That said, I’m sure it wasn’t meant that way, and it was very funny. Although you have totally outed your other half as a morning farter.

  5. No apologies to me for drinking the purple stuff ( 10 euros) with out me?
    😉

  6. Arf at this and the humor fail of the posts 🙂

  7. So it’s *male* feet and saggy *boy* pants and a *bloke* on the sofa, is it??

    ptcha, typical!

    😉

    Anyway I do hope the paramedics are rushing to help that poor woman in your picture with what appears to be a herniated disc.

  8. It’s hilarious how these ‘lifestyle’ writers get somewhat uppity in defending er…..what exactly is ‘lifestyle’ anyway?

    Frankly I found the majority of this post charming, frank, funny, straight-up online diarist verbiage. It isn’t an attack, it’s an (apparently) truthful account of the writer’s life.

    Kat you might remember me rambling on your ‘about’ page about how you reminded me of an English teacher. Well…you sound like she did too. One of Miss Jones’ blunt sentiments concerned women in cosmetics adverts being able to lie legally about age:

    “You see on these moisturizing cream ads, the women boast at the end: ‘I’m forty-one’. No you’re not love; you’re twenty-nine and smoke thirty a day.”

    The eternal equation people are faced with is squaring that ‘ideal’ presented by marketers, PR, magazine and newspaper columns on celebrity etc etc… with the reality of life. A small minority of ads are made as ironic comment on this, but most present something in a light that is rarely attained – whether that’s positive since it makes you ‘aspire’ or negative due to shallowness, vanity, whatever is a perspective matter.

    A famously egregious example is the –>Ferrero Rocher advert<–: The ambassador is really spoiling us with these £2.99 chocs from the Esso round the corner!

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  9. far too many LOLs for me here, Kat (and not just in the article ;))

    great read, brilliantly written – as ever.

  10. Nice post. I want to like it, but seeing as one of the websites I write for is being mocked it cuts just a little too close to the mark for my personal taste. 😉

    However, despite being a ‘lifestyle blogger’ I can confirm that my boyfriend does fart. And burp. It’s a real two-for-the-price-of-one deal in our house.

    • Disclaimer: I live with Miss Cay. Yes, I fart. We all do. That Domestic Sluttery or similar websites don’t mention farts deosn’t mean they live in a fart-free world where everything smells of cinnamon. Robert Peston’s economics blog has never mentioned impetigo – that doesn’t mean he denies its existence.

      I see what you’re trying to say here (and it’s a funny post), but…

      Lifestyle blogs are commercial enterprises employed in what is essentially (niche market) advertising. The assertion that advertising creates an “impossible” aspirational “fantasy” that no real-life person can ever hope to achieve is hardly new. You don’t need to have read Baudrillard, or even have watched Jasper Carrott’s Commercial Breakdown to know that. Everyone experiences this, it varies according to what demographic/Acorn code you’re in: as a man in my 30s, I’m supposed to breeze into my polar white bathroom in the morning, pick up a pristine, 8-bladed Gillette SuperMax – seconds later smirking smugly at my own smooth chin in the miraculously unsteamed mirror – before slipping into a crisp bespoke suit, patting my catwalk model girlfriend affectionately on the bum as she nibbles her Special K, and ruffling the hair of my angelic, Pull-Ups advert child before cruising to work in my showroom condition silver Peugeot.

      That you felt the need to write what you did suggests that you’ve been interpellated by the blogs in question i.e. you recognise that they’re aimed at people like you. But, at the same time, why get annoyed for not fitting in with a lifestyle that you already know to be illusory? I suspect you just wanted to do a formal pastiche of lifestyle blog posts, but you’ve counterposed an equally fictional “reality”, combining tropes from 80s sitcom and “You’ve Had A Bad Day”-type adverts for warm beverages. Yes, you have 😉 Without wanting to sound like some kind of lifestyle coach, couldn’t you just wash your clothes, tidy up occasionally and get some tea bags in? You made it to Asda to get the £10 (a bit steep for George clothing!) tunic after all 😉

      Obviously people who write about retro crockery and craft jewellery for a living are going to be hipper to trends in these areas than you – because it’s their job. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, read the blogs and learn from them, If not, don’t. I don’t resent tech journalists because they get to play with iGadgets first, or resent music journalists because they heard Janelle Monae and Everything Everything before I did. Basically, what Tim said above about having a “love/hate frustration relationship with something that you feel you’ll never achieve… lifestyle blogs, bodybuilding magazines, soap operas, pornography, or millions of other things”. There’s a happy medium between “a must this autumn are these delightful earrings, made from osmium and baby panda eyelids” (Ickle Hookr, £235) and living on the set of Girls On Top.

