39 Comments
Mar 4Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Sometimes I think social media is the best thing that ever happened to the writing industry because it democratized who gets to have a platform and a voice. And sometimes I think it's the worst thing that ever happened to writers. Not just because it highjacks our voice in the way Jessica so beautifully describes here, but because it released publishers from having to do much of any marketing for authors since we all, supposedly, have the means to do it ourselves. Before I had any real aspirations to be a writer I enjoyed social media. Now, it is a necessary evil of my existence.

This interview series is one of the few bright spots. Thank you, Amanda!

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Mar 4Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Great interview. Nipple lipstick, huh? Well, why not. Or...why?? 😏

I've never been a fan of social media but there's no doubt it has major influencing capacity. That's the problem, I think. I get influence-dizzy! (Over here! Look at me! Come ON!)

I've never signed up for Instagram and I rarely look at it so I'm in awe of the role it plays in building up personalities. I'm puzzled by what it can do for writers, but then I haven't really studied it. I've only heard from others that there are rules and you can get kicked off and that would be terrible. I guess.

But I do love Substack and I do love Notes, and finding gems like this is one of the reasons why.

Thank you both! ❤️

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author

There’s a point where advertisements and influencers just translate like bullies in my head! Only so much anyone can take!!

The nipple lipstick was so bizarre to even imagine. I mean what FOR … 😂

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Hilariously, I actually thought, Oh! That makes a lot of sense. I mean, it's clearly a color that works with my skin tone...

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Why not just send pics of your lips to match your skin tone? Sounds like a way for pervs to get loads of nipple shots, but I’m a skeptic by nature. 😉

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thank you for these thoughtful questions! :)

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I love that Oscar Wilde quote. It's so true. I wish I'd heard it sooner, too. It's reassuring to know that people have always been this way, and it's not just a result of social media.

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Mar 5Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

This is such a good point!

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Mar 4Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

“Beauty products are more often used to create an image of a self than express an existing self.” WHEW. I suppose that’s true of just about anything we’re marketed, or maybe even told. Is it possible to look at all of it from the outside and see if there *is* a self? Probably not. I like to think there’s a self we all have but maybe that’s just an idea I’ve taken on from other people. ;)

When my last book proposal was turned down, the lack of social media came up a lot, especially not having Twitter (I’d deleted my account in early 2018). It’s absolutely absurd but it is still expected in the industry — absurd in part because there is no correlation between the number of social media followers and the success of a book (NYT did a big story about this a couple years ago I think), and also because it really brings into question what the publishing industry is *for*. If they’re not doing the PR, marketing, and sales, then …? I get hung up on this all the time. A lot of the industry seems to be running on mystique.

I love Jessica’s newsletter! I haven’t worn makeup in years and don’t really use any other products, and just love the way she writes about marketing, self-image (!), society, capitalism, and even—related to my work—some of the environmental impacts of all of it. Thank you for this interview!

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Yes yes yes. Here for this!

The book industry run on mystique? Feel that in my bones. A few years ago I realized I would never size up right for a proper book deal because the “persona” crafting was far too damaging psychologically for me. Plus, to your point, the industry knows that followers aren’t a slam dunk to selling books. I bet I read the same NYT article a few years back when (I think?) some singer wrote an autobiography and it completely flopped (in superstar book terms).

Also. Also. Just chiming in here to say Jessica’s work put a very fine point on my walking away from exhausting skincare routines. A year or so ago I read a NYT piece about the price the Earth is paying for all the “natural skincare” brands and their super obscure ingredients. It painted such a sickening picture I couldn’t keep up with all the potions and feel-good Credo Beauty points charade. It turns out I probably wasn’t doing much better by my skin AND I was participating in a deeply harmful resource extraction from the Earth. And for what end? Nowadays, I wash my face with jojoba oil (rinse with hot water washcloth) and if it’s extra dry outside I will put a little extra moisturizer so my skin doesn’t feel tight. I feel like I’ve gotten back a huge mental space in my brain because of this.

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Mar 6Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

That was the NYT article! Yes. It affirmed what I think anyone with common sense knows intuitively, yeah?

The whole mystique thing is really worth writing about more, for someone. Tom Cox has done some great newsletters on that recently. It's kind of a rock and a hard place because what a publisher purports to offer (marketing and PR in particular, as well as distribution) can be exhausting and difficult for many of us to even get our heads around on our own.

I love what Jessica writes about skin care in particular, even more than beauty routines in general. It feels so intuitive (again!) that "taking care" of one's skin can't be a bad thing. I haven't used anything but sunscreen and my homemade lotion* for years, but a year ago I said something about getting older (I'm 47) and a couple friends told me all the products they use and recommend. I thought, why not for once, so I spent too much money and however many months later decided that my skin is just a cheap date because it reacted or broke out to ALL of it, except the eye-gel oil, which did absolutely nothing but did smell nice. 😂

*(For anyone interested, it's the recipe on this page: https://asonomagarden.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/how-to-make-an-easy-beeswax-lotion/ I have tried giving it up a few times but my skin freaks out and gets very dry.)

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Could y’all drop the NYT article too? Would love to read it!

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Mar 4Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Thank you Amanda and Jessica for this brilliant interview. I think it's helpful for others to hear how shy you were as a child Jessica, it was for me. In our extroverted world, it makes us feel like we don't measure up somehow and that sense certainly lingers as we move through our life.

It sounds like you're on the right track (although we know there is NO right track) to getting back to yourself and I love your idea for the creative nipple project. The marketing of that company is mindblowing, in an already bent industry.

Thank you for the work you're doing.

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Mar 4Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

What an insightful interview! This quote from Jessica particularly resonated: “But the more I think and read about the self, the more I’m convinced there is no essential self, not in any way that matters, and pursuing solidarity with the collective is a more interesting and liberating project than defining the self anyway?” I needed to hear that today! Many thanks

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Mar 5Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Thank you Jessica and Amanda for another great COTH. Jessica I really resonated with your sense of mild sadness, and your rotting avocado. Its not often that people are willing to mention such minutae, clearly your writer’s eye at work.

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I thought this was a great interview. Full of incisive comments about the way our world seems to work now. But also I'm wondering about the bravery bag and whether it could actually work.

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Love your mimetic take on "self," Jessica. Rene Girard, Michel Oughourlian, and Guy Lefort coined the term interdividuality "to express their conviction that a monadic, isolated subject does not exist and that the self can only be understood in relation to others. Therefore, there is no such thing as the modern notion of an “individual.” We are only interdividuals, our thinking and desires shaped by our relationships with others."

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Oh my God, the matching lip and nip. And Jessica‘s insight into the way products are too often utilized to create image, rather than express self, to even keep us from realizing there is a difference, and it is vast.

Thank you for this terrific interview, Amanda and Jessica!

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Mar 5Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Jessica, when you said that your writing voice hasn’t been the same since social media, that really resonated with me. I started taking breaks from social media last year and have been off completely since January this year. Witnessing the way regular ol’ humans rip each other apart in the comments or the way people post with such snarky know-it-all tones, or seeing how adults bully a kid just singing the national anthem….. it got to me. All I do is second guess myself! Will someone find a hole in my argument?? Will they think my new art hobby sucks because it’s not as good as what they’ve seen on Instagram?? Why are people still giving me advice for my skin? I was told I didn’t care about my engagement because I didn’t post it on Instagram!! The troll/criticizing/constant advice voice is louder than ever. I just want to have a conversation with someone that has nothing to do with what they’ve just seen on tiktok or Instagram 🫠

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Mar 5Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

This Oscar Wilde quote will live rent-free in my head forever now and I will constantly wonder who I would be without the constant influence and pressure from others.

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This!! Someone asked me recently what I'd tell my 13-year-old self (who was *just* pre-social media, thank goodness), and it would honestly be that other people really don't matter. They're other people! And I'm not in touch with any of the other people my 13-year-old self thought were so important.

I love people. They're great. But this reminder that they're 'other' people was so needed today.

I'm tempted to take a leaf out of Jessica's book and tape the quote above my desk!

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Mar 5Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Instagram broke my writing voice as well. I also got stalked online and every place I expressed myself (blog, IG, LinkedIn, Twitter)—she found me. Super unhealthy on both counts, trying to get back to trusting my journal.

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I’ve hugely admired Jessica’s work, especially as an ex-makeup artist and beauty journalist. She said so many things I wanted to say.

In fact at Uni, one of my lecturers wrote some beauty journalism as a side gig and she hated me because I wrote an essay called ‘why you should give dumbed down beauty journalism a wide berth’. She critiqued my work so harshly and made me question my voice, I later understood she felt personally attacked, which wasn’t the intention but yes, her beauty writing towed the dumbness of the editorial line.

My recent writing, since the beginning of this year is a constant exercise in belonging to myself, I could write an essay on this itself but I won’t here!

Thanks for this great piece.

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I hope you write that piece somewhere, some day. I mean this sincerely, please tag me in it so I can read it. Finding my own voice in writing has been a long and complicated path. In fact underlying this entire series is the desire to belong so fully to myself that my voice rings out wherever I may be. Easier said that done, though. Thanks for being here. 🙏🏼

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I hear you! And so much YES, my goodness my heart sings hearing a woman’s devotion to belonging to herself 💜

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And yes I will tag you when I write it!

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Mar 6Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

I want to write without necessarily being seen. I don't want to have to be a marketing whiz to write about Black beauty culture. But, growing my newsletter has proven that in some ways I need to build an audience off the visual to grow my readership. This puts my concept of self (how I feel compelled to present myself to attract potential readers vs. my shy self) at odds.

These questions are helping my writing voice though, as I'm feeling very experimental lately.

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Mar 6Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Omg. Nips & lips 🤣🤣 flirte Jesus!! 😆 now I need to go check to see if mine match 😂😂

That Oscar Wilde quote is *chefs kiss* going to add it to the post-it-quotes on my kids’ bathroom mirror right now!

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