Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When Work & Blog Collide

A common concern for bloggers - in particular, style bloggers - is whether or not they should reveal their blogging to family, friends, and co-workers. It's ironic, that on the one hand, style bloggers who on a nearly daily basis photograph and publish their own images for the world to see, judge, and comment on, are also terribly self-conscious. There's a brashness to what we do - a willingness to make oneself vulnerable and put oneself out there with the underlying hope and confidence that we have something of value to share in our words and photos and our desire to connect with others. Simultaneously, it's terrifying to imagine what our family, friends, and colleagues might think of what we're doing - and that they might take advantage of that vulnerability to take us down a peg or two. 

In this ever evolving virtual world full of anonymity and shadowy characters with the power to cut us down with their cruel comments and harsh words, it's those who are closest to us - those with faces and names and histories - who we often fear the most.

Sweater: Happy Morning Sweater, Anthropologie
Necklace: Idesia Necklace, Anthropologie (sold out online, but still available in some stores)


The tension between blog and work can sometimes be the most nerve-wracking. This is especially true for professional women. The fact is, most of us work really hard in our jobs and many of us have invested years of education and training to do the work we do. The vast majority of us still struggle against gender inequity in the workplace, even when it's not always obvious and overt. And for better or worse, fashion just isn't something that's taken very seriously, and that apparent lack of seriousness can be perceived as damaging to a woman's status at work. And while no one objects to someone having a non-work-related hobby, a blog is a pretty public thing. It occurs to me that there's a bit of a double standard here, that often applies to a female-centric issues or interests. It hasn't escaped my notice, for instance, that male-centric interests like sports are much more openly embraced in the workplace. Fantasy football, anyone? Or better yet, how about the office pool? What doing about doing deals over a round of golf? 

Hmm...how great would it be to do deals while browsing Anthropologie or the latest offerings at Nordstrom? Yeah, I know. I like to dream.


Anyway, these pressures and fears can lead to a compartmentalizing of ourselves, where we adopt varying personas, depending on which compartment of our lives we may be inhabiting. Necessary? I'm not sure. Holistic? No, not so much. 

It seems to me that this isn't the only way to see things. Nor is it the only way to respond to being a style blogger and a professional woman. Being a blogger isn't easy. It requires commitment and creativity. There's a measure of risk-taking involved, and written communication skills and a willingness to grow and get better at what we do. It requires discretion (because going public with your outfits is one thing. Going public with everything is something else entirely, if you understand what I mean). For a lot of us, there's a steep learning curve - when we start blogging, it's something new. We've got to learn to use the platform (Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.), take the photos, design the layout, create content, find a readership, make time.

We are incredibly resourceful. And even brave.


So, a couple months after I started blogging, I did the thing that's taboo to so many bloggers. I told my co-workers. And yes, it did cause some confusion at first. Most of my colleagues didn't read blogs or do any blogging themselves, and they didn't really understand why I would be interested in this or be so into clothes to start with. I'm sure there are still a few who continue to be confused by it, and it's possible that the fact I do this has changed the way they see me (possibly in not the best light).

The good news though? Most people didn't really care after a while. It became something that I just happened to do, the way playing with a community softball league was something that person did, or refereeing youth soccer was something this other person does. And better yet, there was a small but discerning minority who recognized that I had and was continuing to acquire some very valuable skills through my personal blogging.

And this eventually led to a new assignment: to start a blog for one of the projects on which I work.


So, here I am, going public in a whole new way, this time, with you. I work in the field of education research, for a great organization called WestEd. WestEd does all kinds of work, and chances are, if you live in the state of California and have children in the K-12 school system or recently graduated from the K-12 school system, then you or your kids have come into contact with us or our products at some point in time. Specifically, I work with topics of health and well-being, school climate, youth development, violence and bullying prevention, and career technical education (CTE).

We've launched a new blog on that last topic, which I edit, coordinate, and co-author, and I'd like to share with you here, if you're interested in taking a look. It's called The CTE Central Blog, and for those of you who aren't familiar with career technical ed, it's about the programs and ideas and policies that allow kids, young people, and even adults to explore careers, develop skills, and see the long-term relevance of their educations as well as the wide variety of options and pathways they have to meeting their career goals. There are some really cool things happening in K-12 schools, community colleges, and at the university level that are and will be featured there. I hope you'll take a look, and if it's of interest to you, follow it.


