THE LACK OF DIVERSITY IN BLOGGING

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Photography by JKG | jkgphotography.co.uk

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Why Does Everyone Look The Same?

Last night there was excitement and anticipation in the air. Twitter was a fury of enthusiasm and eagerness because yassss girl, the bloggers blog awards shortlist was announced. Anything that is community lead has my full support and Hayley, the founder, is someone I respect as a business woman and as a content creator. So just like most bloggers I sat and scrolled through the shortlisted bloggers in an array of categories - travel to beauty, to food to fashion. I saw some of my ultimate favourites and for a split second I felt a wave of happiness, but that wave was very short lived! As I got to the end of all the nominees, I realised the lack of diversity. 'Where are all the black people'?! I decided to scroll again, just to make sure and sure enough, the people shortlisted were 90% white.

My initial feeling was anger and disappointment which then turned to sadness and frustration. You see, the lack of diversity and representation in blogging is undeniable. It's not just awards either, its campaigns, opportunities and visibility too. Unfortunately fixing the issue isn't as easy as we would all hope, because the lack of WOC being seen and valued in blogging is actually an issue in society itself. This also goes for marginalised bodies. Why does everyone simply look the same? The most successful bloggers in terms of followers, earnings and opportunities are 90% white, slim & middle class. The majority of bloggers on the Instagram feeds of brands or the explore page are 90% white, slim & middle class. The majority of bloggers bringing out their own collections or collaborating with brands are 90% white, slim & middle class. Why?

"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman."
- Malcolm X

I decided to privately message Hayley who admitted herself that 1. she could see the shortlist was lacking in diversity and 2. she didn't know how to approach the subject without offending POC - I respected her honesty. Other people were also realising how undiversified the awards were and soon enough there was a huge discussion happening on Twitter with myself, fellow blogger Kristabel, Hayley and lots of other bloggers too. It was an open dialogue of why why why? Why is this happening and how can we change it? It was great that this issue had been raised and people were engaged in conversation. But the bloggers blog awards is just ONE thing that lacks diversity. As a whole, the blogosphere is completely white washed.

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Representation Matters

It's clear to see this is just the tip of the iceberg. Representation matters yet WOC are completely disregarded in pretty much every aspect of blogging and it's not good enough. Yes there are a few black girls doing huge campaigns and hitting 250k+ views per Youtube video, but they are still a minority in the grand scheme of things. The same goes with light skinned girls like myself. We have a privilege that if I'm totally honest, I only noticed a few years ago. Having lighter skin is still preferred over dark skin and we need to see dark skinned girls and fat dark skinned girls getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve. There are so many WOC creating insane content and blogging should be a place where diverse people are celebrated, but unfortunately they are not. If you browse the Youtube homepage you will see the same type of people, and usually none of those people look like me. It appears you have to actively go looking for diverse people or people who don't fit the 'norm' and I just think thats really sad. Is it down to systematic racism? Is it down to algorithms not catering to POC? I don't have the answers. But what I do know, is that there is a serious issue throughout the influencer industry and it has become even more obvious since its been commercialised.

Growing up I never saw anyone who looked like me in magazines or on TV, and that was way back in the 90s. It is now 2017 and we still have that issue. It should be completely normal to see an array of skin tones AND body sizes throughout blogging but it's not. Brands using one black girl or one fat girl can often feel like a token or an after thought. Shit, I've even experienced this first hand, and whilst I will play the system for what it is and take every opportunity I can get to be visible, I am not ignorant to the fact that sometimes diversity is used as a 'trend'. Since when was what I looked like a trend? But alas, sometimes it feels that way.

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We are still in an era where brands won't regram you if you don't fit their aesthetic which is usually a white girl with a tan, long hair & a Gucci handbag. I have no problem with girls who look like that, but I do have a problem with brands only recognising that as the only way to be beautiful or worthy. The same goes with brands using the same WOC for every campaign. There are 1000s and 1000s of diverse people within this industry who are fantastic at what they do.

We can't continue to ignore them.

