More thinking about the commercialization of fatshion

(Earlier posts here, here, here, and here.)

I read another interesting response to Natalie’s piece, from Kath of Fat Heffalump. She argues that:

Fatshion is so much  more than mainstream fashion up-sized to fit a size 16 or 18.  Fatshion belongs to us, not to the fashion industry.  Fatshion will always be outside the margins, and will always be radical.  Fatshion belongs to here and now, not the past.  Fatshion is about finding your own style and rocking the hell out of it, flying in the face of a world that tells us we should never be seen.

I don’t agree with the premise that fatshion is always radical–I think that it, like almost anything else, can be co-opted. When fatshion becomes all about following trends, having the latest popular pieces, stoking an endless cycle of consumerist desires…then yeah. Not so radical. It’s a fine line, but I’ve seen a lot of fatshion going on that direction, and I’ve experienced that consumerist pull myself. It’s really tricky, and I don’t think that fatshion should be inherently immune from criticism.

But I do agree that there’s an amazing diversity of fatshion blogs, beyond the big names and the more commercially-oriented smaller names (some of who do have awesome style). And I agree that those bloggers shouldn’t be conflated with the small elite world of professional fatshionistas.

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More on the advertising/activism divide, and why I’m not monetizing my blog

The internet just keeps being interesting.

Bronny at Fat Aus has a great post about how earning money from her blog sucked all the fun out of it. Between her piece, and a similar piece I read a while back (I can’t find it again, but I originally found it through an Already Pretty link roundup, and it was written by a woman who blogs about parenting, domestic stuff, DIYing home goods, etc.), I’ve made up my mind pretty decisively that making money from blogging isn’t for me.

It’s something I considered for a while–I’ve read a great deal about the world of professional blogging, especially on a site that I love for its all-around glamour and colorfulness, Rock n’ Roll Bride. I’ve spent some time studying the advertising pages of blogs like Scathingly Brilliant and the Offbeat Empire.

I’ve fantasized about free pretty things and glamorous events, about a source of supplemental income based solely on my love of shiny objects. But after all my recent reading and reflection, I’ve realized it’s just not right for me.

This is not to say I would 100% rule out any kind of advertising or working with a brand. As I mentioned in my last post, I currently have one ad on my blog, for an independent hair-accessory-maker who gives me a discount in exchange for running it.  I wouldn’t be averse to putting up similar ads from other indie designers who I genuinely like, and if someday someone wants to send me free stuff? Well, I like free stuff.

But I’m not seeking it out. I’m not blogging with the intent to monetize, and I’m not interested in diluting my voice by writing sponsored posts. I’m not judging others who do–it can definitely be done ethically, and if it works for you, great! But it’s not for me, for so many reasons: both the personal ones and the larger concerns about the commercialization of fatshion.

On another note related to Natalie’s post, Ariel of Kiddotrue has proposed a fatshion activist idea:

We are trying to place the focus back on the brands and hold them more accountable, right?

Why don’t we pick ONE brand to focus our energy on and put our resources into getting more than a standard stock answer from about extending their size range. It may not work, but it would be lovely to see everyone work together on something to try and change the system, even in a relatively minor way.

She suggests ASOS Curve as an initial choice, for multiple reasons. I really like this idea, and I hope it turns into a full-fledged project. I’m glad to see that Natalie’s reflections have sparked at least one idea for action!

And the ethics of fatshion get even more complicated…

Natalie Perkins—fatshionista, writer, and creator of the iconic fat necklace–has a very interesting piece up on XoJane.

Titled “When activism gave way to advertising: how fat girl blogging ate itself,” it argues…well, exactly what the title says.

Fatshion blogs have largely evolved to be in step with large clothing brands, and I fear that the joining of oppressed and oppressor in brand relationships is not furthering fat activism. I don’t begrudge authors of blogs deriving an income from advertising, but I’m concerned with the increasing hand that brands have in blog content.

My feelings about all of this are complicated, but first of all, I admire Natalie for speaking up. She’s an amazing writer, and it takes guts to criticize a such a popular model of blogging.

When I have many conflicted thoughts about something (as I often do–ever heard the saying that between two Jews, there are three opinions?), I find it helps to number them. So, here goes.

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