We, as human beings and as women, are complex, layered, and varied creatures. We play lots of roles; we wear lots of hats. And sometimes, it's hard to know if the hat we're wearing is the one that fits us best, or if it's just the one that's in easy reach. And sometimes, a hat that fit us really well just a little while ago ends up suddenly being too small or too big or just out of style. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except to say that I strongly hope that someday, it'll be okay - really and truly okay - to go bare-headed. To be who we are, as we are, without fear, without judgment and be valued for it.

51 comments:

  1. Hi Carol, the thoughts and ideas you have touched in this writing is amazing. These are issues we deal and face everyday, even as a non-blogger. Its analogy can be applied to lot of things in a women life; the hats we wear, the balance between who we are as true self and what we portray to different people. Thank you for this thought provoking writing! You look refreshing with your hair up and the new blog looks like a good resource for people.

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  2. As always, your post resonates with me. It all applies to non-bloggers and/or fans of bloggers. I loved your WestEd blog! Really well done and interesting. The story of the kinders and middle schoolers was great!

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  3. Sorry, forgot to post my name for that last comment.
    Mechelle

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  4. what a wonderful post, thank you :) sometimes we forget how much we do as women/ bloggers/ mothers/ artists, etc... and how incredible it really is that we are able to fit into all these different roles. (all while wearing high heels.)

    i'll say it again... we're incredible, girls!!

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  5. One of my co-workers has a "look for less" type fashion blog and she's been brave enough to tell the folks at work about it - though I have not, especially after seeing the she has been (harmlessly, but still) teased about it. For some reason, blogging is seen as something frivolous while fantasy football is not.

    I know it's been said many times over the blogosphere, but people who don't blog really don't get it!

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  6. Carol--what an articulate and thoughtful post. You've given me a lot to think about! :)

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  7. Thank you for sharing your work. I have 2 kids in the k-12 calif public schools, so I can't wait to dig into your blog.
    Any BTW-none of my BFFs know I blog-even though I rarely post-they don't "get it".

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  8. So incredibly true! I was terrified to tell people about my blog, and I still get embarrassed telling some people about it. The funny part is, after they find out about it, most people really don't care, exactly as you said. It just becomes "something she does". Blogging has helped me make a career switch, which I still find amazing. To think...running a blog has actually given me skills that people want to PAY me for! Weird.

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  9. I absolutely love this sweater! Especially paired with the necklace. You look amazing.

    I've told my friends and a few co-workers about my blog. Some have checked it out, but I don't think they are regular readers. Sometimes they tease me about shopping but it's usually not bad.

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  10. Carol, what a mind opening entry. I admire anyone that works in the field of education, in any realm, so thank you for sharing what you do. I will definitely be checking your other blog out even if I don't live in the State of CA. My former employer, the one where I just quit my job, the owner of the company buys golf courses but he really doesn't get into the golf side. He's a well known philanthropist in the Seattle area and his main focus is public school education in WA State. It seems like the subject of education is an ever losing battle so I admire you and everyone else that work in that arena. :)

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  11. What a well-written post. Bravo Carol!

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  12. Very well-written, and every word is true. A thoroughly enjoyable read ^^

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  13. i really enjoyed your post and it's exactly what I have been struggling with as a new blogger. Part of me want to remain anonymous because I don't want to be judged by family and friends, but another part of me really want who I am to come through my blog, the true me, all of me.

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  14. Congrats on your new project carol!
    I enjoyed reading this post. I've told a few close colleagues about my blog but they don't really care anymore, and they hardly read it ! I Agree with your every word here. I particularly resonated with the last paragraph. Very well said.

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  15. Way to go, Carol! This is sadly very true, and I'm impressed at your comfortable-in-your-selfness (I guess it's not the end of the world after all if someone finds out...)

