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Mean Girls

2011 December 5


I’ll come right out and say it–I read a lot of fashion blogs. When style bloggers are asked what they enjoy most about blogging, the most common answer I’ve seen is “the community,” or “making all of these great new friends.” And it’s true–many bloggers become friends with each other, attending events and sharing clothing. I’ve even made a couple of friends by blogging.

But sometimes blogging can feel a lot like high school, complete with cat fights and popularity contests. Fashion blogging is a trend that has blown up over the last couple of years. There are style blogs for every type of woman: older women, transgendered, scientists, teachers, lawyers, petite women, curvy women–you name it, there’s a style blog out there for you. But despite this seeming diversity, many style bloggers maintain an exclusive “members only” kind of attitude, making most of the community seem like an exclusive clique. Most of the successful and well-read bloggers stopped responding to comments and reading other blogs long ago, yet still try to maintain a friendly and familiar tone with their readers. They post photos of each other and link to their other connected fashion blogger friends, gushing about some boutique event or another where they got to take home new clothing to add to the piles already sent to them by sponsors.

I don’t have a problem with sponsorships or making friends in the blogging community–it’s the exclusivity that gets to me, the very clear message that if you’re not “in,” your blog doesn’t matter. It’s very tough to find a solid audience in a field so saturated with content, and when the content is so often glossier, flashier, and full of free designer clothing and sponsored giveaways, it’s tempting to give up–especially when other bloggers start doing the very thing you’ve been doing with your blog for the past two years.

I know I’m not the only one with these complaints–I discovered a forum recently where others trade comments and rants about fashion bloggers, and though it’s fascinating to read through the comments and see that many other people share my opinions, many of the comments are just mean-spirited and unfair. I don’t think it’s appropriate to tear down a blogger because of what she looks like or what shape her body is in.

In an ideal world, people would appreciate quality content and the prettiest, most popular, and wealthiest girls wouldn’t keep getting all the luck (and the readers…and the sponsorships…and the book deals). But the world doesn’t work that way, so I (and a ton of other great blogs) will continue to try to produce good writing and fun posts, not because it will get me free stuff, but because it makes me happy.

What do you guys think? Do you read other fashion blogs? Do you get this same vibe, or is it all in my head? Is it even worth talking about?

20 Responses Post a comment
  1. December 5, 2011

    thanks for making this post! I have a pretty cursory interest in fashion, but would like to learn more–but I honestly don’t have much of an interest in reading many fashion blogs because it seems like they’ve established their own world with their own norms and nuances I just don’t understand/don’t really want to take the time to understand. so I probably appreciate the fashion blogs that aren’t so popular, and pave their own little path apart from that, because then I don’t feel like I’m gazing at an alien planet.

    although I will say that I think any blogging subculture has a weird popularity hierarchy. and maybe it has to do with looks and free designer clothes in the fashion blogging world, but if it wasn’t that, it would be something else. a few years ago I was into reading sex blogs (like, people blogging about their sex lives) and it was ASTOUNDING how it was just this club of people looking down on other people and paying the most attention to the “most popular” bloggers in that certain sphere. although if you asked me what made a sex blogger popular, I have no idea, because it certainly wasn’t good looks. haha. I guess there were arguments over who had the most oppressed sex life. or this unspoken urgency to be “the edgiest.” in any case, like with anything I suppose, when you are writing to compete or to one-up other people writing about the exact same thing, it becomes really disingenuous and just… weird. and not interesting.

    so I think when blogging, the things that matter to me are 1) I’m writing about things that I think are interesting so that I enjoy the process, 2) I’m writing in a way to keep my friends interested, 3) I’m writing in a way that it’s possible some stranger wandering around might stop and think what I’m saying is interesting. not all the strangers, just some.

    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      Yeah, I definitely feel like fashion blogging is not accessible for most people who are just looking for some good style tips or shopping info. There are too many “high fashion” obsessed bloggers now and even I can’t deal with that level of fashion.

      I know that hierarchies exist in every type of subculture, and it’s certainly not even restricted to the blogosphere. But you’re right–that popularity and hierarchy, no matter what the topic, usually makes a blog much less interesting and engaging to read.

      I think you’re doing a good job with your blogging goals!

  2. December 5, 2011

    Great post!

    I visit a lot of fashion blogs, but recently my visits have become less and less frequent. To me, a great fashion blog not only shows you pictures and talks about how amazing that bloggers life is, but gives advice on their thought process in choosing outfits, and helpful tips on how to get the most out of your closest! I guess I’m not the typical blog reader, though, because I’ve found that a lot of the big bloggers get so many of their clothes for free that I have a hard time even trying to relate to them.

    That’s why I like less popular blogs, I think people that haven’t been “discovered” or aren’t part of the clique are much more genuine and easier to relate to! I love seeing an amazing outfit made of mostly thrifted pieces, or a well-written post about the thought process behind choosing an outfit.

