Gemma Pranita’s Gemma Peanut Gallery is a feast for the eyes and a simmering bath for the soul. Describing her blog as “a heart-centered blog with some deep insights into my inspirations and musings on life,” it’s no surprise Gemma’s authenticity, appetite for adventure, and sense of fun have caught the attention of a sizeable online “tribe.” I first met Gemma in 2005 at drama school in Western Australia. Fellow thespians, we’ve stayed in touch over the years, and watching Gemma work her magic and build her blog into what it is today has been an inspiration, to say the least. Gemma currently lives in Sydney and me in LA, so we recently caught up over Skype and a cuppa to discuss the power of social media, the too-cool-for-school fashion “exclusivity club,” and how fashion can in fact be a force for good.
Viva: What inspired you to start a blog?
Gemma: It was a need more than anything. Two years ago I found myself trapped in a creative vacuum. I desperately needed an outlet to express my passion for story telling, adventuring, fashion, and photography without waiting for an employer to give me the green light “go ahead.” A blog was the perfect vehicle to dig me out of my creative funk and would serve as a the perfect canvas for unbridled self-expression. I never would have imagined it turning into what it is today. The generosity of spirit extended to me by my incredible online tribe is what keeps me going. I no longer blog for myself, but for them.
How did you go about launching it?
If you could sum up Gemma Peanut Gallery in one or two sentences, how would you best describe it?
It is a place to quench your wanderlust thirst and feed your fashion fervor! It is a heart-centered blog with some deep insights into my inspirations and musings on life.
Since fashion is a prominent part of Gemma Peanut Gallery, I want to talk a bit about the fashion world and the role fashion plays in the ways we women see ourselves.
You wrote a great blog post “Confessions of an Unfashionable Blogger” (for those who haven’t read it, you should !) Can you extrapolate a bit about this confession and what it means to you?
This piece was about feeling completely alien amongst a crowd you thought you identified with. Fashion Week was the ultimate catalyst for me. I felt so out of place and started to question myself as a fashion blogger. I had such trepidation about publishing that blog post because I thought that exposing myself as an unfashionable fashion blogger would equal fashion blogging career suicide. But I have no regrets. The post was met with nothin’ but love and support, and I learned that I wasn’t alone in my thinking. It made me completely reassess the idea of belonging. Why do we confuse belonging with conforming? Let us celebrate uniqueness with all its quirks and discords. Fashion should be accessible not unattainable. I hate the “exclusivity club” many brands try to cultivate. You’re not cool if you’re not dressed in the latest designer garb. What a bunch of BS!
Why is the fashion world so seemingly cold and unenthused, as you describe in your blog?
I honestly don’t know! It’s as if seeming cold, poker-faced, and unenthused is cool? All I know is that this culture of “cool” does not align with my ideology.
And what messages do you think this poker-faced, all-for-show culture communicates to the rest of us regular women?
I think it communicates a rather damaging message. It reminds me of high school and the classic “You can’t sit with us” sensibility. It’s completely isolating.
I’m really excited about the emergence of a more diverse palette of female body shapes and sizes being embraced by the media (Girls, OITNB, plus-size bloggers, plus-size fashion). It’s clear though that we still have a long way to go. How do you think the fashion world perceives this shift?
This is what is so fab about the blogging world! These women are reaching a wider audience, forcing a number of industries to listen and adapt. This is a positive shift and it’s putting some power back in the consumers’ hands. For years we have been at the mercy of the media juggernaut manipulating our beliefs but now diverse voices are being heard far and wide and we can choose what we tune our ears to.
How do you think that fashion can be a force of good for female body image and empowerment?
This is what we forget about fashion, it’s a form of expression and should be FUN and help us feel FABULOUS. It’s unfortunate that fashion is now so heavily tied to emaciated models and elite chicness (is chicness even a word? Ha!).
It is now and I’m about to steal it!
There’s a sportswear brand I love called “The Upside,” which promotes healthy body image throughout their brand. They are a force of fashion for good. Their Instagram portrays beautiful women of all shapes and sizes looking utterly fabulous in activewear. I take my hat off to them!
Given that a huge component of fashion blogging involves social media, in what ways do you think social media is having a negative effect on young women?
I think the danger of social media comes in the form of unhealthy comparisons. Young women don’t realize that many people publish heavily filtered, altered, and retouched photos. Even Queen Beyonce has been caught cinching her waste or creating a thigh gap with apps. I’d hate for young impressionable women to think this is reality and start questioning their own sense of worth based on skinniness and thigh gaps.
In what ways is it positive?
If you can create balance with who you follow, social media can be very positive. It’s okay to stalk your favorite fashion labels and trend setting fashionistas, but throw in some influencers who push the envelope and challenge the status quo into your list. There are some great social media accounts that focus on living your best life through travel and adventure or accounts that deliver daily affirmations to keep you in check with what’s truly important. Like any healthy diet, it’s all about balance.
Congratulations on your engagement! You and I have spoken a little bit about this before: how does preparing for your wedding—a traditional ritual—marry (‘scuse the pun) with your progressive, woman-about-the-world values? I guess it’s a conversation about traditional values that we continue to find meaningful while adopting more progressive ones in other ways?
Oh thank you! It’s so exciting. In preparation for my wedding I have had to assess certain elements of a wedding and check that they actually have meaning and resonate with my fiancé and I. We’ve definitely thrown out some of the old dusty traditions with the bathwater. For example, we’ve opted out of having a wedding cake. They are sooo expensive and the sentiment of a wedding cake is totally lost on me. What is it supposed to symbolize? Why do I have to pose for a photo cutting it? It doesn’t mean anything to us. I think it’s easy to get caught up with what you are supposed to do, so I say shake it up. Tradition Shmission. Do what feels right for you and your partner, and focus on how you want to mark this magical moment of love!
And finally, describe your favorite outfit.