By: Emily Yakashiro
If we can take away anything from Alicia Silverstone’s performance as Cher in 1995’s cult classic Clueless (oh those 90s clothes!), it’s that a gal can care about fashion and do some good.
In all seriousness, many fashion bloggers write about issues close to their heart, whether it is their struggles with mental health, or their interest in environmental organizations. Fashion and social awareness are an excellent combination, and never go out of style. The success of such endeavors can be seen with the popularity of the Gap's participation in the Project Red campaign, FEED bags, and of course, TOMS shoes.
A blog itself is an excellent platform for writing on something you are passionate about; as we blog and grow as people, writing about things that matter to you is a great way to connect on a personal level with your readers. Just look at Tavi–she started as a personal style blogger, and inspired by her interest in feminism and visibility of young women, she has now started the incredibly successful and engaging Rookie website.
No matter your intentions, however, sometimes charities and campaigns are not all they seem to be, and is important to think critically about the causes you are involved in promoting. After all, you don't want to end up repeating the whole “Bloggers Making Kony Famous” debacle associated with the viral Kony 2012 campaign. With the Kony campaign, one of the main criticisms was that it made a serious global issue seem like an internet trend, hence the term “slacktivism”. Blogging with integrity about something you truly care about isn’t nearly as hard as you think–if you’re passionate about something, the words will always follow.
1. It’s okay to say “no” to a cause.
This one may seem odd or even horrible to think of, but really–stay true to what you’re passionate about. Now obviously, no one likes the thought of cancer, and it is likely most of us have had an experience with it. But if you can speak more passionately about your stance against drinking and driving, stick to your strengths. If you can only say a couple stock sentences about one issue, but speak from the heart on another, go with the latter. It will catch people’s attention more, and you will feel better knowing that you can answer readers’ questions more readily, and back up your statements with your own personal experiences and research.
2. Do your research
Also known as ‘due diligence’, investigate your cause. Even though the vast majority of charities are reputable and reliable, the horrible truth is that some people aren’t honest about a charity’s work or beliefs. Just do a quick search online and see what comes up. Wikipedia usually does a good job of providing a section on “controversy” of a given cause or organization that you can further research yourself. Remember, most organizations are not exactly forthcoming about their involvement in a scandal or controversy (if such a history even exists), so you’re going to want to look at sources other than the actual organization’s website for an unbiased story.
3. Genuine updates are best, even if they are brief.
One misconception about blogging about your involvement with a social cause or charity is that you have to talk about it constantly. You don’t. Keep it genuine, and blog about your work with charity when you feel like it–you don’t want to wear yourself out. You can mention your work in small snippets. For example, after talking about your day at the farmer’s market and the cute sundress you wore, try and weave in other information. For example, you could just quickly mention one of the following:
Talking with urban farmer Mrs. X got me thinking, here’s an interesting article about her that I found online.
This dress I wore always reminds me of the Farm-Aid concert I went to last summer. Check out that post here [include link].
BTW, I picked up a few cute buttons from the Farmer’s Market. Don’t they look great on my dress?
I did my first volunteering shift at the Farmer’s Market Information Booth. What a day!
And just leave it at that! No need for explanation or elaboration, it’s enough to get people intrigued or plant a seed of thought in their mind.
4. Wear your cause!
We’ve all seen TOMS shoes and various accessories representing devotion to one cause or another, and such campaigns work because they are a good visual reminder. If you collaborate with a charity that sends you a bracelet symbolizing your commitment to, say, animal rights, wear it for more than one post! For each time you wear it like you would a normal bracelet, you don’t even have to say anything about it–just do a close up photo of the bracelet that’s piled on with your other bangles, and put a link below to the cause. Or why not do a remix post with your “Free Tibet” shirt? Wearing your cause even semi-regularly is a way to keep your audience aware and focused, without seeming like you’re constantly ranting about a cause.
5. Always mention resources.
It’s good to finish up a blog post about your involvement in a charitable organization or social cause by offering links to more information. For example, say you write a whole post about the violence against women you have witnessed on your college campus. For all you know, this might actually be the first time your readers have heard about this issue. If you want them to learn more, list a few reputable online sources of further information. You could include a couple links to local women’s centers, or even online resources for women who have experienced violence.
BONUS TIP: Keep it local
If your town or city is doing an event, like a fundraising run or city-wide campaign, blog about it! Blogs give us a peek into life around the world, and while there’s endless coverage of international events like New York Fashion Week, coverage about a smaller event, like the Calgary Pride Parade, is just as intriguing. A relatively small event like this can even be a breath of fresh air for people who are over-saturated with articles about the latest couture collection.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]