Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thinking positive...

Yesterday Yoshimi who is both a beautiful lady and an accomplished seamstress, wrote a post about a negative comment, and its effect on her.  Of course I rushed to support her because she is my friend, and friends are supportive in times we are feeling low.  But it made me think not for the first time about how just a small amount of negativity really brings you disproportionately down, and even in the face of overwhelming positivity and supportiveness even those of us who appear to be quite self-assured and strong can suffer after one mean comment.
When we blog we really put ourselves out there.  We may feel we are documenting a personal journey, but of course even though we may be sitting quietly in our own homes, by ourselves, tapping away on our own keyboards; the "privacy" is an illusion.  Anything on the internet is very very public, and trolls are free to judge us and say whatever they like.
I have received negative comments.  Actually, I count myself to be extremely lucky to be part of the sewing/fashion community, which on the whole is a very supportive group, and I feel I have some real friends out there who I would get along with very well if we met in real life.  But barbed, and sometimes outright rude comments creep in every now and again, and it is a huge downer.
Even one's real life "friends" might be having a bad day, and say something off that sticks with you... when I posted about my new little red wool skirt on Monday, I had worn it out that morning to a tea and feeling quite proud of myself; and somebody obliquely referred to me as "porky".   There were some raised eyebrows and horrified giggles within the group because it was not said in jest, and no explanation or apology came forth.  It is ridiculous I know because it was obviously her bad day and not mine and should have stayed that way; but her remark transferred it into my bad day too.  I felt attacked, and very down for the rest of the day.
Why are we so fragile?  I feel I should be mature enough that I am above such petty things as a flippant comment here or there, and I shouldn't need validation to be happy about myself.  But I just do.  I guess it is basic human nature to need approval.  It makes us feel like we are accepted.  The need to connect and belong is built in as part of our survival mechanism, and approval is part of that acceptance.  Disapproval puts me into panic mode.

I am still defining my own personal style, but I do know a few things about it.  I treat all drab colours as neutrals and love to wear them, but I also like to be occasionally colourful.  I like clothes that have a twist, or something unusual about them.  I like skirts to be either quite short or quite long, but not usually in-between.  I think I am vaguely sporty or outdoors-y.  I am emphatically not vintage or retro, nor am I particularly girly or dressy.  I think today sits in that comfort zone.

Dress; the "gathered hole" dress from Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi, charcoal wool mix, details here
Top; Ezibuy
Tights; Metalicus
Scarf; d/lux, from Uggies in Dunsborough
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes


  1. hello darling, you look positively gorgeous in those colours. Love the purple tights. This is a positive message to remind you that I am positively in awe of your sewing talents and I hope you wont ever receive any negative comments here... and if you do, they roll right off! Been reading along but not commenting much but know I am silently stalking... *muahahah*

  2. WTH? I am sorry that happened to you, and that Yoshimi also was the target of another boor. I do not understand why some people feel the need to be so...mean. I do believe that some are intimidated by style, and beauty, and a strong personal presence in a woman.

    I am off to bed, and hope that this new day for you brings happiness and a renewed sense of self. If we were face to face, I'd give you a big hug, and say satisfyingly vile about mean people.

    OMG, sorry! Nice outfit-and 'em.

  3. I love love that dress. :)

    I had missed that post of Yoshimi's but I just ran over and it has 57 comments. I have to comment, but the browser is hanging on the page at the moment.

    WHY do people feel the need to judge? I really felt this as I entered the realm of parenthood. Never before had I felt such judgement from everyone, in every quarter. My MIL was very judge-y *before* I had kids, so this is saying something.

    I guess that's where the saying "Hate the haters" came from. :) I agree that the "porky" comment, whether direct or indirect, came from a boor. Someone who is insecure, jealous, and felt the need to lash out.

    It's hard to develop a thick skin, and you are right, we really put ourselves out there as bloggers, but it's a worthy goal to develop a thicker skin. I have received a few comments suggesting I get a boob job, or that a particular style doesn't suit me. So far, those comments have bothered me particularly. Some comments sting more than others, and it's always in an area I feel more vulnerable about.

    I am grateful that our corner of the world is, overall, pretty darned supportive.

  4. wow that really surprised me but let me say one thing - the trolls pick high profile targets - if you get a mean comment it means you've made it! Truly, since the person who leaves a mean comment does it to be noticed and so they pick someone popular enough to get them lots of attention ..

