Why I’m Not on Weardrobe, Chictopia, Lookbook, or Hypeed

Fellow bloggers, it’s highly likely that at least one—or all—of the fashion-based social networking sites named in my title ring a bell with you. What comes to mind when you hear those names? Street style? Personal style? Increased blog traffic? A shot a blog fame?

It’s true that these sites can be an endless source of street style inspiration, and may be an avenue for increased blog traffic. If you get featured. And your potential for blog fame and partnerships is also largely contingent upon that. But you know what comes to my mind when I hear them? Exclusivity. Popularity contests. Wasted time. They’re all a grand facade for the perpetuation of essentially one standard of beauty, with virtually all the profit being made by the site, not bloggers.

I’ve dabbled with all of these sites at some point or another over the last year, and I’ve left them all. Why, you ask? Well, the reasons are myriad. That’s what this post is all about.

LBGTQ, LoveBrownSugar, and the lowdown.

I actually drafted this post in mid-August 2010, and I’ve been sitting on it ever since. I wondered, is it too much? Am I overreacting? I stumbled across a blog last week that gave me pause and made me realize—especially with the recent spate of LBGTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning) suicides as a result of bullying—that it was time to finish this post up. Because you don’t have to be LBGTQ to feel ostracized; really, if you are anything but thin and pretty, you’re on the fringe, especially in the fashion world. And I’m a little sick of it.

In her post, Why Don’t You Love Me? A Curvy Girl’s Ode to Outfit Posts, Cece who is a Honeymag.com editorial assistant and the principal of her blog, LoveBrownSugar, wrote:

Cece of LoveBrownSugar and HoneyMag. Image via www.honeymag.com.

On my weekly blog-hunting trip this week, I stumbled on a post by curvy British blogger Jettica of Feeling Stylish entitled “Why Do I Need To Be Thin?” After reading her words and sentiments—a mix of curiosity and disappointment—I came to the realization that I too have the same insecurities and harsh feelings. Here’s what she had to say…

“It seems that on sites like LookBook or Chictopia you only get ‘HYPE’ and fans if you are thin…I sort of feel that I don’t get a great deal of comments or love on my blog because I’m a fat girl writing about fashion.”—Jettica of Feeling Stylish

…Now don’t get me wrong, the fashion industry has definitely come a long way. It warms my heart to see curvy models like Crystal Renn stomping the runways in Paris, and shows like One Stop Plus actually getting shine during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NYC, and fashion icons like Diane Von Furstenberg cracking down on eating disorders in the modeling industry with CFDA regulations…But while the industry can try and correct itself over time, the real power is truly with the people. If users on sites like Chictopia, Lookbook.Nu or Weardrobe are in any way indicative of the fashion-forward masses, then these sentiments still resonate loud and clear. Plus size isn’t posh. Curves aren’t chic. Hips don’t get “HYPE.” And thus the unsuspecting outfit-poster who boasts a size of double digits is left to wonder if there’s room for her, or if she should just stand by and look.

In Jettica’s post, she also asks:

…I want to know—Do you have to be thin to be popular (in life, blogging or Lookbook)?

Jettica, Cece—the unfortunate truth on Lookbook.nu and similar sites, is you don’t just have to be thin to be popular. You have to be thin. You have to be pretty. And really, if you want to hit the top, you have to be white.

UPDATE: Cece and Jettica follow-up. Read Proud to Have Caused a Stir and Sick Sites Spotlight: Responses to “Curvy Girl’s Ode…”

Why I’m not on Weardrobe, Chictopia, Lookbook, or Hypeed.

As I mentioned above, at one point, I joined these sites out of curiosity. Eventually I bailed on all of them for the following reasons:

  • I really don’t care if people vote me up or approve of my outfits. I was never a sorority girl or a beauty pageant contestant—approval of my appearance and formal inclusion/membership is not something I need. And at the end of the day, what are hypes and hearts really doing for me? Um, zilch.
  • I don’t want to support sites that promote a single beauty ideal. That’s essentially participating in the exclusion of others.
  • It costs me money to run my blog. Space on it is not free. I’m not going to “pimp my blog” with an ad for another site that doesn’t truly foster a spirit of inclusiveness. And doesn’t pay me.
  • I want complete control over my personal information and my intellectual property.
  • I have better things to do with my time than think of obscure post/photo titles and post photos on my blog and three other sites, all with different specs.
  • Since when did a street style site determine my karma?
  • I’m not 13. Or 23. Or 33. In the fashion blogging world, I’m old.

Loss of creative control.
A few months ago, Chictopia got itself involved in a little photo copyright brouhaha (see Read the Fine Print: Chictopia and Payless Don’t Need to Ask to Profit from Blogger Images) after it allowed partner companies to use site images without bloggers’ consent. Bloggers mistakenly thought they had been taken advantage of. They were wrong. All these fashion-based social networking sites state in some manner in site terms of use that once you post a photo, you give the site licensing rights to your image. To be used as they’d like. Granted, bloggers are usually thrilled to be featured, but not always.

As a professional writer, my words are my money. My blog posts and images are my intellectual property. Why would I want to give someone else control over the dissemination and use of my property, with no compensation? Or without proper notice? If I am my brand, it behooves me to ensure I have control of my intellectual property, and that if/when I relinquish control or allow use of it, I’m fully aware and I agree to the terms.

Why am I advertising for another site on my blog for free?
These fashion-based, social networking sites tempt users with points and features and potential exposure. They want you, bloggers, to leave the confines of the blog you pour your heart and soul into, and come post your photos on their site—so others can rate you for the infinitesimal chance that you might score a big feature, traffic, and ultimately, money. Not only do you lose creative control of your images once you post them elsewhere, these sites make money on advertising based on YOUR traffic, YOUR photos, YOUR presence. Oh, and you’re sending everyone there with that badge on YOUR blog. Huh? But wasn’t the point to get more people to come to your blog? Right.

On this subject, you should all read the IFB Fair Compensation Manifesto.

I’m sure bloggers do get new followers through their participation on these sites. But there are other ways to connect with bloggers and grow your readership—Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB), BlogHer, Blog Catalog, and using Twitter and Stumble Upon can help boost traffic, without the need for a gimmicky sidebar widget that pulls readers away from your blog. Plus, IFB provides free tips that help protect bloggers and show them how to improve blogs and increase readership. If you want to meet more bloggers, simply join in the discussions there.

Why should I support a site that perpetuates one standard of beauty?
I believe in celebrating individuality. After I got a taste of Weardrobe, Chictopia, etc., it occurred to me that my participation in these sites perpetuates the already unsavory air of exclusivity in the fashion world. Hypes, likes, karma, hearts—whatever the rating system—they’re all votes and judgments doled out by other members based on appearance alone. I don’t want to be a part of that. I am more than my face, my race, my clothes, my hair. I’m not 23 and I’m not a size zero. I’d rather spend time cultivating relationships with people on a one-to-one basis, and I believe beauty comes in many, many different forms. We don’t all fit into that tiny little white box.

Finally, the numbers…

Before delving into this, there are a couple other things to consider. First, on all the sites, featured bloggers are chosen through some combination of public scoring and editorial selection. Second, my study of  Lookbook.nu, Chictopia, Weardrobe, and Hypeed is by no means scientific, but still incredibly revealing. You should know that I made assumptions about ethnicity based on names, appearance, and geographic location. Most participants listed their ages, and could be classified as young (age 15 to age 30). The race and ethnicity of participants was obvious except in a handful of cases where there was some racial ambiguity, which forced me to draw an unverified conclusion. But this variable is of little significance, because my overwhelming finding on all the sites was as follows:

  • If you’re young, thin, female, attractive, and white, your chances of being selected are greatest. This is the majority demographic on ALL the sites.
  • If you’re young, thin, female, attractive, and Asian, you have the next best chance of being selected.
  • If you are young, thin, male and white or Asian, you’re next on the list, but way down the list.
  • If you are black and female, bigger than I’d guess about a U.S. size 8, or older than say, 35-ish, you have very, very slim odds of being selected. So good luck.


Lookbook.nu, which bills itself as the “collective fashion consciousness,” is the largest of the fashion/street style networking sites, with more than 200,000 members. The site provides the following audience statistics:

  • Female: 80% female
  • Young: 66% between 18 and 34, 33% between 12 and 17, average age 20 years old
  • Connected: 50% of members run their own blog or personal website
  • Engaged: Avg. 8 pages per visit and 7:57 avg. time on site
  • Creative: Top occupations include students (college, fashion, architecture, art, design, photography, etc.), photographers, fashion designers, graphic designers, bloggers, models, musicians, and stylists.

“Pimp your blog” widgets/badges are encouraged, and no wonder why: corporate partnerships/sponsorships include H&M, Levi’s, Gap, DKNY Jeans, Forever21, Sebastian, J. Crew, American Apparel, Nike, JC Penney, Nixon, Skull Candy, Diesel, Armani Exchange, AllSaints, American Express, and more. The more bloggers who are “pimping” their blogs with Lookbook.nu’s badge and link, the more traffic they can boast (currently more than 3.4 million unique visitors per month), and the more advertisers come running, checkbooks in-hand. Let’s say half of the site’s registered members have a badge that links back to Lookbook.nu—that’s 100,000 free ads. Clever, huh?

Lookbook.nu has ratings/voting tied to “karma” and “hypes,” as follows:

What is “karma”?
When a look is “hyped” the person who posted it is rewarded with a karma point. In the same way that popular outfits are voted to the top, the users who post them get increases in karma. Every LOOKBOOK.nu user affects one another’s karma equally, and this is how members reward each other for posting looks that are stylish, unique, and interesting.

What is average karma?
Average karma is simply a user’s total karma divided by the number of looks he or she has posted. The higher a user’s average karma, the greater the user’s reputation. On the NEW page, the Karma Filter uses average karma in part to determine how much each look is shown.

What is hype?
LOOKBOOK.nu members show appreciation by voting up, or adding “hype” points to the looks they like. Community hype helps to determine which looks are showcased on the “HOT” page—the more a look is hyped, the higher up it appears.

Lookbook.nu has so many photos going up daily, it is too time-consuming to count. But click through the archives for any given week and the photos speak for themselves. The overwhelming majority of members in the Top and Leader sections are young, thin, white (Caucasian) women. Lots of hypes for lots of PYWTs—pretty, young, white, things. I hate to write that, but it’s true. I’m not saying we need equality, but there is really no diversity to speak of on these sites, not for the non-Caucasians, and not for the more voluptuous, at least.

Cece—who I would never consider overweight or unattractive, in fact, quite the opposite—included the following screen capture of her own outfit post, with zero Hypes on Lookbook.nu, on her blog, LoveBrownSugar:

Snapshot: Lookbook.Nu post with no comments, October 23rd, 2AM EST. Image and caption via www.lovebrownsugar.com

I know Cece is not alone in her bewilderment and feelings of rejection. Unfortunately, she is in the minority demographic for these sites, and consequently, very few other members identify with her, hence no hypes. And no matter how we try to change it, it is human nature to identify with what we know. Students in a classroom or lunchroom naturally and unconsciously segregate themselves by gender and race. Until registration and participation on street style sites becomes more diverse, minorities—in any sense—will always be left out in the cold.

And as for karma, according to dictionary.reference.com, karma is:

action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.

On Lookbook.nu, the cuter you are, the better your karma. OK. How is making others feel bad about themselves because they aren’t skinny, pretty, white, straight, or tall good karma? Only “voting up” the genetically and financially blessed—is that good karma? Or leaving nasty comments on the photos of others?

On an upnote, the site has finally done away with its ridiculous “invitation-only” registration. Now anyone can join. Including minors as young as 12 years old. Yes. 12-year-olds can post photos of themselves online for others to vote on. The implications of this are potentially so great, I don’t even know where to begin. One of my readers, Ioana Liliana Gheorghe, of Fashezine, brought this to my attention—she and many of us are thoroughly appalled by this. All I can say is I thank my lucky stars I don’t have a tween or a teen to manage in this day and age.

Of course, Lookbook.nu has all the legalese required to protect itself and its members to a certain degree, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering why on earth 12-year-olds are being encouraged and permitted to: a) focus on their looks at that age, and b) post photos of themselves online. What does a 12-year-old know about privacy and predators? And talk about opening up the floodgates for cyber bullying and attacks on members with already fragile, pre-pubescent self-esteem.

UPDATE: Lookbook.nu responded on October 28, 2010. Read Lookbook.nu Responds to “Why I’m Not on Weardrobe, Chictopia, Lookbook, or Hypeed”.


With more than 100,000 registered users, Chictopia is also a big player amongst fashion/style-based social networking sites. As mentioned above, Chictopia has tried to play more fairly with bloggers after users discovered their images were used without notification or blog attribution, and Independent Fashion Bloggers raised an eyebrow and a hand to shed light on the issue. Don’t worry, my lovelies, the site is now abundantly clear about what it can do with your contributions:

…(c) Chictopia shall be entitled to use or disclose (or choose not to use or disclose) such Contributions for any purpose, in any way, in any media worldwide; (d) Chictopia may have something similar to the Contributions already under consideration or in development; (e) your Contributions automatically become the property of Chictopia without any obligation of Chictopia to you; and (f) you are not entitled to any compensation or reimbursement of any kind from Chictopia under any circumstances.

The site permits minors as young as 13 to participate, and is very emphatic that those under 13 may not participate:

…You hereby represent that you are of legal age to form a binding contract and are not a person barred from receiving services under the laws of the United States or other applicable jurisdiction. THE SERVICE IS NOT AVAILABLE TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF THIRTEEN (13) OR TO ANY USERS SUSPENDED OR REMOVED FROM THE SERVICE BY Chictopia.  BY USING THE SERVICE, YOU REPRESENT THAT YOU ARE AT LEAST THIRTEEN (13) YEARS OF AGE AND HAVE NOT BEEN PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED OR REMOVED FROM THE SERVICE.

Curiously, when you register for the site there is no field for entering your birth date; you only agree to the Terms of Service. I know any user can fake a birth date, but I’m shocked that the registration form doesn’t include a field for collecting this info, if for no other reason than for Chictopia to cover itself legally.

