June 2016

I spent my train ride home from work today scrolling through TIME.com reading vignettes about the 49 victims from the shooting in Orlando. Smelling of chicken grease, my hair tied up in a ponytail and my dirty Chucks propped up against the train rail, I fell into a daze reading and realized how many Hispanics died that night. I’d read that Pulse was hosting a “Latin Night,” but I’d failed to realize that many of the victims were most likely Hispanic.

Fernandez, Ayala, Flores, Martinez, Rodriguez. Their deaths seemed suddenly more personal. Of course it is sad when fellow Americans are slain, but much like those who identify as gay and connected with the victims over this fact, I was suddenly grieving on behalf of my culture.

This was all so sudden. I was still processing Christina Grimmie’s death, which I also don’t understand. These are tragic endings for innocent people.

I watched Shane Dawson’s video about Christina. I’ve been unsubscribed to him for over a year now due to the drop in quality of his content, but his reflection about the loss of his friend brought me to this video, which I had watched when it was first posted:

My heart fell into the pit of my stomach watching them sing and laugh together, and I can’t even imagine how Shane is feeling watching this again now.

My condolences and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims. I wish there was something I could do. As Dumbledore said, “We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on.”

 

What the hell is an “influencer”?

While fishing sleep crust out of the corner of my eye and holding back obnoxious 5:30 a.m. yawns on the train to work, I was hate-scrolling through a few obnoxious Instagram users and noticed one woman had the term “Influencer” as part of her profile. A quick search through the hashtag led me to more profiles of bloggers and online entertainers, ranging from 1K followers to 255K, who also referred to themselves as an “influencer.”

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According to Wikipedia, “influence marketing” depends on the work of an “influencer” to be persuasive in a social environment. So, an advertiser.

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I can barely swallow the title “content creator,” and now there is already another term self-obsessed people are using to make themselves appear more important than they are.

Did I miss the memo about humbleness being dead? Are these people not self-aware? If I’ve learned anything from the positive response I’ve received from calling out bloggers about being corrupt and greedy, it’s that people much prefer real people and personalities and not someone who is consistently trying to sell you something, which is all “influencing” sounds like to me.

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Stop with being “obsessed” with everything and taking flat lays of c/o products and calling it “influencing.”

Dress: H&M
Jacket: H&M
Shoes: Steve Madden (similar)
Necklace: H&M

This blog is totally amateur, my style is basic and only Chinese companies want to send me cheap clothes and $10 for posts, so I am not “influencer” material. However, if you ever want Belgium beer recommendations, tips for how to take your own blog photos or a good mug cake recipe, hit me up.

Outfit: Cut-out flats again because they let my feet breathe, a dress that cinches me at the smallest part of my waist and has the perfect amount of flair and the jacket I bought to fit in with the locals. Germans love their olive parkas.

And two bitch-slapped photos:

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I should just start using the outtakes of my “photoshoots” as my blog photos. They’re way better.

When your future relies on a language test

I recently had to Google “How to cope with expat depression” because it finally hit a week ago. I wouldn’t say I am legitimately depressed, but I am experiencing more waves of worry and self-doubt far more frequently than a couple months ago.

I moved from Houston, Texas to Cologne, Germany to start a master’s program in English this summer, but this did not happen. I didn’t score high enough on the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (the most difficult German language proficiency exam) to qualify for my completely-in-English master’s program. This means I couldn’t enroll and need to take another qualifying test, this time the Goethe Institut B2 Zertifikat exam.

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Blah blah blah, right. It’s a language exam, just study, shut up. I get that. But I am more bothered by the simple fact that all of my accomplishments so far mean nothing unless I pass a mid-level language exam.

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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

This, coupled with taking a 75% pay cut and dealing with difficult neighbors when trying to take blog photos, one of the few things that gives me creative joy, leaves me feeling dejected. On top of this I have three loan companies demanding payments of more than I make a month. But I have to remind myself that I am the one who made things this way. I decided to attend a college that cost $30,000 per year, I decided to leave my comfortable job, I decided to move to Germany.

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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My master’s program, a job in writing and editing and my own personal happiness is currently dependent on this language exam. Maybe it doesn’t have to be, but it is the path I am currently committed to.

Top: Zara
Cardigan: Primark
Pants: J.Crew
Shoes: Zara
Earring: H&M

I check my Google Adsense account, SocialBlade and site stats religiously to try and figure out a way to make a little extra money and create content I enjoy. If any of you have tips, I would love to hear them. I have a few ideas for how to change my aesthetic and content, I just need to see it through.

