2019 State of the Blog Address
We’re here again at the end of a year. StyleWise is on the cusp of turning 7 years old. I moved a million miles and started grad school, and with that, the identity and momentum of this blog has had to change.
I’ve been reflecting on what I ultimately want for this space, especially in light of reduced time and mental energy to devote to lots of content. The landscape of blogging and “influencing” changes so quickly, and increasingly I have felt stuck in the middle of two distinct types of blogging: personal style and educational.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’m that good at either one of them.
But I’m frustrated at the stunning decrease in education around what we mean by ethical fashion in the ethical influencer space. The top influencers share outfits everyday on Instagram with essentially no commentary about what it means to be a thoughtful consumer.
The way to gain a following quickly is to stay at surface level. And, while I don’t doubt that surface level can actually positively impact consumer mindsets, I wonder at what point we decided as an industry that this was good enough for us.
Somehow, in an effort to correct for (very real!) white ignorance around the fair trade movement as a colonialist venture, we forgot that there are still people working in garment and production centers around the world who aren’t being served by us deciding that we’re too engrossed by a need to appear woke to actually reform. We’d rather opt out of building healthier systems. We’d rather, for the protection of our reputations, be silent about things that still matter.
Because the influencing space is inextricably tied up with people’s livelihoods, it’s difficult to have structural conversations without feeling vulnerable. Our identities and businesses are tied up in people liking us. And for people like me who have been trying to monetize social justice, it can feel like too much is at stake. Maybe it was always a bad idea to monetize social justice (this seems self-evident when written out).
I don’t know how to be authentic to the purpose of this blog – which was always about a holistic social justice that gets deep in our bones – while continuing to shelter myself. I don’t want to shelter anymore, but I also want to make sure I’m healed enough to not fall apart.
I didn’t expect to get so heavy with all of this, but the past year has been hard.
I want to understand how to build strong coalitions that are about something other than arresting power from the perceived enemy. Communities that understand abundance and equitability not as power parsed out equally, but as freedom from the pervasive fear that makes us believe that we are in an ongoing battle for some small parcel of power, and that our very survival depends on taking rather than co-creating.
I don’t know that I am prepared to do that work on the internet now, or ever.
As someone pursuing pastoral work, I have been continually asking myself what responsibility clergy have to interact with online communities. I think that every single conversation happening on the internet around social justice and equity probably needs to be happening, but I don’t know that my intended aim of pushing toward accountability that leads to authentic reconciliation is likely to work very well on the internet, primarily because I’m not interested in playing the internet’s performative games.
So I’m still sitting with questions I had a year ago, and I’m still grappling. In the meantime, I like sharing shopping resources. And when I can, I’d like to reflect more on what I’m learning.
Going into next year, here’s what I’m hoping to keep creating:
helpful, seasonal shopping guides
select, sponsored personal style posts
clothing reviews and roundups
But I’d love to know what you, beloved readers, have missed, have had questions about, and what you think is missing more broadly from this niche we call “ethical influencing.”
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.