I suppose age 13 is old enough to be exposed to banner ads like this on Chictopia:

American Apparel ad on www.chictopia.com on October 26, 2010.

But back to the main topic…the numbers. Chictopia’s favorites are called Style Icons, and are selected from top participants with the “most fans.” Of the last 160 “style icons” selected in mid-August 2010, ALL were thin, white females except for:

  • 2 Asian males
  • 2 white males
  • 1 Asian male/female couple
  • 1 black female (and she was just about the only one who was wasn’t reed thin, but still not overweight)


Partnerships with Cosmo Girl, Lucky, Seventeen, and Urban Outfitter—and the Terms of Service—suggest a mostly teenage demographic, and like Lookbook.nu and Chictopia, Weardrobe also allows minors as young as age 13 to participate, provided that they are in school (although the legal language is rather obscure):

This Site is intended solely for users who are thirteen (13) years of age or older, and users of the Site under 18 who are currently in high school or college. Any registration by, use of or access to the Site by anyone under 13, or by anyone who is under 18 and not in high school or college, is unauthorized, unlicensed and in violation of these Terms of Use.

Like Chictopia, when you register to use the site, there is no field in which you must enter your age or your school, so I am not quite sure how they are policing the terms above, other than to remove you if they discover you are not at least 13, or you are high school-aged and not in school. I still don’t quite understand why children as young as 13 are being encouraged to post themselves on a public site, or why Weardrobe has terms of use it has no way of enforcing.

As far as the site’s Weardrobe 100 of 2009—the top 100 favorite bloggers of last year, selections reflect the trend on all the other sites. The list  included:

  • 82 young, thin, white females
  • 16 young, thin Asian females
  • 2 young, thin black females

Bloggers of the Weardrobe 100. Images via www.weardrobe.com.


Paris-based Hypeed works like many of the other sites, and offers magazine-like editorials culled from user-submitted photos—”fashion by real people,” or so the site claims. I’m not sure how many registered users there are, but on October 25, 2010, it had 1,207 Facebook fans and 621 Twitter followers, so I suspect the amount of registered users is probably somewhere between the two.

The Hypeed leaderboard on October 25, 2010.

Like the other sites, Hypeed has Terms of Use regarding the use of contributors’ intellectual property, but there is no age restriction:

8.1) Rights granted
a) Rights granted to Hypeed

The Contributor grants Hypeed the non-exclusive right to use his Works on the Internet and on mobile networks for marketing and promotional purposes of Hypeed’s Service, of Hypeed’s Platform and of Hypeed’s products.

The Contributor grants Hypeed the non-exclusive right to broadcast the Works in order to enable Hypeed to provide the Service.

b) Rights granted to Hypeed Partners

The Contributor grants the same non-exclusive rights to Hypeed Partners for a non-exclusive use of his Works on the Internet and on mobile networks.

Users have no control over the display of their age, posted comments, or account deletion. I had to email the team a couple times to have my account deleted, and that entailed the one-off addition of a link on my settings page which I then clicked. (Sidebar: I have major problems with sites that allow me to register, but then offer little or no control over privacy settings and account management.)

Hypeed may appear to be diverse on the surface, but after a quick scroll through the last five “magazine” features as of mid-August 2010 (approximately 123 images, often with multiple shots of the same person), I found:

  • 95 young, thin, white females
  • 24 young, thin Asian females
  • 3 young, thin white males
  • 1 young, black female

UPDATE: Hypeed responded on October 27, 2010. Read In response to Grit and Glamour.

Where do we go from here?

So what are we to make of this? Obviously, if sites are joined primarily by young, thin, attractive, white female users, it is no surprise that selections made by site management after popular votes will likely reflect the same demographic. And it’s true that on most of these sites, the users determine rankings and popularity. Kind of like high school—the other kids get to decide if you’re “cool” enough to be in the “in” crowd.

Users who participate in hopes of being featured—and who are not young, thin, attractive, female and white or Asian—sorry, guys and gals, but you really are wasting your time. You see the numbers above.  The likelihood that you will be voted up and selected if you’re not a young, pretty, skinny, white or Asian girl is nil; based on the numbers above, roughly .6% to 2% of top members on Weardrobe, Chictopia, and Hypeed are non-whites and/or plus-sized. That means about 98% are light-skinned and lean.

So what’s a better solution? I believe that at the absolute minimum sites like Hypeed, Chictopia, et al., should:

  • Give users full control over what personal details are revealed, as well as the ability to delete their accounts at any time, on their own. Your geographic location and age should not automatically be disclosed. You should not have to email the site to have your account deleted.
  • Give users full control of comments posted on their photos. Users should have the right to delete unkind and injurious comments.
  • Restrict membership to age 16 and up.
  • Continue to allow users to vote on their favorite looks, but select featured bloggers randomly, through a lottery or drawing.

I do recognize that there is a level of photographic integrity these sites attempt to maintain, but even so, it still seems that the cards are stacked against certain ethnicities and body types. If those members make up only a fraction of the user base, then changing the numbers radically is statistically impossible.

If street style social networking sites can’t or won’t create a more diverse, inclusive experience, then bloggers and users, ultimately, this comes down to you. Will you continue to participate? Is it worth your time? Does your participation and support of these sites mirror your fundamental beliefs? Now that blogging is a well-established medium, it’s time for us to think more carefully about what we’re doing. We shouldn’t jump mindlessly onto every blog-centered, poppy-covered bandwagon that promises little more than a contest entry.

YOU, my readers, hold the key. Without your photos, your blog space, your time, these sites cannot survive. I am not on a mission to tear them down, I really am not—but there is room for improvement. I seriously doubt there will ever be the kind of sweeping improvement that would level the field a bit, so I simply choose not to participate.

What do you choose?


  1. says

    OOOOO girl you just tickled my soul.

    Your reasons for being reluctant to join are my primary reasons for NOT joining. It’s a popularity contest. I don’t feel the need to be liked by dozens of girls who can’t dress in the first damn place.

    I love IFB for blowing the whistle on some of these companies dirty practices. They are no better than the big companies who try to use small bloggers for advertising because they’re pretty much getting free advertising! I wish there were as many bloggers on IFB as they are on lookbook.nu so maybe some of these bloggers can catch some common sense!

    Props to you for a well written article/post.

    • says

      Thank you Roni! I love IFB for being honest and not being afraid to take a stand as well. It’s an incredible resource. Thaknks for your comment!

  2. says

    This article opened my eyes to so many of the going-ons. I’d always suspected as much, and there’s nothing that bothered me more on sites like weardrobe when someone beautiful, but not fitting the “mold” would have many “likes” but never a front page feature. If you look at their “bloggers of the day/month” on the right hand sidebar, it definitely enforces what you are saying. Maybe one is what I would consider an “average” weight, and maybe one more is an ethnicity other than white or asian.
    I’m still guilty of the random weardrobe photo (yes, to gain site traffic), but have long tired of the popularity contest that is the other sites you mentionned.
    I loved this article and will be posting a link on my own blog at some point today.
    Thanks for the insight.

    • says

      Hi Melrose, thank you for sharing your thoughts, and for linking back to this article from your blog. I really appreciate it and I’m always delighted when a post resonates with someone.

  3. says

    I love this post! I wish there were more black females featured on different sites. I dabbled in weardrobe for awhile and then left it. I just don’t have time for it, my blog is enough.

    LaToya’s latest post: Short RemixMy Profile

  4. says

    This is absolutely eye-opening.

    I realize that you did a rather informal study of these sites and the trends seen on each, but the statistics you listed here in line with what many people suspect behind the scenes.

    Again, as someone who isn’t a personal style blogger, I never would post a photo of myself on these sites. But I have perused them before and noticed the same trends you address here. I hate the fact that sites like this, which operate under the guise of inclusiveness, are anything but. I hate the fact that beautiful women like CeCe can be left questioning their place in the online fashion world.

    I am so glad that you decided to move forward with this post. Every person who uses these site should be made aware of how they truly operate and what they gain in the form of advertising from blog promotion. Every person can decide for themselves whether they want to be a part of them or not – but they should have all of the facts in front of them before making that decision.

    Please submit this to IFB – immediately. You are on a roll with these remarkable posts!
    Beautifully Invisible’s latest post: Can’t we all just be FashionistasMy Profile

    • says

      Bi, thanks for your thoughtful comment…I know your latest post also raises questions about labeling, inclusion, and exclusion in fashion. And of course, it is very well-done.

      I agree, and the point of this post was to make bloggers aware of how these sites operate, not just on a legal level. It’s really easy for young and new bloggers to get sucked in, and frankly, I think participation probably does more harm to their self-esteem and time than good.

      • Amir says

        Hi V, I wasn’t able to find an email on here. Is there any way I can reach out to you? I personally loved your article and your opinion towards these websites, and would love to ask a few more questions..

        Thank you!

        My email adress is amirhmotahari@gmail.com

  5. says

    Fantastic post from start to end and so glad you decided to finish this one and put it out there – I don’t know where to start in my praise for this piece except you have compellingly raised so many brilliant points. I’ve never been tempted to join any of these sites for many of the reasons you’ve covered and you’ve highlighted even more that I wasn’t previously aware of. Particularly disturbed about 12 and 13 years old being able to sign up to these sights which then have the right to do as they please with their images.

    I saw some discussion on IFB polls on how Lookbook.nu was stopping it’s invitation only protocol and there were substantial complaints from members about how it would “lower the tone”. That alone is an immediate turn off for me to ever get involved as it is an indication of the mentality of some of the people posting to these types of sites. As you say what do these sites foster? Exclusivity. Popularity contests. Complete and utter waste of time. I left high school decades ago and have no desire nor patience to relive any of those shenanigans.

    “I don’t want to be a part of that. I am more than my face, my race, my clothes, my hair. I’m not 23 and I’m not a size zero. I’d rather spend time cultivating relationships with people on a one-to-one basis, and I believe beauty comes in many, many different forms. We don’t all fit into that tiny little white box.”
    Hear, hear my dear!
    Veshoevius’s latest post: The Ultimate Shearling CoatMy Profile

    • says

      V, thanks for chiming in here…your point about the IFB polls and Lookbook.nu’s removal of its invitation-only membership is a prime example of why these sites are offensive to me.

      “Lower the tone”?

      Ahem, That’s like the stupid clubs in NYC where you can only get in by being selected. Why patronize an establishment that deems you “less” than others because you don’t look a certain way? As you pointed out, that kind off attitude is pervasive on these sites. Do we really need a generation of children that is even MORE self-involved? It’s nuts.

  6. says

    When I started out as a blogger I felt like if you weren’t on one of those personal style sites like Weardrobe, Chictopia, Lookbook, or Hypeed that no one would pay you any attention because it seemed like all fashion bloggers were on there.

    Then, I thought to myself I’m not really a personal style blogger so I don’t need to do that. I really don’t want to be voted on as a way to measure if I have style or not. At the end of the day, some people will like your style and some people will not. I don’t need statistics from a website to define if I look great or not.

    I do outfit posts every once in a while, but it isn’t why I love to blog or what my blog is about. I just don’t like sites that do not embrace that all women are beautiful no matter what size, or color they are.
    Paulettew’s latest post: Charms of the Week- Halloween EditionMy Profile

    • says

      Hey doll, thanks for your comment. Your experience as a new blogger is probably the very same for thousands of others. Without prior experience or knowledge, people think they HAVE to join these sites, that they are the only way to gain readership. That’s why I wrote this post…to tell people that there are other ways that are more rewarding and fruitful.

      As you said, I don’t need statistics from a website to define if I look great or not. Amen.

  7. says

    I often wonder if non-personal style bloggers have a place in the fashion blogging community at all. And while I’ve dabbled in a few style communities, I often find that they do not fit my lifestyle or personal aesthetic. Much like Cece (who’ve I’ve met in person and is fabulous) I feel alienated by the sheer volume of thin and model-esque people on these sites. However, the aspirational and exclusive aspects are what makes them popular. I hate to think that there needs to be style communities to cater to “plus-size” or black style bloggers because I would like to see more inclusiveness.

    And like you, I’m not a teenager and being envious of young people on these communities is not really my shtick. More power to the style communities and the people that participate in them, but for me they are not essential to my career as a writer or blogger.

    V, this is another thought-provoking post. Kudos gal!

    • says

      Thank you Fajr for this perspective. I definitely think non-personal style bloggers have their place. I went a very long while in the initial stages of my blog without personal style pics. There are tons of amazing sites I visit on a constant basis for “How-To” posts and product reviews, opinionated pieces and just plain fashion talk. Some bloggers which I still have never seen! And you’re fabulous too lady ;)

    • says

      Hey Fajr, thank you! I DO think non-personal style bloggers have a place in the community. You are a lifestyle blogger—like me. Our topics and posts run the gamut, which for me, personally, is very liberating. I’m not one-dimensional, and thus G&G can’t be either.

      You, Cece, me, and so many others have realized that those sites make more people feel alienated than welcome. And I agree—there should NOT be site just for plus-size or black bloggers. How about one that is just open to all, that doesn’t use public scoring for photo features? One where people are selected at random, so everyone has a fair shake?

      I’m glad you found this post to be valuable. You definitely know your way around a blog (I love yours), so that means the world to me.

  8. says

    I found fashion blogging through a completely different pathway, so I’ve rarely even looked at these sites. I just joined IFB very recently. I started out just reading mrs-o.org, which is a blog that features Michelle Obama’s style. She’s pretty fascinating you must admit. From there, one fated evening, I somehow clicked through to Already Pretty and found Sal. And then you. And then certain Fashionable Academics, Style Underdogs and other members of the Style Nation. All of them older than the demographic you’re talking about, friendly, happy to exchange comments and playful blog memes.

    Of course on the way I became aware of these other sites, and I would periodically add bloggers like What I Wore Jessica to my Bloglovin, only to delete them a while later because I just had nothing in common with them. I tend to read people in their 30s and 40s who are dressing for work, because that’s what I’m looking for inspiration for. If I keep a younger popular blogger in my list, it’s going to be someone like Kendi, because she’s a good writer and very funny and real.

