I’m going to get tarred and feathered for this.
I didn’t think that Marie Claire article was that bad.*
Let’s say you’re an outsider. You’ve never heard of food blogs before.
Then suddenly you hear of someone writing one. “You do what? You take pictures of what you eat and post it online?”
Having never heard of this before, it sounds quite bizarre. Especially if you go on to explain that you post every thing you eat, three times a day.
Even more bizarre? To have a conference about blogging about what you eat.
So now let’s go on to say you’re a reporter. You need to write about this blog phenomenon, so you start researching by examining the “big blogs”; you dig through old blog posts, search for the entries with the most hits or the most comments.
Of course you’re going to stumble upon the more controversial ones.
And you’re probably not going to read on a daily basis and get to “know” these people. It’s certainly doubtful you’re even going to meet these people to find out what they’re really like.
As a reporter, you should know that not everybody comes off the same in print as they do in person, but you brush this aside.
So, with many blogs to examine, a conference to attend, and an article to write, you skim for the “good stuff”. Like I said, it’s no shocker that you’d come across popular posts- which doesn’t always mean popular in a positive sense- controversy is popular too.
You come across an entry that talks about someone pouring salt over their dessert so they don’t eat too much. You find another entry that where someone says they’re hungry, right after an entry where they ran double digit miles.
You know what you’d be thinking. *Danger, danger* bulbs flash in your head. Disordered eating is staring you in the face. You’re a reporter- you have to share this. You have to let those blog readers know that this isn’t normal behavior.
And you’re right. You do.
**Here’s where me being objective ends.**
[And the un-objective me says that article blowed.]
As an outsider, I too, would say these blogs are contributing to disordered eating and promoting poor body image. Especially if those are the only posts I’ve read. But I’m lucky enough to actually know many of these girls the reporter is writing about. I shouldn’t really say writing. I should say smearing.
If this is the article that needs to be written, it could’ve conveyed an equally emphatic message without names. Honestly, I think it could have more impact without names. Although now it will have huge impact because everybody that knows these bloggers is going to talk about it and well, any publicity is good publicity.
Bottom line? I don’t think it was necessary to trash these girls and their blogs. For the number of people that are negatively affected by them, 100s more are inspired and motivated. Seeing how a “real” person handles being healthy can have more of an influence than reading how you “should” be healthy.
But on the other side of the fence, some behaviors demonstrated on blogs is in fact disordered. Disordered is the wrong word. I don’t know the right word.
But it depends on who’s doing the behavior, why they’re doing it, and who’s reading about it. Nobody would blink twice if a woman weighing 300 pounds dumped salt on her dessert when she was done if she was trying to lose weight. But a healthy 20 something that lost college weight and suddenly it’s an eating disorder? Everything needs context before judgment.
So I say the article wasn’t that bad, because I’ve seen disordered behavior on blogs. And I’ve seen some of it in person too. But that doesn’t mean each and every food blogger has an eating disorder or is encouraging others to do the same. Just because someone does something on a blog doesn’t mean you can or should yourself (hello, not everyone can run marathons or mile repeats at a 6 min pace!) Make decisions and smart judgments for yourself- nobody else can do it for you.
They aren’t writing these blogs and saying DO THIS. They’re saying this worked for me. Readers need to take responsibility for their own actions.
The issue of sponsorship and big companies paying for things is a whole different bag of lemons. Bag of lemons? Who says that.. Oh I meant can of worms.
[P.S. I think the girls specifically mentioned in the article were unabashedly slammed for the wrong reasons and can imagine how they’re feeling right now. They didn’t deserve it. The reporter literally ripped them a new one, and whether you’ve met them or just read them, you know it was a low, low blow.]
*If you don’t know what I’m talking about: an article was written about how food bloggers have eating disorders. I debated joining in the hubbub but obviously I went for it…. I have to say if I didn’t know the who the article was talking about, I probably wouldn’t have blinked twice.