Tuesday, October 18

Bloggers & Body Image

I've been very weary of writing this post.  One, it's been done on similar levels before.  Two, it's controversial.  Today I want to discuss bloggers and body image.

I want to preface this by telling my background on my own body image.  Growing up, I was generally average with little baby fat.  Once I got to middle school, it went away and I became more lean.  I was a swimmer throughout middle and high school, so I stayed active.  However, I was always teased about my clothes being too tight and I was even told that "if I didn't lose weight, boys wouldn't like me and girls wouldn't want to be my friend."  That's always stayed with me and I have always had a complex about my body and especially my weight.  I won't say that I am "cured," but I am mostly fine with my curves these days. 

There is a problem in the blogging world.

Of all of the blogs I read, I would guess that 75% of the women are under a size 6.  They may vary in height, but they are generally thin.  Look at the bloggers getting the collaborations with large companies like TJ Maxx, Barney's, David Yurman, Mango, and Ralph Lauren.  I have yet to see a curvy or plus-sized blogger star in a major campaign.  (Side note: Curvy and plus-sized are not mutually exclusive.  You can be plus-sized and curvy, but just because you're curvy doesn't mean you're plus-sized.)

Since I read this post on Love Maegan, I've been extremely intrigued about bloggers and their take on body image.  As women, I think we should be proud of our bodies, no matter what the size. (I apologize if this gets a little too "after-school special.")  I think we should be confident and work with what we have.  As fashion bloggers, our skills, style, and writing shouldn't be judged by our skirt size.  Believe me, I may have some hip and butt action, but I have worked in retail, been educated at FIT, and know how to style an oufit.  I may be a size 10, but that doesn't change the fact that I am a good at what I do.

So instead of me ranting any further, I think I'll let the following speak for itself.  Below are pictures of some of the top 10 fashion bloggers according to Bloglovin'.

Fashion Toast
Fashion Chalet
The Blonde Salad
The Fashion Squad
In no way do I mean to attack these bloggers.  They each have their own blog and I'm sure they all have worked hard to get where they are.  I'm just pondering if their long legs helped them get there.  We all know this problem translates (or maybe stems from) the fashion industry with the young and thin idealism.  We all know there is pressure put on young women and teenagers to fit this look.  Let's take a look at Crystal Renn:

Excuse me, Miss Renn, where did you go? She can claim stress, exercise, and healthy diet all day long, but the fact is, she is no longer plus-sized.  Is this a coincidence or is this merely the pressure from the fashion industry?

What are your thoughts on bloggers and body image?  How do you feel about your own body image?  Do you feel that there is a bias toward bloggers that don't have a certain look?


  1. I totally agree with you on this because no matter your size or shape you can rock any look you want too and look fabulous while doing so. I can also so that being small in size comes with it's downfalls too. I've often been harassed by people asking me if I was anorexic or bulimic just because I have a small frame. It is unfair though they way the fashion industry puts the smallest and tallest girls at the forefront when that's really not the national average.

  2. Lindsay,

    I feel like I had some influence on today's post. Girl! I could write a book on this.

    I don't personally feel that there's a bias toward bloggers who look one way or another, but then again I don't follow many blogs that deal with appearance. I read mostly crafting blogs, or The Bloggess (but then again, who doesn't read The Bloggess?).

    And as for body image, well, that's just hard to write about. People are drawn to honesty and humanity in blogging; it's what we relate to. But as a woman, it's hard to open up that human part of you and admit that you have issues with the way you look. It's hard to admit that you don't actually like your body, for a number of reasons.

    For one, there's a part of us that feels ashamed for not thinking that we're knock-out gorgeous, because what do our friends do when we criticize ourselves? They chastise us and 'correct' us. They tell us that we ARE beautiful, and, "Stop saying that or I'll smack you! You're too pretty! I wish I had your hair!" We don't learn that we're beautiful, we learn that we shouldn't think we're ugly. Two different things.

    So there's guilt involved. Nobody wants to have to deal with their friends trying to change their mind with shallow, joking threats, or, worse, look like they're fishing for compliments. And then there's the fact that there's pain involved. We've all had those days (or weeks, or months) where whenever we look in the mirror, we just want to cry. There's the hair that doesn't do anything exciting. There's the boobs that sag. There's the extra chin that really shouldn't be there. There's the pores that never get smaller. It's an awful thing to look in the mirror every day and hate what you see, and in my experience, we all go through that.

    We, as women, go through phases where we hate ourselves and just don't know what to do about it. I remember one night where I was having dinner with two other friends, and the conversation consisted of us going around, one by one, and saying awful things about ourselves. This went on for a few minutes before I snapped out of it and said, "Stop it! Why are we being so hard on ourselves? What did we do to deserve this kind of punishment?" Women do that. We see something that we don't like in the mirror, and then we punish ourselves for it.

    For whatever reason, it's just hard to see ourselves as pretty. Maybe we don't want to seem vain. Maybe we really are just that blind to our own beauty. It doesn't really matter what the reason is though, it's something that needs more attention.

    So thank you for writing about it. Lovely article.


    PS: Just so you know, woman to woman, I think you're an absolute knockout! For real.

  3. I used to love fashion magazines, but I got frustrated with the same types of women being featured over and over again. If different body types were shown, it was usually in a feature about "How to dress your undesirable shape so it looks more like our models!"

    One of the reasons I fell in love with blogs was because I liked seeing realistic images of women with different types of bodies. But it's hard to ignore that many of the very popular style bloggers are thin, leggy, white women.