    What I guess I’m getting at is that we just have to read what we like and recommend what we like to each other, because there are whole little link-o-spheres out there that are nothing but cool women who want nothing to do with popularity contest sites, and it’s possible to find them and blog within them and not really be touched by that other world. We will not probably be able to get sites like that to ever change their entrenched ways, but the web is infinitely big and there are infinite ways to connect.
    Cynthia’s latest post: GAAD October RecapMy Profile

    • says

      Cynthia…I’m so glad you told me about your path to my blog and other Style Nation bloggers…I always wonder how people find me! That’s one good thing about the Internet…with just a few clicks, you can discover a whole new world.

      I appreciate where you are coming from in terms of the blogs you tend to read. I’m the same. In fact, I read very few superstar blogs…the ones I do visit, I visit strictly for the photos. You’re right…there are little link-o-spheres out there! That’s why I try to make my blog a place that’s not always about me. My Sunday Coffee posts are just for that—to share what I’ve seen on other blogs and have loved.

      Thanks much for your comment!

  9. says

    You know, any time I have posted on Lookbook (it links to Twitter), I’ve gotten tweets saying how happy they were to see me on Lookbook. It’s funny because, with a few exceptions, the minorities you list are the people I WANT to follow. Those with different & inspiring fashion.

    It really makes me wish Shoutfit hadn’t died so early on in its life… never had I see more diversity, in style, bodies, races, and genders represented on the site. I know many who lament its loss, because it had the start of something really unique and one-of-a-kind within the realm of these fashion communities.

    That being said, this post makes me want to CHANGE things. To support those minority people, to friend them, leave them comments, to give them hype…so that maybe others will see them and be inspired by those who aren’t in the same box…
    Ashe Mischief’s latest post: Make sure that there’s a Dixie moon- New Orleans- I’ll be thereMy Profile

    • says

      Hey Ashe, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I’m not surprised that you have gotten comments from people who appreciate the diversity. I am the same…it’s the minorities I want to follow as well. They’re the most interesting!

      I’ve never heard of Shoutfit…too bad it can’t be resurrected. But I am with you, and that’s why I decided to run this post. I do want to change things, or least enlighten some people to a new way of thinking and blogging. People like you have a great readership, so you CAN effect change and it ripples on from there. May not change the world, but changing just a corner is better than nothing.

  10. says

    This is a really interesting read. I have never been on any of these sites but I do enjoy reading blogs featuring daily wardrobes as it serves for my own fashion inspiration. I’ve not really had a desire to join these sites primarily because I don’t want my looks to be ‘rated’ – it is far too school-popularity-contest for my liking. I hope the tide does turn.
    Elizabeth’s latest post: My Very First Competition GiveawayMy Profile

  11. says


    I agree with all the previous posts. I have been a personal style blogger since 2005 and have never wanted to be on these sites because it’s a popularity contest – who is the thinnest, who has the most sponsors, who most resembles what we can and have for years been able to find in most any magazine. I don’t understand the fascination.

    With the onslaught of personal style bloggers in the past couple of years who are far more thin, pretty, rich and well-connected with companies, photographers, and blog/site designers, I have considered hanging up my blogging hat. But I know I am attracted to style blogs that show women like me, and I know my audience likes me because I am like them.

    Thank you for writing this post, well done and oh so true. I will be linking to this all over the place – people need to be in the know!
    Allie’s latest post: My Wardrobe Today – MondayMy Profile

    • says

      Allie, thank YOU and you are welcome! I’m so glad you’re not hanging up your blogging hat. There is room for everyone. It sometimes takes a little while to find the right audience, be eventually you do.

      Thanks much for sharing this on Twitter, doll!

  12. says

    As usual you have said exactly what I have been thinking (plus a lot more research) but of course it is much more well-said!
    I joined Lookbook and Chictopia *ages* ago and never got very far, so stopped using them after only a couple of weeks. I didn’t think it was because of my ethnicity or weight, but I did think that they promoted one certain ‘look’ (in terms of the specific type of style) and I just didn’t fit into that look – semi-casual, lots of layers and drapery, wedges, not much color – the ‘Late Afternoon’ type style, if you know what I mean? I stopped using the sites because I felt unincluded. And, though I was invited to Lookbook, the fact that it was invitation-only really put me off. What were they trying to achieve with that? Only inviting ‘truly stylish’ people to their site? Why do only other members get to decide who is truly stylish? That’s just unfair.

    Really eye-opening, V… and I’m still reeling from your findings.
    Leia’s latest post: Green &amp BlacksMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Leia, thanks for your comment, honey.

      So many of us tried these sites and lost interest for many reasons. You’re right that it really is a certain look that makes it, and a LOT of us don’t have it. And the invitation-only concept? Hogwash. I think it’s a stupid as invitation-only sample sales. It’s all an endeavor to collect email addresses and traffic, and try to breed an air of exclusivity and for what? To make others feel left out? As you said, it’s unfair…and unkind.

      Glad you like the post…I appreciate your readership and comments, always!

    • says

      Jessica…wow…thanks for visiting, and for your comment! I appreciate your perspective, especially since you are one of the Weardrobe 100 and do NOT have a Weardrobe badge on your blog.

      I’m going to check out calivintage. Thanks!

  13. says

    Very Interesting Post! Like it thanks for the 411. I haven’t gotten so into Chictopia that’s all i got other then my Blog at Blogger.com fashionsnotaluxury.blogspot.com
    Like your Blog! You Go Girl! x Ari

  14. says

    Not only was this post eye opening, but confirmed the bad vibes I was getting from these sites. I am a part of Chictopia & Weardrobe, and had joined when I first started blogging to get some traffic. But, if you don’t fall into the pretty/thin/white category, you’re not going to get special recognition and therefore you won’t see much more traffic. So what’s the point?

    Thank you for posting the stats and facts around who DOES get recognition from these websites. If you think about it, they also discriminate on an economic level as well. Those who cannot afford a DSLR cameras will most likely have lesser quality photos–something that is required in order to be featured on these sites. How is that fair to someone who has fab outfits but not the gadgets??

    Thank you again V for posting this. I can understand why you sat on it for a couple months. It’s the reason why I’ve been updating my Chictopia and Weardrobe accounts less and less lately… I wasn’t sure if I was being a baby about not being featured, or if there was something more to my gut feeling. Thanks for confirming that, as usual, gut feelings are usually right!
    Nicole Martin’s latest post: Chartreuse &amp LaceMy Profile

    • says

      so true! I tried a series of the networks, but lately can’t seem to muster over to any of them. My fave was Chictopia, out of vanity, a zero hyped outfit at lookbook would bring me about a dozen sweet things said at Chictopia. but yeah, I did notice pretty white THIN girls would shoot up to ICON in no time, but some others, with mad style but perhaps more diverse in shape and color and size, never seem to shoot up as high or as quickly, unless they were SKINNY.

      goosebump chillingly good post, btw.
      Bella Q’s latest post: Mi FamiliaMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Nicole, thank you so much for your comment. I briefly alluded to the economic exclusion also happening on these sites in my paragraphs about karma. You are so right. Not all of us can afford a top-of-the-line DSLR. Not all of us have a skilled photographer. Not all of us have Topshop and Zara in our backyards and the money to buy there regularly.

      The thing about these sites is the overwhelming majority are NOT being featured…that’s a lot of subliminal damage being done to self-esteem, and a lot of time being wasted. I think the more of us who decide to network in other ways, the better off we all are.

      And you are also right—always trust your gut!

      Thanks again for ringing in.

  15. says

    Cor, this post blew me away from start to finish – I have heard of these sites, but not participated – like you said it’s a bit of a waste of time and frankly i’m probably a dinosaur in blogging world! Ha!
    The stats are interesting but not surprising… and yes, I agree it all sounds like a massive popularity contest. I just don’t really care about all those sites and the ratings and the karma cr**!
    A Brit Greek’s latest post: Happy Fairytale Wedding Weekend!My Profile

    • says

      Hi lovely, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I concur…I just don’t really care about all those sites and the ratings and the karma cr**!

  16. says

    Dear Vahni,
    Thank you for bringing up this topic, as I sometimes feel that it is more like a popularity contest, and exclusivity, btw, you forgot to add chicisimo (LOL), truth be told, I joined lookbook.nu, chicisimo and hypeed and weardrobe at the very beginning months of my blog inception because I:
    a) was wondering what these are all about
    b) to increase traffic to my blog
    the verdict:
    a)YES, they did help in increasing the number of traffic, and
    b) I honestly don’t really think much about them, whether I get chic or hype or heart, I just upload and leave my photos there. I am not actively involved as I was at the beginning (say 1 – 2 months since my blog inception)

    I also often wonder about those young girls/ guys if they didn’t get any votes at all, what will the impact be towards their self esteem, like you said, thank goodness when we were tweens, these sites hadn’t existed yet

    I dunno what the future of these sites might be. I think some things need to be tweaked, but until the majority realize that by signing up to these sites you actually relinquish your power to them, these “problems” would still be there.

    In all honesty, I also don’t know if in the future I will still join them or not, as long as I feel OK with them, then I think I’ll stay, but we’ll see

    At the end of the day, most importantly, one MUST know what the consequences are by joining those sites, that way, when one doesn’t get hyped, chic or heart, one won’t get sad/ disappointed, or worse, no self esteem or lost confidence

    Thanks again for bringing this up

    This is a MUST READ for all fashion bloggers, I LOVE it!!! Bravo to you babe :))


    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Jemina. I appreciate your honesty. Everyone has to do what is right for them. We just need to know how things work on these sites before we participate. As you said, “At the end of the day, most importantly, one MUST know what the consequences are by joining those sites, that way, when one doesn’t get hyped, chic or heart, one won’t get sad/ disappointed, or worse, no self esteem or lost confidence.”

      Maybe if one expects nothing, they won’t be disappointed when that’s exactly what happens.

  17. says

    Thank you for sharing this post with us. I’ve dabbled with 3 of the sites you’ve mentioned, and I definitely agree with all of the points you’ve made. There’s definitely a certain “look” that seems to be preferred on those sites that excludes a lot of people (myself included). I’ve now removed all of those “badges” from my site and feel empowered! Yay!

    Closet Confections’s latest post: Closet Confection- Urban SafariMy Profile

    • says

      Hello Kendra, thanks for your comment. We all need to do what works for us….but more power to you for taking a stand! Awesome!

  18. says

    Great post! I have joined a few of the sites you mentioned and noticed the same thing so I never even bothered to post photos. Someone mentioned that all of the ‘popular’ looks feature lots of drapey layers, wedge heels, etc. and they’re absolutely right – if you’re not wearing that type of ‘look’, you can forget about being featured. So then what’s the point of submitting your unique style anyway, since they’re apparently looking for one type of look?

    By the way, Cece’s outfit post looks fab!
    What’s Haute’s latest post: Sponsored Post- Womanity – what does it mean to youMy Profile

  19. says


    I swear, you amaze me on how in tune you are. This post was not only informative, but it truly hit home for myself. I know I will never fit the mold of the beautiful person but that’s fine with me. I know that I’ll never be that way so why fit the mold? I’m happy with who I am so why do I need to have people validate that for me? Thank you for posting this. I had to do a reply<3.

    Christina of Profresh Style’s latest post: RE- Why I’m Not on Weardrobe- Chictopia- Lookbook- or HypeedMy Profile

  20. says

    Bravo!!! You never cease to amaze me. This is another brilliant post. I think about this topic all the time. When I first started doing personal style posts, I signed up for everything. It was more to try to increase traffic to my blog than to try to be accepted into the cool crowd, More and more I find it to be completely pointless. The more time I spend contributing to these sites, the more time I lose on my main event.

    I hate the idea of a popularity contest. I’ve never cared for or supported it in my real life so why should I participate in it online? I’ve felt this way for awhile now and have slowly been working my way out of these types of sites. I cancelled a few memberships and switched my “looks” widgets to simple buttons that don’t plaster logos all over my blog. It’s like weaning myself off cigarettes. Well, at least I imagine it to be like that. I’ve never been a smoker!

    This post might be the eyeopener I needed to take the final plunge and rid myself of the burden altogether.
    Thanks for the insight V!! The time I spend reading thoughtful, informed and sincere posts like this one is worth far more to me as a blogger than anything that has come from the time I’ve spent on the sites mentioned above. xx
    brookemeagan’s latest post: 15 Discount at TheUrbanApparelcom!My Profile

    • says

      Aw, thank you Brooke! I am so honored by your comment. I’m glad you have decided what works for YOU! That was the reason for this post. Not to try to sway people, but to tell them the truth and let them decide for themselves.

      In the time I was playing on those sites, I also found them to be a burden. Although Hypeed yielded some discoveries and friends (like you and Julia, I think…how did we meet?), the time invested just couldn’t be warranted, in the end. This is a learning process, for all of us. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

  21. says

    Wow! Okay! That’s my first reaction. A) I appreciate the time, energy and research you have put into this. B) This is really eye opening and infuriating. Clearly I had no clue and I never even thought on those lines. You have made many great points. I will have to check my policy and belief on what I want to do and if I want to move ahead with my profiles on these sites. I am on Weardrobe and Lookbook. Not very active but very much there. And now that I think of it I am not quite sure if I ever paid attention to who got attention and why. But I will now. Great post (again!) V! :)
    Tanvi’s latest post: Feeling RetroMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Tanvi, thank you for your comment! I’m glad others are at least thinking more about what these sites cost us and others, and what they push in the end. That was the point. Bloggers need to do what is right for them. I just wanted to raise some points so people can make and informe decision.

      Thanks again for your comment and your readership!

  22. says

    Hoo! Thanks for some concrete evidence and well-stated criticism of these sites. I see them mentioned so often, and I wondered, “should I? for more visitors and conversation about styling? because so many others are doing it?”

    But I try so hard, and I’m self-conscious about my style learning curve, and I felt a strong aversion toward putting my body, my personality, my efforts, my overall looks up for voting. Gah. “Am I hot or not?” indeed. And it makes me revolted now to read that there is such an extreme skew in the favored physical and racial characteristics of participants.

