Dark side of life as a fashion influencer

Lounging in free suites at five-star Paris hotels, and courted by the best fashion designers, this influencer reveals the dark side of her glamorous lifestyle.

Growing up on a cotton farm in South Texas, Jacey Duprie, 39, never imagined she would one day sit on the front row of international catwalk shows, lounge in free suites at five-star Paris hotels, and be courted by the best fashion designers. , all of whom wanted her to wear their clothes.

On the surface, she was a popular fashion influencer with over 700,000 followers… but off-camera she’d pushed her husband away and sat alone on the couch reading self-help books in sweatpants. She was days away from divorce, unsure who to trust in her inner circle, and wondering if the fortune, fame, and free clothes were worth it.

“It was around July 4. My husband, Grant, had moved. And I realized that I would end up alone with millions of followers, but no one to cuddle with,” says Duprie The mail what her situation looked like five years ago. Now she and Grant live in a much better place in Los Angeles with their three-year-old daughter June.

her new book, I love myself back: an influencer’s journey from self-doubt to self-acceptancetells this and other stories from a life that looked perfect on Instagram but had many cracks beneath the surface.

From hobby to career

Duprie never intended to become an influencer. After graduating from DePaul University in Chicago with a degree in communications, she worked in television production The Oprah Winfrey Show and with e!where colleagues always complimented her fashion sense, including her ability to combine quick fashion finds with designer labels.

Her friends urged her to start a blog when she was in her late twenties, which later turned into Damsel In Dior

“I never dreamed it would become a full-time business,” recalls Duprie. “I just found something that I was really excited about, really passionate about and wanted to look forward to.”

The blog’s demands worked well with her ability to focus on her passions, which she later learned were part of a constellation of symptoms associated with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD).

“I would go to my laptop before brushing my teeth. I would be in bed with my laptop. I was just so obsessed.”

But as the blog grew into an Instagram account and six-figure promotional deals with brands like Amazon, Cotton Inc, eBay, and Old Navy, cracks began to appear in the picture-perfect life Duprie was creating.

There was a $60,000 ($A88,000) tax bill she had to pay. Since Duprie was still seen as an up-and-comer at the time, she found it challenging to bring in free merchandise from brands. It had become a vicious circle: she had to spend money on clothes and accessories to make money, buying people through affiliate links posted on her blog. It was then that Duprie discovered the art of “pulling”: enter a clothing store, borrow what she wanted, pay a 10 percent restocking fee, and return the rest of the items. In this way, a catch of $2000 ($A3000) was reduced to $200 ($A300).

These tricks of the trade were enhanced by strengthening relationships with fashion publicists. Duprie would meet fashion publicists and be invited to select clothes. While it looked glamorous, Duprie says it was hard work. A meeting with a publicist would be followed by a handwritten note (with personal details sprinkled in; Duprie kept a notebook full of observations about each publicist’s family, likes, dislikes, and hobbies). She also returned clothes that had been laundered and dry-cleaned as soon as she was done with them, along with a carefully chosen gift.

Only focus was work

She often worked through the night, analyzing analytics, attending blog conferences, and improving her photo-editing skills. She would also negotiate contracts herself. Being the editor, star, producer, tech support and administrative assistant of her nearly seven-figure empire wasn’t easy, but she felt like she couldn’t admit it when her life looked perfect.

“I probably sound so jaded when I say this, but you’re taking a first-class trip to Italy one, two, three times, four times. It’s still great. It still gives you that feeling, but then you quickly realize that you’re alone on that flight,” says Duprie.

Plus, all the work hid inner pain: Her father, who was her greatest champion, was also an alcoholic who was sober in and out. During Duprie’s childhood, the family flirted with bankruptcies and Duprie often had to help her father, sometimes driving him home from the bar when she was a young teenager. Her father had been drunk during her graduation and had angry outbursts that scared her, including one time they set their lawnmower on fire.

Deep down, Duprie knew that her turbulent childhood was causing ripples in the life she built with Grant. As her brand grew, she became so hyper-focused that her husband was an afterthought. But instead of digging into her pain, Duprie turned on the filters.

“The way my mind works is that when things start to slip with my mental health or in my personal life, I really hold onto something that I feel like I’m in control of,” she says. “For me, it was the content I was creating.”

‘Tell me how much you hate me’

Meanwhile, her Damsel In Dior blog had never been so successful. And the more successful she was, the more spectators waited for her to fall.

Damsel In Dior kept popping up on various online forums dedicated to taking influencers apart.

“It’s easy to make fun of these girls who trot all over the world and complain that they’re at the beach,” says Duprie. “You’re like, ‘Really? OK. We really feel sorry for you.’ I totally get it. Gosh, that thought runs through my head when I’m doing it.”

But if you’re not equipped and don’t have the tools to really process that and go against it, it takes some time to get used to and grow that thick skin,” said Duprie, who says she doesn’t read the forums no more.

“Honestly, a lot of the trolls will come straight into your comments or your DMs, which is great. I’d much rather have that. I’m like, ‘Let’s go have lunch. Tell me all about how much you hate me.’

But sometimes the haters weren’t just strangers. For a year, Ashley, one of Duprie’s friends and bridesmaids, attended New York Fashion Week, trying to build her own blog after years of working as a fashion segment producer for a television network. Duprie, who also attended Fashion Week, continued to dodge her calls – until Ashley revealed she bought a leopard print dress from Australian designer Zimmermann to wear at a designer show. The dress was the same that Duprie had been sent by the designers; she planned to wear it to the show herself.

While Ashley was excited about the prospect of a twinning, Duprie changed her dress plans and iced hair when they bumped into each other during the show, annoyed by what she felt was Ashley’s attempt to piggyback on her success.

Wake-up call after bottoming out

Later, Duprie realized that this was a mistake – and the incident was a turning point. She had also yelled at her assistant; on edge during professional meetings and barely talking to her husband unless it was an aside.

“I think it got to the point where it was all about the blog, everything about me and my Instagram. It was just so selfish, so, so, so selfish. And these moments add up. And if you keep adding them up, you will hit rock bottom.”

Bottoming out meant struggling with a question: who was Jacey Duprie if she wasn’t? Damsel In Dior

On the weekend her husband left, Duprie set out to heal herself: She refused to travel to spend time in her garden, began going to therapy and dealing with some painful childhood memories. She also started going to couples therapy with Grant. Little by little, she began to feel more anchored in herself.

Today, however, Duprie tries to keep her life offline and more. Instead of posting right away, she often takes a day or two to decompress before sharing.

“It’s just really about quality over quantity,” she says. “And slow down our lives a little bit.”

This article originally appeared on the New York Post has been republished with permission

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