Before I begin this article, I would like to say that in no way, shape or form am I accusing any of these feature sites of racism or prejudice. I am simply pointing out the obvious, and that is their lack of diversity, which is just one of the many problems in the blogging community.
Instagram is one of the most vital social media networks for brands and bloggers. It’s increasing demand and rise to popularity in the most recent years has brought forth a slew of tailored profiles, providing various forms of promotion for people. A few of those include shout outs, collaborations, and most importantly, features.
As a blogger, acquiring a feature is the one of the most important and essential tools to use, because lets be honest here, it takes real support and connections to socially dominant profiles in order to reach whatever you are trying to obtain and/or succeed in: gaining followers, becoming famous or relationships with brands.
Unfortunately, despite being a great platform for promotion, there are a few flaws that exist within the system of popular feature sites. More than a few of the sites, including OOTD Magazine, Wear It Love It, and Liketoknowit, lack diversity.
After two unsuccessful submissions in the spring to both ootd magazine and wear it love it, my curious mind began to wonder, why didn’t I get featured? Was my outfit terrible? Did I crop the wrong way? Did I forget to supply the right information? What was it that made me unsuccessful?
A few weeks after submitting, I decided to scroll through their Instagram feed, and that’s when it finally hit me. There was a certain “palette,” one that I did not fit.
All of the features looked almost identical: tall, supermodel slim, blonde or brunette, mainly Caucasian, scarcely Asian, stylishly looking down at their shoes, walking across a very empty street or sitting pretty in minimal ensembles on gray-toned steps. Ethnic fashionistas like me were either never featured or their features came once every 10-30 scrolls.
Not only is there a lack of diversity in melanin, there is also a lack of diversity in gender, body type and age. Men were never featured on these pages, even though the criteria to submit never once mentioned females only. Women of older ages are practically nonexistent, even though the age range of 16-28 was not a requirement to submit. Curvaceous women were also excluded, despite the fact that size 0-4 and weight range 100-130 were not a requirement for submission.
So why is this happening? Why are these sites so afraid to use diversity?
The only conclusion I could come to is this: the behavior to exclude diversity in features is simply due to the personal preferences of those running the Instagram pages and websites. And is that wrong?
No, we all have preferences, and it is not wrong to have those preferences.
However, I believe, there is a much bigger picture and troubling mindset reinforcing this “preference” to avoid diversity.
For example, have you ever noticed that there is no ethnic women or men featured or even acknowledgement on the 20 Most Influential Bloggers list? It is practically impossible to find small or even medium-based male blogs, because they are completely overshadowed by a select few, with the handsomely stylish and talented Mario Di Vaio (mdvstyle.com) being one of them. Older women and curvy figures are also entirely ignored when they too have voices, and they matter just as much as anyone else.
The industry has made small progress towards diversity in 2015. However, the industry still reinforces stereotypical ideologies, Eurocentric images, and unhealthy body types in all of their traditional and digital outlets, and this unhealthy habit to avoid diversity, in my opinion, could partly be a reflection of what we consume and continue to condone from the fashion industry.
What are your thoughts?