    There are other sources of inspiration, other ways to learn, other ways to meet people — actively visiting blogs and revisiting the ones that are particularly appealing, best of all.

    Note to Cece B. : You are beautiful, and I wish I could work a belted LBD and long coat like that! I love the idea of using a wrap dress as coat. I have a DVF wrap dress that doesn’t hang quite right; maybe I’ll try to get some use out of it as a jacket!
    Cloud of Secrets’s latest post: Blue DressMy Profile

    • says

      Hey doll, thanks for your comment!

      No one wants to put themselves up for public consumption and judgment…it’s scary and it takes guts. That’s why I choose to only do this within the confines of my own blog. People coming here are usually here because they feel like they have something in common with me, or they like my style. I’ve written this before, and I’ll write it again: I’d rather have a close-knit, supportive audience of a few than a massive, generic following. I want the connection, not the count.

      You wrote: “There are other sources of inspiration, other ways to learn, other ways to meet people — actively visiting blogs and revisiting the ones that are particularly appealing, best of all.” I agree. There are better ways and places to share your style!

  23. says

    First off, I have to thank my friend Morgan [morganandlua.blogspot.com] for emailing me this link. Her description was “thought you’d appreciate” and girlfriend do I ever. I too started posting on Chictopia and Weardrobe when I first started my blog. Though I have a slightly different reasoning.. Yes I wanted people to admire and compliment my outfits, cuz who wouldn’t want that, but I also wanted people to think I was stylish and ‘cool’ so that they would buy my jewelry. Hell I even went to bat for Chictopia, emailing Weardrobe and telling them I felt like their site was all about the pretty people, and there was no sense of community like at the former. I didn’t really get into the Style Icon hype, nor did I really care about the people who were christened with that title. I did love browsing through tons of style photos to glean outfit inspiration from. Then I fell off the posting wagon on that site, partly because it was yet another step after writing a blog post, but also because there were so many steps to post an outfit, and I had plateaued with comments. After getting featured a couple times on Weardrobe, I turned my full attention towards posting regularly on that site. I was even featured as a look of the day… but I’ll be brutally honest, I knew I would be. Because the photo I posted, while one of my favorite kooky outfits, was undeniably ridiculous. I was on my parents farm, struck a preposterous “I’m such a tortured soul” pose, and angled myself towards the wind to create a dramatic billowing effect in my hair and maxi skirt. The photographer and daydreamer in me loved the shot, but the sarcastic realist side cackled. Since then, not one of my outfits has gotten posted. It made me bitter and resentful. “Oh really? You can’t post NON ridiculous outfit photos? Screw you then!” Basically Weardrobe has become Lookbook.nu’s annoying little sister. Someone earlier stated that they wanted to ‘hype’ more body shapes and ethnically diverse people… when I posted my first outfit on Lookbook, a blogging friend that I had just met in NYC posted that she loved the outfit.. and wanted to get people to ‘hype’ me so that a different shape would be on the front page. I was flattered.. but also a little annoyed. Not at her by all means, I love that girl. But that I had even posted on that stupid site in the first place. I knew, browsing through the homepage, that I wouldn’t get any sort of coverage. Why subject myself to the cruel slap of being ignored? It’s taken me a long time to fall in love with my body, and I don’t need some site full of wannabe models pouting their faces off to bring me down. But again.. it stems back to the business side. I feel, or I guess felt that these sites were a ‘free’ way of getting my name, style and image out there to entice people to buy my products. That, to become successful, I needed to be well known in the blogging world. While that might help with my vintage store, my niche market for my jewelry, does not reside in the blogosphere. Sure some bloggers have the income and appreciation to fork over $$ for my creations, but the majority are either too thrifty, or too big of brand whores. It’s time to look elsewhere.

    This was an amazing article and I too am very happy you went through with posting it.

    • says

      Merl, thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate your honesty about this subject and your take, especially since you’ve been featured before. But as you pointed out, a LOT of people are subjecting themselves to the cruel slap of being ignored…and they probably don’t have the confidence or experience you do, so they just keep spinning their wheels.

      By commenting and interacting with other bloggers, as you know, you build a following and exposure for your jewelry that is probably more likely to yield fruit. I’ve never come across your blog before, but I just added you to my Bloglovin’ list. And I regularly feature bloggers and products I like here, so if I like a piece, then my audience becomes your audience. And so it begins. Or continues. Without the need to post photos for public judgment.

      Thanks again for dropping by!

  24. says

    Very interesting article. I have very recently began to explore such sites and even posted my first photo on Lookbook yesterday. My initial impression was pure confusion. Karma? Hyped? Huh?

    I began exploring and joining to check out more fashion blogs and get more attention to mine. But what I found was similar to what your spoke to in this post; they seem to be large clicks.

    One new member even wrote, that the forums are hard to participate within, but once you’re in, it’s really fun. I took this to mean once you are in or once you are excepted by the community clicks.

    Either way, I do see some value in these sites. However, it is not from what I think most bloggers go there to find such as networking and useful reviews or outfit critiques. I think the value lies in outfit inspiration. I tend to Google image my favorite celebrities to check up on their looks and I think this site could be used in a similar manner, for personal wardrobe inspiration.

    I can see where the status of popularity comes into play as well. However, I must say that overweight and non-white people are not the only ones to miss out on votes by users. It has been over 24 hours since I posted my outfit and 0 hypes. To give you my stats, I am white, young, female, and thin. This is not to say I don’t agree with the concept that many of these wardrobe sites lean towards popularity sites. However, I believe those stats are just one factor that determines a persons popularity. Granted, it is probably a rather large factor.

    Thanks again for the article. As always, very insightful.

    Katelyn’s latest post: Indian SummerMy Profile

    • says

      Katelyn, I agree these sites can be highly inspirational…there are so many people with such killer style! I’m sure there are people who do get hyped and featured who aren’t the usual type. But overwhelmingly, that is not the case. This article is really intended just to make people aware of terms and the entire situation—especially new bloggers. So many think these sites are a must, and they are not.

      Thanks for your comment!

  25. says

    I’m so glad someone spoke up about this: I suspect you’ve said what a lot of people have been secretly thinking…

    I joined Chictopia and Weardrobe earlier this year, because those sites always seemed to be being described as one of the things you HAD to do as a style blogger. I gave up a few months ago because although I’m thin (I guess) and white, I’m also old and don’t wear the “right” kind of clothes for those sites – it started to feel just like a popularity contest to me (which is what it is, I suppose) and I never win those, so I figured there was no point even trying. I much prefer having all of my content on sites that I own, anyway: it just makes more sense to me to do that, rather than trying to divide your time between a bunch of third party sites you have no control over.

    • says

      So many of us have had the same experience, Amber. I think putting your time into your own (awesome!) sites is always a much better idea.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  26. says

    I wanted to give a standing O to the IFB post when I first read it and the same goes for you. To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to those sites. I prefer to put my energy to my own blog and I really like visiting personal bloggerss, like you, who do the same!
    Kristin’s latest post: A Table For My CoffeeMy Profile

    • says

      Della, you are right. That does seem to be the case so very often. I could definitely never partake…there is no Zara, Topshop, or H&M in my town.

      Thanks for your comment!

  27. says

    I used to write for Chictopia, way back when it was a little start-up on the frontier of fashion town. And then they tried to get me to sign a contract so they could compensate me for the writing, and I read the contract, and as a law student I can tell you the contract was a sack of hooey. When it started I thought Chictopia was an interesting idea, but in the end it was sort of inevitable what it would become – a high school where all the popular kids get told how great they are all the time. That contract made me realize how little they knew what they were doing

    Would there be any point to a site like Chictopia where everyone was equally ranked? Or where there was no ranking at all (like Wardrobe Remix on flickr)? Possibly, but would it attract the attention/devotion of its users like these sites do? Probably not.

    We live in a world where people love to be noticed. And these sites offer a concentrated way to feed that desire. Is this a good thing? A worthwhile thing? Not in my opinion. But I do imagine it to be a profitable one.

    • says

      Thom, thank you for your comment. I’m no legal eagle, so your comment lends some credit to my thoughts about the odd way these sites are being run.

      I think street style sites could be equally as interesting without the rankings, with feature photos selected randomly. But you are right, they do feed desire. And admiration, power, and beauty are desired by many, and the need for public validation is apparently exceedingly profitable.

  28. says

    I love this post, mostly because I have felt like I am copying many of these pages with my blog Dagens Outfit, but of course have realized that I am, in fact, not copying anything. neither am I striving for a blog filled with mini me’s (being one of those tall, blonde caucasians) I have felt so many times like I should be a part of those communitites, but I never sign up. We do actually have a 16 year age limit, which i have been advocating should be 18, and i DEFINATELY think the age limit for being allowed to blog at all should be 18!

    I am not particularly interested in fashion. Actually, I’m not at all. I couldn’t care less. What I care about, and why I created my site, is the people behind those outfits and I want to direct people who read blogs in a direction they wouldn’t normally take in terms of what kinds of blogs they read. I just want every blogger to discover something new. And not be one of those bloggers who just blog because you want other people to read YOUR blog. Seriously, if one ever expects to make it in blogging, you gotta spend alot of time READING other people’s blogs. Not just looking at their outfits or hyping them on a site that is, in my opinion, completely unrelated to blogging… I think these sites started out GREAT and did what they were supposed to for a while, but in the end, they are just too big/large of communities to be giving anything back. If you get your outfit posted on MY page, approx 2000-3000 people will see you and the link to your blog + a little personalized comment from me, and I am POSITIVE that people are receiving loads more traffic from me than they are if they are posting on Lookbook! And that makes my day! :)

    Hopefully, one day, we will start up a Swedish/Danish version of our site and our new project coming up, which is about discovering new and fresh talent in the blogging “industry” will also be in swe/dan. The thing is that these are small communities to begin with… small countries. And Lookbook is almost as big as a country ( in our neck of the woods anyway)

    In an average day I receive all from 10-50 outfits, and of course, I’m not going to post all of them, but I do take my time to send a personalized e-mail or comment and I form relationships with these people. How is Lookbook and Chich EVER going to be able to do that? Or do they even want to do something like that?

    I had a point, but i guess ive just been ranting. I love this post, really!

    • says

      DO, wow, what a great comment! Thank you for taking the time to write it. I think your perspective and intentions with your own site are spot-on. I haven’t had the chance to explore your site fully, but I love the concept, especially the new site you are cooking up. Any interest in potentially partnering on a U.S. version? I think you are on the right track!

  29. says

    oh, and I had a last point. I do tend to receive outfits from slender and beautiful looking women, but sometimes also out of the box people. I do think this might have something to do with the fact that if you ARE in fact thin, beautiful and dress well you are more prone to LIKE taking pictures of yourself and dressing up than you do if you feel like a “fat slob” and that is why most people on those sites are the way they are? Just a statement, not an opinion! Not saying it’s right in any way or form, but it’s what society expects and if you fit the mould, you’re more likely to post on these sites, making it more likely that you have a higher rank. there… done!

    • says

      DO, this is a salient point. You are not wrong that thin, attractive people with high self-esteem are more likely to photograph themselves and post pictures online. There is a correlation.

    • says

      DO, I get the point of that site, but it’s another type of site I won’t support. It is funny, I’ll admit that. But the laughs are at others’ expense—and they are unwilling participants, I’m sure. I don’t like to support sites that are built on tearing other people down without their consent.

  30. says

    While I’ve been thinking of writing my article about lookbook, the two Chics, weardrobe, etc, you actually went out and did it. And you’ve got me on fire. AGAIN. Making a very strong case about not participating in the networks. I have had NO illusions about get karma/hypes or ICON status, but I felt like there was a bit of community, I like Chictopia most because I do get the most feedback. Ironically my highest rated outfit is the most ridiculous, one I wore very briefly to take the picture. The normal outfits, not so notable, I guess. And I’m old: 45, and brown: Mexican/Scot-Irish, and NOT thin (I’m a cook who LOVES food) but I gots style in spade and was hoping to share and be shared by a community.

    I love blogging and reading peoples blogs, but the simple page full of great looks is tempting because I do run out of time to check into all my mate’s blog posts everyday. Anyhoo, I ramble. BUT you didn’t. You wrote another incredible piece about something we all care about.

    Hype, yo.
    Bella Q’s latest post: Mi FamiliaMy Profile

    • says

      Bella, I love your comment. Thank you! I don’t think perusing street style sites is a bad thing. Occasionally I have a peek. I just don’t have the time or inclination to involve myself. My minutes on earth are really better spent on other things.

      Like you, I love reading and interacting with other bloggers, and their ages, looks, ethnicities, and locations are all over the map, literally and figuratively. I’d rather spend time reading and supporting all different types of people, than being buried in the haystack beneath a bunch of clones, really. I find people like you far more interesting.

      Thanks for the hype, babe. Right back atcha!

  31. says

    You’ve brought up some excellent points and basically verbalized what’s been going on in the back of my mind. Especially the free advertisements. I’m going to think about it a little more but will likely stop participating. Thanks for the insight!

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Liz. It’s obviously a very individual thing. As long as bloggers know what they are getting themselves into, choosing to participate is no big deal. But I bet no one ever reads the terms they agree to, and they probably don’t think of the big picture with these kind of sites. So I hope my article inspires others to at least think before they click.

  32. says

    DUUUUUUDE- so, I have a Chictopia. I don’t update it.
    I have a weardrobe. I don’t update it.
    And, for about three seconds, I had a Lookbook.

    I still have the links on my blog, but I’m thinking of removing them because I don’t use them. Pretty much all my traffic has been from blogs- not from these sites.

    How do you always manage to say what so many of us are thinking?
    Suze’s latest post: Shut up and let me see your jazz handsMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you Suze! These sites are truly trial-and-error for most. Maybe I’ve saved some people from even bothering. Your blog has come a long way…you don’t need those badges, honey!

  33. says

    I participated in these sites briefly then got tired. You’re right, it’s alot about being young, thin, cute and somehow there is an underlying trend going on in whatever’s chic there.

    Which does not play well by me.