      • >I suspect you just wanted to do a formal pastiche of lifestyle blog posts, but you’ve counterposed an equally fictional “reality”, combining tropes from 80s sitcom and “You’ve Had A Bad Day”-type adverts for warm beverages. Yes, you have 😉

        Of course I have.
        a)I’m writing comedy (the clue is in the category tags…)
        b) The reality is simultaneously better and worse, but more boring
        c) “Osmium and baby panda eyelids” – genius 🙂

      • This is some of the most pretentious guff I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. You don’t need to be so sensitive or white knight your partner. It was a lighthearted post, perhaps slightly misguided, but any offence taken is purely the problem of the person taking offence. A quiet word would perhaps have been more appropriate than dragging everything out in the open.

  11. Well, just to clarify, I *did* find this very funny. I know Kat personally – hopefully she’s aware that I’m not generally reactionary. I totally get where she’s coming from and I’ll be the first to admit that lifestyle/fashion writing can get a bit “OMFG Just LOOK at this CUPCAKE STAND!” at times. It was more that this sort of passage felt a bit like a criticism of lifestyle writing “I head back home to laze on the chaise longue (and just how lovely are these scatter cushions – just £43 each from Graham & Green) and drink tea (£9.20 for 100g, but worth every penny!) while I do a bit of light blogging”, when I know that our writers (not me, I’m a total layabout) work really fucking hard.

    But at the same time I didn’t seriously think it was meant as that sharp a dig. Gosh, weighing in with one’s opinion on the internet is a thorny business. I’ll just have to drown my sorrows in some Veuve Cliquot and a new pair of Manolos, etc.

    • I know exactly how hard all you guys work – I’m seriously in awe of anyone that can earn a living freelancing, and of people with the drive and persistence to set up successful blogs.

      Also, I’m just jealous, really…

  12. PS: I’m the one what farts in our house. Our moldering, Ikea-strewn house.

  13. It’s Kat saying she does light blogging, not that lifestyle bloggers do. You’re reading this wrong Robyn.

    Please keep it up Kat x

  14. I thought this was hilarious. I believe that anything that some people take seriously deserves to be belittled by others who do not. And it’s normal for people who do take it seriously to be offended by belittling.

    I also completely understand the viewpoint of a love/hate frustration relationship with something that you feel you’ll never achieve. This can happen with lifestyle blogs, bodybuilding magazines, soap operas, pornography, or millions of other things.

  15. Well I know bugger all about ‘lifestyle’ blogging but I found this quite funny. Not sure how this piece is meant to make anyone feel bad though.

  16. I really enjoyed this piece, and I didn’t find it mean-spirited in the least. I’m a reader of Domestic Sluttery and a few of the sites you’re talking about here, and I hope they all take it in the spirit in which it was meant. If they don’t, they may be taking themselves too seriously.

  17. This sums up my feelings whenever I watch Sex & the City. My life is so far from Carrie Bradshaw’s and the idea that hers is realistic pisses me off… *sulks, tugs on waistband of leggings (£2.99)*

    In saying that, I love Sex & the City. What’s a girl to do?

    I think the problem is that those who don’t blog/write/etc completely believe in the fantasy, when we’re all dealing with the reality, so we don’t get the cred’ we deserve.

    Now. Where is that cabana boy with my gold-dust martini?

    • >Where is that cabana boy with my gold-dust martini?

      I think he’s hiding with my personal toenail polisher behind the vintage boudoir dresser…

  18. I’m just back in here so it can approach ‘Wanky Balls’ in terms of discussion length – come on people do your respective bits and keep this discussion up! This is ‘social’ media after all you incumbently asocial abhorrents. Also there’s a difference between ‘reactive’ and ‘reactionary’ – the Wiktionary is you’re yer frond.

    For some reason Kat’s latest comment is missing as I just received it whilst checking e-mail for the 8th time today. I extend an open invitation to any of you sods who re-tailor your views every 6 months to suit to do a post rivalling this one in terms of ironic funniness.

