Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One Year Anniversary of We Are The Real Deal

July 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Body Image

It is the one year anniversary of We Are The Real Deal! Time for a trip down memory lane….

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.

Month 1

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.”

Deep breath.

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.

Fall 2010

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.

Winter 2010

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.

Spring 2010

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.

Summer 2010

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.
To many more years to come,
THANK YOU!
mamaV
XO

Comments

12 Responses to “One Year Anniversary of We Are The Real Deal”
  1. Ellie Di says:

    So many congratulations! Thanks for all you’ve done over the last year, and I can’t wait to see what other amazing things you do next year. <3

  2. Marlie says:

    I check this site regularly, and sometimes there are interesting posts.

    I don’t feel like I can comment here though. There doesn’t seem to be real discussion anymore.

    • CandiceBP says:

      I agree that discussion has seemed to wane. I know I’d love to hear suggestions for what people want to read and talk about. (I’m sure the other bloggers would, too.) What’s everyone interested in?

      • Melissa says:

        I agree 100% too … not sure how we get our spice back. I feel like sometimes we post into thin air, even when topics flourish on our own blogs. Welcome any suggestions …

        • You clearly do have lots of viewers. Perhaps you could ask more questions in your posts? Or change your modding strategy? Ironically, I think a greater willingness to deleted and/or deconstruct the obviously wacky comments might actually help discussion flourish.

  3. CandiceBP says:

    Congrats WATRD! So happy to be a part of it all 🙂

  4. Melissa says:

    Very proud to be a part of this since its inception!! Happy birthday, WATRD! I know I’ve been a lax blogger as of late, but the only thing I’d want to talk about is my pregnancy experience and I don’t know that our readers would be interested in that. We’d love to know what topics you want to know more about!

  5. mamaV says:

    Hi Everyone: I too AGREE wholeheartedly on Marlie’s comment that our discussions need to dig deeper. I think it would be nice to find that middle ground between fun, controversial topics….and the all out brawl we had in the beginning.

    I will say that for myself, I have toned myself way down for this community, believing that is what I was being asked to do, but perhaps that is not a good thing?

    I think also personal stories and commentary tend to bring forward frank discussions, much more than news related items. Thoughts on this?

    Sometimes as a blogger, you start feeling like you have “said it all” and you get sick of hearing yourself talk. As contributors, perhaps we need to dig deeper and/or share daily body image issues we face a bit more.

    Ideas?
    mamaV

  6. I for one adore this community, and I tire of all the complaints about diversity. I like diversity, I am a member of various minorities myself, and I strive for diversity. Yet a lot of the snipes about diversity are really complaining about not “checking our privilege” enough or wanting everyone to toe the line. Keep yourself open to different people and their issues, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you have to live in constant fear that someone somewhere will be offended by what you say, nothing will get said. and trust me, there is no way to avoid the accusation that what you said was offensive.

    Be calm. Be friendly. Be well-meaning, and that will do wonders.

    I also really wish these sorts of overly PC people would stop speaking for me.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi JoannaDeadWinter: Thank you for your comments. I always feel like we are trying to appease the PC individuals, although I claim we don’t (its an odd balance). This stems back to the very beginning when we got so hammered for being “the white girls.”

      From my perspective, I feel like we have to constantly try to “prove” we are diverse, open, accepting, PC — but I have realized that takes all REALNESS out of it. And that’s a shame isn’t it?

      Your statement “I wish the PC people would stop speaking for me” speaks volumes.

      I’m going to ponder that. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since the 1st anniversary, and some changes are underway that I think will get our spark back. Feel free to send your input on what we should do more of, less of, etc.

      Take care, and great to meet you!
      mamaV

      • MamaV,

        Really, don’t worry about the PC individuals. There are a LOT of people of color, disabled people, GLBTQ people, etc. who are not PC at all. And PC people frequently try to out-PC each other and tear each other apart for not being PC enough. So it’s a waste of time because it’s a battle you can’t win.

        Another thing to consider is that you may be more diverse than you realize. Not everyone believes in pimping out their oppressed minority status to the word. Many don’t see themselves as oppressed at all. So anyone who comes here and complains that you aren’t diverse enough is, arrogantly and ignorantly, assuming things about the people here. They don’t really know that none of the people here are Muslim, deaf, transgendered, or diverse in some other way. It’s not always obvious if someone is a minority either. Just because someone has an avatar doesn’t mean it’s a picture of them, and appearances are deceiving. One of my best friends is black, native, and white, and she looks totally Irish. Everyone assumes she’s white. So, keep that in mind when someone tries to be self-righteous about the issue.

        As for increasing minority participation, here’s an idea: twice a month, or however often you want, showcase a study, a news story, or something that pertains to a minority. For example, Carrie at ED Bites once posted about a study examining eating disorders in African-Americans that did a lot of myth busting. Describe it, ask questions, make inferences, but ask minorities to weigh in. Anyone can weigh in, of course, but make it a special point to encourage minorities. It might take some time, especially since you guys already have a rep for being anti-minority, but intelligent people with common sense will come around in time. Once they get established, they may start their own blogs and ask to be a member here. Then it goes from there.

        The most important thing is to be yourselves. It sounds vague, but the best way to make friends isn’t through academic abstractions. It’s getting to know people as individuals. Letting people get to know you and expressing an interest in them gets you friends. Constant temper tantrums over nothing is just intimidating.:) Trust me. Again, I’m a so-called minority, and these PC people scare the ever living crap out of me.:)

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