    .. of course it's nice to be affirmed and who wouldn't rather have positive feedback all the time? Occasionally I make a comment that is a bit risque and relies on shared humour that may or may not exist so I run the risk of being misunderstood but, well, so be it. When someone leaves funny comments on my blog I simply love it, so I always try to lean towards seeing others' comments as being well intentioned, even if they sound a little strange.

    It's so important to be yourself no matter what and not give too much energy to nay sayers.

  5. I mean to say, those comments have NOT bothered me particularly. :D

    By the way, thanks for your comments on my blog. I really appreciate them and you are always so gracious. I hope if you ever do visit SF, that we can meet up. :D

  6. I know what you mean about feeling safe in your corner of the internet but really that is not true. I too can be hurt too easily by negative comments and shoudl toughen up. I never understand why people feel the need to make negative comments, as they don't HAVE to read a certain blog. As for the comment in real life re the red skirt - these people are usually trying to boost their own insecurities.

    I love the picture you have put on this post by the way. :)

  7. Yes, it's hard not to take offence when another person attacks your emotions and yes, I get offended too when this happens to me no matter the situation.

    I agree that we put ouselves in a vulnerable position when we blog and there are those who just can't say nice things about anyone.

    Like my mother used to say..."if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all!"

    BTW fab tights. Wish I was brave enough to wear bright colours like that.

  8. Love the dress! People who leave mean comments are jealous. You have something that they want. It is sad that people have to be like that. The rest of us love you and appreciate your blog, talent, and wonderful sense of style!

  9. Wow ... porky indeed. Firstly you are not porky nor even close to porky so obviously they could not pick any thing else mean to say. Secondly, I agree with you that we need some sort of validation to feel good about ourselves ... not because, I think, that we need the approval from them, but just some sort of recognition that you are going along fine, you're ok how you are etc. I have had friends that make some seemingly innocuous comments that upon reflection is actually trying to deflect from something they are trying to ignore or hide. "life vultures" some one called them once and I choose now not to keep them in my life. As for the internet, people can say what they want - I don't mind personal opinions eg "I don't like that colour" etc but personal attacks are just attention seeking behaviours that we need to ignore - just like with children. You are very inspiring Carolyn, I surmise that you are some scientific professional who is super duper talented and you are appreciated for your uniqueness!

  10. Wow, you look stunning in that dress! I love it! Ignore the mean spirited people. Some people attack when they feel bad themselves. Not a tactic for winning or keeping friends.

  11. Snap - today I wore grey, pink and a touch of yellow too! It is so cheery to brighten up a winter's day!
    I've had one negative comment that I deleted only because of an offensive word, and maybe a couple of others from Anonymous People who think all ready-to-wear is rubbish!
    Although I always try to be polite, I sometimes worry that my comments might get misinterpreted due to cultural or humour differences. I enjoy receiving constructive criticism, (I know some people don't welcome it), but can't understand why someone would want to intentionally offend.

  12. Hi, I've been lurking on your blog for a month or so, and come out of lurkdom to say, "porky...I don't think so!" I can't think what this person is on about except perhaps to make herself feel better by bringing you down. As you said, her problem, don't make it yours.
    I do understand what you mean about wanting approval though. I generally wear one me-made item every day to work. I have never told anyone I sew. Yesterday one of my workmates was going on about how she doesn't sew any more because she is too much of a perfectionist and couldn't possibly wear what she sews because it isn't perfect. Sure enough, I felt attacked even though the words "Sewing" never passed my lips - did she mean my sewing sucks? (OK that bias cut plaid skirt didn't quite match at the seams!) I like those things that I wear, but doesn't do your confidence a whole lot of good does it?

  13. Cripeys ! You Porky ! No way - I was actually going to say in my comment about your new skirt you have the legs to wear a shorter skirt and then thought perhaps that comes across as weird so I will say that now - you have a great figure . Hopefully your friend will be feeling better next time you meet.

  14. Like you I left a supportive message for Yoshimi - I've yet to personally receive negative comments, but I think that's because I'm new on the blogging scene and not becasue everyone loves me!

    I can really relate to everything you have written and I'm not sure what can be done. If I love something on a blog I leave a comment. If something's not to my taste I just click away. "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all" is my motto when it comes to blogging.

    Keep up the great work Carolyn - your blog is always so inspiring. And for the record there's no pork on you!

