Goodbye, Pioneer Woman


Welcome to Blue Speckled Pup: I appreciate you stopping by, however you came to find me.

As of February 19th, 2013, I have retired my essay about why I stopped viewing Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman, as a role model and as one of my inspirations for my work on this blog.

Since its first publication, my post about why I chose to bid farewell to The Pioneer Woman has been linked from several other blogs and sites, and has brought thousands of visitors to my little blog. While I appreciate the traffic and all those who stopped by to read my PW essay, I decided to retire the original post because it presents a narrow view of who I am to a first-time reader. I assume most folks dropped by, read that one post, and moved on with their lives. A post that is largely about someone else isn’t an ideal welcome mat for this blog, into which I’ve invested countless hours over the past two years.

My purpose in writing Blue Speckled Pup, and my hope in the 497 posts that have been published here so far, is to present my observations about the world and to share the experiences of my weird little life. It seemed incongruent with my goals for this blog that a post I wrote nearly two years ago was still the most popular thing on this site, particularly when The Pioneer Woman so rarely crosses my mind. Since her early influence on me as a writer and as a blogger is no longer significant, my post about Ree Drummond is no longer relevant to me or to this blog.

The original post, “Goodbye, Pioneer Woman” was published on June 14, 2011. In its more than twenty months on my blog, the post was read nearly 7,700 separate times, based on WordPress tracking. During that time, I was frequently complimented for presenting my experiences outgrowing a former role model in an objective, factual manner. Many people emailed or left comments thanking me for dealing with the subject from my own perspective, without resorting to expressing my disillusion in personal attacks, which the internet seems to fuel all too often. I greatly appreciated the positive feedback from others who have shared the experience of moving from idolizing a celebrity into seeing that person with clarity.

Along with the readers who took the time to send me positive feedback, I have also been attacked by a dramatically smaller number of people who clearly did not take the time to read and/or understand my original post. It astounds me that an objective discussion of my own experiences in outgrowing my celebrity worship led others to verbally assault me in a manner I have not encountered since high school. It is exhausting (and fruitless) to defend my right to post my opinions on my own blog. While I appreciate thoughtful dissenting opinions to open discussion, I have no time for people who have nothing better to do than call me names.

This blog is about my life, as insignificant as it is to the world at large. Since you’ve come this far, I hope you’ll stay and read something that represents who I am as a human being, and what has influenced both the person I am now and am becoming. Hopefully, you’ll consider reading about the major experiences that have shaped me, including my total hysterectomy at age twenty-five, my love of animals, including my volunteer work as a foster mom for homeless dogs, and the loss of my Grandpa Howie, whose sudden death two years ago drove me to actively pursue writing, a dream he always had for me.

copyright 2013:  http://bluespeckledpup.com

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About Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

I spend my weekdays days teaching fine arts and English to junior and senior high students. I spend the rest of my life making up recipes and ignoring my measuring cups, singing, dancing, writing, and making dinosaur noises. I'm clumsy, passionate, spontaneous, and rather ridiculous. If I won a million dollars, I'd quit my grown up job to stay home with my dog, and focus on my true loves: painting, writing, cooking and making music.

Posted on June 14, 2011, in People I've Never Met, Pioneer Woman and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 56 Comments.

  1. wineinmyglass

    I enjoyed reading your view of PW.
    You are 100% correct.
    See ya on the forum pages of Pioneer Woman Sux.
    LDC or wineinmyglass

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      Thanks so much for dropping by. There are many disillusioned people out there, and now we’re finding one another!

  2. Excellent!

  3. Kristi Sheeler

    Hey! I have a great blog for you to peruse. http://coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com/ by Jenna Woginrich.
    She is a single girl in her late 20′s running her own little farm. I’ve read her book Made from Scratch a bunch of times. She is the real deal!

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      Thanks Kristi! What I’ve seen so far is great on Jenna’s blog; genuine people are my favourite kind.

  4. One the best posts I’ve read about Pioneer Woman. You reflect much of what I think myself, and I also fear Ree is doing damage while making the big bucks. Sad that the internet can be used for such a purpose.

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      Thanks for your encouraging comment. I think many people are feeling this way, but so few of them say anything about it.

  5. Great post. Glad we could all help show you the light. We are all very worried about the image she presenting and are pretty much certain she is nothing but a brand. She is the Betty Crocker of the new millennium. However, Betty Crocker never claimed she was a real person. When questioned, they told the truth.

