Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Don't Believe The Hype

Recently Coco + Creme posted a thought provoking story about a good friend of mine Gabifresh of Young, Fat & Fabulous (now renamed Gabifresh.com) and some qualms she has with the plus-size community. Subsequently after, another blogger (and one of my fave tweeters) Sarah Conley of @StyleIT posted a response. To make a long story short, both women raised interesting points about the plus-size blogging community and the idea of supporting any and everything within it. I think this topic is one to be explored, not just in the realm of plus-size blogging but in the realm of blogging/journalism and life circumstances period.

Here are my two cents (or three, or four) about the situation:

1. Blogging is personal. 

I understand that in this day and age, with the internet overpopulated and websites clamoring daily for readers' attention, many have taken the opportunity to turn their blogs into businesses. Pageviews and comments become the sole priority for some bloggers after the initial realization that "other blogs are doing it too" and there's potential freedom from the drone of the 9-5 in blogging. Some sites, which may have started out strictly as personal style blogs, now have online shop components (myself included - i.e. SHOP LoveBrownSugar). But at the end of the day, for most, the blogs were birthed out of personal conviction and ultimately because we LOVED what we were blogging about. What happened to that?
When did it become the standard to blog or write about something because it is the "it" thing or because you're supposed to belong to a certain "community"? 
If mom jeans come back into style next season, guess what? I'm not blogging about them! I don't like them, they're unflattering on my body type and personally I think they're hideous. Will I include them in a LBS Runway Report if Marc Jacobs starts making them? Of course! Will I ask you all if Beyonce is Fierce or Foolish for wearing them, yes! But you won't find me sporting them on here. Or raving about them. My personal blog philosophy is: If I don't sport, I don't support. And that's that.

2. Branding is a business. A full-time job actually.

Picture this for just a minute. Imagine your favorite fashion magazine of all time decided to switch directions with their content. Instead of serving up amazing, high-end glossy fashion editorial, they decided to simply have a free-for-all and invite every fashion brand with a few advertising dollars to play an integral role in the magazine. Can you imagine how sloppy and watered-down the content would be? If VOGUE decided to let K-Mart take center stage in an editorial shoot - you'd be appalled. Why? Because they have a brand, and a reputation to uphold. As an editor who works day to day at a magazine, I've learned that branding is everything. Your reputation can help and/or hurt you in attaining future opportunities. Bloggers (and non-bloggers alike) should be so careful about aligning ourselves with entities that don't truly represent who we are and what we stand for. At the end of the day, your personal brand is more precious than that free sample or that $50 ad space in your sidebar. Choose wisely.

3. Integrity is everything.

Nobody likes feeling betrayed or deceived. When people put their trust in you (as a blogger, as a confidant, even as a friend!) it's your responsibility to uphold it like it's more precious than gold. Everything you see on LoveBrownSugar is a direct reflection of me; my thoughts and my likes/loves explored. Personally, I would rather not discuss a brand if I strongly dislike it. This goes for beauty, fashion and everything in between. That said, why should someone be expected to rave about a product or line just because they fit a certain descript or are lumped into a community? I'm a natural-haired girl and I love my natural hair but sometimes I like wigs! Yep, I said it - I do! So even though I joined the natural hair community last November, it doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to review every natural hair product and do what that blogging community does. It's not my sole priority, and it doesn't have to be.

I think Gabi and Sarah's points regarding plus-size blogs and companies, address a bigger issue that we should all evaluate. How often do you sell out, or give into the hype of something because people assume you should? Bloggers, are you being honest with your readers? As an adult, are you being honest with yourself about your career path, your love interest or your friendships? What is there to gain by believing the hype instead of your gut?

What are your thoughts? Soundoff below!
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  1. Yes yes yes! I can't agree with you more on all of this.

  2. Well said!!! And I love wigs too girl :)

  3. ITA, Perhaps I am not as in touch with the plus size community as I thought, but I was rather surprised (and disappointed) that one person would be singled out this way.

  4. Very well written. Hope to see more opinions on this topic.

  5. Amen to this!! At the end of the day it's all about staying true to yourself and if that means not jumping on the latest blogging bandwagon, so be it! What makes a blog stand out from all the rest is the person behind it. I mean there isn't anyone else like you in the world! ;)

  6. Christina,

    You hit this on the head. I read all the articles but started with Gabi's as I'm a huge fan of hers in the first place because she doesn't give a fuck and doesn't go along with what I feel the "plus-size" industry wants curvy girls to dress/act/be like. Why should girls who are curvy have to fit a standard? Not all thin girls are dressing like Rumi and girls like me aren't wearing furry vests to cover their muffin top. (HA!). But seriously, to each their own. Whatever reason you(they) started the blog, whatever reason you dress the way you(they) do, it doesn't matter. It's yours right? The only thing I find revolting and automatically unfollowed is when bloggers give in to everything and start blogging about everything and going to every single event because they got an invite. It's ridiculous and not a good thing to do as a blogger. Like you said, we are the EDITORS.

    Thanks for bringing this all together lovecake!


  7. I am so passionate about my blog and what I post that I cant lie or try to make it or myself somethings its not. Ive put thought into making my brand/blog a business like advertisements and things of that nature but I feel first I need to make my blog strong and fully commit to that. In the end you have to remember why you started this and keep that with you at all times.

    Editor & Chic

  8. Very well said! I agree with you 100%!!! Especially about "Integrity is everything". A very important point for everyone to take heed to. I love this "As an adult, are you being honest with yourself about your career path, your love interest or your friendships?" I was just ranting about this very topic this morning on the phone with a fellow blogger. You are the bomb.com <--in my Tamar voice xox

  9. @ALL I soooo appreciate all these amazing perspectives on my piece. You guys have valid points and I hope others see and get the picture.