Suspicious neighbors update

For the past few months I have been documenting the negative encounters I have had with my new neighbors in Germany. I live in a relatively small town outside of Cologne, so I understand that the sudden appearance of a brown girl with a large camera and tripod may be an unusual sight. However, I don’t think it is an excuse to be rude and presumptuous.

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I filmed a new video as an update to the last one I posted, which was made after I had been accosted by a neighbor threatening to call the police if I did not leave. You can read that blog post here and watch the video here.

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I am trying to venture away from my neighborhood whenever I want to take photos because I just don’t want to have to explain myself anymore, especially when they are not polite about it. I’ve been told that the problem may go away if they see me around the area long enough, but I don’t want to wait and find out.

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In the meantime, I have a bike and the weather is nice so I will be scoping out places nearby to shoot photos. I am hoping to take this crap blog in a new direction soon and the last thing I need are nosy grumpy Germans.

Top: Primark
Jeans: American Eagle
Flats: Steve Madden (super similar)
Necklace: Forever 21
Bracelet: H&M

I love Texas, but there are very few days when it is comfortable to wear jeans and a button-up without drenching it in your own sweat and oils from the humidity. I bought this top a few sizes larger to have a bit of a loose painter’s smock feel. When I bought this bracelet, my German said, “Oh, are you going to wear it with that gold choker that I like?” I hadn’t even considered that when I bought it, but they totally match.

Website review: Dezzal.com

Dezzal is a new shopping site that claims to feature in-house designers and selected designer brands. The clothing style is described as “edgy yet complementary” to appeal to the young urban woman seeking unique designs.

I was expecting a website similar to the likes of Chicwish, SammyDress and ROMWE; colorful banners, pages and pages of $4 dresses, featured bloggers automatically updating in a scroll bar at the bottom of the page. But instead I was welcomed by a very clean, modern black and white page with professional photography.

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I always check out a new website’s dresses first to get an idea of their style and cost. The prices ranged from $50 to $360, the most expensive dress being a 100% silk striped midi dress that actually comes in a size 2XL.

Oh but wait, according to their size conversion chart, a 2XL is a US size 8! What!

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As a size 12, I can already pretty much conclude that majority of the clothes on this website would not fit me unless it were meant to fit “oversized” or contained an elastic or rayon material. But who wants to wear synthetics in the summer? Not my “4XL” self.

But okay, not everyone is a size 12. Slender and petite women who shimmy comfortably into a size 8 and below can still take advantage of the actual unique and eye-catching design of these clothes. I was really impressed by the style selection and thoughtful details and craftsmanship. I’ve never tried on any of their clothes, so I can’t attest that the pieces are as attractive in person, but I was inspired by all the lace, embroidery and silhouettes. My following picks are all either 100% cotton or silk.

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I’m also impressed that the site ships worldwide, shipping is free if you spend $59 or more and they take their designers seriously. I see a real emphasis put on the creative vision behind the design of every piece, and admired the separate tab for the designers so that you can read about their aesthetic and shop their pieces directly.

I did find one inconsistency regarding the designers and their items, which is the double appearance of this white dress. It is listed under two different designers and prices despite being the exact same 100% polyester dress. The only difference I could find was the addition of it being “micro-elastic” under the product description for the more expensive dress. But this minor detail shouldn’t warrant one dress being more expensive, much less the work of a second designer.

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Perhaps this was simply a mistake, or I am just not seeing the difference, but it’s a beautiful dress regardless.

Overall, I enjoyed scrolling through these modern designs and have already bookmarked a few dresses to revisit when Germany decides to stay consistently warm. I am sick of pants, and my wardrobe could use a few cool fresh designs.

Thank you to Dezzal for sponsoring this post.

Seven awkward fashion blog poses

The German word “Fremdschämen” means “the feeling of shame on someone else’s behalf; the feeling of shame for someone else who has done something embarrassing,” which perfectly describes how I feel when I see a fashion blogger use the following poses. Let’s call them

THE FREMDSCHÄMEN SHEVEN

The Pigeon-toed Pose

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A great pose for when you want your legs to appear thinner and your thigh rub to disappear, but not great if you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.

The Jump

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I understand that “motion” photos can be an interesting addition to a style post, but I’d prefer something a bit more subtle. Actually, I would much prefer if the “landing” photo was included instead:

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The Fake Laugh

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Sometimes this pose is genuine. I know a lot of bloggers have their significant others or photographers take their photos, and they manage to capture a real reaction in the moment. But sometimes it’s just painfully obvious when a blogger pretends the camera isn’t there and they’re laughing at something off to the side.