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"Colourism is one thing I know social media has highlighted. From the fetishization of light-skinned babies, to the prevalence of bouncy, curly 3C hair textures in black hair product campaigns goes to show that theres only one shade of black a woman should be in order to be digestible and desirable." - The Slumflower

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How Do We Move Forward?

The question that I get asked time and time again is 'what can we do?' and my honest answer is 'I don't know'. The lack of diversity within blogging is a reflection of the world we live in. That, and the lack of appreciation/respect/understanding of POC and very little intersectional feminism understood and recognised by our white feminist sisters. These are all societal issues which have to change via movements, governments and the very system racism was born from. However, as a blogging community we can all do our bit to improve on the issues we are face re diversity.

  • Call out brands who don't produce makeup for POC
  • Call out brands who don't use POC in campaigns
  • Support your fellow bloggers when they are tweeting about their experiences as a POC
  • Do not disregard a POC feelings and experiences
  • Ask questions to POC when you feel like you need educating or you don't understand something that relates to them
  • Seek out content created by POC
  • Follow POC who actively talk about racism and prejudice
  • Read books on intersectional feminism
  • Recognise your white privilege
  • Recognise your light skin privilege
  • Celebrate diverse voices and opinions
  • Go to events that discuss the lack of representation
  • Read posts like this to educate yourself
  • Collaborate with more POC
  • Share content from your favourite POC
  • In anything you do, be inclusive of marginalised people (the less abled, fatter bodies etc)
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I know this post is really only about people of colour, specifically women of colour and diversity in blogging goes way deeper than that,
but I just wanted to really focus on skin colour for this one.

Fighting for my right to exist as a fat WOC is draining and tiresome. I am beyond thankful for the opportunities I have had through blogging but it's not good enough. We have to do more to change the current course we are on and I urge you all to recognise this issue within the blogosphere and do the very best you can to help POC become more visible. Black girls are making videos, creating posts and doing just as much as everyone else, yet they are undervalued and unrecognised.

Whether you are a blogger or a brand reading this, I hope this post has resonated with you in some way.

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36 Comments

  1. Millie
    3rd August 2017 / 12:30 pm

    Amazing post Grace, couldn’t have worded it better myself! It’s mindblowing to think that is an issue we’re still battling in 2017. However if we all unite, we will be heard🙌🏿

  2. 3rd August 2017 / 12:36 pm

    This is a great post Grace 🙂 I would love to see more diversity it blogging and in the media in general – I think we’ve come so far in terms of inclusion (although I’m sad to say that this even has to be a thing in the first place), but we’ve got a long way to go. Although all women are beautiful, I do tend to see one type of woman pop up on Instagram and in advertisements: blonde, blue-eyed, tall and thin. For someone who’s short, with chubby thighs and an Asian heritage, I have often felt like I am not ‘perfect’ enough because I do not match this perpetuated imagery, so I can’t imagine how it much feel for those beautiful women (i.e. darker-skinned or curvier women) who are even more under-represented than that.

    I think it all starts with the brand. As soon as we can change the minds of the marketing people who run all the major brands we love, we can put the topic of under-representation to bed and finally see some more diversity! How do we do that? I guess social media is our only hope – campaigns, hashtags, grouping together to make a change. And also just putting ourselves out there, like you do with your amazing blog 🙂 the more people see of us, the more we will be accepted as beautiful. I hope!

    Jen x
    jenloumeredith.com

  3. 3rd August 2017 / 12:43 pm

    I can’t believe how blinded I was to this issue in the blogging industry. I struggle as a ‘white (I guess skinny) girl’ because I don’t know how to make it better, but I know that I want to, and fighting institutionalised racism is something I am extremely passionate about.

    Thank you so much for raising this awareness, and educating people like myself.

    I share Hayley’s concerns about causing offence. I whole heartedly support people of colour, and I am disgusted by the lack of representation in EVERY SINGLE THING IN THE WORLD, EVERYTHING including blogging, politics, television, Hollywood, modelling, fashion campaign, bloody make up?!, skin coloured underwear, music, authors, writers, absolutely everything. But I don’t know how to make it better without being perceived as condescending or the voices in my head tell me that people of colour will just think ‘why is she trying to pretend like she cares/understands she’s a skinny white girl with privilege’.