    @ProfreshStyle LOL at "girls like me aren't wearing furry vests to cover their muffin top" - preach honey!

    @Tima I absolutely agree with you - love your blog btw!

  10. So…
    I am a size 12 so I guess that makes me plus sized (I don’t know)
    I wear weaves and am still a slave to the “Creamy Crack” – scared of the natural…
    I am not a big fan of vintage or thrift and prefer TJ Maxx and Macy’s
    I don’t wear make up, ok well maybe the occasional lip glass
    I don’t read magazines (except in line at the grocery store)
    And… I don’t know much about fashion – except I try to make sure I have on something that matches and is ironed (SMILE)
    BUT – I still love your blog and somehow can really relate. I learn a lot, laugh, and am very entertained. What more can I ask for!

    Very well put! Because I’ve known you since you were born (SMILE), I can say that one thing about you Christina , is you are an INDIVIDUAL! You’ve always done what Christina wanted to do and you never followed the crowd. What people love about you and your blog is that you are genuine and far less commercial. When we read LOVEBROWNSUGAR we are reading what Christina likes, dislikes, thinks, feels, and we also get the chance to agree/disagree – all in good fun.
    Keep it up – we support you!

  11. Loved your response. You couldn't have said it better girly!


  12. Great read! I think this is a must read for beginning and already established bloggers.

  13. OMG, AMEN, Cece! I love this post. I have exactly the same philosophy, and your #1, 2, and 3 are dead-on. I live my "brand" 100% of the time, in the gym, at home, at work, at play. And of course, on the blog, which is why I have so little advertising on my blog. I've turned down so many requests because they aren't me. And a few bucks a month just is not worth making my blog look cheap and commercial.

    I love that you own your personality, your prerogative to like what you like, and commit to the degree that suits you. Like you said, "If I don't sport, I don't support." And even if you do support, you do it the way it works for you.

    You are such a strong presence in the fashion blogosphere, and such a fantastic role model. I thank God there are bloggers like you who are 150% authentic and true. That is so refreshing.

    Thank you for being YOU, doll!

  14. Very well said. I'm just starting in the blogging community and this is like a new hobby forr me. I didn't realize it was such a business.

  15. Such a well written article and right on point!!! You are absolutely right that we all start off with a personal conviction and should stay true to that!!! The pressure of page views and comments is strong and hard to resist and I myself sometimes feel the pressure to succumb to it. But then think along the lines of your article and bring it back to my original conviction!! Hey if I love Marc Jacobs, why should I apologize for it and promote Old Navy when Idont like it!! Not that there is anything wrong with Old Navy haha ;)

  16. Great post! I read the tweets/posts right after Gabifresh removed her venting tweets last night. She has the right to feel what she feels, choose what events she goes to, choose the brands that she likes. People also have the right to disagree with her. Glad that most of the posts/comments I've been reading are respectful and understanding that we all have our own opinions. :)

  17. Thank you for this post. I completely agree, I haven't participated in a couple of blogging events in different blogger communities because I don't feel they fit my blog. I still want to be a part of those communities and interact with the other bloggers but I have had to chose to stay true to what I am doing with my blog. Nice to know I am not alone!


  18. I envy you bloggers that can write so well! I read all of the articles on gabi and i agree with her, blogging shouldn't be something that you do because others are pressuring you. If they don't like it then they just need to move to another blog period!

  19. Yes Christina. I'm totally biting your saying, "If I don't sport it, I don't support it"

  20. Integrity is everything: agree completely. I've turned down countless ad requests because it doesn't fit with my philosophy. I've only got one at the moment even though I get approached quite often.

  21. I think what your talking about is being authentic. And if we aren't authentic on our blogs, how can we be in our real life? I try not to get caught up in the hype or a movement. And when I feel I am getting pulled in I try to stop and check in with myself. Am I being true? Is this really me? Who am I doing this for? If I don't like the answers--- well then I am some 'splanin to do!

  22. Love this! It's always good to take a step back and re-evaluate what's going on with your blog. Bloggers have quickly become the next "it" thing, so it's SO easy to get lost in the excitement of it all. I'm so glad to see you and so many other talented bloggers in the comments who feel the same way. I <3 you for this post!!

    *Excuse me while I take a step back and re-evaluate my blog life*

  23. I agree, especially can relate to being a natural haired gal who isn't interseted in all the products and accesories marketed towards us. I have to write about what interest me or what was the point of starting the blog in the first place? No one should feel like they have to write about something. If it speaks to you, then you can cover it but otherwise..keep looking for inspiration and don't write just for the sake of writing..that gets tired and people are smart, they can tell if your heart isn't in it!

    I started blogging in April and while I've had a few blogs here and there in the past, this one comes from a place of enthusiam and fun, not from that I-should-start-ablog-cause-its-cool kinda place. That's not a good reason and you'll surely burn out after a while.

  24. Branding is so key! Whatever your endeavor, know thyself then know the culture of the brand you want to project AND then KNOW the brand!

    I adore this write up Cee!

  25. this is an amazing post. and " If I don't sport, I don't support." i love that.
    new mantra.

  26. I agree with you 110%! Great write up!

  27. love it!! it's hard not to succumb to the pressure out there, but so much more rewarding to get behind what you believe in :)

    Corinne xo

  28. I have only been blogging for 3 months, so I'm far from being offered sponsorships. But I know I'd react in a way you describe - if I don't use it/wear it/watch it/read it etc. I'm not gonna advertise it. (If ever an advertiser knocks on my virtual door, that is.)

    It's great you mention real magazine editing and the parallel with blogging! So true and I'll keep that in mind! Thank you for the great post!

    Your fellow LALM blogger,