    Failing that a link to something that a fashion/lifestyle blogger has done that is widely (not among a group of likemindeds) considered ‘funny’ would be appreciated. I also extend an invitation to the agile-fingered not-a-harpy harpist who rules this roost to do a guest post on the website I edit.

    Kat, you must be able to pull off something approaching the satirical? I don’t want any harping on (HA HA HA) about yourself…well a bit is alright, but as said if you can manage a Mongoose you can manage a Westwood.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  19. Anonymous blogger

    I never read lifestyle blogs because I’m a man with no sense of style and I am completely ambivalent about cupcakes – so I’m not really qualified to comment on any specifics here really…

    I am a blogger though. On the internet. And the internet and blogs are all about people expressing opinions and thoughts freely (and taking the mickey…). Let’s not all get precious about it, eh?

    Like Oscar Orwell said: ‘Taking the piss outta something is like, the highest form of wit or flattery or something.’

  20. Oh, look – this has gone too far. No one is being precious (or ‘previous’ as I originally typed) or disputing the funniness of this post. We can all withstand a little gentle piss-take now and then, but on first reading – to some of us – the mocking seemed a little more snide, serious and mean-spirited than that.

    If that’s not the case, then this is also fine.

    > Also there’s a difference between ‘reactive’ and ‘reactionary’ .
    Thanks, I always get those two confused.

    Robyn Wilder,
    http://www.domesticsluttery.com
    http://hecklerspray.com
    http://orbyn.co.uk

    • I couldn’t agree more – Let’s all go for cocktails, I’ve had enough of today 🙂

    • >Oh, look – this has gone too far.

      Nah, we’ve got aways to go before we hit Godwins Law. 😀

    • Are those the funny lifestyle blogger’s scribblings that I requested?

      I could make that hilarious sign for about fivepence using a bit of blu-tac, white paper, and a biro. Seriously you’d have to be the most naive, gullible grout-head snake oil buyer on Earth to purchase one the £7.95 version…

      …..I’ll take eight! (Oblig. Futurama.)

      I mix a mean Adios Motherf**cker cockateil. If you’re poncy, and let’s face it it’s a myth that lifestyle folks are but I’m snide enough to assert that anyway..there’s also some high-octane B52 shots on offer. Got a bit of Reisling too. So er…..party time?

      Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  21. Hi Kat,

    I thought your post was awesome, and very entertaining.

    My wife suffers (actually I suffer) a bit when she spends too much time looking at lifestyle stuff on the internet and then decides to nag me about decorating things.

    I must admit though she does a good job, and I’m forbidden from buying anything artsy for the house without supervision.

    I’ve got a huge ugly carved wooden bowl that I bought when I was feeling “inspired”, only to have regretted ever since. I’m normally reminded of it when we are out shopping and I pick up something I think would be awesome to have in the lounge room, just before I have to put it back on the shelf while getting a disapproving head shake.

    I’m also stunned (and I mean OMG I can’t believe it kind of stunned) at the sensitivity of the bloggers who have responded to you. Seriously, go have a cup of tea and have a lay down. I mean it’s a tongue in cheek article, and if you can’t handle anyone flinging a bit of good natured poop at you then the internet is definitely the wrong place for you. The nets full of people who will say much more unfriendly things to you, and they’ll mean every bit of it.

    Kat, I love your work. Keep it up! And don’t change your style just because a few people get offended easily.

    Have a great day, and get your fiance to do the dishes for you cause you deserve it!

    Good luck 🙂

    Ps: Whoever is smoking in the house really needs to spend a day with you at work to see why they really shouldn’t be doing that anymore.

  22. I’ve thought about this post some more over the last couple of days, and may well have reacted too strongly. That’s not to say that there’s not some stuff in the post that didn’t upset me (the whole Household Whores thing was below the belt and misjudged), but I don’t honestly think there was any malice with this post. (The same can’t be said for some of the comments after.)

    My issue is more that the blog is my job and how I make my living. It’s not light-blogging to me. It might have been a funny post, but poking fun at that seemed unfair and I think you knew that otherwise you wouldn’t have felt the need to apologise. Imagine if I’d written the same post, but from the opposite angle. I don’t think anyone would have found it funny. It would have quite rightly come across as smug and rude.

    So yeah, I may have overreacted, but perhaps *some* of this post was misjudged and unfair. Anyway, that’s all I stopped by to say.

  23. Pingback: Top posts of 2010 | You do too much

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