Student guest post: The Man Repeller kicks it up a notch

Students in JOMC 457, Advanced Editing, are writing guest posts for this blog this semester. This is the eighth of those posts. Stephanie Kelly is a senior journalism and political science major with a minor in French language.  She is from Charlotte and blogged for a fashion designer in New York City last summer.

Bloglovin’, an aggregator site that organizes the most recent posts from members’ favorite blogs in one place, awarded their coveted “Blogger of the Year” distinction to Leandra Medine of at a ceremony on Feb. 12.

Medine deserved it. She founded The Man Repeller blog on the belief that women should dress in a way that makes them happy, not simply to attract men.  And while Medine writes about clothes in a tones ranging from overwhelmingly reverent to hilariously sarcastic to shamelessly personal, her underlying message is celebrated for liberating women from dressing according the constraints of what men consider “sexy.” Her funny, edgy, pushing-the-limits-of-acceptable style has won over casual fashion fans and seasoned industry insiders alike, making her the coolest thing to hit the scene since the parachute pant.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Medine has built up an empire that sprung from her blog. She created and copyrighted the term “arm party” to describe what happens when one piles bracelets upon bracelets on one’s wrist.  She teamed up with Gryphon, a high-end fashion line, to create a jacket named for her.  She partnered with the jewelry designers behind the Dannijo brand to create her own capsule collection of accessories with a sense of humor.  Even Del Toro, a company that sells distinctive slipper-shoes, wanted her on its side. The result? In the words of The Man Repeller, “clicky-clicky.”

Having fashion-blogged myself, both independently (you don’t want the link, I promise) and professionally, I have to give the girl credit. It takes a lot to satisfy the fashion world, and the fashion world won’t hesitate to eat you alive if you stop giving them what they want.

In fact, on the eve of the Bloglovin’ Awards, Medine — The Man Repeller herself — did the unthinkable and got engaged.

As you might be able to imagine, chaos ensued. Some fans were happy for Medine, but many others felt cheated, claiming that Medine had built her reputation on repelling men, not attracting them, and certainly not marrying them. The backlash was so vicious that Medine was forced to remove what was allegedly a happy, somewhat mushy post announcing her engagement and replace it with a disclaimer in her defense. Medine wrote:

Yes, I’m consummating my relationship. But it’s not like you stopped celebrating Christmas when your parents told you they were Santa Claus or like I refused to continue taking science classes at my Jewish day school when evolution tried to disprove everything I’d previously learned, so the Man Repeller finding a man that says [expletive] like “I love that skirt over pant thing you do,” and “if you wear those shoes I won’t hang out with you, just kidding, I will, but please don’t wear them,” shouldn’t really change all that much. Despite a gimmicky title, this is in fact a fashion blog. New finger party addition or not, I will never stop subscribing to a school of self.

I have to be honest: When I first found out The Man Repeller was engaged, I wasn’t mad exactly, but I felt deceived.  I couldn’t place my finger on why; I knew it was unreasonable to expect Medine to divulge details of her personal life on her wildly famous and widely read blog.

But after reading the above post, I realized that the root of the problem (and the explanation for the outrage of some fans) was purely a product of her exceptional ability to write and relate to people.  Medine’s fans were mad because they felt they knew her so well — from her blog persona alone — that they should have been informed about the man in The Man Repeller’s life.

And this is why I completely support Bloglovin’s decision to declare Medine “Blogger of the Year.” She came out of the conflict with her reputation for unbelievable talent intact. But she also successfully defined the incredibly significant boundary between blog and blogger that had been left unexplored, not because it wasn’t important, but because no one had elevated blogging to the level that Medine has taken it.