    I did see that WIW did a book post, but I’m inclined to think those won’t go over so well. I think her intern does them, and she seems limited in what she can pick (i.e. she’ll probably need to put a lot of her sponsors’ clothes in those posts).

    (Full disclosure: I frequent GOMI but not their forums. I actually think that while the blog posts are a bit snarky, they don’t usually attack the persons body type. Rather, they comment on their egos, their unnatural poses, etc. The forums may be different though.)

    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      Cindi, I completely agree with your thoughts on what makes a great style blogger. I so appreciate the different tips, tricks, and thoughts that go with choosing an outfit. But now so many bloggers are just sponsored, so I feel like there is less thought that goes into that process.

      Yeah, I haven’t seen another “bookish type” post on WIW, so I’m not sure what will happen to them. Maybe they’ll go the way of the comments?

      I do read the GOMI blog as well, and check the forums every once in a while–mostly when I’m bored and interested in gossip. :)

  3. December 5, 2011

    I read quite a few fashion blogs. I comment almost only when the other blogger is someone who has commented at my blog or has awesome style. I don’t know about popularity though because that’s never been my goal with my blog. I am often writing for my co-blogger more than for anyone else, and I get a kick out of other people enjoying it, but really, my blog is a style journal. It’s helping me understand my own sense of fashion, and helping me chronicle my growth from grad-school t-shirts and jeans every day of the week to something more mature, but still me. I like the community aspect too, but I only mean a small subset of the community when I say community: those who I chat with through our blogs daily.

    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      Hey Tia–it’s true–I keep my blog more for myself and for my readers than for the “blogging community”–whatever that means anymore. I hope you guys keep up the good work!

  4. Kelli permalink
    December 5, 2011

    Jill, I wish I could sit down face to face with you & chat about this! I absolutely agree there’s a clique-ness to blogs..and I think it goes beyond the fashion blogs too. I started my blog way back in August of 2005…when personal blogs were really coming into their own. It was before there were many sponsorships – even Dooce didn’t have ads on her site – and there really did feel like a community…even if I didn’t know bloggers personally or comment a lot (or have many people visiting my site) it felt good to not only be writing, but realizing there were a lot of like minded people out there too.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – particularly during the times when I think about walking away from my blog and the whole thing – I feel like I watched so many blogs go from “oh hey, these are the outfits I wear, here’s how I put this together” or “this is what my experience is like as a new mom” where we could all relate & empathize to being filled with the ads and the sponsorships and the jetting off to the fashion shows and the like. I write this not because I’m jealous (although I get annoyed when folks I don’t find to be particularly talented writers get book deals) but because I just feel that the whole organic nature of blogging is lost. It used to be if so and so’s blog mentioned a lip gloss they liked, I was interested – because it felt like a good friend sharing a tidbit. Now, I often hesitate b/c even with the required disclaimers, I tend to wonder if they really are telling me they love such and such color from Stilla…or if they like the color b/c Stilla sent them a box of 800 lipsticks to try! It’s like the suits came in and turned it into a way to make a profit…and all the really good, just doing it because I like it and it makes me happy bloggers, left the building. OR they haven’t left the building but they get no attention.

    This is turning into the longest comment ever but I guess my point is – I hear what you’re saying loud & clear. And I too, keep thinking I’ll keep my blog up because I started it as something I was interested in, it’s brought me a lot of joy (& some frustrations) throughout the years, and I’ll keep doing it if it makes me happy. Lately though, because that sort of “underground movement” is gone , I don’t always feel my heart is totally in it anymore. Does that make any sense?

    (And I can’t believe What I Wore is doing the book/look theme! Don’t stop doing your posts like these please — I promise I like yours better. Seriously.)

    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      I wish we could chat face to face too Kelli! I couldn’t agree with you more that blogs have really evolved, even just in the past year or two, and now so many of them are just models for corporate brands. Where is the innovation in putting together outfits when you’re just sent designer clothing for free? I would just go out and buy a copy of Vogue if I wanted all the ads, designer labels, and glamour pusses.

      You’re right–it’s not about jealousy, or about sour grapes (although in some cases, it happens..I’m no saint)–it’s about the content and atmosphere completely changing into a “scene” more than a “community.” I hope you keep writing–don’t be afraid to write what you want!

  5. December 5, 2011

    love this and totally agree. i must admit, i sometimes find myself so overwhelmed with jealousy over how great someone’s life is that i have to literally stop following the blog altogether because i will never be able to compete. it’s sad. there should be more people out there getting together and celebrating their small roots blogs!


    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      I’m sure there are people out there who think my life is all me curling up with books and puggles, but I can assure you it’s not. Blogs only tell a small part of the story–and it’s usually the good part! It gets tiring when some blogs read more like fairytales, but in those instances, I usually just skip the text and focus on the images if I like the style. I have definitely hit “unsubscribe” myself though too for that same reason!

