But then came the internet—especially when social media took off—and the ability to see what others are doing around the world. This gave people of all interests a vastly larger community.
Social media has changed the world of vintage fashion wearing, buying, selling, collecting, and learning. Much of this is for the good; it’s wonderful to get to know people across the globe who share your interest, and the vintage community online is mostly very welcoming and supportive. But even in this community, there are rumblings of anxiety, self-esteem issues, and depression that seem to correlate with comparing oneself to others or groups of others. After all, we can now witness perfected images, the highlights of lives, and the success of businesses by the thousands every day.
Starting to get anxious just reading this? It isn’t just you: A November 2018 Forbes article cites studies which show that time spent on social media is directly related to feelings of depression and loneliness in research subjects. In the world of vintage:
Vintage wearers: So-and-so is the perfect size for wearing vintage, knows everything about it, has all the money to buy the best items out there, gets to vacation at vintage events, and always has perfect hair and makeup. Oh, and her super attractive partner takes her stunning photos. Did I mention she wears a 5 1/2 in shoes and has zero competition for vintage footwear?
Vintage sellers: So-and-so has 100 times my number of followers, finds the absolute coolest items, has free help from her sister, and sells everything instantly for insanely high prices. Oh, and her house is mid-century modern, and even her cat is unbelievably photogenic.
You know the bit. If you don’t, I’m thrilled for you!
How do you feel when you see an email subject line that reads “Vintage Wearing Do’s and Don’t’s,” or look at a vintage maven’s Instagram feed that seems to include 100% of your wish-list items (all strictly NFS)? How about when you see that everyone you follow seems to be getting fabulous at applying winged eyeliner even though you’ve decided it isn’t for you? Vintage people aren’t bullies but we—being only human—can feel distressed, belittled, and lonely.
Further, it isn’t just social media that pressures us. I have been at vintage shows and events where I saw a definite hierarchy, and even heard expressions of inadequacy, as if you had to be somebody in particular to be at this event, or even to wear vintage.