how blogging empowers young women

Just over a week ago I received a comment on my Sunday round-up. Initially I was complimented, but the more I thought and spoke about it with various people (especially my sister), I realised it was actually kind of problematic. It read, in part:

 

So nice to see girls go beyond the makeup and fashion blogosphere!

 

I can definitely acknowledge the compliment here, and I think I understand what the commenter was going for – that by writing about topics other than makeup and fashion, my blog, like many others, shows that girls and women consider things beyond the aesthetic.

But this is problematic on a number of levels: firstly in the way it views women’s blogs and female bloggers, but also women more generally. I did respond to the comment, but only on one level of debate, so today I’d like to take some time to consider the issues behind it. I’ll start with a rewrite of my original response, and then explore further the way in which I think blogging – of all kinds – is an amazing industry for young women, regardless of what they’re writing about.

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how blogging empowers young women

Firstly, it’s really important that us bloggers, considering many of us are ourselves young women, are aware that our audience is probably largely comprised of young people. It’s also most likely that the majority of these are girls, probably teenagers, who may well be impressionable as they navigate their way through some particularly formative years. As such, I believe we have a responsibility to this audience to encourage them, teach them, and help them feel good about themselves.

That’s why I think that blogs are so wonderful. In these spaces, we can talk about things like politics, current affairs, history, and literature – and anything which encourages young people to be more aware of the world around them is a plus in my view.

However, I also believe it’s why more personal posts such as those which deal with mental health, past experiences, hints and tips and so on are really important. Our social media-based world encourages us to display our lives in picture-perfect fashion as a kind of hyper-reality, and it’s been reported recently by ChildLine that social media is one of the biggest causes of low self-esteem amongst young people. Therefore, bloggers and vloggers who are more honest about their lives, such as Zoella when she talks openly about her anxiety, are much more relatable to young people. These posts and videos show our audience, who may feel like nobody understands what they’re going through, that they’re not alone, and that everyone struggles during their lives – in short, that real life isn’t what you see on social media.

That being said, for me blogging is in many ways all about the blogger; one’s blog is naturally a projection of one’s self. It’s a personal outlet – I enjoy sharing photographs, experiences, thoughts and opinions here. Some of my posts centre around my political beliefs; others focus on horses; others on music and yet others on university life. Some of them are advice posts, others are comment pieces and others are chatty. What’s really wonderful about blogging is that our blogs are our own spaces, and we can do what we like with them.

As such, people will (and should!) post about the things which are most important to them. For many that includes a lot of fashion and makeup, and it’s no surprise that these sites are very popular. In fact, I read and follow many of them – I’m often amazed by the knowledge so many women hold around makeup techniques, as I can barely put on liquid eyeliner without half-blinding myself, and it’s great that there are blogs to help us find out which Mac lipstick is on trend right now.

For me, this individuality is perhaps the crux of the blogging community. There are blogs we can go to learn more about our society; blogs where we can have conversations about mental health; and blogs where we can learn which shoes go best with which outfit. It’s impossible to say which blog is better than another (a judgement implied, I felt, by the aforementioned comment), because they’re all so fantastically different. And, above all, it’s a community of people all supporting one another in their blogging endeavours, even if they write about totally different things. It’s definitely good to see lots of variation in types of blogs and posts, but I also think that makeup and fashion blogs play a huge part in the sphere, and are often what encourage many others to begin blogging in the first place.

But this only skims the surface of the importance of makeup and fashion blogging. One thing that I’ve only realised relatively recently is what a huge industry blogging actually is. Most people nowadays are aware of video-bloggers (vloggers), some of whom earn millions from their videos, but many bloggers, too, make their living from writing and publishing online. What’s most interesting about this to me is that a huge number of those earning enough money from their blog to do it full-time are fashion, makeup and lifestyle bloggers.

In this way, to disregard fashion and makeup blogs as worth less than others because they’re about more material, aesthetic topics is to disregard a huge and significantly important section of the industry, and perhaps the one which brings in the most income. Fashion and makeup blogging is becoming an increasingly lucrative industry – but the key in all of this for me is that it’s one which is being absolutely pioneered by young, professional, independent women.

And these aren’t just women who know a bit about clothes and contouring. These are women who are fantastic writers; women who know how to take brilliant photographs and edit them to perfection; women who know how to code a website; women who are better at public relations than most professionals; women who have built a business from the ground up, normally singlehandedly. The creation of their blogs as a whole is just as, if not more, inspirational than the content which they publish.

