Opinion

Is Fashion Blogging Hazardous to Your Body Image?

Outside Benefit San Francisco, photo by Sarah Lee
On the sidewalk outside Benefit San Francisco

Fashion bloggers aren’t generally known for their low self-esteem. Theoretically, if you’re publicly documenting your life/opinions/outfits, there’s an implicit assumption that you believe others would find it interesting enough to read. But when you put your life out on a public forum, you invite criticism in. Blogging is a constant game of risk, of weighing the merits of having your voice heard with fear of the potential backlash that will follow. So why do we do it, and how does it affect us?

Although not a fashion blogger, writer Alicia Lutes recently experienced out-of-the-blue hatred towards her body and discovered that her photograph was used as a cautionary tale on a “thinspiration” blog. Instead of humiliating the young woman behind the blog, Lutes reached out to her on her own blog with great poise and strength. Insecure people have always leveled anger at those brave enough to bare themselves to the world, and when you aren’t staring the person in the face, it’s easy to forget that they’re human.

Sometimes, our most hurtful critic stares at us every time we look in the mirror. One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote a brave and heartbreaking post about how photographing herself for outfit posts triggered feelings of low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with her appearance. I had noticed a decrease of photos on her blog showing her face, and it made my insides squeeze to learn the painful reason behind this shift. But she didn’t let these doubts sink her. She shared a vulnerable side of herself and emboldened her readers to consider their own self-image in the process.

Aside from being a newly minted fashion blogger, I’ve seen the fashion industry from a different angle by working as a model. As a size 6 woman working in a size 0 world, I’m supposed to tolerate photographers praising my modeling prowess and criticizing my weight in the same breath. To be frank, it’s harmed the way I see my body. Where I previously saw a pleasantly pear-shaped figure that could rock a miniskirt, I now see too-big hips and an embarrassing muffin top. And you know what? That’s not ok.

Until blogs exploded on the scene, the only fashion icons I had access to were locked within the gilded, impossible-to-emulate pages of fashion magazines. Now I open my blogroll and see real women with real bodies proudly expressing their style and personalities, and it’s changed how I see myself. When I take photos for my blog, I keep my readers in mind, but I pose for me. When I’m selecting content for my own blog, nobody cringes about the width of my hips or laments how amazing that jacket would have looked if only my arms were a bit narrower. My blog photos are just photos of me, as I am, and I keep reminding myself that I have nothing to hide.

That being said, I also acknowledge that I’m new in this world and have yet to earn my stripes by seeing cruel comments on my posts. When I do, as I know I will, I will do my best to remind myself of brave women like Alicia and Jen who endure critics, either internal or external, and push onward to tell the tale.

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7 thoughts on “Is Fashion Blogging Hazardous to Your Body Image?

  1. This is a beautiful article and it’s so incredibly comforting to know I’m not alone. Sometimes, when you’re writing to an audience you don’t actually know in-person, it’s hard to remember we’re all human too. That behind our computer screens we have parts of our lives that we don’t share. Your “earning your stripes” comment made me laugh and I hope I don’t reach that point! I’ve seen super popular fashion bloggers get hateful comments and it just kills me. I guess it’s nice that my worst critic is myself, because at least I can set myself straight. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I think blogging can feel so lonely and so supportive, often both within the course of a day. I really love seeing fashion bloggers like you and The Drawing Mannequin delving into more vulnerable territory- I can so identify with what you’ve both been saying.

  2. Beautifully written, Sanfranista. Women’s bodies are criticized regardless of their appearance – the Size 0 women are criticized (mostly by other women) for being unrealistic or too angular. But the perfectly beautiful, healthy, size 6 is considered “fat” compared to these Size 0s. Meanwhile curvy women are often hailed as being “everyday women” – which they ought to be – but does that mean a size 6 who watches her diet and exercises is NOT a normal woman?

  3. Pingback: Fall-Into-Winter Blogger Fashion Roundup « sanfranista

  4. JaCindZa NayVa says:

    I really enjoyed reading is g your post. Thank you for sharing so nice and helpful ideas to readers who do not have to face this problem again in their project

    Maria Ines Rivero

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