If you’re looking for a new #WomanCrushWednesday, look no further than Penn State student Annabelle Schmitt. Annabelle, or “Annabae” as her friends and currently 4,183 Instagram followers call her, is a junior majoring in advertising and Chinese.
What sets her apart from the typical college student, however, is her fashion blog: Mixed Hues, a platform that fuses fashion and feminism together with the intention to, as she says, “inspire and empower women.”
The origin of the name ‘Mixed Hues’ reflects her ethnicity (a mix of Taiwanese and American) and the hue, or lens, that Schmitt uses to view society around her. She saw that there was an abundance of fashion and lifestyle bloggers posting content, but a disparity of bloggers actively engaging in social issues and movements.
When Schmitt first started her brand, she faced a variety of obstacles. She remembers the days of taking low-quality pictures, being somewhat shy in front of the camera and struggling to find her own, unique voice.
The element, she found, that most contributes to a successful social media presence is having a positive support system. “I’ve always been really lucky because my mom has always been super supportive of me, so I’ve never been too afraid to be myself,” Schmitt says. The constant, positive feedback she gets from both her mom and close friends gives Schmitt the confidence she needs to take risks with her brand and continue to pursue her mission.
While social media platforms enable Schmitt to spread her message, Instagram specifically has a major drawback. Schmitt says this drawback “is that [Instagram has] a curated feed where you’re expected to look your best … and sometimes you don’t feel so great about yourself after looking at those flawless pictures.”
To break from the unrealistic standard of “perfection” projected on social media platforms, Schmitt pursued her mission of encouraging women through documenting her own personal struggles via Instagram captions, blog posts and Instagram stories. The goal is to “be as authentic and vulnerable as possible, demonstrating how important it is as a woman to have your own voice, and to use it,” she says.
Schmitt says she is currently inspired by fellow blogger Cassie Ho, who empowers females through projecting a message of body positivity … that working out should be for mental and physical health, not appearance. Schmitt admits that she “struggled with body acceptance in middle school,” which is why Ho’s message resonates so strongly with her. Schmitt’s first-hand journey of coming to terms with her body has influenced her decisions about which companies she collaborates with.
At the moment, Schmitt is an ambassador for the companies Aerie and Lively. She loves working with Aerie because of its body-positivity campaign. The company practices what it preaches by foregoing editing and Photoshopping their photos, giving a realistic view of the female body. Lively, a female-founded company, operates in the same way as Aerie — celebrating all forms, shapes and sizes of women.
Blogging isn’t just a pastime hobby for Schmitt. She plans on continuing to work on her blog even after she graduates from Penn State, and she aspires to work for either a female-led company or one that empowers women. She feels that this will “further develop her identity and voice as a feminist.”
Her parting advice to all future bloggers? “It’s all about knowing who you are and being yourself,” she says. “Take the time to sit down and take a hard look at yourself and figure out your passions. Remember that business/entrepreneurship is part of blogging, but not the only or most important part. Establish your brand, your vision, and the rest will come in time.”