Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Madness.

I'm sure some, if not most of you have heard about the Marie Claire article on healthy living blogs this morning and perhaps have read and/or contributed to discussions on the topic.

I was a bit surprised after reading the article, but at the same time, I do feel it brought to light some thoughts that myself and other bloggers have had but didn't take the time to discuss openly, for various reasons. I think the article recap on Hollaback Health captures a lot of what I felt after reading MC's view on the healthy living blogosphere.

That said, I'm curious... What are your thoughts on this topic? Below is my two cents...

When I first started journaling about food in a public online format, my primary goal was to track Weight Watchers Points and exercise. As I got further along in my weight-loss efforts, I opened up more and more about the how's and why's that made up specific food and exercise choices.

In the past 1-2 years, I discovered some of the more popular blogs devoted to "healthy living" and slowly began modeling my blog to try and fit the mold designed by "The Big Six" (though really, am I the only one who has never heard of the term "Big Six" until this morning?!). More recently though, I've realized that trying to mimic the efforts of others is a horrible idea and that while I do have readers to take into account with each and every post, I still need to blog for me. I of course would like to feel like I'm offering up new (or at least different) perspectives on food and exercise to my readers since I've gotten such great information and inspiration by reading other blogs, but I need to remember that I am not obligated (or professionally qualified) to disperse such information. Does that mean I can write irresponsible posts, week after week, without abandon or consideration for my readers? Hell no! I'm always revisiting the reasons for why I blog in the first place. Firstly, I like writing about the things that I'm passionate about and/or things that have had significant impact on my life, be they good or bad. I feel that weight, food, fitness, health, body-image and self-esteem all fall somewhere into those categories. Secondly, I'm continuing to blog because I feel I've finally reached a point where I'm starting to find my own voice. I know some readers may disagree, but I think some of the posts I've written the past couple of months (or past year?) have been some of the best. Not in the sense that the grammar, spelling, structure and photos were perfect, but that I felt better after hitting the 'Publish Post' button. I felt like I had strengthened my sense of self and my well-being by taking the time to organize my thoughts and reflect on what being healthy means to me.

That's not to suggest that I think the bloggers mentioned in the article were irresponsible; quite the contrary. But since I've experienced first-hand the process of reading these blogs and trying to, essentially, copy their eating and exercise behaviors based on what they posted, I understand the point MC was trying to make, given the large number of followers these bloggers all have and knowing the countless number of women out there who are constantly looking for "the best kept secrets" in losing weight and maintaining health. It's very easy, whether you're a self-defined "healthy living blogger" or a writer for Marie Claire, to have what you write be taken out of context in order to meet the personal needs of the reader.

While the article came off a bit mean-spirited toward those mentioned, I do think it served as a well-needed wake-up call to the blogging community. Our readers all come in different shapes, sizes, abilities, social and economic backgrounds. Clearly, it's not possible to serve the needs of every individual reader (nor should that be a goal), but it certainly doesn't hurt to do a self-check every once in a while to re-establish not only your goals of the blog but more importantly the goals of yourself. And are those goals and the steps taken to reach them likely to be misinterpreted by your readers?

I'm not claiming that my blog is exempt from the criticisms mentioned in the article, not by a long shot. In fact, I'm actually quite thankful that it was written because it forced me to pause, reflect and think a great deal about some of the issues that can arise from both following and creating food/fitness/health-focused blogs.

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