February 21, 2015

Hey Haters, Dove & Twitter Want a Word (#speakbeautiful campaign)

Several years ago, when this blog was still called Ain’t No Mom Jeans, I decided to cover a little bit of celebrity fashion.  I found a few pictures of celebrities walking their kids to school, hanging out at a park, etc.  They were wearing cute, casual outfits, ones easy to recreate.  So I rounded up a few links to similar pieces, wrote a bit of fluff and hit publish.  Then I went to bed.

When I woke up in the morning, I was surprised to see how many comments the post had received.  And even more surprised when I read them:  “OMG she looks so fat!” said one commenter.  “This is a terrible picture – she looks exhausted” said another.  One particularly mean-spirited commenter remarked that Sarah Jessica Parker’s “hands looked old”.

Her hands looked old?  Are you serious?  First of all wtf who cares, and secondly….won’t ALL of our hands look old eventually?  And please consider that right at this very second, someone else – another mom, perhaps, in the midst of spit-up or cranky toddlers or any other sort of taxing, everyday life – could be reading that comment, then look down and think, “my hands look old, too.”  Not to mention that we’ve all looked fat at some point, we’ve all looked exhausted.  What, exactly, is wrong with any of these very human things?  When mean-spirited comments happen, especially online in public forums, the collateral damage is far-reaching.

So I deleted those comments – I deleted all of them.  And guess how many times I’ve covered celebrity fashion since then?  ZERO.  It just seemed to bring out something….ugly.  And that’s not what this blog is about.  This blog is about finding ourselves as mothers, about finding our style as humans.  It’s about sharing inspiration, and understanding that what works for one may not work for another.  It’s about celebrating our unique journeys on this crazy path, and using our varied perspectives as a source of inspiration, not a point of shaming.

So I was thrilled when Dove and Twitter reached out about their #speakbeautiful campaign.  This campaign aims to change the way women interact with one another on social media.  And these companies aren’t messing around:  On Oscar night, when hateful, negative messages are at an all-time high (over 5 MILLION negative body image tweets were posted in 2014), Dove will be unveiling a new ad to inspire social media change.  And Twitter?  Gotta love those data nerds – they’ll be rolling out new technology that uses Twitter data to identify negative social media conversations about beauty and body image. When a negative tweet is posted on Oscar night, the technology will be used by Dove to send non-automated responses to real women, which include constructive and accessible advice to encourage more positive online language and habits.  Advice will come directly from social media and self-esteem experts who collaborate with Dove and Twitter to empower women to speak with more confidence, optimism, and kindness about beauty online.

Yup, that’s right:  if you post mean-spirited tweets on Oscar night, Dove and Twitter will be calling.

 

As a direct recipient of negative criticism, I know that it can be hurtful – no matter how thick your skin, how open your perspective.  But the thing about negativity that really bothers me, the thing that really gets me going, is how it breeds.  How one mean-spirited comment creates a veritable pile-up of negativity.  Negative comments are both a bummer to read and a bummer to give – on any platform.  There’s nothing brave about mean-spirited comments.  There’s no “truth” in actively trying to make another person feel bad for what they’re wearing, how they look or what they like.  It’s just bullying, plain and simple.  And bullying – in any form – creates a culture of narrow-mindedness and fear.

So please:  a little more #speakbeautiful, a little less hate.  There’s a world of difference between “that looks ridiculous!!”  and “I prefer something preppier/more boho/more edgy than what’s pictured – does anyone have ideas for me?”  And don’t even get me started on “her hands look old”.  It’s high time we change this conversation.

 


 

xo,

S

 

By February 21, 2015 26 No tags Permalink
26 Comments
  • A fan
    February 21, 2015

    Hi Shana,

    First, I want to say that finding your blog was the motivation I needed to get myself out of a major sloppy zone following the birth of my child. I was able to adapt many of your styling suggestions to find a style that has made me feel more in-tune with myself than even before my pregnancy radically altered my body shape. Though not every style/price-point is for everyone, it may be for someone and therefore I don’t care for comments that use language specifically to ridicule.