    Part of the issue might be that validation from outside the blogging world plays a big part in whether bloggers are seen as "legitimate". Of course magazines and clothing companies are going to pick people with a certain "look" to sponsor or give free merchandise. They've been using that strategy for years!

    The bright side is that blogging doesn't shut out any body types, and is open to everybody. More diversity would be great, but it's already a big improvement over the days when I was limited to magazines for my style inspiration.

  4. hey there! Lovely post! I totaly believe that fashion industry pushes girl into a certain style but for me it doesn't matter/ You could be great and stylish in any size
    bisous marilia

  5. @Mich: I'm right there with you! I'm glad you have an optimistic outlook. I too think it's great that everyone can at least have a chance to express themselves. I just wish there were more opportunities.

  6. Ironic that I was handed a doughnut as I was reading this post so please forgive me.

    I too would love to see more of size 8 and above and all heights and colors having contracts with major brands.

    I am what would be considered plus size at size 12 now, but in my past I was thin ( my nickname was toothpick) but I am muscular with large shoulders, calves and thighs.

    When I do my outfit shoots I am conscience of my stomach that sticks out like I am 6 months pregnant, but I cant hold up a sign telling everyone that a year ago I had a very large fibroid on my uterus that is causing permanent swelling and stomach expansion. I am also larger sized boobs that continue to grow as I get older (weird right) But with all that I learn to suck in and stand at certain angles because I refuse to Photoshop my pictures. I also dont wear spanks or body binders because I want people to accept me as I am and I want to be as real as possible. But see I have a weird disorder where I see myself thinner than I probably am. (I don't know if this is a good thing or not)

    As for other larger women I see their face and their personalities in their blogs and not their bodies, I don't see fat. I see the bloggers for who they are not what they are and I wish brands and other people could see that too. I want to see girls who also have problems keeping their buttons buttoned on their shirt and I want them to talk about it. Those are the kind of bloggers that would get me to buy what they are wearing and not thin tall bloggers who look like the hanger the clothes came on.

    Great post!

  7. I totally feel where you are coming from. I've had the same body image issues growing up on skinny side of it. In the environment I grew up in, to be curvy and as they say "have meat on your bones" was the image of beauty. People constantly picked on me about being the skinny lean girl which resulted in me trying everything possible to gain weight. It became an obsession for me that I eventually over came. I'm not knocking the popular fashion bloggers out there because they are all amazing women, but I wish the industry would pay more attention to the content than to the image because shape doesn't define talent.

    Great post!:)

  8. @Nicole: I'm sorry that you had to deal with that health issue. I, too, used to be smaller and still think I can work the same looks. My boobs continue to grow, which in itself is painful. It also makes me look a lot bigger than I actually am. I hope that one day everyone can forget sizing and just focus on talent and personality.

  9. @ohchicfancyhuh I hear you on that. My best friend growing up was also very thin. She got dealt the same card. Great statement about focusing on content. That's how it should be! I hear the same thing in regular life though too. Skinnier women, women that wear more makeup get paid much higher. It seems to be more of a societal issue than just in fashion and blogging.

  10. I do believe there seems to be the expectation for bloggers who do outfit posts, needing to meet a certain body image in order to attract large sponsors. That image is comparable to the fashion industries already established status quo of long, lean, and willowy.

    One of the reasons I haven't done outfit posts is because of that. I don't meet that criteria and I think that I would face a lot of discrimination because of it. I want people to assess my blog based on the content, presentation, and essentially just who I am so that I can connect with others of a like minded state. I would love to be able to attract sponsors. We could certainly use the additional income. I don't know how other bloggers manage to obtain sponsorship if they don't possess that body type.

    Personally, I find this subject rather difficult to talk about. I can tell my history of being a size 0, getting thyroid cancer, treatment, surgery, etc etc...and it's kind of horrific as you're recounting this awful painful journey you've gone through to someone, and you watch their eyes glaze over because they don't believe this large curvy person in front of them could have ever been a size other than what they are today. Yes, I have noticed a marked difference in the attention, jobs, and general day to day treatment I received from when I was a size 0 to the size I am today. It's extremely hard to deal with sometimes. I love seeing women champion each other, to be comfortable with themselves, and to promote a more widely accepted definition of the word "beautiful". This is a massive topic and I'm glad you brought it up. It will be interesting to see what others have to say.

  11. @symbioticlife: You are my hero. Thank you for sharing your story. I think so many people don't realize that the non-size 0 people are actually human. With a dose of bad luck, bad health, etc, they too can have weight issues. It's not that the average sized woman is at home scarfing down cakes and pies. I know too many women that eat healthy, work out, and maintain a good lifestyle, yet are a size 8, 10, 12, 14. I think it's a smart move not showing yourself in order to avoid the criticism. Luckily I haven't encountered any yet, but I'm sure it will come at me one day.

  12. You're welcome! I don't think you have anything to worry about. You're fierce, smart and beyond creative. If someone tries to bully you or criticize you, they will probably end up rueing the day they were ever born as your followers tweet them to death. ;)

  13. @symbioticlife: I, too, am glad you shared your story. What an inspiration!

    One of the reasons I love fashion blogging (reading and writing) is because it has allowed, generally speaking, for fashion to be placed into the hands of "regular" girls and guys and out of the hands of the nebulous "fashion industry" and all it entails. That being said, fashion blogging brings with it its own set of pressures, competition, etc., which can be troublesome.

    Overall, however, I think fashion and personal style blogs are a positive sign of the pendulum swinging in the right direction.



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