Body Pressure In The Blogosphere: Bloggers Speak Up (Part One)!

Body Pressure In The Blogosphere

This should be obvious, but the opinions below are not necessarily my own. I had my say yesterday — now it’s time for everyone else!

Also, the pictures I’ve used here are ones I could find easily on blogs. If your comment is here, & you want me to add a picture of you, just email it through!

“I’ve photographed A LOT of bloggers & models, both for blogs, websites & personal use alike. I’ve heard the gamut of weight-issues. From amazingly beautiful girls complaining of hating their thighs & asking me to tweak bits & pieces of their person (hello, liquify tool!) to having to wait a few weeks before shooting with me because they needed to check their diet & focus on exercise. I do think a lot of this has started to come into play because blogging is becoming such a huge source of internet merchandising. Instead of companies going to magazines, they are now outsourcing to bloggers. Which, don’t get me wrong is AMAZING & definitely one of the reasons I’m such an advocate to work with bloggers in the first place!

I’ve definitely noticed a trend, however. The bloggers that can portray a certain look or come away with the outfit posts that best portray the idealized concept of a fashion ‘spread’ tend to get the most traffic. I do think it has a lot to do with the new wave of online marketing, I personally barely open a magazine anymore! I find most of my inspiration on my favorite blogs & although I do flip through a few occasionally, I think the majority of girls in this day & age are at the computer.

I’ve had this conversation with a few girls lately, both health nuts & bloggers alike & it’s an interesting idea of what our society has deemed acceptable for our generation. In other generations models were the in thing if they were curvy & voluptuous but now, it seems to be running on backward. Name one famous woman (who’s not black! or ethnic in any way) who has booty, hips & is curvy & FAMOUS? We need a Marilyn of this generation & hell, if it could start online – with a blogger – I would be soo ecstatic & pumped for life! I totally look to booty-licious girls as my own personal body models, Rhianna, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, CIARA(!) etc. These girls are all strong, athletic & pretty buuuuuufffff.”

Amelia

“I really appreciate you addressing this topic!

As an avid fashion blogger & fashion blog reader for the last ten years, I’ve made it a goal to keep a wide variety of personal styles, ages and body types in my blog lovin’ feed. It helps to balance the input! My blog feed reflects who I’m friends with in real life: queer feminists, plus sized ladies, girls who ride bikes as their main form of transportation, and vintage style vixens. Just as I don’t only eat salad to survive, I would visually starve myself if I only read blogs with teenage twigs as the authors.

One of my favorite bloggers is Amelia Hart, of Eugene, Oregon, who blogs over at Good Stuff Only. Her style is really exceptional, and her sense of humor plays out in all of her posts. She takes incredible fashion risks with color, textures and hair colors. Plus, she’s pretty freaking adorable, and her blog is fun to read.

For my part, I unsubscribe to blogs whose authors make repeated self-depreciating remarks regarding their age, weight, or appearance. I just don’t have time for the hatin’!”

Jennine Jacob

“Honestly, I don’t feel bad about companies wanting to work with the pretty and thin young women for photo based campaigns. However, what I do question is using them as models to create campaigns, and to generate sales through the blogger’s communities as an cheaper alternative to hiring models, photographers and stylists, when they’re actually getting more out the bloggers.

As far as body image. Well, I’ve been a young, and a size zero… did it make me happier? Did it make me a better person? Did it make me more stylish? Did people like me better? Did men worship me and whatever it is that people get when they’re thin? No. None of that happened. Sure, some clothes fit better… but does that equate to happiness? No!

I think part of being healthy and happy is enjoying your food. Get out and eat REAL carbs with your friends! Make sure to eat salad too… but obsessing isn’t going to make you happy, and being a size zero isn’t either. Happiness is much more complex than that.

So no, I don’t feel bad about other women being thinner or younger than me. I’m much happier now than I was in my 20’s… Dude… much happier. I wouldn’t want to go back for anything in the world.”

Anonymous

“I just wanted to provide an alternative view on the super skinny fashion bloggers… I’m size 12-14 and I actually feel more alienated by misguided ‘celebration’ of plus size celebrities. I did a poll of my friends and they feel the same! I feel like I’m getting it from both sides – super skinny models/fashion bloggers who were head to toe designers in size 0 who remind me constantly that I’m not part of the club, and the media who trumpet people like Christina Hendricks or Salma Hayek or Kim Kardashian as the only acceptable shape if you aren’t part of the skinny models club.

Many ‘token’ plus size models (read: size 8-10) which are basically hired to say ‘hey we don’t only dress skinny people’ are just as inaccessible to young women looking for a positive self image as the size 0. Heck, some of them even have the same measurements as me! Plus size and not a perfect hour glass with a gorgeous face and big boobs? Hard luck, because that’s the only acceptable shape if you’re not rail thin in the fashion industry. And even then, you’re getting way less work. I love Christina Hendricks and think she is stunning, but her body type is as unattainable for most as size 0. And yet everywhere I see fashion blogs triumphing her, saying ‘curvy/overweight is fine, look at her clothes, fuck yeah curvy girls woo!’ I sometimes feel as alienated by magazines triumphing Christina Hendricks as ‘what all non size 0 people should look like’ as I do with Lookbook. Like most people don’t have free size 0 samples to wear, most women don’t have designers lining up to personally tailor clothes for their body shape. The standard is equally unattainable.