    Moreover, posting up on these sites (with picture size limits and all) does not give me enough free room to run my own space.
    devilishly pleasurable’s latest post: 365 days of shoes- how to wear ALL your shoes ALL year round!My Profile

    • says

      Hi doll, thanks for your thoughts.

      These sites really are time consuming. Apparently a whole LOT of us dabbled and got tired of them. Maybe that’s why teens are the predominant audience—they have the time since they aren’t working full-time, juggling children, careers, relationships, mortgages AND a blog.

  34. says

    I was actually just lamenting to my boyfriend the other day about how I don’t understand why I never get “hyped” on Lookbook.nu.. Actually, I usually have one single hype, and it’s from my boyfriend. I never really thought too much about it, but you make a lot of great points and it’s definitely making me rethink a bit about the badges I have for these sites on my blog right now..

    Thanks again :)
    Sarah {Raving Fashionista}’s latest post: Too Sweet for Rock and RollMy Profile

    • says

      Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your experience with Lookbook.nu. I’m glad you’re thinking. You have to do what is right for you. In the end, is it really worth all the effort for the chance at a few hypes? Only you can make that decision.

  35. says

    Man, this post is fantastic.

    I’ve heard of all of these sites and once I took a look at them, I lost my interest in joining them. Because you’re right, you have to be thin, caucasian or asian to get that star status of whatever they call it on there. I fall into neither group so I didn’t bother. If I’m going to make waves in the fashion world, I’ll do it on my own blog!

    Though I’m not outfit blogger exclusively, I do think that sites like this need to have some diversity and for sure up the age group. A 13 year old doesn’t have the level of responsibility that comes with posting photos of themselves in these types of forums.
    MJ’s latest post: Plus Size Fashion Spotlight: Ashley StewartMy Profile

    • says

      Hey MJ, thank you! I agree that 13-year-olds do not have the level of responsibility required to really understand the ramifications of posting photos online. And you’re also right: make YOUR blog the sensation by bringing everyone there instead of sending them out.

  36. says

    My mind’s still reeling from all that I’ve read. Very well-written indeed. I joined a couple of sites but my participation on them was luke-warm as I realised they required a lot of time which could be spent on my blog instead. More shocking to me was the AA banner ad on Chictopia. Let’s hope not too many under-agers saw that.
    Marchmusings’s latest post: 3 days of summerMy Profile

    • says

      Hey doll, thanks for your thoughts.

      I agree…what on EARTH is up with the American Apparel ads and targeting them to minors? Those ads make me sick; they regularly push the envelope by featuring half-naked, scantily-clad teens. I’m officially never shopping there again, though I’ve only ever bought one thing. Not my scene, truth be told.

  37. says

    Love, love, love this post. I was just looking at chictopia yesterday, saw the main page, and wondered how everyone on the front page just happened to look like a model or an actress. And then I left. If I wanted to look at people who don’t look anything like me wearing clothes I can’t afford, I’d be reading Vogue, thanks. And while that’s a huge generalization on my part – because there are other men and women on there who might be more like me, I just get overwhelmed by all the shots on the main page.
    I enjoy the blogosphere because it’s the one place where I get to see some diversity. There are different budgets, different styles, different racial/ethnic backgrounds, different ages, different body types – and it’s somehow easier for me to find these differences out there. As a woman who’s not the “right” shape, height, or shade (and is totally fine with that), that’s a thing of power. So far, I feel like visiting individual blogs is the best way to support that type of diversity, not so much these sites.
    Frances Joy’s latest post: LBDMy Profile

    • says

      Frances Joy, thank you for your comment. You’re right…if you and all of us who commented here were interested in pseudo-model perfection of the Vogue ilk, we’d just stick to mags. But we’re not. We finally have a medium that offers diversity, a voice, and the ability to change the communities we are a part of.

  38. says

    Vahni, this is why we love you. You speak the truth at all times. Like any novice blogger, I jumped on the bandwagon of all these sites, but after realizing there was no way in hell I’d ever make it into the in-crowd, I just stopped uploading pictures BUT that was without even knowing all of the stats you provided. UGH! now, I am pretty sure that I will just delete my memberships althogether. I am really quite disgusted. I never dug that deep although I always assumed that age was the most influential factor on these sites. The gals that seem to be the chosen ones are all rail thin 19 year old hipsters and that clearly is not me. I’m 28 and I have a corporate job. I work from home now, but I haven’t always. Even in my casual office environment, where jeans and even shorts are perfectly acceptable, cut off jean shorts and bandeau midriff baring tops. Not that i don’t love these looks on the college age girls that wear them, but if that is what I have to wear to get “hyped” it aint gonna happen.

    On another note, I will say that I LOVE Fabsugar. I often upload pictures, and I have been featured many times there but it’s not about me (a light skinned, relatively thin at a size 4-6 , 28 yr old black girl). In fact, I can honestly say that their picks for the Look of the Day feature run the gamut. I see all shapes, sizes, and colors represented on a regular basis. Of course, on this site, whether or not you get featured is not dicated by other users. I guess that’s saying something.
    Eboni Ife”s latest post: How To: Overtheknee SocksMy Profile

    • says

      Aw, thank you sugar. I do believe that honesty, in a way that is constructive, is always the best policy. There are so many blindingly beautiful bloggers out there who are witty, sweet, pretty, and kind—but do NOT fit the “mold” of these sites. I hate reading about their discouragement and their self-doubt when it is unwarranted. The more we collectively decide not to glorify one ideal of beauty, the better off we’ll all be.

      I have no experience with FabSugar, but it’s nice to know that someone out there is giving love to a wide spectrum of people. Thanks for ringing in here!

  39. says

    Am I the only one that finds it ridiculous that someone would worry about popularity on an internet site? I used to be on lookbook and chictopia, but took them down, mainly because I already spend enough time managing PPP and my flickr account. Occassionally I’ll check up on lookbook to see the users that I like their style.
    Prêt à Porter P’s latest post: Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche FW 2003My Profile

    • says

      PPP, you are NOT the only one who finds it ridiculous that someone would worry about their popularity on an Internet site. But unfortunately, so many of the users are very young, and they’ve not yet realized that none of it means a damn thing!

  40. says

    very interesting – can’t tell you i how much i appreciate your taking the time and attention to take a look at these sites and speak frankly about what you saw.i think you did an excellent job of detailing how these sites use young people’s need for approval to drive their own ad/marketing scheme. i’ve never really spent any time on these types of sites – the thing i appreciate about the web is the opportunity to see something DIFFERENT from the same old media-sanctioned ‘stuff’ (to be polite). i’m almost 50, with health issues and a stay at home, out in the outdoors a lot lifestyle – how does any of the mainstream ‘fashion’ coverage help me?

    i’m looking for people with style from whom i can take inspiration, not a baby-Vogue knock-off. you pose a timely question, V – where we will put our energy and attention? towards enterprises that encourage the same, exploitative, hierarchical, rigamarole? or towards the type of world we’d like to create and live in? i’ll just say my time here today was anything but wasted : )
    tiny junco’s latest post: Stormy SkiesMy Profile

    • says

      Amen! Thank you so much for your lovely comment, TJ! I’m glad more of my amazing readers are going to put their energy into conversations and posts that make a difference.

    • says

      Awesome! Better to interact with people who appreciate you and your efforts!

      Thanks for your comment. I love that women of ALL ages are blogging, sharing their fashion and thoughts and not buying into the idea that because you were born in a certain year, you no longer matter or no longer should participate. We all have something to contribute. And eventually we find our way to the right community, to people who respect us and support us.

  41. says

    Wow. This is very informative! I have a Chictopia account. I have noticed some of these issues as well. I hate those adds. I’m not popular at all though, haha. But that’s okay with me. I think I’m going to get rid of my account now. I rather not support a group that only focuses on white skinny girls. It seems counter productive. I don’t like it’s a popularity contest. I never was popular, and still am not. It is nice getting meaningful comments though. However I do feel like blogger does the same thing, showing how many followers you have, the more, the more popular.
    I am wondering, what your opinion on a few things…or if you can direct me, because I feel like you always have good sources and opinions. How do I go about getting my blog “copywrited?” For now I just wrote that it’s all my original work, but don’t know exactly if that’s all that legit. Any suggestions?
    Also, I feel somewhat intimidated by all the “networking” sites. I would like to have more readers, but don’t know exactly how to get them. I would like readers that actually care you know? I did a lot of the things you suggested before, but would like help with networking.
    Anyways, I hope this isn’t too much to ask of you. I always love your posts. They are very helpful!
    Thanks. Annie
    annie’s latest post: Volunteering SuggestionsMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Annie, thanks for your comment!

      To answer your question about copyrighting your blog. Really, all you’ve already covered it with your Creative Commons attribution license. What I would do is take your copyright statement and Creative Commons info off your About page and move it to its own page, so it’s not buried. You can see on G&G that I have tab at the top for this very thing.

      Suze, of Miss Vinyl Ahoy, wrote a great post a while back about this very topic. Check it out:

      I’m going to add this as a section on my Build a Better Blog page…this is info every blogger should be thinking about!

  42. says

    Brava, V! As an academic, I’m very impressed by the amount of research you put into writing this post!

    I used Weardrobe sporadically last fall and winter, but after I entered a contest and saw most of the other entries were wisps of young white women with long wavy hair, it really hit home to me that I wasn’t in my element. I haven’t been on in months. It’s not that I have a problem with women of that age or that aesthetic, but it was starting to make me feel like I was in the online version of Stepford.
    La Historiadora de Moda’s latest post: quotShining GleamingStreaming Flaxen WaxenquotMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you LHdM! I appreciate that!

      Ha…had to laugh at this: “…it was starting to make me feel like I was in the online version of Stepford.” Indeed.

      Thanks for your comment!

  43. says

    I very clearly see the point you are making, BUT we have power in our vote at these sites also. I have participated at Chictopia and will continue to do so. I have NO interest in the other sites. Like Fashion Over Fifty, I am 56…and I have made some contacts at Chictopia. I have made a point to vote and comment there on contributors of ALL ethnic, religious, and body type backgrounds. In fact, one week I made a game out of only voting for contributors who had obscured their faces, because I was studying ways to do that. Two can play the “game.” If we really all feel as we say we do above, is it possible that we have been part of the problem? Are we only interested in the attention we receive or are we interested in bursting the accepted beauty standard bubble?
    Terri’s latest post: quotRemember the LadiesquotMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Terri, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are right that we have the power of the vote in those sites as well—unfortunately, people who appreciate the diversity in body types and style are clearly in the minority. You raise a great point, though: Are we only interested in the attention we receive or are we interested in bursting the accepted beauty standard bubble?

      We all need to do what is right for us. But we need to know what we’re involved in before we choose to take part.

  44. says

    Well, you’ve convinced me. Even as a young, thin, attractive white female, I’ve been almost entirely unsuccessful on Chictopia. It’s been less of a waste of time than lookbook or weardrobe (where, as someone under 5’8″ and over 110 pounds, I’m practically a hag), but it’s still been so much work for so little approval.

    Another thing that really irks me is that any photo taken with an extremely shallow depth of field does better than those without. As a photographer with admittedly subpar images on my blog, I understand why that’s a good thing. But I can’t help but feel like it privileges people with the means to buy not just a DSLR but also a fancy normal lens that opens up to f1.4.

    So, all things considered, I think IFB and the comments section on other blogs is going to be a whole lot more useful to me than Chictopia is ever going to be. Maybe it might even set me apart from the thousands of other bloggers with 11 followers ;)

    Thanks for speaking the truth.

    • says

      Some months ago, I asked my photography-talented friends how style photographers (I used The Sartorliast as an example) got their subjects to look so crisp, and the backgrounds so atmospheric and blurred. The blurring effect is called bokeh, I guess, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing with aperture ever since — with a DSLR (which only goes down to 3.5, alas). It would be really hard to go back to point-and-shoot.

      You’re right; that bokeh effect with the shallow depth of field really is favored in style/fashion photos. Perhaps it’s up to you to become ingenious at taking striking photos with a point-and-shoot. :-) Consider what wonderful things people have done (are still doing, sometimes) with the Polaroid medium. Play, practice, play, practice…and at least it’s not as expensive as fooling around with Polaroid film!
      Cloud of Secrets’s latest post: Blue DressMy Profile

    • says

      Sophi, thank you for your comment. First, you are so NOT a hag. Honey, you are adorable! But I know the point you are trying to make. It is a lot of work for little reward.

      And oh, you are so correct about the photography on those sites. Don’t we ALL want a DSLR and a photog who can shoot those shallow depth of field shots? I know I do. But it’s not possible. I’m a tripod shooter.

      IFB is definitely more useful in terms of connecting with others. For me, it has been the best use of my time and the most rewarding community of all. Keep at it, doll. You have a good blog and a great look.

  45. says

    This was very enlightening to read, thanks for writing about it. I don’t think I’ve ever even clicked on these sites because I totally can’t justify the time it would take to begin to understand them. You make very valid points here.
    Krystal/Village’s latest post: Look it’s a haikuMy Profile

  46. says

    wowsers. i just linked over to this article from another site. you make some excellent points!

    my main problem with the sites you discuss? to be fully rude: BOOOR-RING!

    i have two different chictopia accounts and both of them have been long abandoned. i think i may have had a weardrobe somewhere along the line as well. i am very bothered by the lack of diversity shown on the sites, and probably more bothered that the fashion community seems to gravitate towards such a tall/thin/white mode. however, i think that my main problem is that they are BORING.

    i love clothes. i love fashion. but i had never loved it quite so much as i did when i discovered all of the fashion blogs that pop up in my google reader now. i was excited about wardrobing just like i was the very first time i took out a stapler and tried to make my back to school clothes out of notebook paper (i was 5). because of all the different people that can and do post photos or inspirations each day we have a fully different community online than we do during everyday life. and i, for one, am always the MOST excited to see someone who is my size and/or age post awesome stuff.

    thank you for giving a voice to many thoughts that i was unable to process as eloquently as you.



    • says

      Well thank you so much, Kat! I appreciate your comment and kind words. Hope you’ll visit again soon! Going to jump over and visit you just as soon as I get the chance.