    I recognise that yeah, while my life has been pretty difficult, the only prejudice I’ve ever had to face on a societal basis was that I come from a working class background, and I’m not quite skinny enough, so I know how privileged I am, and I can’t even begin to imagine or attempt to fully understand (because I just don’t feel like I wold ever experience something like it) the prejudice POC face in every aspect of daily life.

    Do you have any advice for how I can do my bit?

    Thanks again Grace.

    Ysabelle x

    http://www.thegrahamsmiths.com

    • sadiyah tijani
      4th August 2017 / 3:03 pm

      Though I’m not Grace as a woc I thought I could give a suggestion,

      I understand that inclusion has gotten much better but we also have to acknowledge that lack of representation is still as real problem. Personally I think the fact you’re reading this and what to make a difference is a massive step and we need more women like you sharing and expressing these problems to other white counterparts who aren’t as involved in the conversation.

      I’d suggest making people you know even more aware of this conversation, retweeting and spreading the inequalities that still occur through social media and in real-life discussions so that eventually companies and brands begin to adapt and make diversity the norm. If your making this effort then it shows care and definitely wouldn’t come across as ‘fake’ 🙂

  4. 3rd August 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Wow, what an eye-opening and truly honest post. I have so much respect for you shouting out about what you believe in and how you want to make this world a better and a more diverse place for everyone. This is SO true, there really isn’t much diversity and the point about “the majority of bloggers bringing out their own collections or collaborating with brands are 90% white, slim & middle class” is bang on! Something does need to change! Ps gorgeous photos x

  5. 3rd August 2017 / 12:49 pm

    All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without WOC like you, using your voice to speak for WOC like me I don’t think we would be heard, so thank you and thank you again Grace. Seriously. Together we’ll continue to work on tearing down these barriers and obstacles so that hopefully our children won’t have to face these issues. ❤️

    Hope you’re feeling better, lots of love
    KelilaJade xXx

  6. 3rd August 2017 / 12:51 pm

    Always so eloquently written Grace.
    It hurts my heart that this is still needing to be discussed in 2017.
    Things really do need to change and I’m going to do my best to help!

    Sam xx

  7. Arij
    3rd August 2017 / 12:53 pm

    🙌🏻🙌🏻

  8. 3rd August 2017 / 2:31 pm

    Wow beautifully written . Someone who is from a Asian and black descent . I relate to this totally .. but it’s even down to followings. If you’re WOC with a lower following you pretty much have no chance let along a WOC with a substantial following.

    I just wish opportunities can be open to everyone no matter their background or numbers and just love the content instead.

    Xx

  9. 3rd August 2017 / 4:50 pm

    Pretty much agree with everything you’ve stated. I know it’s a huge issue and it boils my blood seeing the same standards being featured every time. In the blogging world and in general really.
    I was a judge at the Bloggers Blog Awards this and last year and I could definitely see the lack of diversity. But the great thing about these awards is that we have the power to nominate whoever we want. I’m glad that this discussion is happening because this is something we all can contribute to and change eventually.

  10. Elle
    3rd August 2017 / 5:19 pm

    It would be great if other WoC in the blogging world helped others who are producing great content but not getting the attention they deserve; it would be great to see a blog where different women of all races publish content together under one website, this gives them an opportunity to gain exposure and push traffic to their sites / social media / YouTube channels.

    Or you yourself could collaborate with another WoC on one blog post per month, interviewing them and paying them for their time whilst also promoting their site / social media / charity / YouTube channel. Encourage the white women you know in the blogging world to do the same.

    I agree that there needs to be more diversity in the blogging industry as well as on YouTube. Start by contributing your extra time and even putting £30 / £40 (or whatever is agreed) in a girl’s pocket to collab with you is an amazing start.

