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Sunday 21 November 2021

Fashion blogging is just advertising fast fashion?

Hi, long time no post. This is the full version of a post I did on Instagram but had to cut down to make it fit. Hopefully you find ot interesting.
A plus size white person sits in a wheelchair wearing a 1940s inspired Autumn outfit
[image description: Robyn (a plus size white person with a pixie cut and glasses) sits in their electric wheelchair on grass in front of a dry stone wall & autumn trees. They are wearing a plum cardigan & beret, a white blouse, a grey belt & a teal skirt with a maple leaf print]

I’m currently reading (listening to) Aja Barbar’s book ‘Consumed’ for the LoudBodies Book Club and it’s making me confront a lot of things, which is good and also bad. 
 The part I’m struggling with right now (and had a heated conversation/argument with my mum over) is my place as a cog in the fashion machine. 
 Aja talks in the first chapter of her book about their history in the fashion industry and their time as a fashion blogger. She talks about the over consumption in the fashion blogging community as well as the inherent inequalities and many biases against bloggers from systemically oppressed communities, most notably against black and brown bloggers. 
(If you can I highly recommend you read this book, I’m just summarising the first chapter here. I’m learning and unlearning so much!)

A plus size white person in a wheelchair wearing an autumn cottagecore outfit
[image description: Robyn (a plus size white person with a dark brown pixie cut & glasses) sits in their electric wheelchair. They are wearing a red & gold plaid detachable collar, a muted turquoise jumper/sweater, a brown belt, a teal skirt with a maple leaf print & gold ballet pumps.

For those of you who don’t know I have been blogging (and now Instagramming) for roughly 10 years, first beauty and lifestyle and later fashion. 
 I always felt that whilst I wasn’t able to do as much traditional activism as I would have liked I was creating representation for bodies like mine (queer, fat, disabled) and that I was part of a revolution taking the power of fashion representation way from the dictatorship of magazines and making the whole thing more democratic. 
But Aja’s book made me realise that – much like the British Democracy – it was still representing mostly well to do/wealthy, white, cis, straight, non-disabled people. And is massively fuelling over consumption.
Which is where we get to the shouting match I had with my mum (don’t worry, it was totally amicable, we were just both very passionate about our equally valid points of view.) 
When I was 14 I wanted to buy two blue boiler suits (I had recently read ‘1984’) and give up on fashion completely. It was exploitative, anti- feminist and made in sweatshops and I wanted no part of it. 
I ultimately didn’t go through with it but that little revolutionary is still a part of me and when Aja put into words the cycle of consumerism and over consumption fashion bloggers play a part in I was aghast. 
More than anything I don’t want to be a cog in the fast fashion machine which sees people and the planet as disposable. 

A plus size white person sits in an electric wheelchair wearing a 1940s cottagecore outfit and holding a red book
[Image Description: Robyn (a plus size white person with a dark brown pixie cut & glasses) sits in their electric wheelchair in front of a dry stone wall & a rustic village. They are wearing a sage green headband with embroidered pumpkins on it, a sage green short sleeved fair isle jumper, a brown belt, a denim circle skirt and gold ballet pumps. Oh also they are holding a red book.]

I almost quit right then and there because however much I try to rewear pieces and demonstrate sustainable fashion practices, my posts are adverts for the clothes whether or not I intend them to be. 
My mum argues that my account isn’t really a fashion blog anymore and that the representation I provide and the conversations I have outweigh any harm I do by being an advert. 
She argues that my images show that disabled people deserve access to nature, that disabled bodies fat bodies, queer bodies and gender diverse bodies can be beautiful, magical and tell fantastical stories. 
She says my posts argue that fat bodies, disabled bodies and bodies that are both that are both deserve access to beautiful clothes, all without me saying a word. 
She also argues that I have to be part of the community in order to change it and that quitting changes nothing. 

She’s probably right but I’m still conflicted. 

What do y’all think?

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