  47. says

    Where was I when you wrote this post???????????????????? My or my I am leaving Chictopia at once.
    You are just wonderful
    Excelent piece of work and such an elightment.
    Thanks a lot V.
    Mil besos siempre.
    SACRAMENTO’s latest post: Burnt Orange And FeathersMy Profile

  48. says

    You are a magnificent force Vahni! I read Hypeed’s blog response, and they too have to agree. Thank you for stepping up. It’s apparent that most of us feel the same about these high school sites, but you bring it to the forefront in a manner that is well researched + beautifully composed. You pierce through the bull**** so well! Just keep being yourself, it’s greatly appreciated ;)

    raven’s latest post: day 3My Profile

    • says

      Thank you babe…and OMG! I hadn’t realized that Hypeed had responded! But I’m glad they did. And it was an amazing response. I reposted it on G&G as well. Thanks for the heads-up. And for your sweet comments!

  49. says

    Thank you for a very valuable and insightful blog post – I didn’t know too much about these networking sites, being new to blogging but I had my suspicions alright. The statistics are pretty sickening. Well done on researching, and enlightening us on, this seemingly murky area.
    xx Comtesse xx

    • says

      Thank you sweetie. We’re all learning, you know?! We just need to make informed decisions before we jump into certain things. I’m glad you found this post useful.

  50. says

    Thanks for sharing this; I finally realize why I wasn’t accepted at lookbook.com (I was kind of worried, why they don’t accept me, do I have bad blog, am I not innovative and interesting enough?). The only reason is that I don’t have babyface and I’m not anorexic. I hope that many people see this post; I’ve already told all my friends:)
    Andreia’s latest post: CRDOBA LEJANA Y SOLAMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks Andreia…I’m not sure if you’re talking about the same site when you mention Lookbook.com (I wrote about Lookbook.nu)…but anyway, I think the majority of users have the same experience. It may be a democratic voting system on the sites, but the people voting appear to be quite narrow-minded.

  51. says

    This was a completely fascinating article, I loved it. I’ve ALWAYS had this feeling towards lookbook, where, as a size 8/10, I’ve completely given up on getting more than 2 comments or hypes. I especially feel like people on Lookbook comment and hype only in hopes of getting attention back, and I hate that mentality. I’m only now starting to realize that this is true on Chictopia and Weardrobe. Thank you for posting this!
    Sydney’s latest post: snapshots from fall break.My Profile

    • says

      Hi Sydney…as I mentioned in the comment above, while these sites leave voting to the members, the members don’t seem to be interested in anything beyond the demographic mentioned in this post. As Ashe of Dramatis Personae tweeted:

      @ashemischief @GritandGlamour My response to all these sites who say “It isn’t our intent”–just bc it’s not your intent doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

  52. says

    Dear V,

    I am a founder of the online fashion community at http://lookbook.nu. I started the site with my boyfriend Jason less than 2 and a half years ago, and have watched our community grow from just a handful of users to where we’re at now. Obviously, the site is very dear to me and so this subject is very personal to me.

    I first want to applaud you for this articulately written piece, and I’d like to say that I completely respect the reasons for which you choose not to be a participant of our community.

    The fact that you took the time to learn so much about our site and what we do also deserves respect. I know that you are motivated not by malice, but a sincere intent to protect your own interests and the interests of bloggers like yourself. I also acknowledge that this world is full of companies seeking to profit at the expense of others, sometimes even at the expense of their own customers/users. Because of this, watchful journalism is always something that’s needed and appreciated.

    That said, I believe that many of the things said in this article about LOOKBOOK.nu are neither accurate nor fair. So I would like to voice a response on behalf of the team behind LOOKBOOK.nu (there’s just 3 of us), and attempt to correct what I see is being grossly misconstrued.

    I will respond only to the portions of this article that referenced LOOKBOOK.nu, as I cannot speak for the practices and motivations of other sites.

    1. On the alleged promotion of a “single beauty ideal”

    The allegation LOOKBOOK.nu exists to perpetuate a singular vision of beauty is appalling to me and could not be further from the true purpose behind our community.

    LOOKBOOK.nu is and was created as a blank slate. It is intentionally minimalist in design and simple in function so that the content that is posted by our members and hyped by the community speaks for itself.

    Not only is there a diverse spectrum of different people that get noticed and become popular on the site, there is a similar spectrum of people who do not become very popular on our site, and it is likely that slender Caucasian women are included. It would be hasty to automatically jump to the conclusion that race or shape or size is the deciding factor(s).

    The fact is, every member on LB starts out with the same chance to be seen, and every member has the freedom to hype whichever looks they find inspiring. I don’t know about other sites, but on LOOKBOOK.nu, the members–and only the members–select and curate the front page. There are no behind-the-scenes editors picking and choosing what to hide or show on the front page based on personal biases towards certain styles, figures, or race. That is against the very essence of what LB stands for. We don’t make the statements, we allow the community to.

    On the contrary, I believe that our gallery is actually the largest and most dynamic source of fashion inspiration you can find, much more so than traditional media outlets (i.e. editors telling you what is trendy and what you should buy this season). The success we have seen so far is due largely to the sheer diversity of our community, the rawness of its content, and the fact that our front page is actually determined in real-time by tens of thousands of active users, not just the tastes of one person.

    I would respond to those who argue there is not much diversity on the site that they should look closer. No where else can you find talented and creative young men and women from such different walks of life coming together, connecting and inspiring each other. On any given day, someone from Germany might get to know a fellow fashion lover from SIngapore. These types of connections are being cultivated among our community members around the clock, and that is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

    In the end its all about inspiration, and LB as a platform is blind to everything else. If someone out there in some part of the world likes your look and finds it inspiring in some way, you will earn more exposure on the site as a result of their hype. Our hype system is not always perfect, but to us it is the best and only fair way to determine what deserves to occupy the limited real estate on our front page.

    We get thousands of submissions a day from people all over the world, and to show looks “randomly, through a lottery or drawing” as you have suggested, would not be fair to the members who have been an active member of the community for a long time and have established a following on the site. It would be a shame if they were drowned out or buried by the multitude of newer members who are not as committed to the community.

    2. On the alleged exclusion of non-Caucasian, skinny females and the lack of a “spirit of inclusiveness”

    The notion that LOOKBOOK.nu as a community somehow excludes certain types of people is simply false. Any one and everyone can join the site and become a member, share their looks and follow people they like. So if on a given day the top look is a girl from Brazil, the Phillipines, the US, or Sweden — which are all among our top 10 countries, we have no control. We do everything we can to keep the community diverse and open minded, and we take swift action against users that behave otherwise.

    The bottom line: we do not control who visits or joins our site, and we do not control what gets hyped and what doesn’t.

    3. On the use of the word “karma”

    The usage of the word karma need not be taken so literally or seriously. We simply use the word karma because it is something members use to reward the people they find inspiring. You earn karma by contributing something to the site that someone else finds valuable. Semantics need not be a source of controversy.

    4. On negative comments and user control over their comments

    We obviously do not encourage nasty comments, and actually have a very strict policy when it comes to trolls or offensive people that leave personal insults or negative feedback that is not constructive. Most of them find themselves flagged and banned by the community and its moderators, either immediately or eventually. But they will always be around, sadly there is not much you can do about that!

    We actually started out as an invite only community for the very reason of ensuring that LOOKBOOK.nu started out on a strong foundation of positivity, open-mindedness and diversity, and it is today still a community that has no tolerance whatsoever for rude or inappropriate comments.

    Also, all users already do indeed have complete control over their comments.

    5. On the fact that we make money from ads

    LOOKBOOK.nu is not a nonprofit organization and we have never claimed to be. We have costs and we need to cover them. Like you wrote yourself, running a website isn’t free. At our level of traffic, our server hosting fees and the many associated costs with running a site full time are not at all insignificant. Advertising revenue keeps the site free for everyone to use and above all — it keeps the site fast and not crashing every 10 minutes. It is also the way that my bf and I make a living.

    We also have never tried to hide the fact that we want to make some profit in return for the many long hours of sweat we pour into the site day in and day out as a bootstrapped startup. In running this company my bf and I are living our dream, but that doesn’t mean that we are in any way shape or form doing it at the expense of our members whom we value and have lots of deep relationships with.

    We are grateful for the success that our site has and we know that we owe it to our community and we have their interests in mind at all times.

    6. On the notion that we want our users to abandon their blog and use LB exclusively

    We have never tried to encourage any of our members to give up their blogs. Again, while I can’t speak for any other sites mentioned, we’ve never deluded ourselves into thinking that we could replace any of our members’ blogs, nor would we ever want to.

    LOOKBOOK.nu is a collective gallery of original street style photography. It’s not a blog, but many of our users find that they complement their blogs very well. As you’ve touched on, the members who are active and successful on LB are beneficiaries of hundreds or thousands of new blog readers and followers every time they post a look.

    Additionally, in no way is any member giving up ownership of their content by using our service. All content posted by our members belongs to our members. We do have a permission to use content for our own purposes, but we have never done this in a way that harms our users or profits at their expense. I went over this in detail in the comments section here: http://heartifb.com/2010/04/30/read-the-fine-print-chictopia-and-payless-dont-need-to-ask-to-profit-from-blogger-images/

    Our community is nothing without our members, and we know that in order to succeed, we need to do right by our members, not take advantage of them. LOOKBOOK.nu is just one part of the ecosystem, and that’s why we do our best to drive a lot of traffic to the blogs of our contributors. We do a pretty good job as well, as Independent Fashion Bloggers’ own Jennine has noted here: http://heartifb.com/2009/04/13/top-5-traffic-yielding-social-networks-for-fashion-blogs/

    The bottom line: LB has always had a symbiotic relationship with our members’ blogs, not a parasitic one. We try to elevate our top members and hook them up with new opportunities, not detract from their success.

    7. On the widgets we provide our users to promote their LB accounts

    The widgets we provide our users allow them to drive traffic to their own looks or profiles. They are completely optional, but most of our members choose to use these widgets because having a following on LB is always beneficial to a members’ blog following as well.

    Similarly, on the front page of LB, we feature a Facebook widget for our Facebook page in a prominent position as well. This is because our following on Facebook helps us stay connected with our audience and having an active presence on Facebook makes LB more successful. We see ourselves similarly as a tool for bloggers. An active presence on LB is surely not necessary to be a successful blogger, but it definitely does not hurt.

    8. On the age limit of membership on our site.

    You need to be 13 in order to hold an account on LOOKBOOK.nu. This is stated explicitly in our TOS. When we get wind of younger users, someone on our community team will eventually gently let them know that they cannot have an active account until they are of age.

    In response to the suggestion that we should raise our age limit to 16 years old, (1) I’m not even sure if that is legal and (2) that seems like an awfully arbitrary age to exclude. There are 13 year olds like Tavi who are wise beyond their years and have a very mature understanding of themselves and their personal style, and I am sure that there are 40 year olds who are not and don’t. I don’t believe it is our place to determine at what age a person can start developing their own fashion identity. To exclude 13-15 people who wish to participate in the community, within our terms of service and community guidelines, would be similar to the very sort of discriminatory exclusion that this article stands against, would it not?

    I hope that this establishes more clearly our intentions and values. I am happy to discuss any of the issues above in further detail, and I can be reached via email at yuri [at] lookbook.nu.

    Vahni — I do ask that you re-post this response as a separate post so your readers can know how seriously we take the well-being of our members and our community.

    Many thanks and best wishes.


    Yuri Lee
    Founder, LOOKBOOK.nu

  53. says

    Hi Vahni, OMG where do I begin. I was just reading the responses you had from a few of them. Firstly, as a guy and also what I blog about I didn’t feel as though I needed to participate in any of these sites and therefore have never done and really know nothing about them. I find the popularity points not such a great idea when you allow girls as young as 13 to join. This is a great way to make a teenage girls feel more insecure than they already are. Maybe if the age limit was 18 then it would be ok. Allowing girls as young as 13 to post pictures of themselves trying to look like the ones they see in magazines is not great. You can’t stop them reading the magazines but participating in the act is different. They prob have no idea that all magazines editorials are air brushed to death and they all think they should look like that on these sites. I think I am starting to sound old at 28…haha. I haven’t been blogging very long now but I am starting to get all sorts of people wanting to advertise on my site for free. I find it totally amazing that they would even ask considering they would never let anyone advertise on there sight for free, My standard response now is “sure, if I can do the same on yours” of course I never get a reply…..hehe. On a side note I do a lot of blog surfing because I love it and I see some of these girls who clearly blog to try to get famous b’cas they have seen a few that have. One in particular huge European blogger who has only been blogging for one year who will remain nameless. Girls will never become her. Without a doubt, this particular girl is obviously very well connected and has had help from within the fashion industry. I haven’t seen her mention this anywhere and maybe she should. Thanks V for this great and informative post.

    Lee Oliveira’s latest post: Vintage PinkMy Profile

    • says

      Hey Lee, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love this portion of your comment, especially:

      “I find the popularity points not such a great idea when you allow girls as young as 13 to join. This is a great way to make a teenage girls feel more insecure than they already are. Maybe if the age limit was 18 then it would be ok. Allowing girls as young as 13 to post pictures of themselves trying to look like the ones they see in magazines is not great. You can’t stop them reading the magazines but participating in the act is different. They prob have no idea that all magazines editorials are air brushed to death and they all think they should look like that on these sites.”

      That’s the point I was making that Yuri Lee, at least, didn’t really seem to get. Tavi is a major exception…she is a young blogger who is wise beyond her years and has parents who are very involved. Most girls and boys at that age are easily pressured, unable to fully comprehend the consequences of some of their actions, and frankly, they should still be being KIDS, not pinups.

      And I get a lot of the same requests for free ad space, etc. I don’t even respond anymore.

      Thanks again for your comment, Lee. Mwah!

  54. says

    What a fantastic post and thank you for mentioning my blog.

    I don’t think any of those sites purposefully go out to discriminate as all the content/hypes/clicks that get stuff to the top is user generated.

    But that raises another issue and a scary view of the fashion world. It seems that most of the online fashion world prefer thin, white, young people (I’m not going to call anyone racist here because that’s unfair but there’s definitely some discrimination going on.)