  6. December 5, 2011

    Great topic, and great dialogue in the comments. I read a few fashion blogs but I try to avoid the ones with that cliquish vibe because they make me feel unhappy and inadequate. That vibe is not unique to fashion blogs and, I admit it, I do feel jealous sometimes of bloggers with mediocre content who get loads of attention. I don’t understand why so many trite blogs are so popular. Giveaways irritate me too. I have zero interest in commenting on someone’s blog just for a chance to win a silly bauble. Sour grapes much? Yes. My own blog has a measly 25 followers plus 45 people who “like” it on facebook. There’s one blogger I know in person who puts on a condescending attitude with me because her own blog is so popular and now she’s getting offers for other writing work while I toil away in obscurity. I wouldn’t give it up because I truly love to write.

    I agree with Kelli about the old feeling of community. We used to have coffee meet ups of bloggers in my city, but now our original community is lost among the many new bloggers who dominate the scene now.

    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      Patience, you’re not the only one who feels envious of those mediocre blogs that are super popular! It seems to be the story too often, unfortunately. I have a very dedicated audience that is small by other blogs’ standards, but I appreciate every single reader, and though my readership hasn’t increased much at all in the past year, I still love writing the blog, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing–at least it’s working for the readers I DO have! So I’m glad you’re going to keep writing too, if it’s what you love.

  7. Raquel permalink
    December 5, 2011

    I don’t follow fashion blogs, but I used to read a lot of cooking and food blogs until I finally felt so overwhelmed and like such a failure that I quit–both reading them and writing my own. Now I can cook without feeling like OMG I COULD BE DOING MORE WHY DON’T I TAKE AMAZING PHOTOS I HAVE NEVER MADE A PIE CRUST I AM A FAILURE. (Plus, I’ve made pie crust since then and it was amazeballs!)

    It is wonderful to meet new friends online–I have met a few–but I find that people are generally far more mean-spirited, bitchy, and snarky when they’re hiding behind a computer screen than they would be in real life. Something about the internet unleashes people’s inner Regina George.

    Also, I am really sick of people’s blogs getting turned into books. Especially when the reason the blog is so wonderful is that it’s a blog and not a static printed object. Some blogs lend themselves to books. Others just don’t.

    Also, yours and Jessica Kane’s Fatshion Chic are the only fashion blogs I read.

    Also, kudos for the Mean Girls photo and reference. “You go, Glen Coco!” :)

    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      Yes, it’s easy to compare yourself to other bloggers, but I try not to fall into that trap TOO much. Luckily, I read so many of them that there’s a pretty diverse range of looks, shapes, closets, and budgets, so I try not to paint myself into a corner of how I should be dressing or what I should look like.

      I’m sure your pie crust was fantastic. You go, Glen Coco, indeed!

  8. December 6, 2011

    Hey Jill!

    I think you’ve hit on an important topic. I only really know the fashion blogging world, but like many of the commenters mentioned, I’m sure there is a similar battle of popularity to the top like there is in fashion. I would bet that it’s even worse in style blogging because the fashion industry is largely based on materialism and consumers buying into a certain look, item, etc. This is something that has bothered me ever since Lindsay and I started Cubicle Chic, and it definitely affected the way that I interact with other bloggers, and I try not to buy into a clique mentality myself.

    I would just say, though, that I think that Jessica does a great job of being one of the best-known style bloggers while also keeping it real. She doesn’t roll in cliques and is truly friendly. She’s also expressed her love of books over the years, so it didn’t surprise me when she started doing posts about outfits inspired by books. Maybe you two can bond over a similar idea from a love of fashion and reading instead of being fierce competit0rs :) I love your outfits inspired by books. They are always spot on!


    • Jill permalink
      December 6, 2011

      Thanks Meredith! I agree that the style blogging community is most likely hyper-aware of cliques and products because it’s a very materialistic industry, built on looks and consumerism.

      I want to make clear that I’ve been a follower of Jessica and her blog for years now, and I really appreciate her point of view and what she’s done with her blog and style. I did leave a comment for her saying that I liked the outfit she chose, and I did the same thing and she should check out my own Hunger Games post, but she did not approve my comment, and then closed down comments altogether about a week later, so there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for bonding or community building there, unfortunately. I wish the situation was different, but that’s the way I see it.

      Cubicle Chic did a great job of being an inclusive and informative style blog–I miss you guys!

      • December 7, 2011

        Sorry to hear about the lack of connection there. One of my favorite things to do is to bond over books!

  9. December 6, 2011

    I’ve run the gamut of style blog emotion myself – I’ve done the whole mental green-with-envy thing over exploding popularity blogs, gals who always have “the latest” things, gals who get gifted everything, etc. It actually made blogging for myself unpleasant for a while. And (easier said than done, I know) then I made myself get over it. Good for them if they can get this, that or other. If I like their style, I peruse their sites like I would a fashion mag – to get inspiration for my closet. If they are unrelatable – let’s move on, there are more blogs out there!

  10. December 28, 2011

    Thanks for posting this. It’s tough out in the blog world and some people can get really catty for no reason. Just be true to yourself and keep following your passion :)

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