|PHOTO CREDIT: STEPHEN LEWIS|
The author, Katie Drummond, took a seemingly mean-spirited (in my opinion) approach to chronicling the habits of 6 well-known health bloggers. Scrutinizing their choice to share meal pictures (who doesn't do that these days?) and their workout reports. Speaking on instances when one was in training for a marathon and powered through with blistered feet. And another's method of food sabotage (doing something unsavory to a "bad" food as to not eat it all). Even through these infrequent, yet questionable instances, the author was short of calling them anorexic. She likened a few to being "emaciated." I read 3 of them regularly and never drew either conclusion.
I don't wish to combat the author's views on the genre of health blogging or disordered eating. I think you'll find beau-coup responses in that respect. They're actually still rolling in on my Google reader! People were and remain heavily offended, rightfully so. The piece didn't just strike a chord with "The Big 6," it hit home to the rest of us 'little' health / fitness / foodie / weight loss bloggers too. I do think it however, opened up an opportunity for dialogue, to the state of our communities; the credibility and corporate interests in them. Oh yeah, blogging is big business now - if you hadn't noticed.
If you have access to the internet and an opinion, you can become an "expert," on anything. I know people who have donned themselves "fitness gurus" after working out for a few months. No technical training, education or certification in any qualifying fields - but they lost weight, so they obviously know what they're talking about, right?
In lieu of summoning costly doctors, trainers or nutritionists, people are taking to the web for free guidance and support. I think it's wonderful that there is another venue to seeking insight on better health. Although, those seeking out information must hold some form of responsibility in what they digest (pun FTW).
The health blogging community, is just that. A community. A platform for people from different backgrounds, to share and learn. Granted, some have good intentions, others, not so much. You can't expect to be able to take the word of a random person on the street, this community is built the same way. It's not perfect, but it's up to the reader to assess and discern how someone else's experiences could be beneficial to them.
If you do happen to run across a blog of a woman with an admired figure who only eats carrots and pebbles, of course there may be one who'll try it too. But, I don't believe that we are all so naive, that we can't comprehend what's safe and what's not. Those who willingly endanger themselves, by example of another, have deeper issues than any blog is able to address.
Now this isn't removing all responsibility from the blogger. We have the freedom to speak as we wish. We throw our struggles our hits and misses to the web. Whether it's medically-advised or not. I've gone under the 1,200 calorie-a-day rule myself, when posting food entries on some days. I've trained ridiculously hard, during MS exacerbations - which is usually frowned upon. But it was my reality, so in keeping with all the times I've reported something good, I reported the ugly too. I have a right to do that, but it doesn't mean that I'm advocating for others to do the same.
When I receive queries about my weight loss journey (on and offline), I'm quick to say, I'm not in the business of "advice." I even recently acquired my certification in personal training and am still reluctant to inform people of what they should or shouldn't be doing. We are all unique in spirit and in form. WE have to essentially discover what works best for us, no matter what ANYONE says.
The author also made a point in the article to talk about how companies are marketing products under the guise of health events and activities. In efforts to discredit the intentions of the sponsored Healthy Living Summit's recent conference, I think. It's in the same realm as Fitbloggin' (which, I'll be attending next May). I guess if you're against commercialization, this would be off-putting. I'm not. I do follow money trails however and practice discretion in what I choose to participate in. This also goes in line with all of us who are routinely approached to be brand ambassadors. If you genuinely believe in something, why not? But keep in mind, there's no perk worth losing your voice or your personal brand over.
So, all that to say ... we ALL have a sense of responsibility in this impressionable and delicate in nature, health blogging community. We all have a duty to keep it real, fact check everything and remain true - to ourselves.