    Is that because the fashion industry shows us thin, white, young models all the time that we (well not us lot we seem to be a bit different) have been conditioned to think of beauty as thin and white? That’s scary.

    A beautifully written post.
    Jess’s latest post: Why do I need to be thinMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Jess, thank you sugar! I’m so glad you are one of those people who is not afraid to write what clearly so many people have felt. You really hit the nail on the head here:

      “Is that because the fashion industry shows us thin, white, young models all the time that we (well not us lot we seem to be a bit different) have been conditioned to think of beauty as thin and white? That’s scary.”

      Others have pointed out in subsequent posts that it is not the fault of these sites that the most popular people happen to be skinny, young, and white. But that is my point and yours. People seem to have been conditioned to find this combo the most appealing, and THAT is what irks me about these sites. People are perpetuating the same fashion industry crap online, and we just do not need any more of that.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • says

      Jess, thanks so much to you for posting about your frustrations and giving me the inspiration for my post. Something I had been swarming about for months but finally got the guts to speak out about. Many thanks for your insight and your honesty.
      Cece’s latest post: Tough LoveMy Profile

  55. says

    Hi Vahni, thank you so much for this post, I think the questions you are raising here are very important and to the point. Your stance really resonated with me, and centered me when it comes to participating with these communities, something I have tried and feelt uneasy about. I have received some hypes from the kind Bella (bless her) and some rude comments from other bloggers. Oh well. Now I`ve tried that, and I am done. After reading this post I immediately removed the links to the sites from my blog, and will probably close my accounts all toghether.

    It has been so interesting reading the responses from the sites, as well as from other bloggers. I love how you invite discussion on your blog, and even set the bar for the discussions! Using your power as a much read blogger in this way is just another testiment to your genuineness as a person. I really appreciate you. Love, Anika
    Anika’s latest post: I love colour on a grey dayMy Profile

    • says

      Anika, my lovely, I have missed your smile. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Your experience is exactly what I was trying to reveal for others in this post. You are GORGEOUS, with a creative spirit and a kindness that just exudes in your photos, your words, your everything. And I’ve never even met you! It absolutely riles me up to know that someone would leave you an unkind comment because you are you. I’d so LOVE to be in the room with one of them…you send them to ME!

      You flatter me to say I’m a much-read blogger, when I really do not feel that at all. I just think I’ve found a wonderful little cosmos of like-minded bloggers who are so amazing at sharing the spotlight and the love. So it just seems that way. As I’ve said before, the fashion photos are fun, but there’s more to me than that. Thus, my blog is not one-dimensional either.

      Thanks again sweetie!

      • says

        Thank you for your response, your very kind words actually brought me to tears. Those unkind comments are the least of what I have been subjected to in my life, which actually is why I haven`t been blogging in a long time now, working through long term effects of abuse. I am starting to find my footing again, getting pissed off helps centering my self :) Thanks for standing up for me, you are doing what I do for everyone else, and am remembering to finally do for my self. Damn right! hahah :)

        hope you are having a good sunday! xx Anika
        Anika’s latest post: I love colour on a grey dayMy Profile

        • says

          Hey you…I agree, getting pissed off does help center one on occasion. I’m sorry to hear your absence has been due to something negative, and I hope it has moved on. I’m glad you’re remembering to stand up for you. I just adore you and I am not only wishing you well, but looking forward to your next post.

          Stay strong, doll. Underneath that angelic face and smile is a determined, steely woman—I just know it!

  56. says

    I was so curious to read this post when it came up on my google reader. You explained these sites very clearly and provided so much interesting information while stating it was not a scientific study. I do some outfit posts, but have never contemplated any of those sites. I looked at Lookbook once and couldn’t even get the point – major aha moment going on here now with all the additional connections etc. And I now understand why some of my followers are posting on chictopia, too. Anyway! One of my conflicts with outfit posts is am I encouraging others to vanity? Am I making it seem like, “if you don’t wear this or that, style it this way or that way”, etc. – the last thing I want to do is cause anyone to feel bad about themselves. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t participate in those sites. I can’t bear the thought of “voting” and giving out points and all that. Sounds exhausting and, honestly, kind of like a popularity contest no matter what a person’s age. All the other stuff aside, that makes me sad.

    This was an excellent post.

    Carrie’s latest post: Losing It – My Balance That IsMy Profile

    • says

      Carrie, thank you for sharing your opinion here.

      I agree…I HATE popularity contests. All they do is inflate some egos, and deflate others. I don’t blame you for not wanting to be involved, and I’m glad more bloggers are realizing they don’t have to be to develop a loyal readership.

  57. says

    I have been meaning to comment for a few days as I think this is a fantastic post and agree with many of the things you have address. I actually had no idea about the image ownership thing with Chictopia (and won’t be uploading to them again).

    I have used chictopia a little, as many bloggers that I admire are active on the site, but I have to agree that I found it did not influence the traffic to my blog, and I felt like people were leaving comments just for the sake of commenting (and collecting points) rather than because they had something to say. It seems to me like most of these sites are just like a popularity contest, but I do find lookbook very good for inspirational images (though do not contribute myself).

    It is great to see the discussion that has been started by this post, and to see that the sites have given their own response to the issues raised. Thanks for posting, again I find your blog so interesting and your posts are incredibly well written and thought out!
    Jasmine’s latest post: Zombie Walk 2010 – for real this timeMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Jasmine! Thanks for leaving me such a kind comment. I am elated that you find G&G interesting!

      I don’t disagree that these sites are indeed good sources of fashion inspiration. I just wish they could have left it at that and not involved voting and ranking. But at the end of the day, we all have to do what is best for us. There are just so many young and new bloggers, and they often have no idea what they are getting themselves into, and what sort of subliminal influence these sites can have. I’m just making the observation, you know? Everyone has to decide for themselves.

  58. says

    I think it’s really wonderful you’ve opened a dialogue about this subject. A friend of mine and I were discussing this same topic just a few days ago. Bravo for bringing different view points together, it’s all about awareness! And I just want to take a moment to say I would love to see a more diverse range of style blogs–to anyone who hasn’t posted because they feel like their look isn’t important–be brave, be proud–show us your style!!
    Hesser’s latest post: halloween fashionMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Hesser, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate that you took the time to tell me that you appreciate this post. And I second your statement:

      …to anyone who hasn’t posted because they feel like their look isn’t important–be brave, be proud–show us your style!!

    • says

      OMG, you are kidding, right?! That is INSANE! This is exactly what I’m talking about. Why isn’t the forum being monitored more closely? That is such a useless and damaging topic. I’m floored. Just tweeted this.

  59. says

    This is an awesome post. I never joined lookbook.nu or the other sites because I had an uneasy feeling seeing kids post pictures of themselves on this site. It’s not right at all.
    CeCe looks fine and her outfit is cool in the picture in your post and for no one to comment on her page is sad.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment, JT. I agree that the worst part of these sites—and what they can control—is allowing and advocating kids’ participation. I just do not believe it is healthy.

  60. says

    I totally agree that the thin, pretty, white girls get all the love. I have a chictopia account and actually feel very vain and embarrassed that I have posted a few outfit pics on it. I’ve been contemplating deleting it for some time, this post just convinced me it’s the right thing to do.

    Thanks V!

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, honey. If after reading the way site users tend to vote makes you not want to participate, so be it. You should do what feels right for you. I personally find them to be a total waste of time.

  61. says

    I’ve been meaning to get over here and comment on this. I read it on my phone earlier in the week, so I wasn’t able to comment easily. First, thank you for writing about this. I’ve been feeling a lot of the same frustrations with these style social networking sites, and I’m glad you caused a stir and got other people thinking about it too. I use a lot of these sites as a supplement to my blog to reach new people and bring in traffic. Despite my efforts, I don’t think it’s working. I never get a response on Lookbook. I heard Yuri speak at IFB and she was saying that “you get what you give” and Lookbook is designed to give participating members good karma. Despite engaging with the broader community, I rarely get “hype” for my looks. I’ve always had suspicions that it’s because I’m not a waif, but I’ve never talked about it with anyone or heard similar complaints. I’m glad you’re talking about it over here and it’s great to see that other people are having the same experience. I’m definitely going to reconsider the time I put into using these sites, as it seems like me time can be better used marketing my blog elsewhere!
    Becca’s latest post: Photodiary- Summer in the CityMy Profile

    • says

      Hey Becca, glad you got a chance to read this, and thank you for your response. I agree that your time is better used marketing your blog elsewhere.

      I heard Yuri speak at the IFB con via livestream, and while she was in inspiring speaker, her “you get what you give” perspective does not actually work on her site. You could give all day long, but if you’re not a pretty, skinny girl with the “right” look, I—like you, as you’ve experienced—can practically guarantee that it WON’T come back to you.

  62. says

    Good for you for saying how you feel. Goodness knows how many other women feel the same way. At 35, I began dabbling with personal style, trying to be part of the change…a broader vision of beauty. Show girls it’s ok to enjoy style at any age. But, these types of sites don’t appreciate my mature beauty. I think a certain crowd makes up most of these sites, and that certain crowd votes, and has an idea of what they like…so it becomes vanilla…all the same. Women like you are the ones who make a difference. Put your time into things you enjoy and where you are appreciated. Obviously you are an eloquent writer with quite a following…who needs all that if it just drags you down? I’ve tried some of them and so far am not thinking they’re my thing. As I blog longer, I’m becoming more conscious of being exploited, also. This stuff just angers me, but makes me want to work more on figuring out how to help change the standard ideal of beauty. Thank you for taking a risk & putting this out there!
    Krista’s latest post: LBD With Wild SophisticationMy Profile

    • says

      Krista, thank you so much for your comment. As someone over the age of 35, I totally understand where you are coming from and I agree…these sites have become very vanilla, literally and figuratively. It angers me too and as you pointed out, WE have to figure out how to help change the standard ideal of beauty.

      Thank you so very much for your incredibly flattering compliments as well. Readers like you are exactly why I spent so much time on posts like this one.

  63. says

    Hey there, V. I was on holiday (ish) when I read this and didn’t get a chance to comment. I just want to thank you so much for being a voice against the many issues with these sites. Once upon a time I had the fleeting desire to be part of Lookbook, but that was when you needed either an invite code/site approval and I was not about to send my pictures out to some faceless group to be judged, approved or denied. I think the foundation of the sites are well-intentioned; it’s a fun idea to be able to bookmark looks by other bloggers that relate in some way to one’s own personal style, but it just doesn’t seem like any of them are really being used for that purpose. Anyway, the many many other comments have said all there is to say – so, just, thank you very much.

    • says

      Hi Casee Marie!

      Hope you enjoyed your holiday. Thank YOU for taking a moment to respond to this post. As you noted, the sites have their benefits, but they aren’t used or presented in the most beneficial way, in my opinion.

      You’re welcome, too…glad you found this post to be interesting and worthy of your time!

  64. says

    Oh my goodness, V, I’m so glad I stumbled on this post! I love how you explained all the nuances. I’m also fascinated by fashion ideals in media (I did a research paper in grad school where I documented every woman’s face shown in Allure magazine in a one-year period and compared the instances of various perceived ethnicities and whether they were in editorial or advertising content, and compared them to actual demographics in the U.S.). I think you hit it right on the head–fashion is still very much a young, white, thin girl’s world. I also have not joined any of the sites you mentioned, but mostly because I don’t have the time and I really don’t think it’s important for other people to like my looks. The lack of age minimums on most of these sites is the most disturbing part–if I were a parent I would be horrified if my young teen was posting photos of themselves all over the Internet (even when appropriately dressed).
    Angeline’s latest post: Last long-haired lookMy Profile

    • says

      Angeline, thank you for your comment, and welcome to G&G! Your research paper sounds equally as fascinating to me, and I appreciate that you mentioned it. It gives my own findings a little more credibility. As you said, fashion—in magazines, at the shows, and online—is still very much a young, white, thin girl’s world. That’s not to say we haven’t moved forward in presenting more diverse types of beauty, but we still have a long way to go.

      I agree, the lack of age minimums are really the most reckless aspects of these sites, I don’t care what anybody says. I’d be petrified if my 12- or 13-year old was posting photos online, and was that focused on their looks and material things. It’s just nuts.

  65. says

    Thank you SO much for this. I’ve thought the same things many times but never could have articulated it in this way. I’ve dabbled in Chictopia and Lookbook a few times, but I too feel like because I’m not a size 2 (or a size 6…or a size 8) I never get any kind of positive feedback. Like you suggested, I wanted to use the sites to drive traffic to my blog, but thus far they haven’t done much of anything since I’m never featured or hyped. So I’ve pretty much given up on loading pictures to the sites.
    Even worse, I actually have thought about the fact that I want to lose weight in order to get more blog attention. “Maybe once I drop some pounds, I’ll start posting outfits again,” I’ll think to myself. Now, I need to lose weight for my own health and mental well-being, but it is rather twisted that my blog is ALSO a reason for my diet… This post makes me want to say, “Screw it,” and post outfits now. All of us girls (and guys) who are in the minority should band together and get each other featured and hyped!

      • says

        Hi Sam…thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I’m glad this post helped reaffirm what you already knew: no blog or person should be the reason why you lose weight or alter your appearance. If and when you choose to, it must always be for yourself. And honestly, it doesn’t matter if you’re a 2 or a 6, it doesn’t guarantee hypes or traffic—what drives traffic to your blog is your personality…you’re much better off spending your time learning more about blogging and developing original content for your blog than fiddling with those sites, which in the end make you feel bad anyway!

        And you are right: those in the minority who do participate in those sites should band together to support each other!

