Temple alumna and Maine native Liz Pride has taken the romance novel formula and applied it to catalogue models with her Tumblr page, “Your LL Bean Boyfriend.” The blog uses pictures of L.L. Bean male models — found on the brand’s website — and adds captions that briefly describe humorous and passionate love stories. As the site’s headline states, “He will build you a table and then have sex with you on it. It doesn’t get much hotter than that.”
“It started basically because of a plethora of free time,” said Pride, who created the site in early December. “I had been Facebook chatting with my friends about our ideal type of man and I made a joke that mine would be an L.L. Bean model. I opened up another tab and started writing captions for their catalog pictures. I was on a roll and did about 60 that night.”
With insistence from friends, Pride published her captions on a new Tumblr page. The link spread like wildfire across the Internet and now has more than 10,000 followers — and it’s still growing.
“I had no idea it would be so successful,” Pride said. “I hit 300 followers at one point and messaged my friends thinking it was so funny. Twelve hours later, it was 2,000 people and it had been shared on Facebook almost 9,000 times. I was pleasantly surprised — once I got over the initial panic attack.”
The insane popularity of the blog has earned Pride a quasi-celebrity status. She receives questions and comments daily from admiring fans, mostly women, who completely identify with the model obsession.
“It’s really funny,” Pride said. “I love reading the comments and seeing that people have a great sense of humor about it. I don’t know what I would do if people actually took it seriously.”
Although Pride admits she hasn’t reached the status of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” there are some fans that take their adoration to new heights.
“Every once in a while, I get some strange messages,” Pride said. “Some people really want to be friends with me and they’ll send me detailed descriptions of us hanging out in Portland or meeting up with our L.L. Bean boyfriends together. I find that kind of weird because they’re a stranger and I’m just a normal person in my pajamas.”
Less than a week after starting the site, Pride attracted media attention from her hometown and landed a spot on the front page of the Portland Press Herald.
“I get a lot of recognition from Maine,” Pride said. “Very little happens there that’s newsworthy. The L.L. Bean company hasn’t officially recognized me, though. I went into their store back home and bought shoelaces and no one said anything. I was just a customer.”
Loyal fans to the blog begged Pride for more, which spurred the creation of sister-site Your L.L. Bean Girlfriend. As expected, it uses catalogue pictures of female models with similar captions.
“I got a lot of requests for doing a girlfriend page,” Pride said. “People messaged me saying things like ‘I’m a lesbian and I would really love to have a L.L. Bean Girlfriend page’ and some straight guys wrote in wanting the same thing.”
Despite unexpected stardom, Pride isn’t a blogging newcomer. She also co-founded and contributes to the feminist blog FoxJuice that she started with other Temple alumnae.
“We were drinking and reading Cosmopolitan,” Pride said. “We were so annoyed with how women’s magazines are structured that we fired off all these ideas of what we would do if we had our own magazine. From there, we started having serious meetings and sending emails about making a website with women’s vibes. There’s music, articles and funny pictures. It started out as an anti-Cosmopolitan, but that’s not what it is at all. It’s just a very fun outlet.”
Pride said her Internet success hasn’t made her change her life path, but it has put things into perspective.
“These blogs are a very different writing style than what I do on a regular basis,” Pride said. “They follow the very cheesy, romance novel language. I would love to pursue a career in comedy, but I never really thought too seriously about it. My plan after graduating last May was to get my master’s degree in public health. I live in University City now and I’m thankful for the opportunity Temple gave me to show off my skills and everything I learned there. If people want to keep reading things by me then I’ll keep putting them on the Internet.”
Jessica Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.