  11. 3rd August 2017 / 6:27 pm

    Well said Grace. Words I too would use. It’s great to educate ourselves. I’ve just seen someone claim this to be a ‘personal agenda’ – well heck yes it is! The more people make it their own personal agendas to see more equality and diversity the better it becomes!

  12. 3rd August 2017 / 6:51 pm

    Oh yes, I am in love with this post. Speak the truth, Grace. It is so sad to see the lack of diversity, thank you for this blog post!

  13. Dionne
    3rd August 2017 / 7:50 pm

    AMAZING post and message Grace! I couldn’t agree with you more!
    This is something that needs to be tackled. There are some really amazing content creators out there who POC who aren’t getting seen and it needs to stop!

    Dionne
    http://www.deedeelouise.com

  14. 3rd August 2017 / 7:59 pm

    All of this and more Grace! I’ve been thinking these thoughts for absolutely ages and it’s a tough crowd, isn’t it? I can’t wait for the day that I’m not the token Asian and for the day that a girl gang of all races, shapes and sizes is just a girl gang and not a #diverseomg girl gang. xx

  15. 3rd August 2017 / 8:02 pm

    As a white slim girl in the blogging and YouTube community I do agree with everything here.
    I have on several occasion called out brands in a video/blog post/ tweet for not having a large range of shades available.. despite the fact there’s always a shade for me, I find it totally weird there only being 3 shades of a concealer available… especially as some of my closest gfs are WOC
    It’s hard because I want to celebrate my achievements but I also don’t want to feel like it’s come easier to me that it ever would a WOC.
    I think white people need to do more.

  16. 3rd August 2017 / 8:20 pm

    Loved reading this! You are absolutely right. I’m a working class white woman and I have always found myself inundated with offers to work with brands – despite my small following. This post opened my eyes to how these opportunities aren’t always given to everyone simply because they don’t ‘fit’ the brand. Which is disgusting tbh. I am so keen to read more blogs written by WOC – I read some but not nearly enough which I blame on the lack of exposure these women receive. A post or Twitter thread of your faves would be awesome!

    theemeralddove21.blogspot.co.uk

  17. 3rd August 2017 / 9:25 pm

    Thank you for writing this, and it is written beautifully. I’m so grateful for the list of suggestions on how to begin to tackle this issue. The calling out of brands etc who are not showing inclusivity and diversity is definitely key, and I think that’s one of the biggest things white women can do to make a difference – use our own privilege to influence those around us.

    x

  18. Katherine
    3rd August 2017 / 9:31 pm

    Thank you Grace! I think it is supper courageous of you to use your platform to talk about these issues not only occurring within the blogging community but the world as a whole. The silencing of POC voices on these platforms is undeniable. I even see the fetisization of poc bodies/culture on social media by white bloggers. I think is I also important to recognize that as poc we should not be expected to educate people on there whiteness and privilege because that becomes tiresome and requires a lot of emotional labor. Just a thoughts 🙂 thank you grace you are a inspiration!

  19. 3rd August 2017 / 9:39 pm

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here, I would love to read more posts from a completely diverse section of society but I rarely see the diversity on my Instagram or Bloglovin. It’s lazy of me not to search other blogs out and I must change this, but I really wouldn’t know where to start.
    Grace I think a lot of people would benefit from you posting a few women and men of any colour, any body type and any background that inspire you.
    As a very privalaged white skinned girl I feel it is very hard to talk about race without sounding insincere but know I need to do more and I honestly think this post will go some way in changing the mindset of a lot of people, like it has me.

  20. 3rd August 2017 / 10:18 pm

    I stumbled upon this post thanks to twitter and am so so happy I did. Thank you so much for bringing this topic to the light!! Being mixed (african american and puerto rican), first entering into the blogosphere, I immediately noticed that WOC bloggers were practically nowhere to be found.
    Obviously, there were the small number of big ones with 29.7k+ followers, but as far as the smaller least recognized bloggers coming up, WOC are sprinkled here and there. Very hard to find!

