Sunday, January 5, 2014
This past November, I attended a day-long blogging conference in Dallas that consisted of, among other things, an afternoon of breakout sessions. The final session (and the one that most attendees seemed to be most excited about) was titled Blogging 101, in which the speaker, a Dallas native now living in Los Angeles, shared advice on how to transition your blog from a part-time hobby into a full-time job. But as she was dishing out tips, there was only one thing going through my mind:
Man, she’s gorgeous.
I mean, she was absolutely stunning. But I have to admit that, as I listened to her advice, which turned out to be a regurgitation of the same stale blogging advice that has been circulating the Internet for years, I didn’t feel inspired. I didn’t feel motivated. I felt…insulted, and the session left a bad taste in my mouth because for years, hard work has been cited as the number one reason that high-profile style bloggers are high-profile style bloggers. Well, that and original content. Oh, and impeccable imagery. In other words, that trio of elements is frequently touted as the style blogging formula for success.
Excuse my language (and my cynicism), but I call bullshit.
While dispensing advice on how to succeed as a top style blogger, there’s one little thing that many style bloggers fail to disclose: it isn’t laborious efforts or innovative content or flawless photography that yields top-tier status. In style blogging, there’s one thing that separates the top tier from the not-so-top-tier.
Style bloggers are often hired to speak at blogging conferences to provide hopefuls with the information and guidance necessary to transform their hobby of style blogging into a full-time career. However, while schooling aspirants on how to join the upper echelon of style blogging (by providing revolutionary advice like “be authentic” and “be original” and “invest in a good camera”), many bloggers completely discount the fact that most of the elite bloggers are at the top because they’re beautiful. Wait, let me rephrase that: most of the elite bloggers are at the top because they meet society’s standard of what’s beautiful. Plain and simple. They publish posts rife with misspellings and other typographical errors, purchase the same status-symbol merchandise as other elite bloggers, and rarely engage with the readers on social media who have helped them rise to the top—and it’s these behaviors that easily debunk the myth that hard work and original content is required for style blogging success.
I mean, many of the high-profile style bloggers out there could moonlight as models—heck, some of them do—and they’re the ones who are handpicked to collaborate with clothing brands and model in magazine advertisements for cosmetic companies. These opportunities are often elusive for bloggers of color because, despite the fact that full lips, strong noses, darker skin and curvier figures are considered characteristics of beauty in our culture, it simply doesn’t mesh with society’s vision of beauty. It is for this very reason that prominent brands aren’t partnering with brown bloggers on a more visible level. It isn’t because we lack of talent or influence—it’s because, through no fault of our own, we lack the physical characteristics that society (and the fashion industry) says are beautiful.
Look, I get it. The style blogging community—much like the fashion industry as a whole—is visual. It’s all about the pretty—pretty girls in pretty clothes taking pretty pictures. So before I go any further, let me make this clear: my issue is not with beautiful girls. Nor is my issue with beautiful clothing. Nor is my issue with beautiful pictures. My issue is that instead of acknowledging that a blogger’s physical beauty usually plays a substantial role in her success as a style blogger, the style blogging community claims that you can make it to the top with diligence or persistence or some other clichéd term. Call me cynical, but if a cocktail of hard work, professional-level photography and good content is what it took become a professional blogger, there would be many more high-level style bloggers.
Despite my thoughts about beauty and blogging, I don’t think it’s a completely hopeless situation. It’s definitely frustrating, but not hopeless. If anything, it’s an opportunity to change the status quo. Whether it’s acknowledging that there’s more than one type of beauty or being more inclusive or being honest about what it takes to be a ‘successful’ style blogger, there’s something we all can do challenge the present circumstances. Besides, beauty fades—and when it does, what’s left is up to you.
Labels: MY WORDS