Update August 18, 2012. I have written a formal apology, the words below were not written at my best moment. Please read the apology.
When eleven-year-old Claressa Shields told her father she wanted to be a boxer, he responded by telling her boxing was a man’s sport. She didn’t let it stop her; in fact it spurred her on to try harder. She eventually won the first gold medal for middleweight women’s boxing. Five years ago, women’s boxing wasn’t so well known, but that didn’t mean she could never achieve her dreams.
This story is amazing because it brings up the personal triumphs that have affected our lives. Over the years people have told me what I couldn’t do. I’ve been told I could never be a writer, a business person, and I wouldn’t make it to college. When I started my blog I was told to not “Quit your day job.”I didn’t listen and went on to do it all. Maybe at the time I couldn’t be a writer because I never practiced; I wouldn’t make it to college with my D average, and I couldn’t be a business person because I was too afraid to stand up for myself, but things change. The beauty of being human, is we have the power to learn and grow. We have the ability to take up challenges and defeat the odds.
Last week Taylor Davies wrote a post about Bloggers & Body Image. The post was directed at the blogging community as a whole rather than directing it at any particular niche. The response from the IFB community was outraged that we pointed out that the majority top-tier bloggers (ones getting in the millions of visitors per month) all tended to conform to the fashion industry’s standards of beauty. The community pointed out that IFB had a responsibility to change the conversation by highlighting more diverse bloggers.
I believe that IFB, along with the community, does have the power to change the conversation. That conversation will not begin, and that conversation cannot begin, with what happened in the comments. Some of the comments were abusive, and that made me angry. It made me defensive of the IFB team. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my site, but bullying one another is not the answer. It makes me disinclined to highlight a community on my website that bullies writers they don’t agree with under any circumstances. Ever.
A look at the comments on that post shows the wide range of what people look for in blogs. Many readers pointed out that they do want to read aspirational blogs, or that they are interested in supporting those that maintain the fashion ideal. If that disheartens you, remember that the power to change begins with YOU. If you want more diversity in the community, make sure that you're supporting those bloggers who exemplify the qualities of a great blog.
If you see something you don’t like, change it by being the best you can. Take on challenges. Don’t settle. If you come across information showing you that there is more work to do, take that as a gift of inspiration to push the boundaries. If you come across a person telling you, “you can’t,” show people wrong by being amazing and gracious. You’d be surprised where that leads you.
Finally, IFB was created to help bloggers monetize their blogs, design their own careers, and make their own dreams come true. Never was our manifesto to become a vehicle to promote specific bloggers. Featuring bloggers on IFB has always been secondary to our primary focus of providing blogging tips for the community. Being featured by another publication is a privilege, not a right.
My hopes are that through our posts, you can learn tactics to encourage more outlets to cover bloggers; that with the information we provide, bloggers can in a professional way pitch a story, or build a relationship to garner coverage in the press. The IFB staff strives to cover topics of importance to the community, including what is going on with bloggers. We do our best to know what our community members are up to. However, if we don’t know about you, send us a pitch, tell us something about how your blog can help the blogging community. If we like it, we'll publish it! We’re always looking for new things to post about, and that's one way you can help contribute and better the IFB community.