  15. I think the comment was said in real life, right? I think you are completely right to brush it off as her bad day. I absolutely love what you make and wear and you are a constant inspiration. Please don't think of hiding yourself away in boring stuff because of one cruel remark. As everyone else has said you are lovely and stylish and have a great figure

  16. You could never look porky. You would look svelte in a potato sack.

  17. I love the dress you are wearing. Great work. I have that book too but haven't dared to try anything yet. It feels quite daunting.
    Regarding our reaction to negative comments, I agree with you that we want to generate positive thoughts in people around us. I personally get quite upset when somebody points out flaws in my work even when it's not to put me down, but simply to point out something that is objectively wrong, e.g. a crooked seam. I would love to be perfect and realizing I am not puts me down. Another thought I have in my mind is: I wish that people are honest with me but then if they tell me they don't like what I am wearing/doing I get upset. Can't I accept criticism?
    Sorry for the long comment, I wanted to email but couldn't find it.
    Have a great day!

  18. I think it hurts the most hearing a negative comment from a friend because at least strangers you can toss your head at and say 'who are you to judge me.' But friends are people you do want to impress or be happy around.

  19. It's funny that you wrote about this today. My husband was just talking about how no one ever writes anything mean on my blog. I think it's much more common (on the internet in general) for people to be overly critical and negative. There's seems to be the attitude that when someone puts themselves out there, it's okay to make fun or put them down. Of course I think this is unfortunate and I wish it wasn't this way. This is one of the reasons I like the online sewing community. It seems to be cushioned from all the negativity out there. I think it's because most people who read sewing blogs understand the time and effort that go in to making an article of clothing. People who make negative comments probably don't sew and wish they did ;)

    Ok, sorry for the long comment and rambling thought.
    Also, you are not even remotely close to being "porky"

  20. So many things to say to this excellent post! First of all, kudos to you for supporting a friend. Second, you didn't look porky in that skirt. At all. Third, I agree with the idea that people feel they need approval, but sometimes, if they don't get it, they bash others. It comes naturally to a lot of people and they don't care if others get hurt. I'm not saying that this was the case of your friend, but, as you said, it has a hurtful remark that changed your day. Lashing out at others isn't going to make anyone feel better in the long run.

    I think it all boils down that it is easier to believe the negatives over the positives. With the media highlighting negativity everywhere (crime, celeb flubs, fashion blogs tearing apart "unfashionable" people), it's easy to be influenced. Even I've been ranty lately, and I feel bad about it. Specially since my mom taught me that if we haven't got anything nice to say, better not to say anything at all.

  21. I expect that the cow of the "porky" comment was probably jealous of your skirt, skill, style & shape! What has happened to peoples' decency filters? Are they so clogged up that they'll say anything without regard to how it makes them look & makes others feel? I find myself shaking my head an awful lot these days.

  22. Hi Carolyn, thank you for your kind comment on my blog post. Though I didn't leave my comment on your red skirt when I read the post the other day, I was full of approval of your creation and creativity. You looked very pretty in it too. So, the comment surprised me terribly and my first reaction was "What's wrong with the woman?!". Her behavior is clearly stupid and it's all her fault. It's so clear to my eyes considering the situation. And I know it is crystal clear only when it happens to others...It is difficult to see the situation impartially when it happens to oneself. You might have felt bad, but it is so understandable. I hope you'll be feeling better very very soon because you never looked like the comment. Trust me.

  23. Porky?! Here's my two cents: I think that is a particularly agressive remark and ridiculous! So there's your validation, sweet thing. What she said sucks but she also showed you her achilles heel.

    All that it means is that this person has some mighty painful stuff going on inside to say something so obviously designed to hurt the closest person in her path. And really, Carolyn, it has NOTHING to do with you, believe that. It's really difficult for some people to see others happy and thriving. Its gross that this woman allowed herself to air her own ugliness in front of you and all the others to see. The best way for me to look at situations like this (I worked for a super high end retailer for years so let's just say I know a thing or two about "snotty central" and it took its toll on me so I get it how that made you feel) is to realize that some people hurt so much inside from their insecurities that it just feels better to lash out and knock someone else a little lower than they are. Sometimes that's confusing to see so don't beat yourself up about it being a maturity issue on your part. That just hurts when you are sensitive and someone decides to be mean to you, plain and simple.

    Even though it was humiliating, it does not change the facts that you are a brave and powerful woman that gives your family, friends and the rest of us a bright spot which lifts us up every day. Think of all of the awesome creative things you and what a beautiful person you are, inside and out!!!! Your energy can be so better served elsewhere. At least you know now a little more what you're made of and a little more about that "friend" of yours. She's a coward. Don't let it keep you down for too long.

