Everybody (Else) is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes by Gabrielle Korn (Atria Books)
“Under the guidance of 29-year-old Gabrielle Korn, an out lesbian who lives in Brooklyn with her musician girlfriend, Nylon has become one of the most politically-aware, racially diverse, LGBTQ-inclusive, and feminist-forward digital magazines out there since Korn was appointed editor-in-chief in September 2017 (the same time the outlet’s print edition folded).”
January 25, 2021
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
Women! You were a fan…I am quite sure of that. We empower one another to live life to the fullest, love who we want to love, feel confident in our bodies and demand equality in our everyday lives. But the bottom line is…are we ever 100% happy within our own skin? How can we get to a place of peace and acceptance of our most wonderful selves, especially when we are promoting this to those around us? Sometimes a deep dive into the roots of these issues is more telling than a one size fits all answer. Gabrielle Korn, a digital media expert, former editor at Refinery29 and former editor-in-chief of Nylon shares in her new memoir, personal essays relating to this very issue. Her story is an eye-opening, contemporary account of how damaging the fashion and beauty industries have been (and still can be) to women. Her writing is fresh and alive and pretty much blew me away. I hope you will read her book and find wisdom and courage in her words.
I will admit right away that I have never read Nylon (I have seen it referenced in books and on the internet though) and until I read Korn’s memoir, I didn’t even know who she was. I am telling you this because I loved her book and I loved getting to know her through her writing. I am not sure how much of a difference it would have made if I had more knowledge of who Korn was and what Nylon was all about. FYI…Nylon is an international lifestyle publication that focuses on emerging culture (beauty, fashion, music, entertainment, etc.). Korn’s book is a compilation of essays about her time spent in her twenties working in the fashion/beauty industry and her fast rise to the top of the publication, Nylon. Korn had a great education, a supportive family and plenty of friendships. Despite these blessings, she found herself in a cycle of eating disorders and body dysmorphia that not only impacted her health and well being, but had an acute influence on her intimate relationships with women. Society’s view of sexualality was and still is in constant flux, making Korn’s goal of bringing diversity to this area and to all shapes, sizes and races to the media a constant battle. Fashion Week in New York City was one of the biggest culprits of all. Stick thin models with dress sizes measuring an xxxs, is not ideal for anyone.
Korn talked a lot about trending body parts and their continuous sway on our self-esteem. First it was a flat as a pancake stomach, then it was an oversized booty, followed by big boobs or bust. Let’s not forget the thin waif look or the “strong is healthy” body. What body part was the focus was and still is ever changing. Looking in the mirror became a confusing vision for Korn and one that she battled everyday.
“Even before hashtags, women’s body parts have been going in and out of style for as long as there’s been style. What’s meant by that, really, is that for the moment, people with a certain physical characteristic are privileged. “
With popular body parts comes fashion to highlight them. From low rise jeans, to high rise leggings, to crop tops to the no makeup makeup look, there is always a trend lingering around tempting us to conform or shaming us because we don’t. Korn takes us through her days of dressing and undressing in the clothes of our time that were supposed to inspire us to feel beautiful but also had the potential of making one feel empty and not good enough. She does mention that what you wear still can be valued. Fashion has changed through the decades and for example, women being able to wear pants was a huge deal. It was a sign of strength and equality that should be celebrated. With this comes a hefty side order of sexism, mental health issues and a variety of eating disorders that keep us from reaching our full potential and most happy selves. Korn shares how her own eating disorder came to be and her battle to overcome it in a world that was determined to defeat her with unobtainable bodies and beauty standards.
Through her years in the instrustry, Korn called out the fashion world for promoting diversity and women empowerment, while at the same time, not adhering to their own standards.
“For any real change to happen in the fashion industry, all of the editors and bloggers and influencers would have to agree to stop showing up for designers that aren’t making an active effort to improve diversity. That would mean going to probably four or five shows as opposed to the nearly one hundred that happen during New York Fashion Week.”
Gabrielle Korn’s memoir was a deep-seated read. I was beguiled with how she shared her most private moments in her life in a way that felt like she was talking in confidence with a close friend. As a forty something year old straight woman who has never worked in the fashion industry, I could still relate to so much of what she revealed. I have lived through my fair share of fashion/body trends and unreachable beauty standards and of course…sexism at its finest. I can’t say that it was all bad (excluding sexism…that is always never welcomed here), but looking back now I wonder if some of it was even worth it. Some trends worked in my favor, while others had me scrambling or left feeling pretty low. Through the decades, I have witnessed media, fashion, diets and beauty products make strides towards diversity and inclusion of all shapes, sizes and even genders…at least from my perspective as a consumer. But is society moving in the right direction to meet the needs of our diverse and beautiful world? Hopefully. Do I still feel like I am reaching for the stars sometimes? Absolutely. But my one take away from Korn is that there are so many outside factors that influence our lives and we can’t change everything, especially all at once. What we can change though, is our reaction to the cultural influences around us and how we let it seep into our minds and relationships. We do not have to be a slave to our image. We can just be who we are and love ourselves, flaws and all. 2021 continues to be an uphill battle. But as the steepness slowly decreases, our strength is increasing. Our bodies are our vessels that carry us through life. I am focussing more on loving my vessel than hating it. How about you?
Much love, health and happiness to you!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Wallace ❤️❤️❤️
Click on the book pic below to purchase this book. It comes out January 26, 2021 🥰🥰🥰