Tuesday, December 23, 2014

putting your best internet foot forward: how far is too far?

I've been doing this blogging thing for close to three years, and so I understand many of the temptations for bloggers. Being a part of a lot of group giveaways will get you heaps of social media follows. Wearing "just for the blog" outfits means you can get more creative with your clothes since you don't actually have to wear them all day. Buying instagram followers or facebook likes means companies will be more willing to work you because of your "reach". Editing your pictures to make yourself skinnier gets you pinned more, so a little tweak here and there isn't bad, right?

I would probably say wrong. I totally get the temptations. I do. As bloggers, we take a lot of time to put ourselves out there, so we want people to enjoy it, and we want more people to come look, and we want more companies to want to work with us too. We see certain women get the thousands of re-pins, the half a million instagram followers, and the c/o Chanel bags and wonder what else can I do to get that too? Maybe if I too had a thigh gap, or the desirable shoulder to arm line, then I too can be the world's best blog. Sometimes it's hard to be an "average" sized blogger. While the majority of women are "average" sized, the aspirational looks on the internet and in the media are of thinner women. Clothes just look better on them, so being an average sized women blogging can really mess with your head.

I think of all the shady things bloggers can do, editing yourself down to make you look like something you aren't is one of the worst. I just think it hurts the readers the most. So what if you don't completely disclose what you received for free - chances are, the law is not going to come after you. Buying followers doesn't really hurt anyone, it just makes you look desperate for fans. But when a blogger edits themselves into something they aren't, they are deceiving their readers. I see soooo many young girls on blogs and social media worshiping something that isn't real.  I think I was lucky to not grow up with social media, because I see the effect it has on my youngest sister who did grow up with it, and it can really effect how you see yourself! It's bad enough as a 27 year old woman to be on instagram and see "perfect" lives and bodies, and even though I know that's it's not the complete picture still get those "I wish" feelings, but I can't imagine being 15 and thinking that social media is real life. It would totally screw up the feelings I had about myself and my life.

So knowing that bloggers, women who are supposed to be these real people whose lives we get to be a part of, completely change themselves via photoshopping or skinny apps (like the one I used on the picture on the right above), just makes me sad. It makes me sad that they don't think they are good enough, and it makes me angry that they are telling their readers that this is what it takes to be fashionable and popular. It doesn't matter that you have a good heart, or you know how to mix patterns like a pro, or you've figured out what style of skirt looks best on you - it doesn't matter, because as long as you make yourself internet skinny, that is what's most important. Blogging started because real women wanted to show their real lives as opposed to what most of print media was, so the fact that bloggers, who readers implicitly trust, are now faking it "to make it" just seems to backward.

The more that comes out about certain bloggers photoshopping themselves, the more discussions I see about it. Certain people feel that photoshopping yourself skinnier is no different than finding your best angle and using a filter. I disagree with that notion. I think most bloggers would admit to some kind of editing - no one just takes their pictures off their camera and uploads it straight to blogger. I crop pictures and adjust the coloring, and if there is a close up of my face and I have a big fat zip on my face, I cover it up. Is that still wrong? Maybe. What's too far when it comes to editing? I don't have an answer for that, but if you made me answer that question, I would say when you add 5 inches in height and subtract 20 pounds is too far.

I know that this may bother me more than other people. I'm a blogger who isn't the "preferred" size, I'm a woman who reads blogs looking for inspiration, and I'm someone who grew up reading photoshop fail sites for fun. But I also know I want my little sister to look up to me as someone who is okay with the body type they were given and work with it, rather than tell her that the person who I am is not good enough, and manipulate myself into something I'm not and just can't naturally be just to have more instagram likes and free purses.

Your turn. Do you prefer bloggers to edit themselves more? Are skinny apps the new instagram filters? Are blogs just for aspirational looks now?