Looks like the world of mascara and curling irons isn't all it's cracked up to be. XOJane's former health and beauty director, Cat Marnell, was well-known on and off the site for her struggles with addiction and her candid blogging about how her lifestyle and her love of beauty collided. With Cat's departure, Gawker is reporting that the site has turned to frequent contributor Hannah Johnson to fill the deep, dark hole left by Marnell's departure.
After all the drama surrounding Cat — including the controversy over her drug use, rehab stint, and the havoc she unleashed after revealing her exceedingly questionable stance on Plan B as a primary form of birth control — you'd think Jane Pratt wouldn't want to promote yet another person who associates beauty with mental illness.
Apparently clinically depressed beauty bloggers are XOJane's new M.O.. Hannah's recent post for the site, entitled "GREETINGS FROM THE RABBIT HOLE: Beauty Products For When Depression Eats You Alive," is all about how Hannah is not a happy person and the beauty products she uses when she's feeling blue. While we commend people for speaking out about depression and helping to bring more awareness to it, we don't really understand why reading beauty posts has to feel like peeking at someone's previous medical-conditions form. When did revealing your deepest, darkest health issues go hand-in-hand with posting about bath bubbles?
More to the point, what does beauty have to do with all of this in the first place? We get the appeal of perfumes and gloss, but it seems like all things pretty are more compelling to seriously unhappy girls. Putting our psychoanalyst's hat on for a moment, maybe it's because they feel so turbulent on the inside that they like the sense of control primping gives them. Marnell went so far as to shamelessly tell Jezebel that she "threw up every day because [she] was afraid of getting fat," in reference to her time spent in rehab. That is so depressing that we really don't have words to convey how sad it makes us. Beauty — in our eyes — is a way to make yourself feel good on the inside and out. It shouldn't be something you immerse yourself in to hide your constant fear and loathing.
But even amid her downward spiral, Cat was still the most-read writer on the site, according to SAY Media, the parent company of XOJane. So let's turn the tables here for a minute and ask what that says about us. If everyone is so terribly uncomfortable with this kind of self-destructive behavior, then why were so many of us reading Cat's posts?
If you look at it that way, it makes sense that Pratt would choose an equally unhappy young woman to take up Marnell's mantle. While people have been admonishing these girls for their poor life choices or constant unhappiness, they keep going back, thereby promoting those perspectives. What kind of trauma does that create for the writer, knowing that people only seem to read about them when they are at their worst? We don't think this is quite the brave-new world of beauty blogging we were promised. (Gawker)
This article has been updated to reflect recent information from SAY Media