An Opinion on American Culture

America the Beautiful

  American culture, for better or worse, is intense. As a country, Americans are progress driven and money hungry which isn't bad for America but it isn't healthy either. We Americans morphed the American Dream into this unrealistic expectation of everything in our lives running like a well oiled machine: picture perfect family, healthy body and mind, clean and well organized home, successful career, money, and a charismatic personality to match.

  We all have this image in our heads of how things are supposed to be. Hollywood has crafted this image through dynamic and memorable stories and characters but what we fail to remember about the characters we idolize and the stories we emulate is that there's always a fatal flaw or issue. There's no story without conflict, right? Gatsby couldn't move on/ bring back the past so he didn't grow as a character which led to his ultimate demise. Yet he is seen by many as the man who has it all: the house, the cars, the body, a successful career, and the personality. 
  I think we forget that real life flesh and blood humans have flaws too; whether it's flaws in society like racism and sexism or it's personality flaws like addiction, vanity, a lack of self confidence, or greed. And the worst part is, our flaws are often undefinable to us.

  It's crazy to think that while Americans have this unobtainable idea of what it means to be successful, other countries are fighting to get a stable government put in place. Americans suffer from a lot of first world problems. It could be the fact that the loaded taco burrito at Taco Bell is for a limited time only or maybe it's that not every public building has free wifi but in the grand scheme of things, Americans have such a high standard of living compared to the rest of the world that they really shouldn't complain. Most Americans have access to public education, clean water, and public transportation and as a civilization Americans have worked hard to make these things available for the people in their country. Huge corporations have made America what it is today and without that revenue we wouldn't be worried about getting our entirely frivolous unicorn frappuccinos. 
  Before I start an unwanted debate on capitalism, I'm going to state my point: the Americans behind huge companies are tenacious, thick skinned, hard working, and devoted. These traits seem to run in American's blood and as my own generation hits the work force, the older generation is starting to realize that things have changed. 

  The new generation no longer craves settling down and maintaining a house inside a white picket fence. No sir! My generation wants to change the world either with their voices or their technology. 
  I'll be the first to say that my generation is lazy. We haven't had to deal with the same trials as our parents or grandparents. We didn't have a Great Depression or World War II. My generation has had to face an unknown world: the internet and social media. We are the guinea pigs. My parents never experienced cyber bullying or online harassment. While these issues pale in comparison to World War II this comparison shows a shift in the human race. 
  Since World War II ended, America has been working to get ahead. While Germany and Poland tried to rebuild and figure out what their government was doing, America pushing forward. Fast forward to today and there's an awfully different set of expectations for young adults in America today. 

  America sprung ahead of pretty much every country in the world in terms of development. Because most Americans have their basic needs (food, shelter, rest) taken care of, they have had the chance to focus on education. Students today are expected to perform at a high level. They are bombarded with standardized tests that determine their fate. When your entire future relies on a test score you feel vulnerable. Is it healthy to put this much pressure on students?
  But that's the American Way. Push on until you die and you still won't have it all. 
All opinions are my own
I do not own any of the photos used


Go Against The Grain

Go Against The Grain

Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017

Treasure Hunts Suck

   Shopping is akin to going on a treasure hunt. You spend time searching high and low for something worth your hard earned money, for what? A small handful of pieces that were actually worth the time and effort? 
   Shoppers tend to stay within their comfort zone: trusted stores and brands. They find themselves coming back again and again, sometimes despite the outcome of their purchases.
Cheap material that's almost transparent? --I paid the price for it
Something breaks after a wear or two? --It must have been a fluke on my part.
Mystery hole? --It had to have been me
  As a consumer, I find myself making excuse after excuse for the company... and returning for more clothes on my next shopping spree. 

It Doesn't Have to be Like This. 

    My call to action for all consumers is this: If you aren't getting the quality that you expect, think about the stores and brands you are throwing money at. Rid yourself of the pack mentality that, "Everyone shops here so it must be the best.". Don't isolate your influence as a consumer to one or two 'trusted' stores. YOU ARE THE CONSUMER AND YOU HOLD THE POWER! Your money is a symbol of ideas, principals, products, service, and quality that you love and support. Think about that the next time you go shopping.  

Think About Where You Shop

Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
Flannel from Mills Fleet Farm

Where you would you buy a flannel? A beanie? 
   Most people that I know would say Forever 21 or another popular teeny bopper store like Maurice's or American Eagle (of which I am not familiar with). 
     Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for Forever 21. Their racks represent not only the grunge aesthetic but also the boho flower child, athleisure queen, and contemporary chic princesses of the world. Forever 21 feels fresh without trying too hard. 
  I've found many surprisingly nice quality dresses on their website that I would rank 12/10 would recommend to a friend. But their quality does not stretch across all of their products... you definitely get what you pay for. (Always buy the more expensive item if you're stuck between two similar pieces... you're paying for the materials). 
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
Flannel and beanie from Mills Fleet Farm
After some research, I've found that flannels are best purchased at *drum roll* farmeresque store such as Theisans, Mills Fleet Farm, *insert name of your animal feed 'n renovation tools/hunting gear store here*. 
    Stores that sell farming supplies don't fool around when they sell clothes meant to perform. Overalls, flannels, beanies, jeans, boots... you name it, you'll find a product that looks just like your Ugg boots (Bearpaw for the win) or Forever 21 beanie but made of more durable materials. Plus, flannels are actually made of flannel (the fabric) at these stores! Who knew, right?
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
Can you imagine the average shopper at one of these stores trying on a Forever 21 flannel? Uh-uh. That quality wouldn't fly. Fortunately for Forever 21, their consumer base ignores quality of products for street style cred (and I'm guilty as charged). 
    It feels like the best kept secret of the grunge fast fashion game. Why do we tend to stay away from these stores even if they have great quality pieces that we are looking for? 
The answer is aesthetic.
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
    Farmeresque stores aren't trying to be the trendy-without-trying-too-hard older sister of Forever 21. They don't have large window displays with lacey bralettes and boyfriend jeans or tee shirts that say "Dope" or "Slay". These "animal feed 'n renovation tools/hunting gear" stores don't even have window displays because they aren't really marketed to women... but that doesn't mean you can't find really great pieces on their racks. These companies provide clothes you can live in, and I think that that's really important. 
    Fashion is plagued with fast fashion. Fast fashion stores are filled with cheaply made trendy pieces that don't always stand the test of time (although there are always exceptions). Remember the crosses and tribal print days of Forever 21? *cringes*
   Just like you, dear reader, I hate having to replace clothes that shrink, rip, go out of style, and don't live up to my expectations. Because of these issues that plague my wardrobe, I will be implementing some extra thought and common sense when trying to find specific pieces to add to my wardrobe. Who wants to buy cheap crap that doesn't last? Nobody. If you don't get the quality you expect, go somewhere else. 
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017

All opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not reflect the companies mentioned.