"Be sure your wristbands are on your actual wrist," barked a George Costanza-looking Barnes & Noble employee at the mass of people clutching copies of Lauren Conrad's newest book, Celebrate. The wristbands meant that they had the right to get their book signed by Conrad herself, and the fact that they were on their actual wrists meant that they weren't going to sell their wristbands to someone else. Everyone in line was already wearing their wristbands on their actual wrists, so they did nothing.
Read more: The Love Story of Heidi and Spencer Pratt
It's absurd that a guy would have to be stern with a line full of people at a Lauren Conrad book signing. Throughout her 12 years of fame—first as a cast member on the beachsploitation reality show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, then as the protagonist of the groundbreaking cinéma vérité melodrama known as The Hills, and now as the Martha Stewart of millennials—Conrad has developed a brand as the patron saint of rule-followers. She's never gone to rehab, and her only sex scandal was an alleged sex tape whose existence was never proven. The most notable controversy about her is that she might be a Republican. She's a celebrity for people who think Kim Kardashian is edgy. To love Conrad is to love order and abhor chaos, to instinctively know that if you are given a wristband at a book signing you should definitely put that wristband on your actual wrist. And yet, here was a man telling people exactly that.
Roughly 300 people lined up to meet Conrad. The Barnes & Noble at The Grove is a relative hotspot for celebrity book signings. It's where Kim Kardashian signed copies of her book Selfish, and in the coming weeks it will play host to signings by Cameron Diaz, a Vine star, a YouTube star, Henry Winkler, Linda Gray from Dallas, and the home renovation superstars the Property Brothers. Signings there are tightly controlled affairs. The day of the event, you show up and buy a book and get a wristband along with it. That wristband determines your place in line, which begins on a sidewalk around the corner from the B&N, continues to the store's second floor, and concludes at the top floor, where the celebrity author will sign your book. They'll even personalize it if you write your name on a sticky note for them in advance.
Many of Conrad's fans had dreamed about meeting LC. They felt that she was a good role model for young women. (Lauren Stanrads love to liberally use the phrase "fashion icon.") At least one fan told me that if Conrad wrote a book about golf, she would read it without hesitation.
Lauren Conrad actually inspired me to go to FIDM—I just graduated from there.
At the signing, I felt out of place, and not just because I didn't have a wristband firmly affixed to my actual wrist. As a person weaving in and out of the line, chatting with fans and evading visibly annoyed security people, I had basically become the Spencer Pratt of Lauren Conrad's book signing—all I needed was a couple crystals and some frosted tips, and I would have embodied the impish Loki persona that shot Pratt to fame. My actions ran counter to the very ideals of respectability, simplicity, and grace that Conrad represents, but I will not, cannot apologize for trying to learn more about Lauren Conrad's fans. They are strange, exotic beasts, all the more bizarre for how almost comically normal they are. They must be studied and catalogued, so that humanity might better understand exactly why ostensibly boring people get famous.
In my adventures at a Barnes and Noble at a mall in the middle of Los Angeles, I discovered that it's not that Lauren Conrad is boring, or that she appeals to boring people, it's just that people whose lives are too busy to care about cool shit need heroes too. Lauren Conrad might not be the Martha Stewart heiress we need, but as long as there are Americans out there who are too overworked to be interesting, she's the Martha Stewart heiress we deserve.
Below are some interviews with some avid LC fans in the year 2016:
Alavia: Back in High School I used to watch Laguna Beach. I thought Lauren Conrad was a cool person, and I enjoy following everything she does. She does a bit of everything: cooking, crafts, fashion—and she's a fashion icon. She has cool tips, like DIY stuff. I don't think she'll ever make up with Heidi.
Laura: I just love everything she's doing, especially the Little Market. It's a company that empowers women all over the world; she sells their handmade goods. She's such an inspiration to upcoming women all over the world.
Erica: I think she's a great role model for young women out there. She doesn't have a lot of scandals, unlike most celebrities, and she's just someone to really look up to. She's 30, and she's accomplished so much already. Lauren Conrad actually inspired me to go to FIDM—I just graduated from there.
Jill: It's nice she appeals to a variety of the population out there. I'm a therapist.
Casey: Martha Stewart has lived her successful life, but as she's getting older more, more people like Lauren are pushing her out of the market. She's just not hip anymore. One of the most iconic Hills moments is when Steven called Kristin a slut on the show. [Editor's note: This actually happened on Laguna Beach.]
Allison: I've only been here like five minutes, but I've been a fan of Lauren Conrad's for six or seven years. I liked her when she was on The Hills, but now I like her because she's my fashion icon. She's my inspiration. I learned how to do makeup from her books and blogs. She wants to share her knowledge.
Nicholas: We've been dating about four months now. Coming here is definitely the most she's asked of me so far.
Honey: I'm from Rio de Janiero in Brazil. I've been here for four years. I used to watch Lauren Conrad's shows in Brazil. Her life was everything I wanted to have, so I always wanted to come to the United States. I love fashion, and I've been trying to find her office for years to try to get an internship. I found her house, but I haven't found her office.
Gabby: I've followed everything Lauren Conrad's done, even her getting married. I don't listen to her husband's band, though.
Kendall: I'm studying marketing to be an event planner. I've been a fan of Lauren Conrad for a couple of years, probably ten. She's a really classy person, and I admire that. Whatever she wants to do, she does it. Even if I'm not interested in it, I know she has really great insights. I don't think she'd ever kill anyone—that's just not the person she is.