There are many kinds of porn in this world. There is porn porn, there is food porn, there is travel porn, and then there is my least favorite genre of all, General Lifestyle Porn. It’s photo sets and blogs and magazine profiles designed specifically to make you feel badly about yourself, like the inadequate, sweatpant-clad loser you are, to remind you that there is someone out there living their best life, and none of it involves eating an entire bag of Doritos in a fugue state while watching House of Cards.
You know the Life Porn I’m talking about. It’s the airy, white bedrooms with a beautiful serving tray on it that somehow happens to be carrying tea, lemons, macarons, and the morning paper (what time is it??), the lush white comforter tousled just so. It’s the background of stark white (or exposed brick, or wood), with a single plant, and one Eames chair standing as the lone piece of decorative furniture, equipped with two art magazines that cost 15 dollars each. And on the bed sits the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl, clad in her loose button-down and boyfriend jeans, messy bun the perfect amount of messy, gold rings adorning her long, elegant fingers. She’s sitting on the bed, usually laughing at the camera, while all of the delicious food goes untouched because she ~takes care of her body~.
She’s the kind of beauty we’d call “effortless,” which can be directly translated to “thin, with good skin, expensive (but minimalist) clothes, and hair that always looks done without ever looking touched.” It’s a lie, created with “no-makeup makeup,” and art direction, and vaseline on cheekbones to give you that dewy, beach-babe look when you are sitting in an air conditioned apartment in Williamsburg. But the effect is the same: This girl is beautiful and perfectly self-controlled, in a way you will never be, and it is reflected in everything from her expansive, perfectly-appointed kitchen, to her impossibly tasteful collection of thin gold jewelry.
She is never actually doing anything, of course. She is sipping her tea, staring out the window, sitting curled up on her comically large white couch with a few magazines strewn about her. She is not there to inspire anything other than insecurity, because her “achievements” include keeping everything incredibly white, not gaining weight, and having a messy bun that is always on the verge of falling but never actually does. It’s aspirational, but aspiration towards “being rich enough to have a fuckton of space with which I do absolutely nothing.”
And she is bad for mental health. She’s not just incredibly beautiful, which is a more run-of-the-mill sort of insecurity, she’s propped up as beautiful (and surrounded by beauty) without ever trying, which adds a profound level of frustration to the average Hollywood starlet who is stunning, but in a way that requires a process. The MPDG is there to convince you that if you only stop trying so hard, your life will suddenly be perfect, aesthetically pleasing, and entirely white without a single stain. (There is always an extra pinch of offensiveness to the photos where this aesthetic comes with a pet, because, as any pet owner knows, all-white is a masochistic choice if you have also chosen animals.)
We don’t need more photoshoots of her. We don’t need magazine and brand profiles of the ethereal writer/blogger/model/producer/DJ/yogi who lives in a loft that seems to have more windows than actual walls, and who spends their day making tea in their vaulted-ceilinged kitchen. We don’t need their utterly useless beauty tips (drink water, be confident, meditate), because we have jobs. And sometimes-messy apartments. And imperfect color schemes. And hair that doesn’t look good until we make it look that way.
And so does she, really. Because the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl is all an illusion, albeit one that looks incredibly enticing when it pops up on your Tumblr dashboard. But remember that its only purpose in this world is to make you feel inadequate in every category, from beauty to home decor to lifestyle. And the world is doing a perfectly good job of that without some whisper-thin creative director named Margot telling you about why she needed her kitchen skylight to face south for her serenity.