Harling Ross, Fashion Editor at Man Repeller
Note from human behind Fake Cool: I’ve decided to start typing little intros to these interviews to contextualize them. I was initially trying to find a clever opening question that would get people to talk about their “cool jobs”, but I’ve realized that self depreciation is more common than affirmation. So…..I’ll brag for them.
On that note: I first met (well, digitally) Harling, because I followed her fashion-related blog, My Tomayto (which rest assured I tried to stalk for these purposes - but couldn’t) back when I was in…college? I think. Ages ago. She had one of those rare writing voices that hooks you from the get-go — and she gave me hope that not all fashion blogs would caption their posts “look @ my favorite shoes!!!” and then leave it at that (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that) (sometimes you want your shoes to be looked at) (but, you know…). Now, she’s a real fashion editor - working at Man Repeller - another early days (current days) favorite of mine. She writes articles about everything from eating avocado every day for a week to existential deep dives on personal growth and identity. Also? She has killer hair.
1. First of all, what is the "coolest" thing about you? What is the least "cool" thing about you?
The coolest things about me is that I can only wiggle *one* of my ears. The least cool thing about me is that I don’t like tomatoes.
2. When you started your blog, My Tomayto, ages ago - did you have any hesitations before you started it? If so, how did you overcome them to move forward (I remember starting my blog was really really hard bc I was so scared everyone would think I was lame and just wanted attention...)
I don’t think I had hesitations about starting it, because it felt like a low-stakes scenario (I had nothing to lose, and my audience was probably my mom and a few friends), but I DID feel extremely shy about promoting it in any way. Self-promotion has such an ugly connotation, but I’ve seen other people do it so artfully and in a way that feels like an invitation to get to know them better as opposed to unsolicited bragging. I’m still working on navigating that distinction.
3. What does writing do for you? Does it allow you to cope with certain life issues? Connect with others? Be honest in a controlled way?
All of the above! But most importantly, it’s often a vehicle for saying things that would be hard for me to say out loud in person. I typically find it much easier to be articulate and say something in the way I want it to be heard when I’m writing versus when I’m talking extemporaneously. That may change over time, but right now being able to process my experiences through writing is hugely cathartic.
4. You spend a lot of time in the fashion space. I know when I spent time in that space, I *constantly* worried that I'd never be that cool, chill, fashion girl who didn't look at the cam during street style pics. Have you ever felt that way, or similar to that way? Do you feel like you fit in now?
I wouldn’t say I feel like I 100% fit in (does anyone ever??) but I do feel that now after spending a few years in this industry, I’m friendly with more of the people in it and typically have at least one person I know and can chat with at an event, which makes a world of difference in terms of my comfort levels.
5. What's an insecurity that you used to have that you've either overcome or are well on your way to working through?
I used to be really insecure about having curly hair but now it’s my favorite thing about how I look. That 180-degree transition never ceases to blow my mind. It’s wild.
6. If you could tell someone who wanted your life but thought they weren't "cool enough" just ONE THING, what would you tell them?
I’ve spent my fair share of time admiring other people’s lives that appear shinier or “cooler” than my own, but I try to remind myself that coolness is the polished tip of an iceberg with unimaginable depths. Everyone has stuff going on in their lives that isn’t always apparent through the screen of the internet, or even face-to-face. Everyone has insecurities they roll around in their heads like marbles before falling asleep at night. No one has gotten where they are by divorcing themselves from that complexity. It’s part of the package of being human.