I've wanted to write this post for the longest time, but I've deliberated over and over again about whether it was worth it. At times I just feel it's better to take the high road, and others, I feel like it's an important issue that needs to be addressed, even if no-one reads this I know within myself that I spoke up and gave my two cents.
The issue of cliques within the blogging community came up on Episode Five of Bad Fat Broads, and I think it's a really important issue that no-one talks about.....at least not publicly, but as I mentioned, this is a topic I've wanted to address for some time so here goes.
Firstly, for me, there is a clear and distinct difference between clique and friendship:
Friendship - You love and support your friends in their endeavours, but also remain unbiased, and open to be encouraging to others within the community and congratulate and give due when they accomplish something, however small you may view said accomplishment.
Clique - You are part of a small group who only interact with those within said group, failing to acknowledge others and really embrace the community as a whole.
There's a great line from The White Stripes in 'My Doorbell' which sums it up pretty well: "I don't need any of your pity at all, I've got plenty of my own friends - they're all above me". That feeling of 'What can you do for me?' has become so much part of blogging and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It's based on either aspiring to reach their level, or once there, doing everything you can to remain there.
There is a clear hierarchy in the blogging world, and I guess, in my naivety, I didn't realise it until I became a victim of it. When I found the blogging community I thought that it was so great to have found like-minded people whom all had their own opinions, but when it came down to it, they all supported and encouraged each other. How wrong I was as if you are not on the "approved list", you're basically invisible, and I know others have been affected by this too. It's a sad but true fact that I still find difficult to accept. The amount of times I myself, or others, have reached out via Titter or other social media platforms, only to be completely ignored has become more and more frequent. When you make a point about an article or make a comment on an important issue you want to raise, have no-one join the conversation, only to have someone on "the list" raise the exact same point and have a plethora of mentions is incredibly hurtful and disheartening.
Why? Well here's the thing; we within the plus size community are not accepted anywhere. We've all experienced being excluded from pretty much every conversation because of how our bodies look, so think back to when you finally found this space of acceptance. This space to finally feel like you can love yourself no matter what and that you had value and were important. To have a group who shared your woes and who wanted to fight for something better for all of us. Now imagine that being taken away. Your one and only place of solace. Doesn't feel good, right?!
There's that saying about the poorer getting poorer and the richer getting richer; well the premise is the same in the blogging world. It's no surprise that those at the helm are mainly white, privileged women (although being white is a huge privilege in itself), dictating to those below them what is and is not acceptable; who is or isn't acceptable; what opinion is or isn't acceptable. That's a huge problem for me and I thought our community was better than that. It's a huge problem because those at the helm are also the ones with the most followers, the most opportunity, the most influence, and that's a big thing. Perpetuating values that only support and enhance the very clique they're part of, a clique whom already have all the perks and opportunities, is a huge problem. Dictating to others whom are compliant, and thus, creating rules within the community is (and I don't say this lightly) a dangerous thing. If you disagree and are vocal about it, you find out very quickly what a mistake that was. That isn't a community.
The irony is that those at the helm must have experienced exclusion for the way they look at one time or another. They must have had times when they went home feeling really crap about themselves because, yet again, they were the butt of a joke, or were made fun of for the way they looked; so it befuddles me when I see them adopting unpleasant behaviour they were once/ still victims of. It blows my mind.
These things have resulted in those who choose to speak up about the negative things affecting the community, being branded as haters or jealous. I've said this before, but it's used as a get-out-of-jail free card, used to silence people into accepting things for how they are and to prevent issues being brought to the forefront - another form of control. The criticism a lot of the time is really valid and we need a community that actually welcomes difficult discussion. That's how we grown, that's how we become better as individuals, that's how we change things. But I get it; if you're at the top, the last thing you want is to relinquish the opportunities because, even though we've come a long way since I first discovered the plus size world, there's still very few opportunities out there for us.
But thats's when we need to look beyond ourselves and acknowledge that others are just as deserving. It isn't that people don't work as hard at all (so tired of hearing that), but is instead because we don't look the way that is deemed profitable. We don't have the following so are not given a second look. There are so many being excluded from this new found plus size fame. Where are the non-conventional? Where are the trans people? Where are the disabled people? Where are the men? Where are the people of colour? Where are all the other marginalised groups? We as a community HAVE TO DO BETTER.
I love blogging but have found myself withdrawing. When I blog, I want it to mean something, I want to make a difference for the little black girl who doesn't look like the girls on the tv or in magazines, but how many women of colour, particularly in the UK, do we see getting opportunities to spread our message? I can count that number on one hand. It's sad and disappointing and I'm loosing the will to be honest. I want to keep fighting, but when you have non-one in your corner it's so, so hard to keep going.
But I will. People like me need to be seen, need to be represented - even if it's in a minor way. So expect to see more regular blog posts from me....
'til next time!