Nicolette Mason Responds to IFB; Speaks About the Business of Blogging

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 or Mormon. There are petite blogs and plus size blogs and curvy blogs. Transfeminine blogs. Feminist blogs. Tomboy blogs. Butch 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.

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9 Responses

  1. My Vintage Curves

    I’m so happy to read your voice, Nicolette.
    I’m a proud example of “out of rules blogger” and I firmly believe that “diversity” is my best resource in this word.
    I’m over 30, I’m curvy, I’m not rich, I’m not a native speaker of English, I live in a small town far away from New York, Los Angeles and London, but I feel beautiful because I think beauty is in the aura we radiate. It’s much more important to be creative, consistent, ethically honest (in fashion too) than blonde and thin. Maybe it does take time to gain visibility for a “minority blogger” , but to follow your style and what makes you special is in any case the best (and winning) thing to do.
    (Please forgive my spelling mistakes)

    • Toni Styles

      I agree with you 100%! It does take time, I haven’t received any comments in weeks (I admit I could do better with social media, but it can be so overwhelming) – yet I keep pushing, I never give up. Staying true to yourself is the best thing you can do for your blog now and in the future!

      Thanks for sharing – wonderful article! xo <3

  2. Cate (Promiscuous Lola)

    Nicollete, I love that you chose to reference that quote, because I think that it speaks to the heart of what irks me so deeply about Jennine’s comments in her open letter. Instead of listening and learning, she doubled-down and blamed minority (in race, size and class) bloggers for their own lack of success, when as you pointed out, she was speaking from a place of privilege to people who did not share in the privilege. This is an excellent response. Thank you so much for writing it.

  3. Sabina

    I didn’t see the original IFB article before it was revised, so I don’t feel like I should comment on that, but Nicolette makes a good point about something else no one seems to be talking about. The fact that in so many bloggers’ attempts to monetize or just get more traffic there is a big copycat factor–chicks mimicking (or trying to mimic) popular, mainstream blogs already out there. But they’re missing the point since those bloggers made it big because they were not afraid to be different when they may have been told oh who wants to see someone’s thrift store-raided wardrobe or who wants to see some plus size girl’s daily outfits.

  4. toshopoholic

    This is fantastic. Exactly what needs to be said because it is so true. The content IS out there but it isn’t getting noticed for so many reasons.

    We are used to a certain idea of beauty and so we stuggle to identify with those who aren’t that ideal even if they better represent ourselves. Sometimes it is because we are seen as mommy bloggers even though we are just a mom who blogs. Sometimes it is because we are not 20, or not a size 0 or not blone or not white.

    Whatever it is we need to embrace eachother and help each other get noticed. Many of those that have made us want to be bloggers started out and have contiuned to promote one another, instead we are looking for a shout out or feature from someone who has already made it instead of just helping eachother grow.

    I would like to see more people from IFB spend more time checking out blogs then begging for follows. Comment, create a community and see what happens.

  5. Elsina @FashionBloglove

    Can’t wait to hear more from you at the next IFBcon! I agree with many of the points you raised above!

    Staying true to your own style and vision, staying consistent and getting creative in order to produce exclusive content on your blog is what I do and advise many others to do too. The rest will follow. Everyone has their own lane, so enjoy your unique journey fellow bloggers! x

  6. Kate

    What an inspiring article. I can say that I am white, blond and thin and I struggle every day to be true to myself and be content with my circumstances. I don´t live in the states and many times I feel like it is impossible to find readers or be sucessful if you don´t live in NYC, LA or don´t have the resources to buy all the latest celine / 3.1 phillip lim bags. Thank you for inspiring me to be myself Nicolette.

  7. Amber

    I’m not blonde, skinny…heck I am not even caucasion or anything close to that. In the fashion world and now fashion blogging world that is the norm which is ironic since it is supposed to celebrate diversity. If you aren’t one of those you def have to fit into that box somehow and if you don’t you should atleast have similar characteristics right? It is pretty disheartening at times even for me, someone who enjoys fashion blogging but is of color firstly and secondly writes more about street or ‘urban’ influenced style from a quirky perspective. To this however I say, it is not someone else’s job to represent what you want to see. If you want to see diversity you have to make that change, that is why I created my OWN blog. If you feel a large chunk of bloggers are not being represented on a business scale, why not be that person who creates an outlet like IFB that fills the void? It is easy for us to point the fingers and sometimes I get caught slippin but it is our choice to either 1) complain to the media outlets 2) create a new platform.