Sunday, 4 March 2018

is there a blogging 'mould' and do diverse bloggers who don't conform to it get less opportunities?

blogging mould lack of diversity minority bloggers - yasmin stefanie street style i am gia brandy melville

Discourse in the fashion and blogging industries has, as of late, focused on the lack of diversity in each respective industry. This lack of diversity covers race, class, body shape, age, identity. We've seen countless blog posts about it, from both those who fit the mould and those who don't. 

 We all know that most commercial bloggers fit the mould of a white, slim woman who has a comfortable disposable income. There's nothing wrong with these people having success (depending on your definition of success whether it be followers, collaborations, campaigns) the problem is that bloggers who don't fit this mould often do not see the same numbers of followers and opportunities. 

Who does the problem lie with though? If we were to place blame on someone for the lack of clear diversity in the blogosphere do we blame it on brands for not choosing to work with a diverse range of people? Do we blame it on ourselves as readers and consumers of blogs for not following and engaging with more diverse bloggers?

Wherever this problem comes from, what it breeds is insecurity and a lack of inclusivity. POC, those from a working class background, people of a dress size bigger than the bloggers they see being pushed to greater heights, older people, and those who identify as LGBTQ+ question why they aren't seeing enough bloggers who are a closer representation of themselves, and this can lead to them wondering if there's a reason for it.

blogging mould lack of diversity minority bloggers - yasmin stefanie street style i am gia brandy melville
coat - i am gia // body - brandy melville // jeans - topshop // boots - river island // necklace - brandy melville

The whole point of blogging is, or was, to break the mould seen in traditional outlets like magazines and some brands' official website and bring real people (if you want to call it that) to the forefront of the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, travel, food, fitness, parenting, and wedding industries. Yet we are still having this discussion about a lack of diversity in the blogging community.

The thing is, there are so so so many bloggers who don't fit this mould. However, if you don't go and try to seek out these bloggers yourself you will probably never discover them. It's easy to find bloggers through brands reposting them, articles telling you who the most popular bloggers to follow are, features and campaigns on a big scale, but the bloggers featured in these do usually fit the mould. If a more diverse range of bloggers aren't being featured in these places they get much less exposure and it becomes much harder to find bloggers who are more relatable to you if you don't fit the mould.

blogging mould lack of diversity minority bloggers - yasmin stefanie street style i am gia brandy melville


Whilst I myself am not white, a lot of people think I am and wouldn't question it to find out that I'm not. I'm petite and, whilst my family aren't middle class, we are comfortable enough to not struggle financially. You could read this post and wonder why I am questioning the mould because you think I am the mould. I don't, because I know that I'm the child of immigrants and to this day am racially profiled because my surname (it's not Stefanie if you thought it was that lol) and I'm not tall and I'm a student so I don't have a proper income. But I know that I'm not unlucky and I completely accept that I face pretty much no adversity compared to people belonging to minority groups, despite the fact that I (half?) belong to one myself - because a lot of people just look at me and assume I don't.

I still don't feel like I'm a proper 'blogger' though, stepping away from the slim, white woman mould I still feel like I can't be taken seriously. I am 100% aware that I do not face prejudice in the way that others do, and I am 100% aware that you could place me in this mould based on a matter of opinion, but I know that some people who perhaps could theoretically fit this mould still don't feel accepted as a legit blogger. To be a blogger, you need to have a blog. Like, that is it. I barely posted on this blog for two years and all my social media bios still claimed I was a blogger. But it's easy to not feel like one.

I don't want to take away from the lack of diversity thing at all - what I do want to say is that it's ok to still feel like you don't fit in even if you are a slim, white woman. For me, I never feel as though I'm a ~proper~ blogger because I don't have my angles and poses worked out and I feel like I look a bit not-put-together in photos. I still post my outfit photos because I don't dislike them to not use them, I just know that with more practice and experience in taking them I can get them to a place I want them to be because as of right now they don't look the way I'd like them to. I also feel like I'm just the girl who tweets along to tennis matches first and a blogger second and, although this may have been the case for the last couple years, it definitely is not now because I've re-prioritised how I want to utilise my social media and online presence. That doesn't stop me from feeling like I will forever be the tennis tweeter though. But am I facing adversity because of that?? Hell no.

