There are many kinds of porn in this world. There is porn porn, there is food porn, there is travel porn, and then there is my least favorite genre of all, General Lifestyle Porn. It’s photo sets and blogs and magazine profiles designed specifically to make you feel badly about yourself, like an inadequate, sweatpant-clad loser, to remind you that there is someone out there living their best life, and none of it involves losing a whole weekend to watching House of Cards in a fugue state. You know the Life Porn I’m talking about. It’s the airy, white bedroom with a beautiful serving tray set with tea, lemons, macarons, and the morning paper (What time is it?), the crisp down comforter tousled just so. It’s the background of stark white (or exposed brick, or reclaimed wood), with a single succulent, and one Eames chair, the lone piece of furniture (Just for decoration?), on which two art magazines that cost $15 dollars each thoughtfully overlap. Amidst this display reclines a Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl, clad in her loose button-down and boyfriend jeans. Her messy bun is the perfect amount of messy, and a pile of — not too many! — gold rings adorns both hands. She’s sitting on the bed, usually laughing at the camera, while all of the delicious food goes untouched. Her beauty is called “effortless,” which mostly means thin, having good skin, hair that looks done without looking touched, somehow, and a wardrobe full of expensive (but minimalist) clothing. It’s a lie, created with no-makeup makeup and art direction, and vaseline on cheekbones to achieve that dewy, beach-babe look inside an air-conditioned apartment in Williamsburg. But, the effect is the same: This girl is beautiful and together in a way you will never be, which is reflected in everything from her expansive, perfectly appointed kitchen, to her impossibly tasteful collection of delicate gold jewelry.
She is never actually doing anything, of course. She is sipping her tea, staring out the window, curling up languidly on her comically large white couch with a few magazines strewn about. She is not there to inspire anything other than insecurity, because her “achievements” include keeping everything aggressively white, and sitting incredibly still so her artfully disheveled bun doesn't unravel. It’s aspirational, but only for those who have aspirations of being rich enough to have a fuck-ton of space in which to do absolutely nothing. Aside from inspiring a kind of curated uselessness, she's bad for others' mental health. Her beauty can bring on that run-of-the-mill sort of insecurity, but she’s propped up as beautiful (and surrounded by beauty) without ever trying, which adds a profound level of frustration. Hollywood starlets, at least, can admit their stunningness requires a process. The MPDG is there to convince you that if you only stopped trying so hard, your life would be perfect, aesthetically pleasing, and always stain-free. (There's an extra pinch of offensiveness when this aesthetic is complemented with a pet, because, as any pet owner can attest, all-white is an ill-advised if not entirely masochistic choice.) We don’t need more photos of her. We don’t need magazine and brand profiles of the ethereal writer/blogger/model/producer/DJ/yogi who lives in a loft that seems to have more windows than actual walls, and who spends her day looking at hot beverages in a vaulted-ceilinged kitchen. We don’t need her utterly useless beauty tips (drink water, be confident, meditate), because we have jobs — and sometimes-messy apartments, imperfect color schemes, and hair that doesn’t look good until we put in work to make it look that way. And, so does she, really. Because, the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl is all an illusion, albeit one that looks incredibly enticing when it pops up on your Tumblr dashboard. But remember, its only purpose in this world is to make you feel inadequate in every category, from fashion to beauty, culinary expertise to home decor. And, the world is doing a perfectly good job of that without some creative director named Margot telling you about why she needed her kitchen skylight to face south for her serenity.