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Casual Starbucks Cup

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If it’s not a casual Starbucks cup in hand, then it’s a blogger wearing another damn Target “But first, coffee” t-shirt. I get it, you went in for detergent and Q-tips and left with the entire Xhilaration summer collection and a venti white mocha. You’re relatable.

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Walking Into Walls

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I just don’t get it. Is this supposed to look casual? Where are you going? Who takes a giant step across the width of a sidewalk and in the direction of a wall?

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The Model Pose

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I use my favorite bloggers as inspiration for poses, but I would never rely on fashion magazines to tell me what works for the everyday woman. I’m not into seeing Peonies & Panties try to look sexy against a wall.

Taking A Dump

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I had to take these photos in a semi-concealed place because I was most embarrassed about this photo (and the jumping oh god). I am one leg spread away from posing for my first rap album.

Dress: H&M
Jacket: American Eagle
Flats: Zara
Necklace: Weekday

I mean no offense by this post. Honestly, one scroll through my blog is enough ammo to fight me back with. I’ll even throw in one to get it started: “Your outfits are boring and your old film filter makes you look like you have jaundice.” I mean really, I once posted this photo to my blog in all seriousness:

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Good times.

What I like to wear on my apple-shaped blob body

I recently got off my ass and made a YouTube video discussing my apple-shaped figure and shared outfits using items in my wardrobe that I find flattering for my shape:

1. A long white shirt
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I have a long torso, tree stumps for legs and enough hip width to carry quintuplets. This long Zara blouse hangs low in the front and back, but has high side slits which, in my opinion, create the illusion of longer legs when viewed from the side. I like this shirt a lot solely because it conceals my Grand Canyon hips and shows the smallest parts of my legs. My body already looks like a permanent fun house mirror reflection, so why not play up the illusions?

2. A jean jacket
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I immediately bought this jacket when I saw it on Wendy from Wendy’s Lookbook back in like, I don’t know, 2014. I actually just visited her blog to find the picture that inspired me to buy it and LO AND BEHOLD SHE IS WEARING HERS AGAIN IN HER LATEST BLOG POST (April 30). The length of mine hits at the smallest part of my waist, and it pairs with most items in my wardrobe to create an effortless casual look.

3. Statement flats
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These were a recent purchase inspired by, yet again, Wendy. I have been consistently inspired by this woman’s style despite having a completely different frame than her. But she remains one of my favorites because she combines luxury items with affordable pieces, such as these flats. A lot of people may not think a pair of 80 Euro flats are affordable, but they’re quickly paying for themselves. I can wear jeans, a striped tee and these shoes and my outfit looks more interesting than if I had just thrown on simple solid black flats. The patent leather teeters on the edge of looking bondage-y, but I like that? It’s like hey, my feet are into some weird shit man. Plus they distract from my whale hips.

4. Tra tra trench coat
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This trench coat makes me feel like a straight up proper lady. I can belt this bad boy over stained pants and a BABYMETAL t-shirt to walk my dog in the morning and I look like I am on my way to an overpriced brunch date. I specifically wanted a trench with a full skirt to conceal my beer belly and, you know, the military tank I call hips. But I have to be mindful of how tight I tie the belt to avoid back fat spillage. I had to edit out a couple clips from the video because it looked like I was growing an ass on my back. Winter is over, time to start Fitness Blender again…

5. A black midi skirt
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SPECIFICALLY BLACK BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT MAKES IT TIMELESS. Hey! Do you want to wear something that makes it look like you’re about to spin around in a field of tulips? What if that clothing item was also appropriate for work, school, church, a first date, funeral, dancing, and basically just what the fuck ever you want to do? This skirt, man. THIS SKIRT. I bought this on clearance at Banana Republic and it makes me feel so free and pretty. I’ve worn it to my office job AND to the park on the same day, and it was appropriate for both occasions. It moves with the wind but doesn’t fly up and it’s a flattering and comfortable length. No awkward hem pulling required.

6. Black jeans
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Again, color specific, but I’ve learned that they pair with almost anything in my wardrobe, for any season, and for any style. This $17 pair I got at Forever 21 is in constant rotation for me, and satisfy my shifting style. They’re high-waisted, so they help create the illusion of longer, thinner legs. This is ideal for my apple-shaped body since very little about my shape is well-defined. Pair these with black booties and a shirt with a high-low hem and it looks like you have slender tree limb legs. TRUST.

Alright, there’s my bullshit for today. Peace.