Smoking and fashion are two peas in a delirious pod. The Fashion Spot has a thread 237 pages long about models and smoking. Some fashion blogs only post images of models smoking (and there is no shortage of posts)… and street style blogs post images of cool, chic people standing around casually smoking. Admittedly, I don’t read street style blogs as much as fashion blogs, but it seems that every time I open my RSS reader for street style blogs every other image has someone smoking. Many stylish people smoke, or that’s what it seems, because that’s what we see in blogs.
We’re made to believe that we’re viewing candid shots, and stylish people just happen to be smoking, but I’ve seen street style photographers in action, and there is a lot more going on than what we see in the final picture. Street style photographers are not exactly like paparazzi, they stop stylish people and pose them, ask sign a model releases, then the photos get retouched. These days street style bloggers are getting so much hype, who’s going to say no to a chance for 15 seconds of fame? Would it be too much to ask to put out the cigarette for a moment, for the sake of social responsibility?
Social responsibility and fashion, now there’s a match made in heaven! Of course, anything fashion related is completely powerless to change anything in the world no matter how little action is necessary. It wouldn’t bother me so much if commentors didn’t go about raving on about how much a cigarette completes an outfit. For example case, the above image from The Sartorialist (which generated 121 comments) the cigarette is the focal point. What is the central person doing? She’s smoking. Looking miserable, granted, but smoking. Yet in the comments, the cigarette is as much a part of the outfit as the YSL cage shoes.
While smoking in street style blogs is rampant, I’m only singling out The Sartorialist for a few reasons, (a) his work is the most influential in fashion blogging (b) because of all the street style blogs, commentors tend to discuss smoking indicating Scott Schuman’s influence on his readers, and (c) his images are indeed beautiful. Beautiful images can do a lot to change someone’s mind. Beautiful images change my mind all the time (else I’d be in the wrong business). Even for people who hate smoking in real life, get a voyeuristic joy out of these cool people who are immune to health hazards and smelly breath.
We could speculate on why this phenomenon exists and why it is bad, but I think we’re all aware of the dangers of smoking, a subject as debatable as global warming. But what my irritation really boils down to is taking responsibility for content. As bloggers, we have final say on what inevitably gets published, thus reflecting our true set of values. Merely publishing something for the authenticity’s sake gives too much power to the belief that objectivity exists. It doesn’t. Everything, everything is subjective. But in reality, I can do nothing about what other people publish, I can only choose what to read. I’ve already unsubscribed to a few blogs because the fashion relied too much on party culture, yet still uncertain if the casual, glamorous, day-time smoking is any less harmful.
At the time, I would never admit it, but I started smoking at the age of 15 because in my mind, it was cool and rebellious to smoke. And nothing was more alluring than being cool and rebellious. In reality, the habit went on (and off) and on again for about 17 years. My smoking habit was almost old enough to vote when I quit nearly 3 years ago. The time before quitting, I was so ashamed of my habit, everyone gave me trouble about it, everyone, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, potential boyfriends. I smoked on my fire escape, only after work, never in public, I even had a hat to cover so the smoke wouldn’t get in my hair. And I continued to smoke. Not being able to quit was so very embarrassing.
What’s more, is that smoking did not make me glamorous, didn’t make me thin, didn’t make me cool, didn’t add to my style at all. In fact, I looked ridiculous.
Looking at this photo, I will add ‘youth’ to the list of things we think makes us more stylish, but actually doesn’t.
Credit: top image by The Sartorialist