Here we are at BlogHer ’06, surrounded by beautiful, passionate women. What could be better?
We got here too late for the morning sessions, but we seriously enjoyed the lunch keynote by the women who founded Flickr and BlogHer. The rest of the sessions look exciting enough that we are trying to decide how to split them up so we miss as little as possible.
We giggled a little about the Weight Watchers session scheduled for tomorrow, and decided we had better things to do than go cause trouble there. But during the lunch keynote, we opened our really fine conference bags packed with a wide variety of gifts, and found ….
–a box of Sweet Simplicity sweetener, “all natural, zero calorie” and “the perfectly delicious way to have it all” (it turns out that “all natural” means that it’s erithrytol (which doesn’t sound natural) and zero calorie means that it includes fructose, which should not be zero calorie), but that’s another story.
–an ad for conference sponsor Contrex, giving away bottled water at the conference (and selling it elsewhere) using the slogan “Shape Yourself Naturally.”
–a t-shirt for “SexySmart,” with a picture of a model-thin woman, labeled size medium, and a perfect fit for Laurie, who really would wear a small if they marketed “small” t-shirts
Apparently another of the seven or eight sponsored booths also is offering some kind of body sculpting.
So what’s the message here?
That BlogHer, consciously or otherwise, supports a one-sided weight-loss and negative body image message. We would feel really differently about this if any of the conference panels, sponsors, or freebies had a size acceptance message to create choice for attendees. From the point of view of an attendee, when you see a sponsor, the sponsor’s message becomes part of the conference message.
That you, BlogHer attendee, are an empowered woman blogger, with the internet at your fingertips, and you had better be using that power to go right on hating your body the way you always have?
That women are a captive audience for weight-loss products and body-hating messages?
We know a lot of women who structure their lives to avoid diet and weight-loss messages (and believe us, they’re happier for it). If we were among them, we’d have walked out by now, and forfeited both our significant entry fees and all the neat experiences, new information, and new connections we have coming over the next day and a half. We won’t do that–instead, we will (starting with this blog entry) be trying to provide the message from the other side as loudly and as frequently as we can.
More important, how many women have already, or are going to, open their conference bags and feel bad about themselves?
We believe as profoundly as anyone here that the Web and blogging are about empowerment, finding your voice, getting your message out, making connections, and feeling good about yourself. We know that the organizers of BlogHer feel the same way. We’d like to think that next year this particular mixed message won’t pervade this superb conference.