No matter how painstakingly one follows Martha Stewart’s instructions for individual bars of “Crock-Pot soap” during the holidays, there is no way to ever fully replicate her DIY perfection. Over at Salon, Rebecca Harrington (who is herself expert at imitating celebrity lifestyles) probes the world of obsessive Martha Stewart–inspired crafters, who seem to have developed a real inferiority complex.
Despite their Pinterest shrines, painstaking mastery of decoupage Easter eggs, and elaborate macramé constructions, today’s Stewart-ites must live with the knowledge that they will never live up to the ways of their leader. They continually acknowledge their inadequacy. Jen Lancaster, author of The Tao of Martha, realizes that “Martha would shudder at [her] half-assery.” Others self-flagellate by saying things like “I am organized, but I’m not Martha Stewart. I am a perfectionist, but I’m not Martha Stewart. I am crafty, but I’m not Martha Stewart.”
The origins of the Martha complex are a mystery. Is it just plain old lifestyle envy? Is it some feeling that one is not a real woman unless she has her own bedazzled glue-gun holster and color-coded craft corner? Or is it because Martha once said to Bloomberg TV, “I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create kind of a popularity, but they are not the experts”?
She has spoken. According to Lancaster, these online followers see the post-prison Martha Stewart as “a benevolent aunt, the one who started it all, the William Shakespeare of ‘Entertaining’” — but that doesn’t mean she’s gone soft.