When I started my blog aged 15 I had little idea of the sheer extent of the blogging phenomenon. In fact it was a friend of mine that suggested starting a blog as a mean of keeping an online diary of my clothes. Even to this day it is more of a point of reference of the outfits I have created and a portfolio of my work rather than a shrewdly run operation meant to attract as many clicks as possible. Blogs offered the first real chance in this digital age to express ones personal style and love of fashion without having a massive contact book in the industry and no doubt helped me open a few doors. Indeed a look at the short history of blogging reveals how it initially offered a genuine mean of achieving industry recognition rather than a gratuitous fifteen minutes of bloglovin fame and a few freebies thrown in on the side. Take girls like Susie Stylebubble and Mademoiselle Robot in Britain who have successfully shown how to make a living out of being a blogger, using their imagination and obvious talent to produce high quality and innovative content that keeps the clicks going to this day. An even better example of the initial allure of the blog has to be Tavi Gevinson. Starting her blog The Style Rookie aged 11 she became the voice and unintentional Cinderella figure of it. Her quirky outfits and witty fashion commentaries gained her an almost cult like following and front row seats at fashion week. Yet Gavinson gave up her life as fully-fledged blogger in 2011 to pursue a more diverse career path (she went on to set up an online magazine). Why? There was of course the criticism she received by some of the print press, some far from pleased watching a teenage girl receiving a wider readership than them yet I think something else might have propelled Gavinson, on the verge of adulthood, to let go of the blogger label for good.
In fact the label “blogger” has become a near dirty word in the fashion industry over the last year. Suzy Menkes in a piece for the New York Times blog described it as digression from visual and cultural arbiter of the first day to freebie seeking peacock. I too have grown increasingly disillusioned with some aspects of blogging but rather than the attention grabbing outfits some may wear around Somerset House during LFW, it is the army of bland fashion stereotypes, particularly among young women, it has produced that poses as biggest problem to me and which has completely removed the ad-hoc and creative aspect of the medium that first made it so powerful. Indeed a “good” fashion blogger has become a contrived parody of the people that first used it as platform. With blog posts dominated by macaroons, cupcakes and the latest Celine “inspired” Zara purchases, and with more care taken arranging ones lunch components for Instagram purposes than enjoyment of actually eating it, has blogging become a game by numbers to get the most comments from an online community? Do these girls genuinely lead these perfect lives, celebrating an aesthetic that paradoxically seems more akin to perfect 50’s housewife than 21st century independent woman?
On the one hand blogging became a mass trend and many of the bloggers that have emerged of late, most in their formative teenage years and wanting to emulate the sites they go on daily, try to tick certain boxes to achieve an instantly stylish look. But there is another more worrying side to tthis aesthetic. Seeking other girls’ approval through blogs has become a defense mechanism to the increasingly sexualized media world we find ourselves part of. No young girl desires to get the attention of a Mad Men style Joan when posting pictures on her blog nor does she want to face the kind of reaction more risqué and skin flashing celebrities like Rihanna get in the public eye, often bordering on sexist and bullyish slut shaming. Instead an unintentionally twee and decisively safe style has emerged that tries to avoid the possible back clashes of exposing ones outfit and increasingly also ones personality within the realms of today’s omnipresent social media world.
Why write this article when one could quite rightly argue I shouldn’t throw with stones when siting in my blogspot glasshouse. In fact what I’m trying to advocate is not the end of blogging all together but for girls to stop worrying about an online persona that is beginning to effect the way they think and dress, a generation that could become so preoccupied with their number of Instagram followers and so scared of being attacked for the way they look that they neglect to be confident in their womanhood and personal style. Of course I am happy that other people like the way I dress on my blog but I have never dressed for anyone but me. It goes without saying that there is nothing wrong with liking macaroons and cupcakes if that is what you are passionate about. What is however crucial is to not forget what fashion ultimately is about, it’s about expressing ones self through clothes, it’s part of me but it’s not subject to anyone’s approval and I hope the young bloggers of today will bear that in mind.