  24. That's a great outfit and I love the picture! The purple and yellow of your outfit contrast so nicely with the blue and green of the background... :) And I may be in love with that dress.

    I think I'm with the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" crowd. I'd rather compliment someone's earrings than criticise the color of their dress - at least if I'm not asked for my honest opinion on said color. And even then, it's still just my opinion, and not the universal truth, right? I've been rather sensitive to criticism for the longest time, but I'm trying to grow out of it...

  25. Definitely LOVE this dress on you! The pink tights look great. You always look wonderful.
    I learn from everyone who's blog I read - particularly I learn that everyone is SO different, and I admire everyone who posts their sewing (and other) achievements to share with the rest of the world. Every blog I read is an inspiration and a motivator for me.

  26. Even though barely anyone reads my blog, I did have one comment once that left me feeling like maybe I am an idiot posting my middle-aged half-baked attempt at trying to dress better to please my hubby for pete's sake!! Like there was a whole silent section of the internet silently looking and laughing just like they really did in middle school to my hand me down ill-fitting clothing and only-allowed-to-bathe-once-a-week self. So yeah, it does affect me more than it should. So Kevin talked me out of it and reminded me why I started my blog and to just get over it ... which I did after several days, but I felt like I couldn't relax blogging for a while because of the unseen critic.

    LOVE your previous post by the way. The table your dad built, and your mum's socks - you are richly blessed. And I do like this dress you've made with the layering you do with it. Have a good rest of the week!

  27. Porky! I had to read that word twice! In my neck of the woods that means fat....most women after 3 babies would give their eye teeth to be half as thin as you after 3 children. Was this woman looking at the computer screen or in the mirror when she made that, it blows me away that someone, bad day or not, can be that nasty! I would never say that to anyone, porky or not!

  28. That is really sad the effect it had on your friend.....readers sometimes can be so thoughtless or rude in their was wonderful that she had you & others to support her!!
    Love todays outfit post & I have always liked your style! btw....I am trying to follow you on my new blog but cannot find the google friend follow or do I subscribe? I could not find an email thats why I am asking here :)

  29. I simply cannot believe that someone used that word about is so patently not true. You looked wonderful in the skirt.

    I do think it is difficult at times to convey one's tone of voice in comments. I know I have worried that something I said might be taken in the wrong way. That's why I occasionally use emoticons.

    Admire the style of the dress you are wearing today.

  30. First things first - you are not a porky! What rot! I love how supportive the women of blogland are. We help each other in practical and emotional ways. But I do worry about the lack of constructive critical comment in the sewing blog realm. I don't see anything wrong with making a suggestion for improvement. But I never comment anonymously (don't ya hate the cowardice in that) and if I really don't like it, I don't say anything at all.

  31. Hi dear Carolyn, I've sent an email about the labels. Could you fetch it please? (^_^)

  32. Some people can be so mean can't they, I really don't understand why? You're right though, we're a sensitive bunch too, and whilst we shouldn't rise to such flippant remarks, it is hard not too. I remember my first negative comment, I got really upset and even thought about stopping my blog for a while.. got over it though. Oh, and you are, absolutely, NOT porky!

  33. "porky?" What planet was that person coming from - the planet of envy? You are a very well and interestingly dressed person, and I love reading your posts. I confess I'm quite envious of your creative skills sometimes, but I totally l.o.v.e. your style. And your skirt. Red and wool together make for a very happy cheery combination anytime and anywhere. It is hard to let negative comments pass over us like water off a duck's back, but, like my dad said, go with the good and leave the bad behind.

  34. She Does not sound like a truly good and nice are so not porky. I agree with the others, she has issues and she must see "green" when you are there.
    You look amazing and all your garments are beautiful.

  35. hmm. i think i'd rather be porky than nasty.

    and i'm much more likely to admire a person for their creativity and thoughtfulness towards others than the shape of their hind end. just my two cents. steph

  36. Hi Carolyn , you look amazing in everything you wear - the fact you make most of them makes you amazing!

  37. Wow, how gratuitously nasty - and blind. I bet no-one wants to sit near that one when you go out for a morning tea.
    I really like seeing all your projects and the interesting ways you wear them. You have a terrific blog.

  38. This is a really important question. I think too many positive feedback makes us volnerable. It is just not true, that we always do excellent work. I stopped bloging, because I felt it corrupted me, I didn`t realize when I made mistakes.
    I missed the real critics, which make you do better work and prepare against negative comments.
    When I get negative comment I know it is usually about that person and not me, so I cannot help. Criticism is a help so I try to listen, even if it is negative:-)