A breath of fresh air in the world of content creators, where the lives of influencers always seem perfect, too happy. Mary Skinner, with her podcast “Prologues” and her social networks, shares truths about her world. And the world is made up of a thousand facets, from the easier moments where we talk about hair conditioner to those where Mary tells us about her diagnosis of bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorder, and how she is finding ways to overcome it all.
You created your podcast ‘Prologues’ to share stories from your life, very personal issues, but also lifestyle. Where did the idea come from?
I had been wanting to start a podcast for about 8 months leading up to launching Prologues. I felt (and feel) this longing to connect with my audience in a way that short-form content just doesn’t facilitate. I just wanted to get deeper and hold conversations that had enough time and space for exploration and nuance. Not to say that every episode is a deep-dive – Prologues is really my digital journal, so no topics are off limits. Prologues has given me a chance to build community with so many like-minded people, which feels amazing in an age where it’s easy and tempting to be superficial online. I think Prologues has found a home with listeners who have the same desires. We have fun and chat beauty and wellness routines, but I also have shared a lot of details about getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder and OCD, my journey to find the right medications, my relationship with alcohol, etc. I also love the girl talk episodes, where I answer listener questions about anything and everything. Prologues is so special to me, and I’m really proud of how it’s evolving over time.
As a fantastic content creator, you clearly have a large and growing social media following. How do you approach this world and your followers?
Having boundaries is so critical when you choose to live your life in any kind of public way. I don’t think any one person is really prepared to have hundreds of thousands, even millions, of eyes on them at any given time. You have to really know yourself, your boundaries, and your values in order to show up authentically online. I love my community online, and I always show up as myself, but I also take care to emphasize that social media never paints a full picture. The version of myself that exists online is 100% authentic and 100% me, but it’s not 100% of me. I take care to keep certain areas of my life completely private so that I can be the healthiest version of myself both online and offline. I think I learned this lesson the hard way. When I started socials, I was 21 and much less secure in myself. I gained a social media following really unexpectedly, and I felt a lot of pressure to be entertaining and keep up with trends. I experimented more in my first years as a creator because I really wanted to please people, but as I’ve gotten older and gained more experience, I’ve become more secure in myself and have given
myself permission to not appeal to everyone, because that allows me to be the most authentic version of myself. I’m 25 now, and my relationship with socials is the healthiest it’s ever been.
I also make a point in my life to practice gratitude every single day. When I think of someone coming across my content and somehow resonating with it so much that they choose to follow me and see it consistently, I still can’t believe it. I am so, so grateful for this opportunity, so I try to always lead with that instead of getting bogged down by numbers, stats, and analytics. I think it’s important for every
creator to just constantly remember how cool this job is, and how important that relationship with your audience is. I think audiences can tell when creators take them for granted or aren’t passionate about the job, and I never ever ever want to make anyone feel that way.
Social media has been a huge game changer in giving a voice (and face) to many talented people who once no one would have known. As we all know, however, they sometimes have a heavy impact on people who are not strong in character. We talk about haters, bullying, but also the fact that young people pursue false standards of life ‘through’ their phones. What do you think about this?
I think that engaging with social media responsibly is a two-part issue. It is absolutely critical for content creators, especially lifestyle creators, to be authentic and vulnerable, share more than just their highlights, and prioritize ethics. I also think every social media consumer has the responsibility to engage mindfully, which means we really need to have more conversations surrounding the potential dangers of social media. I think it would be great to teach social media literacy in schools and teach new generations how to protect their privacy, digital footprint, and mental health online. I also would love to see more apps make an effort to label videos when they include AI, appearance-altering filters, and the like. And identifying and removing misinformation online is also important. I really try to encourage my audience to put their phones away and enjoy their offline lives as much as possible. It’s good to get frequent reality checks and “touch grass,” as they say.
Coming to fashion: How would you describe your style?
Pretty all over the place! I think part of my style is very laidback and country. I love my Tecovas cowboy boots, oversized denim, knits, plaid, hiking boots, fleeces, and earthy textures and colors. I also love more of a “downtown” look, which for me means leather, all black, bodysuits, mini skirts, and trendier pieces. One of my favorite aesthetics is what I call the “wench” look – think corset tops, long skirts, and lots of jewelry. I think I just love boots. Any outfit that looks good with a cowboy, motorcycle, or outdoor boot is a fave for me.
Are there any brands that you think best ‘represent’ you?
I wear a lot of Free People, Tecovas, Abercrombie, Skims, vintage Ralph Lauren, and one-off Poshmark, Etsy, or Depop pieces. I’ve also recently gotten into crocheting clothes. I’m currently working on an oversized cardigan, and I’ve also made a tote bag and a few scarves. I’m not quite good enough to make sweaters yet, but I’m working towards that!
Do you have any particular hobbies?
I’ve been a huge reader for my whole life. My mom says I demanded she teach me to read when I was four, because I was jealous of my older siblings being able to read. I was also an English major in school, so I’ve always been around books. I love to crochet and make candles, and I would count long outdoor walks as a hobby too. Unfortunately, shopping is also one of my hobbies, which I should probably be trying to curb a little bit.
I’m moving to Scotland this upcoming summer and living abroad has always been one of my biggest dreams. I also want to get my master’s and maybe even PhD one day. Working for myself has shown me that no matter what I do, I want to be my own boss, so always having my own business is another huge dream of mine. My other big one is getting out of the city and back into a country environment, like
where I grew up. I’d love to have a little bit of land, a vegetable garden, loads of pets, no construction noises nearby. Sometimes that feels like it will be impossible to attain, but the thought of it motivates me so much!
You work hard to share messages of positivity now, but if you could talk to little Mary in the same way, what would you tell her?
I would literally just tell her to chill. Chillllllllll out. I was so impatient to grow up, every little thing felt like the end of the world, and I was just so anxious. I wish I could tell her that everything she was worried about eventually wouldn’t even cross her mind.