    I appreciate your post for today. I agree that tone is often neglected in electronic media and that it can be very hurtful. However, when people call out celebrities, public figures, even bloggers it is NOT bullying. Bullying happens when there is a perceived power imbalance. What happens on the web or twitter–it can rude, it can aggressive, and in some cases it is absolute harassment. But unless it occurs between two minors it is not bullying. I see this word being used incorrectly by adults, and recently by many fashion bloggers who are upset by comments that can be mean-spirited following a post. But by definition this not bullying. Using this term to describe this dynamic between adults only lessons the experience that children face when they are physically and verbally intimidated in environments that they have no choice to be in. These experiences are not equal. As a fan of your work, I say this respectfully.

    Thank you,
    A fan.

    • Shana
      February 21, 2015

      Hi there! You’re right – I just googled the definition of “bullying” and it says, “use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.” stopbullying.gov goes a step further: “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. ”

      I certainly didn’t intend to lesson the seriousness of bullying among children. But the word “bullying”, used in the context of my article above FELT like it captures what I was trying to say. I guess because my life is out there for the world to see, but the mean-spirited comments are anonymous, creating a power imbalance? IDK – I may be reaching here. So I did a quick thesaurus on bullying and….it wasn’t satisfying. “Annoying” doesn’t even begin to cover it, “harassment”….maybe??? I’d love to know if anyone has other words that are perhaps more appropriate than bullying.

      But thanks for the comment – words ARE powerful. They matter.

  • megan b
    February 21, 2015

    Amen! It often seems like people forget there are actual human beings at the receiving end of their hurtful comments. Typing it is no different than saying it! And let’s face it, most people would NEVER have the balls to say some of the things they type to a person’s face. As my wise mother always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

  • Mariah
    February 21, 2015

    I love this, Shana!

    I seriously get so appalled at humanity when reading some comments online. All the haters and snark and mommy wars… and the social media bullying is just downright scary. I have an almost four year old little boy, and this is the world he will grow up with. It’s enough to make you want to turn off your computer for good, and go live in the woods. (Okay, not really but it’s a thought!)

    But then I read something like your post, with an inspiring idea from Dove and Twitter, and I realize I’m not the only one who thinks this world could use a lot more kindness and manners. So thank you!!

    As for your blog, it has single handedly transformed my closet and style over the last 4+ years. And although I probably won’t be trying the harness trend anytime soon, I love that you did. Keep doing your thang, girl! : )

  • Belinda
    February 21, 2015

    AMEN SHANA!…very well written…IT IS BULLYING…age does not matter….making someone feel bad about what they are wearing or how they look is just mean ..and it does breed..thank you for this post…my closet (and me) feel and look so much better since finding your blog. I look forward to reading every post.
    Please don’t ever stop…a cyber friend forever
    Belinda

  • Marlie
    February 21, 2015

    If I had a blog, it would be a food blog, because that is my passion. I would write in detail about what recipes worked, what didn’t, and what I would do next time.
    And if I got comments like, “That looks terrible.” or, “Nope.” it would hurt my feelings. I know what you mean that if feels like bullying: there is a power imbalance because the blogger opens up her life, and the commenters get to be anonymous.
    That is why I don’t have a blog. My skin is way too thin.
    Could you set up your comments so they are not instantly posted? Could you hire someone to review the comments and delete the overly negative? The test would be, “Would this person have said those words to my face?” If no, it gets deleted.
    Haters gonna hate, but you don’t have to see it.
    This is your blog. You don’t need to run a public forum.
    Take care, chin up!
    Marlie

  • Tina
    February 21, 2015

    Megan b, Mariah, Belinda, & Marlie
    A big mwah! from Shana’s Mom!
    Tina xxxxoooo

