While I've never labeled myself a feminist, I feel really compelled by the group, especially the intersection of fashion & feminism. I think the two can be so intrinsically related, that I love seeing regular topics about that connection!
Joining Feminist Fashion Bloggers is easy and maintained through a Google Group– just sent a request to join & you'll get approved! When these posts cross my path, I love reading them because the subjects are incredibly open-ended prompts: they set a topic, and you can respond in your own unique way to the subject at hand. They've covered topics like finance, expressing feminism through style, and feminist icons. They also have a newly launched Fashfem linkage, sharing other posts they deem part of the discussion. There's lots of thinking behind these gals!
When you created FFB, what was your original goal? Had you created it with the intent to engage other bloggers? Or was it purely personal?
Franca: When we started the group, we wanted to create a space for likeminded bloggers from both the feminist and the fashion blogging sphere to come together. Feminism can be quite a tricky subject to write about because people hold such widely differing views on it, so we thought it would be really good to have support and motivation from other bloggers. There had been a few posts identifying the lack of feminist fashion bloggers (by the Citizen Rosebud for example). We wanted our group to both fill this gap by identifying and making visible such bloggers, to take the discussions around the intersection between fashion and feminism further, and to create a focus around which people can create great content – which everyone has absolutely done, I’ve been blown away by the quality of the Fashfem posts!
Mrs B: I think there is always a personal element though – we each felt we wanted a means of expressing our views, and I think everyone was thrilled to discover 70+ people who felt the same. I personally find it very enriching: the support, the sharing of ideas, the sparking of discussions. It's entertaining and a constant learning curve.
In case that was too wordy, the official description of FFB is:
Feminist Fashion Bloggers (FFB) is a network for fashion bloggers interested in feminism and feminist bloggers interested in fashion. The aim is to meet like minded bloggers, encourage dialogue and discussion both within and between the two blog niches and to explore the intersections and links between the two topics. And to have fun in doing so!
Unlike other ‘memes’, we’ve intentionally kept our prompts quite broad, as themes like ‘Finance’ or ‘relationships’ rather than a set of questions. We did have one week where we all answered the same question, but it’s difficult to come up with different answers, we do all think fairly similarly! With the broad themes everyone can take a different angle and write about what they care about, while still maintaining some coherence. It’s worked pretty well so far!
What do you think the role of these content rings is within the blogging community?
Franca: I think they can be a great way to give people ideas what to write about, and to give people some structure in their blogging schedule. I used to take part in Katy Rose’s Friend Friday every week, and it really helped me create some great content. I think the memes are also a great way of meeting other bloggers. I was introduced to lots of amazing bloggers via both Friend Friday and Feminist Fashion Bloggers that I would never otherwise have come across!
Mrs B: It is definitely unifying. On a more personal level, it gives individuals chance to explore certain issues without having to make a permanent commitment. Members can dip their toe in without having to change the whole focus of their own blogs.
Do you feel that there is a point where participation can become too big?
Yes, unfortunately I do think that can happen. When it becomes too much of an effort to be able to read all the posts on the theme/set of questions even for the group owner, the group can fragment a little and feel less coherent. I think FFB could cope with quite a lot of expansion before we get there though, and in any case, the intersection of fashion and feminism is quite a specialist topic and not an easy one at that, so I don’t think we ever expected FFB to become massive!
Have you found a downside to creating it?
Franca: No, not really! It’s a lot of work to keep the group on track on top of our own blogging and reading and jobs, but its totally worth it. There have been some minor internal disagreements in the group as well, but I think these things will happen in any group, and needs to happen too to get a good discussion going.
Mrs B: I'm with Franca on this – there's no downside as such, but you have to keep your head; the members' discussions and posts will drive the group, but someone needs to keep their eye on the road…
Do you feel like they divide readership at all (those who are bloggers participating, opposed to the average Jane who likes a fashion blog)?
Franca: I’m not sure. I can kind of see some blog events being a little too much for readers if everyone participates in them, and that’s all anyone talks about, but I’m not sure divisive is the right word. I do believe that every blog will find its readership eventually, and if people don’t like certain posts, they can (and will) just not read. I think it’s important for bloggers to chose the content rings they participate in to fit with their own vision of their blog and their readership, and then hopefully readers will be on board because it fits with what they like anyway.
Mrs B: I think the key is not to go overboard and post too frequently – you don't want readers to feel excluded. As with any blog post, you have to ask yourself who you are writing for – with the FFB, for example, some readers may not be familiar with certain standpoints or theories, so you have to keep that in mind.
What tips would you share with the blogger who wants to participate in these content rings but doesn't want to saturate their blog with them? Can a blogger participate in multiple content rings and still showcase a lot of creativity and their own original ideas?
Franca: As I said above, we hope that with FFB, there won’t be this tension, because themes are so broad that everyone can interpret them in a way that suits them and expresses their original ideas.
As I said above, my tip would be to chose which groups to join wisely, because they fit what you want to do and not because you feel you should. And also remember that you don’t have to participate every week. A few month ago, I moved from daily posting to three times a week, and I stopped doing the Friend Friday questions every week to give bit more space to other stuff. I’m still a member, but I only post when the topic that week appeals to me and I feel I have something to say. Lots of people drop in and out of FFB too as their schedules allow.
Mrs B: I post less frequently on my blog, so the FFB posts have perhaps had more impact on my blog's focus – which I'm happy about! I think if you're setting up a group like this you should give members flexibility, so they don't have to post if they're not ‘feeling it'. As from the blogger's point of view, I agree with Franca: take part only if you enjoy it and it fits in with what you're already doing – obligation can kill your creativity!!!
Do you consider yourself a feminist fashion blogger? Do you enjoy the Feminist Fashion Bloggers group because of your ability to explore certain themes within fashion & feminism, without making a permanent commitment to the topic?
After reading the four interviews in the series (with Kendi, Katy Rose, Kristina, and now Franca & Mrs. Bossa) how do you feel about fashion memes? Are you more enthused about participating? Have any of them given you any insight that you hadn't considered before when participating?