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.

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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.

@ootdmagazine

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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.

@wearit_loveit

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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.

@liketoknow.it

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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?

14 Comments on The Thing About Feature Sites….

  1. Ashley
    October 20, 2015 at 2:35 am (9 months ago)

    First of all…I love your blog. I love the way you write – I’m def a fan. 🙂 Secondly, this is something I have tinkered with mentioning myself so I’m glad someone finally said it (and eloquently so, no doubt). I agree – feature pages tend to remain heavy on the waif, caucasian, trust fund crowd. Am I mad? Maybe a little – they have high traffic, more exposure and I want a piece of that cookie. But on the other hand..I kind of don’t. I prefer the black feature sites (which I have been featured on) like Fros&Bros and Black Bloggers United. I haven’t seen a whole lot of black girl #ootd sites but then again that does leave opportunity for us (i.e. black girls who blog) to start one. I for one am – my project launches in January.

    Reply
    • Simone Robinson
      Simone Robinson
      October 26, 2015 at 1:44 am (9 months ago)

      Awe you’re so sweet! Thank you so much! I really appreciate it, and I definitely love your blog as well!

      Haha! Agreed. I love specialized feature sites, because it gives everybody a chance to unite and be represented well! By the way, thank you so much for sharing those sites with me. I just started discovered two black feature sites– blackandkillingit and black fashion on tumblr, and I’ve been featured on both.

      And you’re absolutely right! This problem also gives us an opportunity to pave our own lane and make our own sites!

      I definitely think you should still do a post on it! We need more people to speak up and raise awareness!

      Reply
  2. Jasmine
    October 20, 2015 at 9:39 am (9 months ago)

    You said EVERYTHING I was thinking!!!!! I’ve noticed the same thing on Instagram it always frustrated me to see the lack of diversity in alot of the feature “yourself” IG Accounts! I’ve tagged a lot of my fashion in this and even others but I guess we didnt have the “LOOK” I even created my own IG account (@hunt4fashion) to show we are all beautiful no matter what color, age, size, gender! I think we need more IG feeds like that that show the diversity in us all! Amazing post!!!

    Jasmine 🙂
    colorubold.com

    Reply
    • Simone Robinson
      Simone Robinson
      October 26, 2015 at 1:33 am (9 months ago)

      Haha! I’m glad I did, and you are definitely speaking the truth! I tried to get on some of those “tag 4 a feature” Instagram accounts, and I was also unsuccessful! Although I don’t expect brands to really do features, they too do the same thing as well!

      If you’re still looking to be featured try blackandkillingit or black fashion on tumblr!

      And I love that you took the initiative and created your own IG! More
      bloggers need to do this to stop allowing this tendency to exclude!

      And thank you Jasmine! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Ana De- Jesus
    October 20, 2015 at 11:57 am (9 months ago)

    It frustrates me how sites exclude a woman or man based on their skin, race or gender. Surely we live in the 21st century where colour is no longer a label to determine success. Ethnic minorities are beautiful and instead of appraising them we are condemning them to a lifetime of servitude. I had not noticed until you pointed it out to me but feature sites really do lean towards the homogeneous norm of a tall. slim blonde whereas I as an olive toned brunette is given less recognition.

    Reply
    • Simone Robinson
      Simone Robinson
      October 26, 2015 at 1:26 am (9 months ago)

      Thank you for commenting and expressing your thoughts! You are absolutely right, and the sad part is they don’t really get called out on it because its so “normal.” And that is not right! There should be no exclusion/discrimination because of gender, age, color, or size!

      I’m just hoping that more people can speak up (especially the top bloggers), so we can address and solve this issue!

      Reply
  4. Juliana
    October 20, 2015 at 1:34 pm (9 months ago)

    Wow, you are so right! It’s not something you really think about, but when you point it out like that it’s obvious. I recently realized all the slight discrimination around us. Actually I’m going to get an article published today on Elite Daily, about nightclub discrimination and why it needs to stop (not being allowed into clubs because of you’re too big, not the right skin color, not pretty enough etc.) It can kind of be related to what you’re discussing! Great post 🙂

    Reply
    • Simone Robinson
      Simone Robinson
      October 26, 2015 at 1:15 am (9 months ago)

      Thank you so much! Sadly, it took me a few months to realize this as well which only shows that it has become so normal its almost undetectable. And that is a problem in itself!

      I don’t go clubbing or partying at all really, but I have heard of a few celebrity related incidents. And you’re right! It all ties together!

      I’ll definitely be checking out your article. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Margot
    October 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm (9 months ago)

    This is a really important point, and one that speaks to so much of what is missing in fashion. There is a glorious diversity of women out there and it would be divine to see that reflected and embraced more.

    Cheers,
    Madge

    Reply
    • Simone Robinson
      Simone Robinson
      October 26, 2015 at 1:11 am (9 months ago)

      Thank you so much for stopping by and dropping a comment! I totally agree with you. I hate that we glorify unrealistic and unhealthy body images and “specific” features! There is so much beauty in diversity!

      Reply
  6. Naza
    November 2, 2015 at 4:31 pm (9 months ago)

    I have also noticed the very same thing! I even tried to contact one Instagram account with 157k followers for a feature and I was told to pay $100 for a feature!
    Ridiculous!!!

    Reply
    • Simone Robinson
      Simone Robinson
      November 2, 2015 at 10:05 pm (9 months ago)

      I totally agree! That is absolutely ridiculous. The process of featuring and being featured should be a joint effort from both parties. If a page or organizations main goal is to showcase individuals based on their style, then it should be absolutely free and fair!

      Reply
  7. Audrey
    November 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm (9 months ago)

    I feel you on this one! I’m black, plus sized and over 30… So I’m definitely not being picked!! LOL

    Representation matters in the blogging world, and that’s why it is essential to make and support places designed to uplift, empower and highlight bloggers of color! It’d be nice if mainstream sites were more inclusive, but we can shine elsewhere… The blogosphere is that big of place!!

    Reply
  8. Simone Robinson
    Simone Robinson
    November 2, 2015 at 10:10 pm (9 months ago)

    Haha! I love that you’ve accepted that and can have a good laugh about it.

    I totally agree. Everyone should be represented and get their shine on, and if certain groups aren’t being featured, they have every right to build a community of their own– which has happened. But, I also feel like it shouldn’t be so segregated at the same time. There should be a platform that features all.

    Reply

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