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      Thank you, Kait, for stopping by. Oh, lordy, can you imagine Ree Drummond cake mixes? Just add butter!

  6. Thanks for helping to spread the truth about the PW brand, Good luck with your writing.

  7. Beautifully written, thank you so much for expressing so eloquently and without malice exactly how I feel too.
    Best wishes, Shay

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad there are others out there who feel like I do; I also wrote a post a few days after the PW one about my grandma, who is the kind of person I should be looking to for inspiration.

  8. Kudos to you for writing exactly what I’ve been thinking. The only exception I take to your post is your dismissing criticism of her voice, which– to my poor ears anyway–sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.

  9. Excellent piece!

  10. This was a well-written, insightful post…well-done. It really hit home for me, because like you, I looked up to and admired Ree when I was just beginning to blog. And, like you, I felt unable to measure up…unworthy. I wrote a post about it yesterday on my own blog and I would love if you checked it out when you can.

    I like that you made your points without malice…it gives you so much more credibility. I agree with you on not adopting the viewpoint of criticsizing Ree for her voice, hair, etc. Those things don’t matter to me either. As you so eloquently put it, it’s really a problem of glossing over the facts and cultivating a manufactured persona.

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      Thanks Penny. I really wanted to focus on my real issues with PW, the things that made me feel less capable as a human being, not on the aspects of her that had no impact on me (annoying though some are). I appreciate your encouragement.

  11. Well said!

  12. Yep! I too looked to the PW blog as a sort of ‘role model’ although I always found her writing to be slip shod and it made my stomach hurt. Looking back now, I think I was dealing with severe cognitive dissonance and I don’t really even know what cognitive dissonance is, but it sounds right! I figured that her success as a blogger must mean something! If only I could figure out what it was! Sadly – I eventually just realized that she had a lot of money and free time and yes – perhaps a modicum of talent and certainly an ability to be the girl she believed her audience wanted her to be. And then I had to break free of the PW tractor beam. That took some doing too. These days Pie Near is my long standing protest against her and all the vacuous mommy blogs out there. If I owe PW one thing – it is that she gave me a gimlet eye and forced me to be a better writer. Thanks PW!

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      You’re right, Rechelle. Once we realize what’s really going on, we can use those lessons to improve ourselves. I love Pie Near Woman! You are hilarious on many levels, and you present bitingly keen observations of the issues that have pushed so many of us to abandon PW. Thanks for reading.

  13. I enjoyed reading your entry. It was refreshing in that you wrote it without the usual anger/hate issue. I don’t like making fun of her physical appearance or characteristics or making unkind cracks about her children(way off base regardless ). I think the fact that PW is dishonest in the way that she has portrayed her life and her deliberate ommissions of important details of her life(oh like her husband is a millionaire!) is reason enough to be dissillusioned with her and her blog. Thank you for a very thoughtfully written article. Stephanie

  14. very nice ! I was on to her right after her cookbook came out and I knew a long time ago she was planning in her mind to have her own cooking show. There is NO WAY one person can do all she claims ! It’s just not humanly possible. I feel sorry for her children.

  15. There was something about Ree from the beginning that didn’t make sense. I have three boyz at my ranch and there’s no way that she can get everything done that she claims to by herself.
    I tried all of her recipes at the beginning…her roast beef is tasteless. She needs to find a new church cookbook to copy.

    • Hi Saska! I wanted to say I checked out your blog and it’s really great! Your writing….pictures…are what farm life are really about….not the Wonderland crap that Ree Drummond posts. Not once has she ever posted about taking food out to the ranch hands or eating in the fields with the dirt and bugs like you did. Way to keep it real…great job!

      • Thanks a bunch! I haven’t posted a bunch lately because we’re in a horrible drought and it’s so depressing around here!
        It’s definitely real at my house, and no “Lodge” to go cook at and the maid (My lab dog) is usually who cleans the crumbs up under the kitchen table.

      • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

        I hope you see some moisture soon! We’ve had a rainy, cool summer, so I guess that goes to show it’s one thing or the other.
        Yes, I think the realization that PW is so very manufactured makes it very hard for normal people to relate to her.

        Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Hellen Wheels

    Very well said, Kay. You focused on every serious issue with Ree Drummond and her blog, without descending to the level of a personal attack. Welcome to the light!

