One Sociological Interpretation of the “Manrepeller” Fashion Blog

After reading some of your blog post drafts, I’d like to suggest that you step back and think about what your topic–whatever it is–accomplishes in our society today. Does it make lots of money? Does it connect people, or push them apart? Does the thing or topic help us understand society? Does it symbolize some aspect of modern society, or of NYC?

For example, a few weeks ago we had a brief discussion about the blogger behind the Manrepeller. After our class I fell into a Manrepeller Instagram rabbit hole (and now I’m following that account. lol). I came across another blog post in which the blogger, Kelly Oxford, takes a more sociological approach to the MR. In Oxford’s own words:

The girls like her (wealthy, stylish urbanites) are already wearing that kind of shit, Man Repeller doesn’t have to show them where to buy it or how to wear it.
Man Repeller is blogging for the mid-western girl who buys Vogue and hits the thrift shop and loves Alexa Chung. And if you can buy all that Wang (Alexander, not dick), God bless you, I’m jealous… but when Leandra (I’m getting serious now, so I’m dropping the character name) advertises for Saks $800+ shoes and become a fashion muse to a fan base that can’t afford it, it’s kinda… cruel? God, that’s so first world of me to say.

I like this because Oxford digs a little deeper, or puts the MR into a different perspective (and Oxford states in the post that she is a huge fan of MR, so there’s no hate). Instead, she considers how the MR works as a symbol to “the midwest girls” or to a “fan base that can’t afford” the stuff she wears. I consider this a “symbolic interaction” interpretation of the MR: Because blogging creates a feeling of intimacy between reader and blogger, the business aspect is cloudy. Girls look up to her, want to emulate her (hmm, what do you think, is that a fair statement? As I type, I’m unsure UPDATE: MR replied here). Oxford writes: “ALL I AM SAYING IS THIS: Be realistic about what she is, she isn’t ‘like you’, a small percentage of people are.”  I haven’t read enough of the MR blog to get the specifics on what MR symbolizes, but she, Leandra, is funny and unique. She seems to create the feeling that she’s your friend, in on “it” with you (“it” being the joke, the fun, the manrepelling). She’s kinda of a dream best friend, for a certain type of girl. Like, you could hang out with her and the MR crew and make stupid videos (“It’s 12:23! you know want that means…”), create crazy outfits (outfits that are free from trying to impress boys/men), try new beauty products, etc etc. Perhaps we could think about MR as a modern, digital form of play (and we could then draw from the G.H. Mead theories on socialization through play and imitation). In fact, the man repelling aspect is genius because it immediately tones down competitive comparing, one upping etc. Young women, and girls can forget about that kinda of body/fashion/clothing/beauty assessment and just have fun. Like playing barbie perhaps.

Ok, again, there is no right answer to this project! Sociologists look at modern things, people, or ideas from many of the perspectives we’ve discussed. (symbolic interaction, socialization, play, imitation, social conflict, the public secret). If you’re stuck, step back and think about what your topic does in the world, what does it communicate and who receives the message.

Again, reach out if you’re stuck! I will continue to think about MR, let me know your thoughts in the comments or in class.

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