“I will never be enough.” This was one of the first thoughts that crept into my head as I walked through the doors of my first ever fashion show of New York Fashion Week, and made my way towards my seat in the first row. Everyone around me was covered in diamonds and gold, designer handbags and glasses, and dresses that cost more than my cars. Everyone was silently eyeing each other up and the mood in the room was one of excited competition. I was wearing a simple black dress and black ballet flats, carrying my Mark IV in my hands ready to get some great shots and be inspired by new styles, and I stood out like a sore thumb. Everyone around me was at least 6 inches taller than me, and beautiful, whereas I am just me, a girl from Michigan eager to see the world and experience as much as I can of life in the time I am given. One of the girls sitting behind me wearing Balenciaga and Chanel from head to toe loudly remarked to her similarly dressed friends about how ridiculous (she used a different R word) it was that someone as plain as me was sitting first row while they were stuck behind me. For a brief moment, I felt embarrassed, like I was some sort of charlatan who had snuck my way in, not someone who had been invited to sit up front. I felt entirely out of place and overwhelmed.
As soon as the show started however, I was lost in the details and movement of the incredible garments presented before me and I happily clicked away with my camera, while everyone around me took selfies or photos of each other with their phones. When it was over in a flash of lights and loud music, I was again confronted with the fact that I didn’t really belong there. I don’t wear makeup other than mascara and eye liner (and I don’t even do that every day), so the freckles that dance across my nose from cheek to cheek were on full display in a room full of perfectly concealed and contoured skin. My hair was curly and unruly, a symptom of my proud Scottish heritage and the intense September humidity, while everyone around me had sleek hair dyed in the trendiest colors. I thought about what I could do to fit in, and how I could stand out in a sea of outfits that cost as much as a year of college tuition at my alma mater, when I realized that it really didn’t matter. I am me, and that had to be enough.
I’m moving away from fashion content for a number of reasons. The main reason is that I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoy creating travel content. I’m tired of constantly encouraging gross consumerism, and I’m tired of implying that what you already own just isn’t good enough. I’m tired of trying to keep up with the latest trends, and it’s exhausting to worry about whether or not I can monetize what I’m wearing when I go out and about, or try to plan incredible trips around how I can match my surroundings to my latest collaboration. I want you to know that when I do decide to recommend something to you, I’ve done my research and you can feel good about buying it, if you choose to do so. I’ve donated more than half of my closet to a local woman’s shelter, and giving back to my community, instead of encouraging my community to stoke an endless hunger for things they don’t really need.
When it comes to fashion posts, I can’t really control what the end result is. My husband is not a photographer. Although he does his best to take my outfit photos, I also know that he doesn’t enjoy taking photos the way I do. To ask him to set aside hours each week to photograph my outfits, then try to direct him and convey my expectations for each shot is exhausting for both of us. I use my tripod at times to take my own photos, but it isn’t quite the same. It’s taxing to be photographed every time we go out to eat, or go shopping, or check out a museum, and it’s draining to worry about how my hair looks in each photo, or if my smile is too silly looking, or if I’m squinting too much in the sun in photos that will be widely seen on the internet, when in reality none of that matters to me. I just want to enjoy my travels and my day-to-day life and explore the beautiful world around me, instead of searching for places I can stand in front of that will coordinate with what I’m currently wearing. Constantly worrying about taking outfits everyday (or multiple times a day if I’m being honest) is draining and it takes away from the fun of living in the moment.
The other day my niece looked in my closet and said “I want to have a bunch of clothes and shoes like you when I grow up!”, and it made me realize what kind of example I was setting for her. I speak six languages, I’ve been to dozens of countries, and I have four college degrees, and yet my closet is what inspired that sweet six year old girl. What does that say about our society? I want to set an example for young women and girls, and show them that there is so much more to life than chasing after the next “it” handbag. Be intelligent, be kind, be brave, be loyal to your friends, try new things, follow your passions, throw yourself 100% into what you love doing, but don’t get hung up on trends or blow all of your money on a pair of shoes – things will never make you happy. I receive 95% of what I wear for free, and sometimes I even get paid to wear stuff, but obviously a new outfit every day, never rewearing anything isn’t an attainable lifestyle for most people, and I don’t want to portray it as being attainable, because even I couldn’t do it without all of my collaborations and teams of people.
From here on out, I will focus on travel posts and my photography, and although I’ll still throw in an outfit every once in awhile or the fun collages I enjoy making (just because I think it can be a fun way to share an experience with others), you won’t be seeing constant posts about new releases or sales on my blog, or nearly as many outfit posts. That kind of content doesn’t add any beauty or enjoyment to our lives, and it doesn’t inspire anyone, it only creates feelings of inadequacy, and I no longer want anything to do with that. Of course there are brands I love, like ethical clothing and beauty brands, or women-owned brands I think are important to boost that I’ll still occasionally share, but it won’t be the majority of my blog.
I want to live my life capturing all of the beauty our world has to offer, and I want to share that with the millions of people I reach on my blog each month. I want to inspire you to visit a national park or a new city, I want to share my love of volunteering with you, I want you to look at my photos and finally book a trip somewhere you’ve always dreamed of going, and I want you to look at the world and see what a wonderful place it is. There is so much more to life than constantly buying, buying, buying, and life is far too precious to waste it doing anything other than what you’re passionate about, and for me that’s travel writing, and capturing moments and details in my photos.
When I started “blogging” on Instagram 5 years ago, I never imagined anyone would care about what I was posting, and I would have likely pulled a muscle laughing at the idea that one day I would reach millions of people each month, and that they would truly care about what I’m doing. I had very few friends in high school and have been a painfully lonely person most of my life, and I would give anything to be able to tell my younger self not to be afraid to pick up her camera, not to care what other people thought about her hobby, and to get out there and start taking photos of anything and everything. My camera has opened up the world for me, and it has lead me to all of you, and I’m not lonely anymore. I’m so full of hope and excitement for the future, and I want you to be able to see that in the content I create. It wasn’t the things I had, or didn’t have, that made it possible for me to do these things, it was following my heart and doing what I loved, and it was the support from all of you that made this possible.
I wouldn’t have the life I lead now without each and every one of you who clicks “like” on my photos, or leaves me comments, watches my YouTube videos, or follows and shares my work. Your support means the world to me, and I want you to know how much I appreciate you. I know many of you followed me on Instagram in the days when I’d post a new outfit every day, or unbox PR packages, but my heart has never been in doing that, and I don’t want girls like my niece to look at someone like me and think that the most important thing they can do with their lives is to be the person with a huge closet.
Moving away from fashion is like coming up for air after diving headfirst into cold, deep water. I finally feel free to do what I enjoy most, and I’m so ready for this change. Thank you so much for always supporting me.
Check out why I turned down more than $30,000 in collaborations, and explore the world with me below.
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