  17. Spot on. She’s a manufactured creation of a group of well connected and undoubtably well heeled people out to make a buck. To be fair, I tend to lean towards all conspiracy theories, but it’s my bet that this entire production was planned from the first post. If you have enough money, you can certainly buy fame. You don’t need to have a good product, just cash enough to grease the right wheels.

    She’s fake to the core and a common thief. And – for me, anyway – if she’d just come out with it, I wouldn’t like her any more than I do, but I would have a teeny bit of respect for her. She will crash and burn – it’s already starting – but not before she’s made a literal fortune from her fakery. It may have taken longer for her to rise to blogger stardom, but she could have done it ethically and would have certainly had more staying power.

    Put Ree on the short list of public figures that I literally would not walk across the street to see. Glad to have found your blog (via The Marlboro Woman) and have already added you to my favorites!

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      Thanks for reading and for your supportive comment. Sad, isn’t it, that the best person doesn’t win, but the person with the deepest pockets usually makes the podium.

  18. Thank you for writing this. I’ll admit I drank the punch when it came to PW. But you have saved me sistah! What really put me over the edge was the Food Network Show. None of her recipes are original and what she does cook will kill you.

    • Kay at Blue Speckled Pup

      You’re very welcome, Vicky. I haven’t seen the show, by deliberate choice, but I’ve heard it was very revealing. I’m glad you’ve considered an alternate point of view about PW, and yes, those “recipes” really will kill you!

  19. A hearty hear-hear to you for posting this article. Thanks for providing an alternative (your gramma) and thanks to the commenters for mentioning some as well.

    I saw the light about a year ago. Bought the cookbook which was very poorly done and too many recipes didn’t work. Also could see through the aw-shucks stuff – especially when they did the “guest house”.

    • We’re glad to see one more person shaking off the lies! Welcome, Ms. No More. Hope to see you back soon! You’re very right about the “aww shucks”ing. She’s about as sincere as a Tuesday night stripper.

  20. thanks. plain and simple.

  21. southernbakedlust

    Good points and well written overview of this woman. Her rise to fame somewhat reminds me of Martha Stewart in the 80s. Sure there are a lot of differences and Martha didn’t make any effort to conceal she had her publisher husband connections to get her cookbooks published, but the whole following, worship of her and women trying to emulate doing everything perfectly – cooking, gardening etc. reminds me of PW’s following. One of the downsides it that people who buy into this false reality portrayed by women like Ree or Martha often feel they are good enough because they can’t meet the perfection portrayed.

    I don’t admire anyone who tries to pass off recipes as her own and not credit the book or person she got it from. She managed to paint quite the pretty picture of being a ranch wife but as a Texas girl I can guarantee she doesn’t have a clue about the hardship, hard work and imperfection that most ranch wives endure “without” help. Seems like people want to believe the fantasy though and it’s not like we don’t have enough semi or no-talented people in the world making mega bucks based on BS. Does anyone really think Guy Fieri or Rachel Ray are super talented chefs? Some folks just have luck and develop their schtick. Hmm, I guess we can wait 10-15 years and see how her kids turn out and see if they hate her as much as Alexis hates Martha. Sad, really.

    • Thank you for your feedback! I agree that Ree is doing a bit of a contemporary Martha thing, and thanks for pointing out the similarities. I also worry that Ree Drummond sets women up to feel like they can’t measure up, which perpetuates the cycles of those in her following who feel like crap about their own lives/skills/families.

      I so appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. Drop by again any time.

  22. Oh my gosh Kay. I don’t know you, but wow this post is so funny. I didn’t really know much about “The Pioneer Woman” except that my dad had the horses calendar about 5 years ago and my parents talked about her horse photos. I was going through my tv channels today and saw a show called “The Pioneer Woman” on a certain channel. I said, ‘hey maybe that’s the woman my parents liked’. I put the show on, and in the first 4 minutes I was giggling and talking sarcastically back to the TV! I googled “the pioneer woman for real?” and got a hit to your blog post. HILARIOUS. I had her pegged in 4 minutes. My daughter is sitting her laughing at me. -Laurie in CT

    • Hi Laurie! Thanks for stopping by to read my stuff and leave a comment. I hate fake people, and PW certainly falls into that category. Sadly, there are a great number of people who can’t see her fakery. Welcome to the land of the (someone cynical, but that’s okay) disillusioned.

      Drop by and visit us any time.