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  16. I think it's great that you have been able to use your blogging skills for work too. Things are changing. Companies and organizations are starting to post information on blogs, twitter, and facebook so it's important to learn these skills. I commend you on coming out to your co-workers too. I don't know if I would let any of my colleagues know about my blog, but I am considering sharing it with some of my friends. We'll see.

    I love the ponytail!

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  17. What a great post. I have shared my blogging with some friends and co-workers and while the women think it's a "fun" idea, I don't think they really "get" it. Of course there are those that snicker and chuckle, but I think they realize that ultimately, their opinion doesn't matter to me :)

    I am forwarding your education blog to my BFF. She works in elementary education and I think she would really be interested in reading it. Carole, you are so articulate and I really enjoy reading what you have to say on your blog and tweets and of course, seeing what you wear.

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  18. I loved reading this very intelligent and thoughtful post about blogging, gender, and professionalism. It is something I've been thinking a lot about myself. And with equal pay day having just passed, I feel especially aware of gender disparities in the workplace. There are so many ways that the culture of workplaces can systemically, consciously, and/or unconsciously privilege stereotypically masculine interests and pursuits. The fantasy football example is a great one. We really have a ways to go to truly create equity in the modern workplace.

    I am excited to check out your education blog. I also want to send it to the many teachers near and dear to me.

    As an aside, I love your bright, cheery, striped outfit. You look cute and stylish as ever!

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  19. This post is one of the reasons why I love reading your blog. I don't comment often, but I'm always reading along.

    It takes guts to be vulnerable about your passions and hobbies because not everyone understands and it's taken me some time to figure out how to balance my blog life and my "real" life. It's great that you are able to take the skills you learned through blogging and use it for your career. We all have different abilities and sometimes that talent is wasted because it's not considered as "serious" as other endeavors. As long as we have confidence and support in what we do, it makes a huge difference to press on. =)

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  20. Carol,

    I LOVE this outfit. Really really big LOVE. At work, will read the rest later, but you look fabulous (as usual). Thanks for sharing your great style.

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  21. You hit the nail on the head, here, Carol. I loved that you were brave and vulnerable enough to share your blog with your work and now your work with your blog. I can totally relate, as I sometimes sheepishly mumble about my blog to my co-workers, but only the few that I feel won't look at it. Not sure why. After all, they have their fantasy ____ball games ALL YEAR ROUND. sheesh. Thanks again.

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  22. Wonderful post and very timely for me. I have had a bit of the opposite concern with blogging and just this week disclosed on my blog about my job (HIV education) and was concerned those reading would be turned off by a discussion of a topic that some find controversial. I have had a positive response so far and am glad that you realized as well that all sides of your life can coexist peacefully. I have linked my post if you are interested. Thanks for talking about this!

    http://tumblr.com/xfd26i6yw4

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  23. It often seems to me that the creation of an intersection between a recreational pastime and work is created simply by a person who is brazen enough to make it so, and we're all enriched by this. Congratulations!

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  24. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    Thanks, James. =)

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  25. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Thank you! I know what you mean, about feeling concerned re: blogging about controversial topics. I'll definitely check out your blog too. =)

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  26. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Thanks, Vic. =)

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  27. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    Thanks, Jessica! One of your posts actually got me thinking more about work and blogging and gender disparities, so I'm glad you liked this post. I also appreciate your passing on the word about CTE Central Blog. We're pretty new, so working on building a readership.

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  28. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    Thank you, Pamela! I feel the same about your blog too. And I appreciate you passing word about the CTE blog along to your friend.

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  29. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Thank you! You're right that it's a combination of confidence and support that help us embrace who we are and what we do more readily. And I love that you quotation marked, "real." ;)

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  30. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Haha, I've decided to try and grow out my hair a little again, and was trying on the ponytail to see how I felt about it after so many years with shorter locks. Thanks, Lisa!

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  31. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Thanks! (And it's really not. ^_^)

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  32. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Aw, thanks Jen!

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  33. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    Yes, we all want to be seen as we are, and appreciated for it. Hopefully with time, you'll find your way there. =)

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  34. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    Thanks, Tara!

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  35. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    Thank you!