  • thecitybabe
    February 21, 2015

    I think the spirit of this campaign sounds lovely. But honestly, I don’t think Dove, a corporation that makes products to make women feel insecure about the smoothness and evenness of the skin under their arms, has the right to lecture anyone about body-shaming. And to presume that most of the body snarking you read online comes from women is both naive and downright misogynistic. Perez Hilton comes to mind, but comment boards are often littered with nasty remarks from both men and women. I just feel like there is something very patronizing about scolding women for their online behavior that no corporation would ever try with men. Keep in mind that when some women speak out about the way a celebrity is being presented, it is often because of the very unrealistic expectations of beauty that are set for the rest of us. Their “perfection” is used to sell us products. When someone is caught looking imperfect, it’s an aha moment. No amount of moisturizing soap or deodorant will make me look like Kate Upton, because Kate Upton doesn’t even look like Kate Upton. In conclusion, screw the patriarchy and this campaign sounds like a big circle jerk. Love your blog though.

    • Jess
      February 21, 2015

      Couldn’t agree more

    • Jess
      February 21, 2015

      Also wondering why Twitter isn’t focusing more on curbing the rampant horror ISIS likes to spread aaaall over Twitter instead of some lame people making insignificant comments about celebrities.

    • Holly
      February 24, 2015

      I thought the same thing! Dove is going to make sure WOMAN aren’t body shaming….

  • Lindsey
    February 21, 2015

    Love you and your blog so much! So much more than just fashion. I get you! Love having Scotti on board too!

  • Lindsey
    February 21, 2015

    And Miss Cam, too! Love you all!

  • Jacqueline
    February 21, 2015

    I want to start by saying I love your blog. Do I think I would wear some of the styles shown? Sometimes, sometimes not, but it doesn’t mean it is awful or terrible or doesn’t look good, it just isn’t my style. Comments can be hurtful and style is so subjective, that is amazes me that people would be so negative. . What I love about your blog (and why you are the only style blog I follow) is because you push me out of my comfort zone. It is interesting to see how to make things work in general and how to make them work for me and my personal style. Loved the way Camille styled combat boots last week, it finally made me realize that maybe that is a style I could/would wear. I appreciate that you are trying to help me be the best ME that I can be, not your style clone, but ME. Thanks Shana, Camille and Scotti for inspiring me!

  • Ellen DiOrio
    February 21, 2015

    Love your blog, and most of the style recommendations. It may not be polite, but I think it is human nature to call out things we think are ridiculous that are part of the public eye. For example, you did it here:

    http://themomedit.com/2015/01/has-instyle-magazine-lost-its-mind/

    The first line of that article is “Do you ever read fashion mags only to think WHAT THE F—?.” I didn’t think you were a hater, I though you were honest. Let’s not judge one another’s judginess. (spelling?).

    • Anna
      February 23, 2015

      Very good point. Blogs seem to want only positive comments. When people’s clicks lead to your income, you have to expect some criticism if they don’t like something. I believe things should always be respectful, but often anything critical is called hateful.

  • Mad
    February 21, 2015

    Amen.

  • resetmeat40
    February 21, 2015

    I have been reading your blog for about 6 months now, and all I can say to the above post is AMEN! As a mom of three who works full time, just turned 40, and has struggled for at least 30 of those years with body image and eating disorders, you have hit the nail on the head. A little positivity goes a long way. I love your posts, and while I may not be in a place or have enough of an “identity” to feel confident in being my edgy self living in a Southern world, I so appreciate the ideas and the honesty with which you present them. I am even more proud to be a reader/follower now that I have read this. Thank you, Mom Edit, for keeping it “real” for all of us real women out there!