  23. i hate all of her recipes. sorry to use the word “hate” but I’ve wasted food thanks to her bad recipes. sugar cookies are cardboard. her pie crust and her scones are not the best. pie crust and scones don’t need eggs, they’re much better without them. her fried pork chops are bland and would be better if they were battered. i found and tried a much better recipe for fried pork chops after trying her recipe. her lasagna could definitely use a béchamel sauce and/or ricotta cheese. unfortunately doesn’t have either, i could go on and on but point is her recipes are no good

  24. I like the Pioneer Woman. As a suburban dweller, with large ranch owning relatives and friends, I enjoy watching her show and reading her blog. I can identify just enough. I find the Pioneer Woman’s recipes to be special occassion, memory making food. Just as I wouldn’t cook Paula Deen’s recipes every day or do a Martha Stewart set up on a regular basis, I wouldn’t feel the need to make Ree’s recipes on a daily basis…if ever. I just like watching her show. As a college graduate, and a person who has known a few perfectionists in my time, I know that she is either smart enough and fortunate enough to have help (i.e. not a housework martyr) , or driven enough to do it all herself (yes, we all have our different gifts). Kind of sad for you to suggest that women aren’t discerning enough to figure this out. Adapt her recipes to what works for your family. I am lucky enough to have some help on a regular basis, but still have fun watching her show as I start my Saturday servants…which are my dishwasher, washing machine, and myself. I personally like the aspect of hard work and reward as part of the show. That’s the way my parent’s were raised. Take it for what it is worth and do something creative instead of destructive. I just try to do little things now and then to make memories for my children. Love whomever gives me a good idea.

    • As I outline in my essay about The Pioneer Woman’s website, I take issue with Ree’s misrepresentation of herself, with the plagiarism of her recipes (rather than the recipes themselves) and with her presenting an ideal most real women cannot achieve in a healthy fashion. I find her a poor role model and a false idol, which is why, nearly a year and a half ago, I wrote the post on which you commented.

      My blog is my space to comment on what I see happening in the world and in my life. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but voicing my opinion in my own space is certainly not a “destructive” approach to addressing my concerns about The Pioneer Woman. Finding positive role models for myself as a blogger and as a woman is a healthy and necessary process, and I will do so unapologetically.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Clearly, you are able to take something good for yourself and for your family from Ree Drummond’s website and television program, and if you enjoy what she presents to the world, that’s your prerogative.

      • Wow, dish it out but can’t take it, much?? All of this time and energy to put someone down. How about live and let live and stop trying to justify your meanness and jealousy. Sheeeesh, what a waste of time reading your post.

  25. I totally agree with you and stopped reading her blog 3 years ago. It was fun around 2006-2008 and after that became really commercialized. The one recipe that got me was the “Knock You Naked Brownies”. I have been making those since 2006 – I found the recipe on Christmas-cookies.com and made them ever since just as written. Then I saw her post it on her website. I just noticed that it is in her cookbook, too!

    • Hi Mary Ellen. Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment. It’s funny how many of Ree Drummond’s recipes are lifted from other sources. I’m surprised, frankly, that no one has brought a lawsuit for the plagiarism that’s rampant on Pioneer Woman’s blog, but I suppose the whole thing is kept very hush-hush to preserve that carefully crafted image.
      Hope to see you back here again sometime soon.

      • Hi Kay!
        Like your blog. Wishing you a happy new year.

        Just a comment on “Pioneer Woman”. I work a stressful job and find the PW website to be a fun escape. I don’t expect you or anyone outside of my family to be “real” with me all the time. No one’s life is perfect and I wonder if it isn’t patronizing to assume that most women out there believe in this kind of perfection. Just before the holidays, for example, I cleaned house like a maniac so everything would look great for visitors. Does this make me fake?
        On the other hand, you have to wonder what Betty Friedan would think of all this.

      • Hi Karen, thank you very much for taking the time to comment.

        My concern with PW is not the women who see her as any other celebrity, or as a product being groomed for public consumption, but with the women who truly see her (as I once did) as an actual person who should be emulated and admired. Sadly, with depression among women reaching alarming heights, my concern is for women who, either by choice or by nature, choose to take her site as a reflection of real life and one to which they can never measure up.

        I think we all polish up the house before company comes over, and there’s nothing fake about wanting to make our homes lovely when we have guests. The problem comes in when everything is staged and nothing is real. Imagine if you had someone deliver the turkey and trimmings, then plated it and pretended to have done it all yourself. I see no problem whatsoever with putting our best selves forward, but my hope is that what we present to the world is at least us.

        Happy New Year, and all the best in 2013.

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