One Year Anniversary of We Are The Real Deal
July 23, 2009
Blogher session “Blogs & Body Image: What are we teaching our kids” served as the platform for the launch of We Are The Real Deal (aka WATRD). Original five contributors and creators of the site were MizFit, Roni, Kate, Claire and I.
We spent quite a bit of time on our mission statement, and we put in place (what we thought were going to be) ground rules.
40,000K visitors checked out the blog that day hitting #1 on WordPress…quite an accomplishment.
Then, all hell broke loose.
First, we were called “We Are The White Girls” since we were not exactly a diverse group. As my all time fave commenter put it
“GET SOME WOMEN OF COLOR, SOME FAT WOMEN, SOME “UGLY” WOMEN, and SOME DISABLED WOMEN on here ASAP.” – Jelly
She had a point. We were all white, straight women. We did however scour for more diverse contributors but could not find them. To this day, we struggle with adding diversity to the site (contribute!)
But it was the remainder of that comment set off the firestorm of all firestorms. When I read the following words, I basically lost it;
“I’m sure you all mean well. But, please–every contributor’s photo looks like she idolizes barbie. Why would anyone listen to people who “fit the mold” talking about body image issues??? So you sometimes worry about not being cute or thin enough–whoop dee-doo. Or you feel “compassion” for those less fortunate than you. What your doing is audacious and condescending.”
From there, I kicked out “The Barbie Post,” a post that would split us at the seams but in the end actually defined who we are (and who we are not).
So this “barbie” post blew up the blogosphere, and then my attempt to clarify my points backfired. The backlash impacted all the contributors, and really made all of us sit back and think — do we want to do this? (More over, do we want to do this with this crazy mamaV lady?? 🙂
Many said I would regret what I had said. I was called every name in the book, and for the first time ever as a veteran blogger I have to admit — I was scared. I remember coming home that night and my husband took one look at me and said “what the hell happened?” He said he had never seen that look on my face before.
We made it through that saga by answering questions regarding the topic of “Thin Privilege” — a concept I admittedly never heard of, and to this day is a semi-banned topic (so let’s not even go there). The exercise was useful, but in the end didn’t really matter. Our community was already formed. Those who liked our style stayed, those who didn’t left. The quote below sums up what this community attempts to be:
What do I think we learned?
Speaking for myself, I learned that body image is a brutally personal topic. I learned that it is impossible to understand the perspective of others, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. But most importantly, I learned that I know exactly who I am.
The experience of having hundreds of rabid commenters ripping you to shreds forces you to face yourself. I spent many, many days and nights pondering the entire situation. I thought about what I said, how I said it, how I should have said it, what I wish I could say, and on and on and on. But at the end of the day I realized one thing; I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. Love me for it, hate me for it, its me and I am proud of it.
We were proud to be featured in commentary on BBC and iVillageHealth. Then we were quoted by CNN regarding the fashion controversy at the 2010 Golden Globes. We had become The Real Deal, officially recognized the leader in the body image blog space.
Here is CandiceBP, one of our contributors had to say about what she has learned from being a contributor for WATRD:
“My most memorable moment as a contributor to WATRD came with one of my very first posts, where a reader left some fairly harsh comments (what I consider harsh, anyway). I hadn’t yet encountered any negativity in my blogging and it was hard to have someone not just disagree with me, but basically tell me I was stupid. However, that experience taught me that I need to be ready to accept criticism and defend myself calmly and rationally when necessary, but to also let some comments go. And, most importantly, I learned that WATRD really has great community members as several people came to my defense and made my argument for me. better than I could myself. It was a huge learning moment.” – CandiceBP
I recall when Candice came aboard, she was concerned about not being accepted because she had undergone weight loss surgery (WLS). I felt relatively confident she would have your nay-sayers, but overall the community would love Candice and her writing.
Contributors Marsha, Josie, Lissa and Carla spoke at Roni’s first annual Fit Bloggin’ Conference. This was quite an accomplishment for Roni, she created the event, gathered the speakers, sponsors and attendees. Check out Fit Bloggin 2011!
We launched the new look for the web site which has been well received. Feel free to send your feedback on the site design, content and layout, we are always making upgrades to make the blog experience better for the community.
This summer has been a semi-lazy one. Everyone is busy, and I don’t require a certain amount of posts per contributor so we all have been posting when the urge strikes us. New contributors are welcome, check out more information here!
I’d like to thank all of the “regulars” that come daily and read WATRD. This blog is an important, collective resource to discuss body image issues of all kinds. It is a place that anyone can express their viewpoint and not be shut down. As contributor Love2EatinPA said;
To me, WATRD represents an amazing site where women (and men!) of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds can come together to get information and express opinions in a safe environment.