Mixed Messaging

One of the nice things about having your own blog is that nobody but you controls the headlines, images, captions, or advertising. The downside, of course, is that your only readers are the ones that find their way to your little corner of the internet. And so, sometimes we make tradeoffs, in the name of expanded readership.

Here is an article I wrote for Minerva Place, that online lady mag I mentioned a few weeks ago. When I submitted the piece, I called it “Curvy Girl Dating,” or some such nonsense. The piece got retitled “Real Women Have Curves.” Oy! How embarassing! The concept of “real” womanhood is one I have railed against time and again. The idea that body shape is what makes us “real” women is my least favorite and the laziest trope of the body positive movements. Real women are skinny and fat and voluptuous and svelte and flat-chested and pear-shaped and tall and short and blah blah blah. You know the drill.

And yet, there it is, right above my byline.

What’s more, the ads surrounding my piece (which is about body acceptance and body positivity…) are weight-loss ads. Double oy. When you give your writing to other people to share, you give up some serious contextual control. Online ads are often keyword triggered, which leads to some very confusing ad/article pairings. Love your body! Get rid of your fat! Everybody is different and it’s beautiful! Look like the people on magazines! Mixed messaging much?

What do you think? Is it worth trying to reach a new target audience when you sacrifice some of the decision-making power to people (or automated ad generators) who may not be on the same page?

Related Post: Curve Appeal vs. American Apparel’s Next Big Thing contest

Related Post: Tyra Banks thinks calling plus size women “fiercely real” is a good thing…

Related Post: One gentleman didn’t think I “sounded” curvy on an online dating profile.

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11 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Republished!

11 responses to “Mixed Messaging

  1. Right on. My first freelance piece was about a controversial topic, and I tried to remain impartial when I was writing it. I tried my best to be aware of my biases, and to curb them. I felt like the editors chose an image that totally undid all of the work I put into making the article objective. The article was about morbid obesity in porn, and the eds. selected an image of a filth-covered, sweaty woman with flies swarming around her. It was visceral, grotesque, and mortifying, because I felt like its proximity to my byline somehow implied that I endorsed this depiction. It was terrible and enraging, and it made me really nervous about pitching other ideas.

    • Oh man, I remember that story. It’s a really challenging line, because sometimes the sensationalism that a business editor wants isn’t what lines up with the content…

  2. I think it probably depends on the medium. You have some idea if you’re in Huffpost, that you’ll look fairly respectable. In other online magazines, I don’t think there’s much you can do, except tag things as accurately as possible and hope for the best.

  3. That is very frustrating….luckily, most literary journals don’t do this.

    It reminds me of this ad I once saw on FB (that was using crowd-generated content about Starbucks)—it had a picture of a latte, and said, “See what people are saying about our Pumpkin Spice Latte!” and the line that happened to flash across the ad for me (with a user name) was: “Ugh. Pumpkin Spice Latte tastes like vomit.”

    It was amazingly funny and surreal….

  4. OY is right! The unhealthy concepts of popular society surrounds us and it’s a constant battle. And yes, your article title is better than their trite version.

  5. Pingback: Body Positive | rosiesaysblog

  6. Pingback: I Get Pitches | rosiesaysblog

  7. Pingback: Facebook thinks that I think I need to lose weight. | rosiesaysblog

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