In Defense of the Fashion Blog
In the movie Easy A, Thomas Hayden Church says, “I don’t know what your generation’s fascination is with documenting your every thought, but I can assure you: they’re not all diamonds.”
In response to this little bit of rhetoric posed by Church’s character and echoed by Gabbie Tatad in her article, “A Fashion Blogger Reality Check”, the answer is: because we can.
I’m not going to go into how the internet, specifically Web 2.0, has democratized publishing and changed the concept of a free press for an entire generation. You can read about that elsewhere. But fashion in particular sets a fascinating example in the blogosphere that does not deserve to be discredited because of a few examples here and there. In the first place, the use of the term “reality check” has no place in fashion (as opposed to style), considering that fashion has always inhabited realms of performance and desire, which do not belong in the so-called real world. So what if some kid with an internet connection wants to post a picture of him or herself walking around Divisoria in sky-high heels and a mullet skirt? In the case of the fashion photograph, it’s not about the documenting the authenticity of the moment, but of embodying a fantasy and getting it on film.
There is good reason that fashion has always set a separate stage for its performance; in this case, the highly stylized confines of the fashion blog spring more closely from the pages of glossies like Vogue and Preview, their subjects treating the squalid streets more like the runway than what they are, which are squalid city streets. If fashion places a higher premium on performance than on authenticity, than what we are after here is the image. Take words like “glamorous” or “chic” or “trendy” and you will find how difficult they are to define without visual cues. Fashion (and in some cases, style) needs to be worn for its relevance to be communicated and eventually celebrated. We may not always like the wearer, but tough luck undoing centuries of tradition.
As with any canonical text, tradition is all there is; and this is the tradition that the fashion blog is entering. Call it artificial, frivolous, entitled—how different is any of this, really, from what we expect from the so-called professionals in the fashion industry?
Here’s where the problem lies. You could argue that those who work in the publishing industry and are paid professional wages, like the professionals they are, actually earned the kind of reverence they get when it comes to fashion. But if we’re just trading images here, what sets the professional editorial apart from some kid with a DSLR and a tripod is basically the manner in which their final output is consumed—or worse (and this is especially true in the case of today’s fashion bloggers) compensated.
This shifts the problem from the blogger to the market. If these mediocre images and vapid commentary didn’t have a captive audience, would we even be irritated enough to go to the press with our own thoughts on the phenomenon? Probably not. We would let it be. After all, the internet is for everyone (except people who play Farmville because yuck), and by now should not pose too many dangers when it comes to upending an established system of stylists and editors and pretty faces. And if you don’t believe that, you can redirect your queries to http://lemonparty.org. Or google Pterodactyl Sex. I don’t know, here’s a picture of my cat: