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CASE STUDY: Jennifer Wang Part 4


Photo from Wang's latest post, 'Off Duty,' found here

So, now that we know what Wang’s audience is, what her content looks like, and what professional and personal fame has come from blogging, ultimately, who is  “Jennifer Wang/Art in Our Blood”?  “The persona that I feel I portray is just a girl who wants to establish herself in the fashion industry,” Wang answered. “What I am posting are the things that I am learning in school a well as outside of school, the projects that I’m working on, and my daily as well as avant garde style.” Ultimately, Wang’s goal is not only to show off her personal style but also to honestly portray the life of a struggling fashion student and blogger, as she described, “a real girl who is working hard and trying to make it in the industry.”

Through use of an authentic, if limited, persona is directly related to the image that Wang strives to establish. “My image is definitely professional—career first before all else,” Wang said. She has a clear goal for how she wants to present herself and how that presentation fits into her life. “You really want to establish yourself and develop a following, and then share some of those personal details to show that you’re human. You need both; your professional life should always come through the clearest on your blog, but your followers have to be able to identify with you in order for you to secure a really strong following.”

Persona and persona development are key in the success of any microcelebrity. As Wang explained in part 2, there was a time in which she did not feel true to herself. “Now, I definitely feel true to my offline self online. It was really just the aesthetic issues that made me feel fake.” This is where thing’s get really interesting: Wang explains that for a fashion blogger, aesthetic, authenticity, and persona are inherently and inextricably linked. “As a style blogger, your aesthetic is really the main thing that you’re pushing, which often overwhelms your personality,” Wang explained. “To be honest, they go hand-in-hand and I couldn’t totally separate them.”

Though Wang draws her inspiration from many sources, she does not directly reference any other users in creating her posts. “I honestly don’t really read any blogs. I don’t have the time. I like to read some of my offline friends’ blogs, as well as some of my Blogger friends’ blogs, so I’ll look through their posts sometimes but I’m not really someone who will sit down and catch up on a bunch of blogs on Saturday morning,” she explained, “blogging is kindof something that I use for myself, but the people that I do follow I usually mainly follow on Instagram. I look for users with pretty feeds—it doesn’t matter if I know them or really appreciate their style, for me it’s about the overall look of their feed.”

For Wang, and for many other art-based social media users out there, it’s all about overall appearance. “I like to learn from how other bloggers photograph different things to create a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing stream,” she said. “Having a popular Instagram account is really based on being aware of what you’re posting and how to make posts that are pleasing to look at. It’s kindof like a source of inspiration for me—I use Instagram like Pinterest. When I follow someone I don’t care about their professional standing or follower count, I care if they have a pretty feed.”
Ultimately, social media serves one main purpose for Wang: self-promotion. “Social media is a way to get the word out there about you,” she explained. “You know, you can be incredibly talented, but if people don’t know about you what’s the point?” Despite this, Wang is convinced that maintaining a blog will not be necessary for her success in the fashion industry. “I think that having just an Instagram and personal Facebook would be sufficient to maintain my professional image in the fashion world.”

Though Wang does derive enjoyment from her blog, as she stated earlier, maintaining all of her accounts is a lot of work. “I will definitely not be maintaining this blog and the attached accounts forever—I don’t feel like it’s healthy,” Wang said. From being on the inside of microcelebrity, Wang has seen the downsides. “I think that you can become very addicted to social media. It’s really hard to get off of that lifestyle. Social media should be used in addition to your regular life, you don’t want it to become your main focus. It should enhance, not consume your life. When you’re not living, spending more time posting than spending time with people that you care about in real life, I see that as a problem,” she said.

This addiction that Wang speaks of can be detrimental to her psychological well-being, and stepping out of that mindset offers Wang a chance to breathe. “It’s freeing to be able to go out and wear what you want and not be stressing about every last detail of your outfit, where you can find the best light and the best locations to shoot on a daily basis,” she said. “Why can’t I just live my life being happy wearing what I want? It puts constraints on your lifestyle when you’re constantly going “oh I can’t wear that” or “oh no, it’s raining outside I can’t take pictures what am I gonna do!” or constantly worrying about finding a photographer. I just want to be able to live my life.”

Blogging has taught Wang some very important life lessons, namely the value of non-digital living. “Your life is offline, not online. You can share your life online, but that online life should not take priority,” she said. “I love coming back home to the Bay Area because it gives me a chance to relax and live life offline, appreciating it for what it is. I don’t want to be addicted to social media forever. Probably within a few years I’ll be done with it and move on to whatever job I seek when that time comes!”

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 DISCUSSION
#1 POSTED BY Zoe Sera Goetzmann, 04/28 12:21 AM

I love your blog post/ analysis of Jennifer Wang! In my recent blog post, I talked about a particular article, which analyzed these different factors of 'aesthetics' and 'authenticity,' as it pertains to bloggers. In addition, I thought it was interesting, that jennifer doesn't read many blogs. As I have often seen in the You Tube community, as well as with many fashion bloggers online, this sense of 'connection' between bloggers is essential, in order for them to maintain and increase their personal brand and platform. Thus, i would wonder how she is able to sustain her online persona, with out interacting with various internet users. 

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