    I tread lightly with this entire topic in general because of the outlook that WOC have a tendency to victimize themselves socially at every turn,(i’ve heard this soo many times>.<) and because of that view, I want to share that the lack of prominence as far as WOC bloggers and even mixed bloggers goes, has never seemed like an "issue" for me personally- but an opportunity! The more bloggers of all races, the better.

    I honestly think it is up to us (as far as numbers go) to diversify curated platforms that are as people-based as these. All the brands are looking at is numbers. Numbers bring them profit. Which is why posts like this, that call out the lack of diversity, are so crucial not only to the uprising of more bloggers dedicated to cultivating a diverse blogosphere but to people who aren't as educated on other races and their cultures.

    Thanks for sharing!<3

  21. 3rd August 2017 / 10:35 pm

    Huge thank you to lbq for retweeting this. Such a brilliant post 🙌🏻

  22. Catherine
    3rd August 2017 / 10:53 pm

    Thank you for talking about this as a black mummy blogger I have felt pushed out and left out as I do notlook like all the usual mummy bloggers it has really put me off blogging.

  23. 3rd August 2017 / 11:40 pm

    Grace,
    People like you and Chidera (The Slumflower) are so needed for the culture – may God protect you at all costs! I have been following your journey for the last couple of years and admire how you are not afraid to speak out on behalf of the minorities and call out the blogosphere on the bullshit. As a (small) black blogger myself, I do a bit discouraged when I have to scavage hunt through social media to discover makeup brands and bloggers who look like me or can relate with because they are never brought to the forefront. I don’t even promote my posts as often as I should because I feel like people don’t care, even when I tag these blogging communities Twitter pages or use their hashtag, 1 or 2 times out of 10 attempts it would be retweeted which can be very discouraging sometimes.

    As a part-time optimist (lol), I do believe there is hope if most of us can work together to bring more diversity into the blogging community. Pages such as @MelaninBloggers, @BloggersOC and @BlackBritishBloggers are a good start to discovering plenty of Black British Bloggers. From here, they may discover plenty of black-owned companies from makeup brands, hair products, food and events (@Adzvice) which people can actively support and even review.

    I could ramble on for days but would leave it here. Thank you so much for speaking out on this. I know a couple have commented showing their distaste but I hope there is a level of understanding that this is a real and sad situation that can only be resolved if both parties work TOGETHER! Love the outfit by the way. And if anybody needs help looking for Black YouTubers or whatever – holla at me lol (www.twitter.com/SamNLDN)
    <3

  24. 4th August 2017 / 12:51 am

    This was such a good post. So much truth here (side note: I love your photos!) I am not a blogger, but I’m a designer and have just started getting more into reading blogs and I’ve been struck by how much the same so many of them are! Skinny white girl with long blondish hair wearing the same clothes and styles as everyone else. Come on! Not only is diversity important because everyone should be represented, but it also makes things more interesting and less homogeneous. I want to read about different points of view. If you ever do a future post on some of your favorite blogs by WoC, I’d totally be interested.

    xoKaelen | http://darlingmarcelle.com 

  25. 4th August 2017 / 9:52 am

    Such an important post!

    Diversity in wedding blogging is a massive issue too, as this is a crying shame as our blogs are so influential (my blog has been supporting my entire family since 2011 and I have over 1 million combined social followers).

    I’m acutely aware of how whitewashed my blog looks, which I find very uncomfortable, and this is despite my best efforts to create a more diverse blog. I raised this issue back in 2013 with this feature (please excuse my direct linking, but this is one of the most important features I’ve ever shared) http://www.lovemydress.net/blog/2013/10/are-black-brides-under-represented-in-the-uk-wedding-industry-1.html. As a result, some national wedding magazines picked up the issue of diversity, but nothing has changed since.

    Part of my problem is that submissions that arrive our way rarely include women of colour 🙁 I put regular call-outs across social media (here’s my latest! https://www.instagram.com/p/BVuSk1uANSL/?tagged=diversityinweddings) asking for more, but yet my blog continues to be predominantly white.