Also, there seems to be this pervasive attitude in the media and often online in many of the Tumblrs dedicated to non size 0 bodies that being curvy is an excuse to treat someone in an overtly sexual way, calling them luscious and shapely. So much of mainstream ‘non size 0′ fashion narrative objectifies and sexualises plus size women in a leery, creepy old man way. Look at how so many fashion commentators and bloggers think it’s okay to talk about/take photos of/make lewd comments about Christina Hendricks’ boobs or J’Los butt or Salma Hayek’s curves – even in a positive way. Is that an acceptable way to speak about anyone? No one looks at runway models and points out the bones in their back with big red circles and arrows….

I’m just a size 12… I don’t want to pose in my underwear on the internet or have guys comment on my boobs all the time, or have fashion houses pretend to ‘celebrate’ my body type so I can feel ‘included’. To me, self love and positive body image is about loving the skin you’re in. It’s not about meeting other’s expectations – small or ‘curvy’. I used to turn to the internet to escape the mainstream fashion mentality that I couldn’t relate to… but now blogs and media that claim to celebrate my so-called shape alienate me even more :-(

God, sometimes it feels like Trinny and bloody Susannah are my only fashion champions….

My self love journey is my no means complete, and I still struggle. Hell, Lady Gaga still struggles! But so much of my new found self esteem has been born of getting rid of The Haters. I realised that there are always going to be people who bring you down, but the only person who EVER determines your self worth is yourself. After emotionally abusive relationships, hating my body and being constantly told I’d never amount to anything… that’s the lesson I’ve learned. I’m in control of how I feel about myself, and no one else. Self love is a choice, but the choice is ours if we want to take it. Learning to value my own self-worth is the HARDEST but most valuable choice I’ve made.”

Elsie

“When I started fashion blogging it was purely for pleasure and inspiration. Within months I started working on a campaign with Levi’s Shape What’s to Come. That experience opened my eyes to so many other fashion brands who are partnering with bloggers on different projects. Some brands are now using popular bloggers as models and spokespeople. I started to notice the body image trends that exist in the fashion blogging community.

At first, I had feelings of pressure and confusion. I wanted to find my own niche, but I also wanted to be successful at what I was pursuing. After much deliberation, I decided to clear my mind of all the pressure and focus on creating blog posts that I would enjoy reading. My outfit posts appeal to my readership, and it’s ok with me if they don’t appeal to everyone in the fashion industry. I’m short (5’4″) and I think that a lot of my readers relate with that. I believe in branding that’s specific and intentional, not just following trends.

As a woman (and a human) it’s always difficult to not compare myself to other bloggers. Sure, sometimes I wish I was taller or thinner. The thing that I always come back to when I’m feeling insecure is that I REALLY love reading fashion blogs written by average girls. I actually enjoy them more. I think that a lot of people probably feel that way!

I connect most with bloggers who really share a piece of themselves. While individuality (both in styling and body type) may not attract modeling opportunities, it certainly attracts blog readers! I am, personally, so glad that more and more women with unique body types are joining the fashion blogging community. There really is a place for everyone. I want to read blogs that I can relate to, both in ethos and in style. So many blogs are starting to blend together, it’s a really important time to stand out.

Why do we have to compare ourselves with models? I wish that women didn’t have this unspoken pressure. I’ve personally never had any interest in modeling, but playing with color and styling outfits really excites me!

It’s never good to try to be something you’re not. I hope that these posts inspire bloggers to emphasize what makes them unique, not hide it!”

Michelle

“I’ve mentioned on my blog before that I often feel like the ugly duckling in the fashion blogging world. Even though my blog isn’t monetary or anything I do for a living, it’s something I enjoy… A few weeks ago I read an article where a fashion blogger admitted to only reading blogs by girls who were “extremely pretty.” I can’t remember who posted it and I’ll try to find it, but it was really interesting. It often seems the case that only the really, really pretty bloggers get a lot of followers and sponsorships. I know I’m pretty, but I think I’m pretty in an endearing way and not necessarily a “classic” way, so sometimes it is hard to deal with the fact that how we look is still so important in the blogging world. I can’t change my face – this is just the way it looks!

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is: yes, there are still body image and beauty issues related to fashion blogging. We can try to pretend like there aren’t issues still, but that would be a lie. If we don’t acknowledge it or talk about it, then we can’t do anything to fix it. Especially when it comes to body size, the most popular bloggers always tend to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and have a certain body type (thin)… which is really disappointing, because there are some great plus-size (and middle-size!) fashion bloggers out there. So yes, there is a pressure to look a certain way even in fashion blogging – there is pressure to be thin, to have a revolving door of outfits to impress readers (who cares if you can afford it or not…), and to wear the quirky-cute vintage thing.

It sounds bad, but I’ve been disappointed with fashion blogging lately because almost all fashion bloggers seem to have a certain image – ModCloth dress, brogues, etc. Those things are cute and everything, but it is almost like bloggers are now pounding themselves into a new and different mold. Yes, it’s different from mainstream trendy, but it’s a mold just like any other. I don’t know! I’m kind of rambling, but this is something I’ve thought about a lot. The pressure to look like the indie pixie is starting to get… strange.”

Kristen

“I am a new Blogger, who has only been around since March. I can tell you, after I made the decision to start a blog, one of my first thoughts was, “I had better lose 5-10 pounds before I post photos of myself all over the internet”.

Whoa.

That was one of those “Brain, you had better check yourself” moments. One of the things I like most about blogs is that I see all kinds of women in a variety of shapes, races and styles – the spectrum of beauty out there is truly awe-inspiring. So why on earth would I feel like I needed to lose weight? To BLOG, of all things? I’m not sure I have an answer yet.”

Kylie

“Since modeling and the general fashion industry are currently not so keen on deviating from their 5’11/size zero/foetus-age lily-white young girl from Eastern Europe ideal, and any deviation from this is seen as “tokenism” (“What more do you people want?! You have a whole issue of Italian Vogue devoted to you! And you have Crystal Renn!”), fashion bloggers are taking it upon themselves to represent people whose bodies, skin tones, age, socio-economic status, etc…that are marginalized. They control the image they want to project, and aim to represent it positively. Oftentimes, this inspires a whole community of people to join in, share outfit photos, give style inspiration and advice, as well as share tips on where to find clothes. An excellent example of this would be the “fatshionista” community on LiveJournal.

However, it’s important to note that the fashion bloggers who (usually) attract the most media attention and offers to work with larger brands and companies overwhelmingly skew slender, young, white and fairly wealthy. The individual styling, tastes and geographic locations differ, sure, but Alix of The Cherry Blossom Girl fame, Sandra from Niotillfem, and Jane from Sea of Shoes (just to list a few examples) share a very similar look, financial means and body type. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading these blogs (particularly Niotillfem), but it’s hard not to notice that the diversity at the grassroots level of fashion blogging isn’t being represented or rewarded at a more mainstream, visible level.

In terms of advertising, the “indie”/”twee”/”hipster” movement/s have influenced the “mainstream” so much that…this movement has become pretty mainstream. This aesthetic (in very sweeping, broad terms) brings us beautiful, atmospheric photography, and painstakingly-styled snapshots of precious people and things. I also appreciate the sense of whimsy, love of nostalgia and the historical references.

However, these images also have the power to make us feel badly about our bodies and our lives; giving us an “Audrey Hepburn complex” of sorts. They still project unrealistic perfection- just a different, tea-party-having/frilly-dresses-wearing/running-around-in-a-field-with-abandon version of perfection. These images not only are pushed in advertising, but they also circulate heavily on all our blogs. And while the images are beautiful, they mainly feature a very narrow standard of beauty. The subjects are still thin, young, and white. (A great website that calls this out is carefreewhitegirl.tumblr.com). A girl might be wearing a unique vintage-looking outfit, but the hair, make-up and dress is immaculate; she’s usually not actively engaging with her surroundings, but looks posed and fragile.

And we idealize that ish! We, as viewers, are still meant to objectify her. It’s the same ol’ body policing and focus on only one highly-unattainable type of beauty, only the standard of beauty shifts slightly. I mean, we’re starting to talk about how few people fit this tanned, blonde Hollywood ideal, but it’s worth noting that not very many people have the delicate visage of Zooey Deschanel and can slip easily into sized-down vintage dresses, either.”

Keiko Lynn

“The labels used to bother me, whether they had a positive, neutral or negative connotation. I’ve been called curvy, thick, plump, thin, average, a skinny-minnie. Some readers have thanked me for having a “normal” body; others have criticized my weight or pointed out when they think I’ve gained (or lost) a few pounds. If I took everything to heart, I would go crazy.

There are parts of my body that I am not entirely confident with, but instead of struggling to achieve my or anyone else’s perception of the perfect body, I focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At size six and 5’7″, I consider myself to be a healthy weight – but if you compare me to some of my size zero peers, of course I’m going to be labeled as the thick one! If you compare me to the average size fourteen American woman, I might be labeled as thin. I try not to pay too much attention to any of the labels – good or bad – because it really just depends on the individual’s personal interpretation of the ideal body type. That’s what I’m up against – a variable. There is no way of pleasing everyone; I can only focus on being happy in my own skin.”

…More to come tomorrow!

Share Button