I want to say that yeah it's ok to feel like you don't fit in with the figurative blogging 'mould' even if you hypothetically could, but it's important to keep in mind that you don't face prejudice in the way that minority bloggers do. But I kinda hate that whole concept of making someone feel like they're not allowed to worry about something / be upset about something because someone else has it a lot worse. And I know that people who perhaps feel similar to me will still also be aware of the difference between how they feel and how those who are under-represented in the blogging community feel.

blogging mould lack of diversity minority bloggers - yasmin stefanie street style i am gia brandy melville


Without a doubt, I recognise that this mould has been created. Perhaps not by those who fit it, but because it is easy to typecast 'commercial' bloggers who see more opportunities as white, able-bodied women. I think it is important that instead of bashing bloggers who fit this mould, we work with them so we can all use our voice to question why there isn't a diverse enough range of bloggers being selected as part of a campaign and we champion a diverse range of bloggers whenever possible. Bringing up this topic to provoke discussion and awareness is something we should all do, but it should be done in a way where we give the issue attention so we can then give diverse, minority bloggers the space to speak for themselves rather than speak for them. This is something we saw recently in the Keeping it Candid podcast (which I love and is great, give it a listen) which discussed a lack of diversity in street style photography following on from this article. The responses I've seen in the blogging community to this podcast episode have been understanding and have given space for those in the minority to speak up for themselves, and that's what we need. After this recent discussion following the podcast that's when I knew that this lil blog post idea I'd had planned was extra fitting at the moment to keep the discussion going.


Taking all of this into consideration, when you look from the outside-in where your vision of bloggers is perhaps more narrow, you may only be exposed to bloggers who you believe fit a certain mould - perhaps those in the same campaigns for the same brands because they fit the brand's vive and aesthetic - but you don't see the bigger picture, the hugely diverse and unique range of bloggers out there.


Do I think that brands who work with bloggers could work with a more diverse range of bloggers? Without a doubt, YES. But I also think that bloggers who do fit this 'mould' shouldn't be shamed just because they fit it and they are given opportunities. I don't think that using a blogger who is part of a minority group should be a token thing either, like oh look at us we are amaze because we used a plus size blogger wow publicity x it should just be because they produce amazing content. I think, for me, this is the main point. A lot of under-represented bloggers produce content as good as, or better than, bloggers who fit the 'mould', and have the same amount of followers, but aren't presented with the same opportunities. If brands and audiences went into blogging blind and judged by quality of content and yes, from a brand's perspective, level of engagement so they can see the ROI, I bet you we'd have a more even spread of the types of bloggers reaching new heights in the industry.


What do you think of the current state of the blogging industry RE diversity, do you want to see a better representation of different types of people achieving greater things for their blog?


Yasmin

blogging mould lack of diversity minority bloggers - yasmin stefanie street style i am gia brandy melville

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8 comments

  1. Hi! Great post. I agree that the mold a blogger should fit in to succeed as an influencer is very narrow (I wrote about it in my blog, I'd you'd like to check it out!),but I think there is a greater awareness of it now and we as a community are really striving to lift each other up so we can all stand on the same ground. I'm just a little jaded that it took this long for brands to notice they have been neglecting a whole demographic. At the same time, I do think we are seeing a shift in the way things like fashion and beauty are advertised, and it was caused by bloggers of color making it on their own and turning the industry on their head, and it just warms me--what seemed to be an all-powerful industry now was brought to it's knees by a bunch of women who just love beauty so much they want it to be one accessible for everyone. It's kind of awesome, that.

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    1. just read your post and loved it! glad you enjoyed mine. and completely agree with you, the way we as a community are championing bloggers who belong to a minority is such a lovely thing to see and now we're finally starting to see brands join in and do the same as a genuine thing instead of token!

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  2. It’s really interesting, especially listening to your story. I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider in the blogging world... and in a way it isn’t just about minority groups (which, of course is a very important topic) but there’s also a stereotype for bloggers, especially style bloggers and you can feel a pressure to fit into that.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

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    1. I definitely agree with you! the idea for this post was born out of feeling like you just don't fit in with the way people dress, post in pics etc so I can 100% see how it's easy to feel like you don't fit in even if you're white, able-bodied and not part of a minority

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  3. The variety in such topics implies a departure from the traditional principles. This should cover a great material about fashion in order to be interesting.

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  4. This is such a great post. It’s sad because there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Honestly I’ve seen a few bloggers address these issues, and the awareness have been given. We all do need to use our voices to break this mould. Loved this post, very insightful!
    KeepingupwithMJ.com

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    1. thankyou lovely, glad you liked it! definitely agree that it's important for others to use their voice to ensure we give minority bloggers more exposure

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  5. I agree with so much you've written here, I do my best to do my bit, in reaching out and actively looking to promote minority bloggers, but when pushed for time it can be so frustrating that the mould is there.
    I think that blogging is so cliquey at times, and thats so sad because there is such a wealth of voices out there.
    I'm so glad I stumbled on this post :)
    Erin | Photographer

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