    I have also been criticised for trying to make it easy to locate beautiful brides of colour by ‘categorising’ them on my blog (see http://www.lovemydress.net/blog/tag/beautiful-brides-of-colour).

    I continue to do everything I can to raise the profile of brides of colour in the wedding blog scene, as well as those marginalised in society too – http://www.lovemydress.net/blog/tag/confessions-of-a-disabled-bride – I also love love love to share fuller figured more curvy brides but have come under criticism for use of language ‘curvy’, ‘fuller figured’ ‘plus size’, whatever you want to call it – people don’t want to be labelled even if the labelling is a well meant intention to help collectively identify a group of amazingly beautiful women (http://www.lovemydress.net/blog/2014/07/weight-worried-brides.html). I feel inspired seeing features like this however. I truly believe that collectively if we work together to make noise about what we are passionate about and is important to use, then change will occur.

    Thank you so much for this much needed, important post. You look bloody fabulous by the way.

    Annabel x

    (I’d never usually link so extensively in a comment but on this occasion feel it’s relevant and important – thank you xxx)

  26. kate
    4th August 2017 / 10:45 am

    yes i totally agree! i also find the judging of this bloggers award a bit biased which is unfortunate. the bloggers who judge and shortlist each category will have some biased judgements as to who should be shortlisted. i think thats unfair.

  27. 4th August 2017 / 10:49 am

    Thank you for recognising and encouraging always Grace.
    Xo

  28. 4th August 2017 / 11:35 am

    Such a brilliant post and so well written! As a food blogger and follower of mostly recipe blogs, you rarely see the person behind the words. So if I’m honest I hadn’t taken much thought to this in the blogging world. Thanks for sharing xx

  29. 4th August 2017 / 6:16 pm

    I appreciated this post so much! As a newbie to the blogger scene I’ve felt really lost because the blogosphere is so dominated by white women, and it’s actually been kind of a struggle to find bloggers who are WOC, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ folks, etc. to connect with. Thank you for naming this issue.

  30. 4th August 2017 / 7:25 pm

    I think there is a lack of diversity because in our society white people are seen as more worthy. That’s by everyone even if we don’t want to admit it. That’s the problem. People of color have been told so much that white people are better, that now we believe it and don’t think we are worthy. I think it starts with changing our mindset. I’m a black female. When I learn to love myself the way I am , when I see the worth in myself, I believe other people will learn to love me the way I am and other people will see the worth in me. I think it starts with people of color. We can’t change anyone. We can only change ourselves. That’s just my 2 cents. Thank you for writing about it and bringing it up.

  31. 5th August 2017 / 3:12 am

    That’s just such a great post! And I’m a skinny white girl but I know what you mean and I see it the same way!<3

    http://www.blogellive.com

  32. Jasmin Sangha
    9th August 2017 / 3:11 pm

    This is an amazing article. I’m an plus sized Indian woman and I really struggle to find positive representations of Indian women ( let alone) plus size in media. I feel like Indian women are completely unseen by society that you get a random indian person in a film with a horrific accent or it’s Aziz Ansari and then everybody is totally tapped out.

    Honestly, the beauty industry when I was growing up, made me feel like there was no one else in the world who looked like me and as an northern Indian women I would never be deemed beautiful by society. It’s brutal. And on top of this nonsense, you get layers of discrimination within Indian cultures about being light skinned and skinny with huge bambi eyes. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog forever ( despite how much it hates me, I love beauty) but some how been conditioned to think nobody would read it…how messed up is that?!

  33. 20th August 2017 / 4:47 pm

    This industry is exhausting. Your right there isn’t much diversity. Brands don’t seem all that fussed about trying other races to work with. Unless it falls in with the trend (whatever that BS is) Not naming names but there is a particular blogger magazine that seems to keep wanting to showcase ethnics, only in the mag vs who is featured on the front cover and I’m f**king fed up of seeing it.

    Great post and I agree with all the ways we POC can continue to support each other in this white wash industry.

    Thanks Grace.

    http://www.juanitalikes.com

    Natoya

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