  • Megan
    February 21, 2015

    I totally here you on this Shana, and I agree. However, the nature of the internet, anonymity, and the blogosphere make snarky comments par for the course. Maybe if you delete the comments people would be less motivated to write the snarky comments- if they know they aren’t going to show up. And I don’t know how impressed I am by the Dove campaign. How do they know they are reaching women per se? It’d actually be more effective to target young girls, who are just starting to navigate social media. I honestly feel that if a grown woman doesn’t know how to properly and politely communicate by now, Dove ain’t changing them anytime soon.

  • Deb
    February 21, 2015

    Beautifully stated. I absolutely love your blog and your style, but I’m even more impressed with your character. Thank you for the amazing post!! #speakbeautiful

  • Lizzie
    February 21, 2015

    I presume I am one of the “haters” to which you refer. I left a non positive comment on the halter post. Sorry, didn’t realise only super positive, we love you Shana comments were allowed. As a pp said, to equate negative comments of the type you received to bullying is wrong. It’s also insensitive in the extreme to victims of actual bullying. Most of the comments were also along the lines of “we have loved you for years but are not so keen on the direction lately. Do what you gotta do but a heads up that you are losing some people. It’s up to you to make what you will of the input.”. I felt like I owed you the heads up. I am truly sorry if you found that to be hurtful, not the intention. I’ll be honest that I do find it hypocritical in light of the post where you ripped into InStyle magazine, that Ellen linked to above. Would you have liked that post turned around to be about you? In light of today’s post, I suspect not. I think you are fantastic Shana. I have the frye boots, skinny jeans and saltwater sandals to prove it. If you are happy with TME direction then go for it. It’s your gig and you are awesome at it. You might lose some old timers along the way but they will be replaced by newcomers who really do dig what you are doing and your style aesthetic. Sorry, didn’t mean to write a novel but I wanted you to know that people are only commenting because they care and we are not just being nasty cows for kicks.

  • Sara
    February 22, 2015

    Thank you for this post! I work in schools and we try to stop bullying and treat it as unacceptable…then I go online and see all of these parents just bashing and criticizing people who are famous (celebrities, politicians, etc.). They are humans and many of them, like us, are just trying to do the best they can.

  • JL
    February 22, 2015

    AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. Enough said.

  • mainestyle
    February 22, 2015

    I’m finding it interesting to read the last week’s worth of comments, beginning with the harness post and ending here. I usually check the blog every day, but I was away this week, and have read all of this week’s comments all at once – and wow! What a week to miss! I’ve been following your blog, Shana, for two years, and it never occurred to me to think that you “sold out” when you became The Mom Edit. An underlying aspect of the negative comments that really bothers me is the notion that you should be blogging out of the goodness of your heart. The truth is, your time as woman is very valuable, and you should be getting compensated well for what you do, especially because you have served so many of us so generously (and for free for so long)! I don’t think that the commenters who aren’t enjoying the blog right now are insisting that you don’t get paid, but I do think that they’re missing the point that creating a blog with such great copy and stunning visuals that actually appeals to real women takes an extraordinary amount of work. I know because I’ve tried it, and I think we all know how rare it is to find a blog like yours out there. Would I like to see a more updated post about maternity jeans at all price points? You bet! Am I going to become a Shana-hater now because you posted yourself wearing a harness instead of posting about maternity jeans? Nope. It’s your vision and your thing, and you’ve done a beautiful job with it. Thank you.

    • Shana
      February 25, 2015

      This comment made me want to sob with relief. It IS HARD. So thank you for this. (And if you’d ever like to volunteer to give us all an update on maternity jeans….)

  • Lindsay
    February 23, 2015

    I read this blog because I appreciate your approach to mom fashion, wearing what feels good, and having a positive body image. So thanks for this post.

    That said, I’ll repeat something I’ve seen from other commenters before. One thing that I would love to see some on this blog is representation of more different body types — specifically curvier or bigger. We all choose styles based on what looks and feels best, and hearing directly from someone with a similar body type about what worked for them does wonders for normalizing your body image. If you consider adding other bloggers in the future, I hope you’ll make that a consideration.

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