There’s a reason why Nike doesn’t venture into home decor
How personal branding is a pain and a plus at the same time, and how you can become more at peace with the brand you’re wearing.
Before me stood a woman in a cow suit lilting her voice so it would sound more like mine. I was being roasted. And I highly recommend the experience.
At my university it was customary to roast the graduating class before their commencement. And when it came time for me to kick the boot and hop on into adulthood the roast I remember the most pertained to how I answered the question, “where are you from?”
I grew up in Jersey. But I was born in San Francisco. And I’m first generation in the states with my parents immigrating from Germany.
The roast began by the cow-suited woman raising her arms to resemble a Roman statue and exclaiming to the crowd, “I am Larissa and I come from the mountains and the sea and the birds of the sisters who came before me and the sweet beer of the ancestral plains of Germany and the never-ending fog of San Francisco. Also known as New Jersey.” It was executed perfectly.
I’ve thought about that roast many times since because it was spot on. But the reason I recommend getting roasted is because sometimes what’s spot on to others is invisible to you.
The run-on sentence of the roast has never been invisible to me. I’ve always embraced the fact that I’m not exactly the walking archetype of an All-American Girl. But there’s something about the fact that I grew up in New Jersey that never quite fit into my “birds-of-the-sisters-who-came-before-me” image.
So I ignored it. Pretended it didn’t exist. Lied to myself in my head. Convincing yourself that an aspect of your upbringing didn’t actually affect you is far too easy.
Convincing yourself to get pizza is also far too easy. Oh look! A subscribe button.
I find it difficult to be more than one thing. I often catch myself feeling like I should slither into one box and one box only, rather than having toes in multiple boxes. And I do understand why. In a world where brand is king, it’s simpler to position yourselves to others when you’re simpler. There’s a reason why Nike doesn’t venture into home decor.
So I feel conflicted about the aspects of my personality that don’t fit into my “birds-of-the-sisters-who-came-before-me” image because I value success; I see how including the Jersey aspects of myself is antithetical to a clear display of my own personal brand, however vomit-in-your-mouth that statement may be for some of you reading this.
I love the idea of a personal brand. I know it’s a very cringe-worthy statement, and many a person has expressed to me how much they despise the idea of a personal brand. But I think it’s empowering to brand yourself. We live in a capitalistic society, so it’s either you brand yourself, or wait for society to do it for you.
However. All that being said. I want to share with you some aspects of myself that I, and maybe I alone, find quintessentially Jersey about myself. Because these are the things that I largely keep hidden about myself. And I am here to talk about lies after all.
The ultimate list of Jersey from my perspective and my perspective alone.
I’ve been watching the Bachelor franchise consistently since 2018.
A woman who shall not be named turned me onto it in 2018. I guffawed when she told me she watched it. Then she turned on the TV. At first I denied that the TV was even on. Ignored it. Played on my phone. Then I started watching, and I got angry. Everyone seemed like a dimwit, and I hated them for it. Then the bargaining, at the TV. I started yelling at the contestants, telling them they should have chosen differently. Then the depression; the realization that I was in too deep to shovel my way back out.
Acceptance came when I watched it by myself the next Monday.
I love spin class.
Is it a cult? 100%. Am I a member of said cult? 1,000%. I’m convinced that you don’t know what grit is until you get on a bike destined for nowhere week after week.
I also cry during spin class. They play slow songs sometimes and tell me that I’m worth it and a mixture of sweat and tears soaks my towel.
I have strong opinions about throw pillows.
I hate them.
I’m currently watching Dancing with the Stars.
My mom got me hooked on this one. And she’s not even from Jersey! The things that living in Jersey that long will do to you…
I get along well with “bros”.
Do I enjoy the experience? No. And this does require code switching on my part. But I know exactly how to shift my being to become a total “bro.” Read: I do not become arm candy. I’d rather squish myself onto a crowded subway car. But I know how to become a football-watching mechanic type, with zero knowledge of football or the goings on beneath my sink. Otherwise known as “the cool girl.”
I am not her at all hours of the day. And I have some very pointed opinions about the “bros” who cannot function unless a “cool girl” is in their presence. However, sometimes you just need your sink fixed, and being a “cool girl” makes that process a lot easier.
Endlessly studying the chest slam greeting of the “bro” in my youth has proved instrumental.
The hard thing about personal branding is I’m not an object. Nike can be built from the ground up. But there are aspects of my history that I can’t delete; I can convince myself they didn’t affect me, but that wouldn’t be true.
So a different approach is necessary. One that includes roasting. One that includes listening to the roasts, and accepting new parts about myself, whenever I discover them. Especially when the roasts are made by women in cow suits.
The cow suit was in reference to a show I created that used cows as a metaphor for women in relation to their objectification. The show, an object itself, was carefully branded. The best roast they could come up with was wearing a cow suit. To that I say: moo.