What’s more, in blogging about fashion and makeup – topics which tend to be more popular amongst women (whether that’s a positive or negative thing is a whole other post) – this genre of blogging remains the reserve of those women. It is created and owned by them, and in this respect fashion and makeup blogging is arguably more empowering than political or personal writing.

But this industry isn’t about ‘more’ or ‘less’ or ‘better’ or ‘worse’. It’s individual, not corporate, and that means that rather than feeling like a business or an industry, the ‘blogosphere’ is a community – perhaps the most inclusive one on the internet. There are bloggers of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, genders, histories, interests, topics and styles. Often we split ourselves into smaller communities, but they all have their inclusivity and supportiveness in common.

Ultimately, it’s a community I’m hugely proud to be part of, even though I don’t play a big role in it at the moment. I’m thrilled to have the chance to write posts I enjoy writing, and read those I enjoy reading, and all in the knowledge that I am part of something much bigger than myself and my blog: an inclusive, supportive community, largely composed of young women creating new and exciting content every day, empowering themselves and pioneering an industry that is in many ways entirely their own.

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What do you think? Should women move away from fashion and makeup blogging, or is the variety of the industry its charm? Is blogging political even when it doesn’t explicitly address politics?
Let’s have a conversation, so comment below!

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6 Comments

  1. 20/01/2016 / 11:34 pm

    Ahh, that is such a tricky comment I guess. They are complimenting you on being unique, which is great, but it does but down a lot of other bloggers. People should be free to blog about whatever makes them happy, whether thats typical or not!

    Corinne x

    • Lucy Furneaux
      21/01/2016 / 12:36 pm

      That’s exactly how I felt when I first read it – complimented but also a bit uncomfortable. Compliments should never be at the expense of anyone else. I definitely agree with that – the individuality is one of the many wonderful things about blogging!
      Thanks so much for your comment! Lx

  2. 20/01/2016 / 3:10 am

    Love your post! I think the great thing about blogs and social media in general is that it gives us the freedom to express ourselves through our content but to also connect with people from all over the world with similar interests. I was speaking with my cousin recently who is in high school and she told me she turns to bloggers and vloggers more than celebrities for fashion inspiration, lifestyle ideas and makeup tips. I don’t believe that blogging about makeup and fashion is any less than any other blog – it’s clearly got a huge following for a reason and is extremely influential. I think people should write about what they’re passionate and that’s what makes a blog important and successful.

    • Lucy Furneaux
      21/01/2016 / 12:35 pm

      Hi Caitlin, thank you so much! I definitely agree – it’s an amazing opportunity we have to be able to connect with so many people who without blogging we never would have been able to speak to. I think it’s such an exciting thing to be a part of. I also think that bloggers – ordinary people who just chat about themselves and their lives and their interests – are in many ways better rolemodels than many celebrities, whose lifestyles are simply unachievable for so many people, and whose bodies are so photoshopped they literally don’t exist. Like I say in the post I think it’s really important that we have a sense of responsibility towards our audiences in this way – it’s easy to forget that anyone could stumble across whatever we write, and that our words at least have the potential to be influential in some way. But that’s also really exciting. And I definitely agree that the most important thing about blogging is to write about what you want to write about. My blog will never fit into a ‘niche’ and I’m very unlikely to ever write makeup or fashion tips, but what I love about it is that it’s completely ‘me’ and my aim will always be to ensure that shines through above everything else. Thanks so much for your comment! Lx

  3. 19/01/2016 / 8:24 pm

    I always feel a little sad when a blog becomes ‘commercial’, whether the writer is male, or female. Blogging is, and should be, instinctive, and not just exist to recommend, or promote products and lifestyles. There are enough magazines, Facebook pages, and advertisements to fulfill those needs. As an example, your own blog is what it is all about. Variety, education, intelligence, and a diary style that also helps to record your own life for the future.
    Just my 10 pence worth.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Lucy Furneaux
      21/01/2016 / 12:29 pm

      Yes, I agree – blogs which exist only to sell products, especially when they began ‘honestly’, always seem a bit of a shame to me. I love the phrase ‘instinctive blogging’. Thanks so much (as ever) for your kind compliments. Definitely one of my favourite things to do is look back over my blog at all the memories and stories which are recorded here! I hope you’re well, and not too cold! L

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