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  36. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Thanks, Cindi! Education is a really tough field, and as a researcher, I'm really watching from the sidelines. I used to be a classroom teacher, and let me tell you, that was the hardest job I've ever had in my life. I appreciate your support of people who do this really important and incredibly difficult work. =)

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  37. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    Thanks, Rosa! Yes, I get teased about the shopping too, haha...

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  38. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    Yay for getting paid for doing something you love! (I also get a little embarrassed, when explaining the blog to someone new, haha)

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  39. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Aww, that's too bad (your friend getting teased)! You know, it wasn't so harmless if it made you feel unwilling to make yourself subject to it too, by disclosing that you blog too. =/

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  40. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Thanks, Mechelle! I love that Kinders Go 2 College program - it's so awesome! =) The kids are all so cute, too!

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  41. carol_prettythingsApril 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Thank you so much! I appreciate all your support and kind words. =)

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  42. Long time reader, first time commenter ^_^ This entry makes me SO happy! Love the outfit, love your post on the CTE blog!

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  43. Carol, this outfit seriously makes you look like a tall drink o' water! I did a double take when the first picture came up, and I love your hair pulled back too! I'm so glad to read about your trepidation at first to share with co-workers about your fashion blogging. Since I've only been up and running since January, I'm kind of in that place right now. Some people know, some do not. I'm okay with that. I'll let it evolve organically for now. And I think your work on the CTE Central blog is wonderful.

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  44. What a thoughtful and lovely post - I think you should be very proud of taking this step and I hope you find that your friends and your fans are equally supportive. I look forward to reading about your work - it sounds like what you do is wonderful and important, and I'm sure I will find it interesting, having once been a student in CA and having a mother who was a teacher in CA for over 30 years! And you make such a good point about the inequities of what is an 'acceptable' pasttime to discuss in the office...some women may feel pressured to participate in fantasy football to fit in, but I highly doubt you'll see any guys reading fashion blogs so they can keep up with the conversation around the water cooler. Would be nice, though! Or maybe it's ok if they don't, but there's no reason that caring about fashion and style and beautiful things should be looked down upon or make people think we are vain or shallow - as women we can't let ourselves be punished for having a strong sense of confidence and self worth. And that means supporting each other and applauding each other for being the beautiful people we each are, inside and out. Which is why I'll close by saying that I'm SO glad you bought that sweater - I love it, and it looks great on you!! :)

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  45. Finally! I don't know why by Disqus has been DISing me and I haven't been able to post on several blogs for days! I don't know why or what or how, but it's working now and I can finally tell you how cute you are in your new top - those colors are so happy! And I love that you open up and share ALL of who you are with us!

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  46. Carol, this is such a great post and I can definitely relate because I have yet to disclose who I really am precisely because of those reasons -- I fear what my work colleagues may think of me. I think eventually I will cross to the other side and I have started telling some of my close friends, who thank goodness are supportive. And also it is so true, I have picked up many more skills while learning how to blog, and because of that I have gathered the courage to start up a work-related website. I can only thank blogs like yours to help me gain the confidence to move forward...

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  47. Dear Carol--What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing with us and glad that blogging has led to something really positive in the workplace for you!

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  48. Carol bravo. I seriously am far beyond impressed with your writing skills. This blog was far beyond wonderful and also inspiring. I wanted it to not end. And its always such a lovely feeling to be able to feel like someone else experiences the same things in life, such as your family and friends having a certain control over how they make you feel.

    I totally admire you for what your field is and may I say I even felt jealousy. Its companies that you work for that work day to day to better children's education. I am an architect currently working as a lighting designer, but all of my life I have wanted to make a difference in children's lives. Eventually I know that I will get a job designing development facilities and schools for children. I one day will be able to contribute in the development of a child with my own degree. One day! But till now I take off "my hat" and solute you for this amazing post.

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  49. I agree Carol - absolutely wonderful post!  You look hot too!  Mature yet funky... hard to describe but definitely hot!  Love the bell-bottoms :)

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  50. Found your blog through shoppingwithm. Great post...very timely for me as I've been contemplating starting a blog for a while now. Your personal insight really helped. Thanks!

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