This post is by Nicolette Mason, about the business of blogging, and also in response to this post.
I have a lot of respect for IFB, and have been honored to be featured on the site, work in collaboration with their teams, and speak at IFB Con (both last year and this upcoming season). They provide an important platform to help bloggers realize their own value, promote each other, and facilitate a network that all fashion bloggers can participate in. Even if I don't always agree with the points of view that each individual writer possesses, I appreciate that they are able to get the ball rolling on conversations that are important to have – and sometimes difficult, even painful.
For as long as blogs have been around, (and before, since the fashion blogger trope, at least in my experience, began on the fashion communities of LiveJournal), I've felt that they've played an important role in offering an alternative to mainstream media. There is literally a style or fashion blog to serve as a platform and voice for every niche, every type of individual, ever person that has been excluded from the mainstream, dominant fashion conversation. There are style blogs based on religious values – whether you're Muslim
or an Orthodox Jew
. There are petite
blogs and plus size
blogs and curvy
blogs. You get the point.
But, where these varied voices become disenfranchised is when the blogging world, in all it's diversity, begins to mimic the values of traditional media — a world where thinness, whiteness, and an appearance of wealth are continually prized and rewarded. I might not fit a physical ideal put forward by traditional fashion media (and I'm well aware that I don't,) but I do possess other privileges that make me, or my blog, appealing to the mainstream; ignoring this would be irresponsible of me. It is true that many people turn to blogs for aspirational content; as much as any other type of media – movies, television, etc., blogs can be a place to turn for escapism, and a “reality” that is alternate to our own, but this should not get lost in the very important place of having varied and diverse bloggers promoted across blogging networks.
The missing key to this entire conversation seems to be the business of blogging, something that seems ironic since so much of IFB's platform is based on the ability for bloggers to monetize and build careers from their online presence. In order for someone to truly capitalize and reap the benefits of blogger-as-business, they need to firstly generate traffic, and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, fit an image and ideal that brands and businesses want to be aligned with. There are very few exceptions to this, like say, Tavi
of Style Rookie or Susie Lau
of Style Bubble or Gabi
of Gabi Fresh, all of whom have managed to remain themselves and succeed without playing into a role or archetype that is beneficial to brands. But by and large, the most successful bloggers, have become successful because of their thin, pretty privileges which provide an alternative to traditional models.
Why should a brand hire or collaborate with a traditional model when they can get a personality with their own following and audience to work with them for the same (or less) money? Why hire a traditional stylist when a blogger with an enormous audience can tweet, instagram, and blog while doing it – all while looking flawless? It's smart, it's strategic, but as far as the diversity of blogs goes, and which bloggers stand to “succeed,” – it mostly continues to reinforce the same ideals put forth by mainstream fashion media.
More brand partnerships lead to more capital, which leads to more opportunities to reinvest into a blog. IFB called for higher quality content from the people who stray from the thin and pretty (or, as the original post by Davies put it, “disciplined,”) ideal, but truly – that can only come with resources and time, both of which are costly. But, then, the assertion that quality blogs written by people who stray from the norm – blogs with content rivaling “top tier” bloggers, to say these just aren't there, or don't exist? False. They absolutely do. There are so many of them that I couldn't even begin to list them all, because it's so freaking overwhelming.
I'm not interested in pointing fingers at who bears the responsibility for promoting a more diverse group of bloggers, but I'd love to reference Audre Lorde; It is not the responsibility of the oppressed to educate the oppressor about their mistakes. Lorde was obviously not talking about fashion blogs, but I think the entire blogging community, myself included, could take something away from this.
I'm looking forward to continuing this conversation, and would love to hear what you all think of this issue. I will be moderating a panel at IFB Conference on “Bringing Bravery Back to Blogging” and am hoping to continue the conversation there, too.