“Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?” – The Myth of Perfection

This past Saturday, Lauren M. of Wearing History posted a fantastic, soul-bearing article on Social Media and the Myth of Perfection. She urged us all to consider the real lives behind the shiny pictures posted by your favorite bloggers, and realize they are just as messy, painful, and complicated as anyone else’s.

She challenged us all to post what was *really* going on behind those pretty pictures we all curate and publish.

So here’s mine, starting with the most recent:

Attending a “Time Traveller’s Ball” on Saturday night – 30 minutes after this photo was taken, I t-boned a car that had run a red light. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but both cars were totaled. The other driver was a college girl who now has a massive ticket, a spike in her insurance, and is taking her finals today. So while I feel sorry for myself, I feel even sorrier for her.

Photo by Lauren Marks

Last year in Colonial Williamsburg, attending the Millinery Conference. My dog (who was the closest thing I’ll ever have to a child) was killed the week before. I cried myself to sleep every night of this trip.

On a cruise with Lady Carolyn in 2012 – I was sea sick *the entire time.*

Way way back (to when I started this blog!) – I was going through the worst breakup of my life. The morning after this ball, I packed up my entire apartment and left while my ex was out of town. It was terrifying.

We all curate and share what we want people to see and know. I tend not to share negative things. I don’t want to dwell on them myself, let alone be a bummer to my friends. Even accepting Wearing History’s challenge has been difficult because I don’t want to remember these things and feel them again.

I don’t really have a way to sum this up except to throw my support behind what Lauren M. is saying. Be compassionate. We are all human.


  • AuntieNan

    May 11, 2015 at 9:45 PM

    Yes! Lauren! We celebrate your warts and all revelations, but I have a feeling that alongside those admissions is a gal who is a real pioneer can-do artist, someone who has the courage to take the steps to make bad better. I'm so sorry to hear about your pet and your travelers tum, and your poor car! Thanks for sharing and showing the vulnerable side of you.
    Much love,
    Nancy N

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 12, 2015 at 7:04 PM

      Thank you <3. I'm an optimist, so looking back on these events I remember the good times, not the horrible stuff that happened around them. Life happens, but it's important to have contrast (at least to me) – the highs and the lows.

  • Anonymous

    May 11, 2015 at 10:09 PM

    this post made me cry so much, thank you for sharing something so private. Thank you as well for inspiring me to be braver – I have been struggling with such crippling self-doubt with my sewing work that I am about to start my first piece of costume work in almost 3 years – it's for an event I really need an outfit for and I'm fed up of standing in my own way. Thank you for giving me courage to do this.

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 12, 2015 at 7:04 PM

      Thank you for reading. Good luck with your project. You will do great, finish it on time, and feel wonderful wearing it. 🙂

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 12, 2015 at 7:05 PM

      I didn't share her death here because it was very painful. It still is. Nobody wants to hear about that.

  • Stephanie Ann

    May 11, 2015 at 10:33 PM

    These posts are so meaningful. It's so easy to gloss over the bad. I try to be as even as possible on my blog but don't wish to be negative a lot of the time. Thanks for posting!

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 12, 2015 at 7:08 PM

      Thank you. I tend to go for happy-happy-all-the-time, but the dark side of that is that you have this weird snarking/jealousy cycle that Wearing History talked about in her original post. I think these "what was really going on" posts are important for curbing that cycle, even though I'm generally a very private person and never share things like this.

  • Maggie

    May 11, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    Just wanted to say thank you for sharing. I agree with your assessment – I don't like dwelling on negative things myself or reliving them, or being a bummer. But I definitely agree with the message behind all of this – that a picture doesn't show everything that is going on, and that it does us good to be reminded that the people in these pictures are humans. And being kind is a good thing.

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 12, 2015 at 7:10 PM

      Thank you. The strength of this "movement" is that we usually *don't* share these things on our blogs , so when we do, to make a point, the point is that much more impactful.

  • bauhausfrau

    May 11, 2015 at 11:44 PM

    And there is often a lot more going on behind the scenes of someone's life than we realize…in the words of Cinderella – "Be kind."

  • Gillian

    May 12, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    Love this post. I definitely agree with you about keeping things mostly positive on the blog….but there's a lot of good that comes from being real and vulnerable, too. Thanks. 🙂

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 12, 2015 at 7:12 PM

      I agree about keeping it positive, as a blogger, and as a brand too. I don't enjoy reading negative things, so I wouldn't inflict that on my readers. I joined this challenge, though, to help make the point that nobody's life is perfect even if it looks it, but I don't intend to keep it up. It'll be back to sunshine and pretty dresses, because that's how I want to live and look back on my life. 🙂

  • Rowenna

    May 12, 2015 at 3:01 PM

    Thanks for posting. As easy as it is to fall into the trap of comparisons and idealizing what we *think* we see, we only get part of the story. Even when others don't share their private struggles, we have to remember that everyone faces them.

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 12, 2015 at 7:14 PM

      Very true! I catch myself doing the social media comparison too, usually with old classmates I didn't get along with, haha. In a weird way it makes me want to do better, be more successful,more skillful, etc., so it has a positive side, but at the same time it drives dissatisfaction with the things we've already accomplished.

  • unicornemporium

    May 12, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    Thanks for posting, Lauren…It's easy for us to present the "exciting and air-brushed" side of our lives online…In a way, it's our way of getting a little bit of fame in the world 😉 but we all have to remember that everyone has real lives, and every one has doubts and tragedies and puts up with BS and hates their job, and loses loved ones, etc. and never take what you see online as meaning that the person who posted it has everything figured out and is perfect. I know I'm sure as heck not!
    Speaking of which…I need to change this icon photo, because I sure don't look like that 5 years later, LOL!

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    May 12, 2015 at 10:11 PM

    Lauren I am so sorry to hear about your lovely dog. What I admire about you is how in spite of these really catastrophic events, you still turned up and got on with it. There's an example for me in that.
    Can I also say though that your honesty about your work and your projects is very much appreciated – showing the process whether or not it is going well, which takes time and commitment with a camera too. The final piece is all the more worthy of celebration for knowing what went into getting it there! Even seeing some of the trials of the shoe business, like the first shipment burning in the van, make it all seem every much the victory over adversity that it is. Go You!

  • Voight Kampff

    May 18, 2015 at 5:25 AM

    I just found your website and blog today. This is the first thing I have read on your blog. I think you are incredibly brave for posting this.
    I'm not even sure what else to say other than I empathize with you greatly.
    You're so BRAVE!

  • J. Leia Lima Baum

    July 26, 2015 at 3:04 AM

    I remember you seemed sad and distracted at Millinery conference. I had no idea. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  • Kay

    April 30, 2023 at 2:48 PM

    Thank you for taking up the challenge to share the real.

    One aspect I think you may not have thought of:

    When bad things happen in my life, I feel so alone. When you share the bad things that happen to you, then I see that it isn’t just me, that bad things happen to others too. And then I don’t feel so alone.

    That helps me cope, a lot.

    Also, when you conceal the bad things, you isolate yourself. When you share, then others can try to help you, to give you emotional support to get through the bad. If nobody knows, nobody can help. And then you feel like you have to keep up this false facade of happy, and that’s stressful.

    It doesn’t have to be all Debby-Drama-Downer. Just a few words, to let folks know.


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