  66. says

    You are so right.
    I have been wasting so much time trying to be on these sites, and it is quickly proving to be not worth a damn thing.
    I first tried chictopia, but the simple act of uploading a photo there is complex, and hugely time consuming. No one was looking at my photos.
    I’ve been submitting photos to the wardrobe_remix pool on Flickr, which does result in lots of views and some new blog readers, but also leads to creepy tight loving perves I have to be on the look out for.
    I joined weardrobe, but they sent me a rejection email. A few months later, an account was activated…? But I had to submit at sample photo to prove that I was a good photographer before I could upload anything.
    I thought, wow, maybe they only feature really high quality photos here! (outfit photos where you can’t really see the clothes are bothersome to me).
    Not the case. There are plenty of sub-par photos being uploaded to weardrobe. While the posting process is MUCH better/simpler than chictopia, and viewing looks is done is a manner I prefer – I still get very little love on weardrobe.
    I guess I’m just not thin enough.

    And while I did put a little banner link to weardrobe on my blog, I made my own, with my photo photo. why do I need to feature some other bloggers photo?
    Lyddiegal’s latest post: A little bit of Vogue goes a long wayMy Profile

    • says

      Lyddie, good for you! Thanks for your comment.

      Sometimes even being thin doesn’t guarantee you will be hyped or featured on those sites. So do not even let yourself think that. As I pointed out, the site member seem to prefer a particular look that they may not even be able to articulate…they’ve just been conditioned into it. So many of us have wasted time optimizing photos for this site and cataloging our clothing for that site and it’s just so much effort for nothing. Put your energy into yourself, your blog—learn photography or blogging tips, or writing improvement. That’s always a worthy investment.

      And your last point…EXACTLY! Who in the hell wants another chick’s face on their blog?

  67. says

    I stumbled upon your blog & this blog post for the first time today (via parkerandmuse.com, a fellow blogger & an inspirational lady) and I am absolutely touched by your article and how well-written and profound it was. Kudos for being bold and bringing up the elephant in the room and addressing an issue that’s always been there but people do not point out. It’s always been about looks, that’s just the way things are. It’s ironic that these sites (Look Book and Chictopia) were created with the intent to celebrate individual style, beauty and creativity and bring together a community, yet we (as the readers and voters) have unconsciously (not on purpose) turned these sites into a popularity contest which undermines the community and individuality value. We segregate it by voting for the “best” (which sadly, IS always the skinny, good looking young girl wearing vintage Chanel) and giving credibility to people based on how they look. And that’s just how it is, however cycnical or over-generalized it may seem. It is a reflection of how society works and always has even if we’re adovcating for change. Be it a fashion site, at school, at work, or among peers, all of us are judged and compared on how we look or what we have. Can we really say that people voting on these sites are genuinely “celebrating fashion” and only love the outfit pieces and styles thrown together by a self proclaimed fashionista or fashion blogger? If that were true, then these people wouldn’t need to do their hair and make-up, spend hours posing and photoshopping their pictures to perfection, or worse – exercise and diet to look thin for the sake of ‘looking good’ in clothes to get a bunch of “HYPES.” Yes, as fun and useful as these sites are, there are more organic and natural ways to increase traffic to your blog… all of these things you pointed out & i just wanted to share my input as well. Great post, you’re awesome :).

    • says

      Sellina, thank you so very much for your lovely comment. I am flattered that it resonated with you and that you found it interesting. You make many excellent points in your comment, but I love this the best:

      It’s ironic that these sites (Look Book and Chictopia) were created with the intent to celebrate individual style, beauty and creativity and bring together a community, yet we (as the readers and voters) have unconsciously (not on purpose) turned these sites into a popularity contest which undermines the community and individuality value.

      So true.

      Welcome to G&G…hope you will visit again very soon.

  68. says

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post. You vocalized many things that I felt but hadn’t yet identified for myself.

    I started my fashion blog over a year ago and quickly discovered these sites (well, Weardrobe I discovered long before that because a college friend started it), but never got around to joining. I felt like I should because it seemed to be what fashion bloggers did. But then I realized that I looked differently and dressed differently. I went through a brief period where I questioned if I should even be doing outfit posts on MY blog, because I wasn’t sure if it was what people would want or expect from me. But then I realized that I AM different. I have a different lifestyle, a different point of view, different things about myself that inform the way I dress. And my blog is for me if nothing else.

    So I did resume outfit posts, but I still never felt inclined to use any of the websites you mentioned. I was never really sure of the reason, but now that you’ve said it, I think that’s the way I’ve been feeling. I’m not the demographic that these sites seem to represent, and knowing that I would be so different in a sea of sameness doesn’t inspire me. I don’t want to participate in the popularity contest that honestly, I know I can’t win. For me, blogging is all about self-expression and being myself; it just seems counter-productive to put myself in a situation where that would get lost.
    Adelle (the Fashionista Lab)’s latest post: Outfit- HalloweenMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Adelle, thank YOU for sharing your perspective here. I’m glad you decided to continue posting on your own blog without worrying about participating in these other sites. Truly, that is the point of the participation, anyway…to get people to come over to OUR blogs, to experience US. Good for you for being you, no matter what.

    • says

      Northwest, thank you for your comment, and for the link back to this article.

      The more of us who are aware of what these sites emphasize, the better off we’ll all be. Everyone has to do what is right for them…bloggers just need to be more aware. So many young bloggers jump in without reading the fine print or thinking about what all this means. That’s all I aimed to do here. Give people some info to think about, and it looks like you have contemplated it, along with so many others.

      Thanks again!

  69. says

    brilliant post. i’ve been waiting for someone to give some ratios on these sites. they are so homogenous (ridiculously ethnically undiverse). im really glad IFB put thisin their Links A La Mode. informative and just plain honestly awesome! thanks for taking the time to point out that these sites are just perpetuating what marketing campaigns already put out – these websites help in supporting our societies disfunction.
    You rock!

    • says

      Hi KellyAnn, thank you very much!

      I’m also grateful that IFB was willing to include this post in Links a la Mode. As I’ve said many times in my comments above, we have to do what’s right for us, but we need ALL the details so we can make informed decisions about our participation in other sites and communities.

    • says

      Thank you for you comment, Kinsey! Nice to see a new face in the blogosphere. I wish more bloggers could see that these sites do not determine your worth in the blogging world…they are just a fraction of the ways you can connect with others and build relationships. Commenting back and forth with others is really the best way to create a supportive and loyal readership.

  70. says

    i’m new to your blog and just read through this post. i LOVE your philosophy and the wisdom that you share about individuality :) i’m following you via bloglovin’ (have been for a few weeks) and have really enjoyed your vlogs. thanks again for being such a refreshing voice in the blogworld.

    pilar’s latest post: dog daysMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Pilar, welcome!

      Thank you for your comment. I am so flattered and am deeply touched that my posts and philosophy resonate with you. Thank you for taking the time to let me know, and for your readership and support. Going to pop over to your blog now!

  71. says

    All I can say is phew and I wish I had seen this post before refreshing my new lookbook.nu page for someone, anyone to ‘hype’ me! I joined on the back of the Lucky FABB conference and thinking it was a brilliant idea.

    One one hand, it would be great to stick at it, have my pics up there to at least represent those outside the ‘norm’. I am always up for a challenge and my first thought whilst getting no hype was maybe its the outfit. I will improve and improve until I make the grade. But after reading this article and the others surrounding the issue, as the most optimistic person ever, I believe my efforts are best placed elsewhere.

    Thanks so much V for your succinct article!
    Su Augusta’s latest post: Like a G6 – Far East MovementMy Profile

    • says

      Su Augusta, thanks for your comment! I’ve said many times in the conversations back and forth about this topic that we all need to do what is right for us. But I agree that as bloggers, our time and energy is better placed elsewhere! There are great communities of bloggers who are thriving without any involvement in these sites.

  72. Martine says

    Im sorry, but you are losing me. These sites you are disparaging are simply democratic in nature. Considering how much PC thinking has already curtailed creativity absolutely everywhere, lets at least admit a few truths. People are drawn to healthy looking people. That is what we call attractive. Obesity is the number one health problem for women in America and England. Trying to force others to redefine what they naturally find attractive is a shallow victory. Every five pounds that you are overweight causes twenty extra miles for your heart’s effort. You may not notice it so much in your twenties. But you will. The truth is there are very few underweight people on earth, and many, many overweight people. So Im not sure how you can say being overweight makes you marginalized. Quite the opposite. But if a woman wishes to have a life of energy and health, then the best thing is to lose weight. People are intuitively aware of this, and so are attracted to a healthwise ideal weight, which is thin. As for race issues, well thats another story. But not one that should be forced. People do have a right to find the looks of anyone they like inspiring. They shouldn’t feel forced to find people of every race to their liking. And it is just honest to feature the looks MOST people like. This isn’t decided by some person, but by everyone who uses the site. Maybe stick to the things you know something about, and get off the annoying soap box. For someone that dislikes bullying, you seem to be all in favor of bullying people to act the way you think is correct. Just as you think that being a person of any size should be acceptable, others think that being gay or transgendered is not acceptable. And yet we all live here on earth, in the same country even. So maybe the best thing to do is to NOT bully each other. Like you are doing in this post.

    • says


      Thanks for your comment, you make a couple points, but I need to correct you on a few things too. You have misinterpreted my post and I don’t take kindly to you calling me a bully.

      So let’s start with that: I am not “bullying” anyone. For your information, this is what constitutes bullying:

      Bullying is a form of abuse. It involves repeated acts over time attempting to create or enforce one person’s (or group’s) power over another person (or group) , thus an “imbalance of power.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying

      Criticism along the lines of investigative-style journalism (even within blogging) is no more bullying than a harsh critique of a collection by Suzy Menkes. Criticism alone is not bullying; repeated attempts to wield power over others is bullying. I wrote a single post on this topic, mostly because I had my own revelations in using these sites, and I had been invited to participate in these sites by some of my readers, so I wanted them to know why I did not want to partake. I have not written another post on the topic, nor have I harped on it, nor have I left comments on these sites regarding my opinion of them. That would be bullying.

      Second, I agree that being overweight is not healthy, but I don’t need a lecture from you on obesity. We all know obesity is unhealthy. But it is not the obviously overweight that I was referring to. I am not overweight, but I am not a size 0 or a 2 or a 4. And I am not unattractive. And I am not unfit. However, anything outside of the narrow standards indicated in this post generally results in unpoularity. I’m older and I have thicker skin than most 18-year-olds, so I know I am happy with me and these things don’t bother me. But it’s likely that a LOT of girls and young women who are my size…fit and normal…are feeling like they need to take extraordinary measures to try to keep up. I don’t subscribe to that. I would never want my three-year-old niece to grow up, dabble in one of these sites, and then think she’s not worthy because she isn’t a certain height or weight, and didn’t get enough hypes.

      As I noted above, there are myriad reasons I choose not to participate, but the primary one is I don’t want to be part of a site that ranks people on their appearance. There is more to people and life than that. We have enough exclusion going on in society. I’m not going to support sites that perpetuate it, whether they are “democratic” or not. I’m not going to participate in a space in which the popular vote essentially rewards homogenousness and not individuality. I’d rather spend my time on something more worthwhile.

      Finally, I have many readers who still participate in those sites, who have read this post and remain regular readers of my blog. I believe they understood the point of the post, and they know I adore them whether they choose to participate in those sites or not. I most certainly did not write that everyone should stop using these sites; on the contrary, I ended the post with a question: What do you choose?

      I wrote the post to share MY study of these sites, MY experience using them, and MY feelings about them. And since this is my blog, I’m entitled to my opinion(s), just as you are entitled to yours.

  73. says

    Interesting Article. Although I do feel it is worth noting that I am apart of the demographic that usually gets featured and I am still ignored a lot of the time. I think it also has a big part to do with interacting with other users as well as getting drowned out by so many other users if you don’t post everyday. I find it frustrating but at the same time, I wouldnt be blogging at all if it wasnt an outlet. Attention would be nice, but certainly not necessary. People should check themselves and the reasons they are blogging to begin with. I mean, if you are going to be insecure about it and generally feel “rejected” then why blog at all? Its all about perception and perspective. Keep in mind there are a ton of bloggers out there all reaching out for the same attention, naturally, only a percentage will actually be recognized but that doesnt mean that everyone else should feel neglected!

    • says

      Great points, Kim. I agree…if you’re going to put yourself out there, you do need to have thicker skin. It’s optional, you know?!

      Thanks for your comment!

      • says

        Hi V,

        Great and most interesting post. I wanted to bring a few points from my own research and chime up with Kim.

        I am currently realizing a research project on outfit sharing communities and one of her points was also strongly highlighted by my interviewees (who represents all level of “success” within the sites), namely that “a big part [has] to do with interacting with other users”. Outfit sharing communities’ users find a great satisfaction in interacting with a small(ish) network of other users who represent their own aesthetic and to whom they feel connected with. This counteracts some of your criticisms which seem to be only directed at the “top” page/popularity contest aspect of the site. Thus, if the motivation of a user is not to reach this “top” page but to connect with like-minded individuals, he might find the site still interesting in the above-mentioned ways. For example, more than half of my respondent mentioned browsing lookbook with the filter turned off, and commenting and hyping only “less popular” users because they saw no points in doing so with more popular ones. That being said, I am still learning the ropes of the online fashion community. I will also have look at the independent fashion blogger community to have a greater perspective on the situation and incorporate the criticisms on those communities.

        Anyhow, thanks for raising most interesting points. I particularly appreciated your views on the lack of cultural diversity, the emphasis on PYWTs, and the age limit. I would love to interview you during later in the summer if you have an hour or two to spare on the phone. Just drop me a line if that sounds interesting.

        You seem to read and respond to most of your comments, so thanks for reading, I hope this gave you food for thought, and I will hopefully be awaiting your reply =)

  74. says

    Hi V. This is the reason why I love IFB! I’m quite new – member since 5 days ago – and only found your blog by mistake. But I know it’s by design. I absolutely agree on everything that you said. It’s so refreshing to find some intelligent bloggers who are fearless and truthful.
    I’ve been trying to compose a piece about the exclusivity that I’ve seen in Italy’s vintage fashion scene. Hope to write it soon. It’s very similar to your points in the article, it’s made me dislike that side of humanity in this lovely place where I call home at the moment.
    I’m following you now. Thanks for a fantastic blog.
    joy xx
    Joy’s latest post: Soleful MondayMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Joy, welcome! So glad you found me and left me a little note, and what a lovely note it is! Thanks so very much.

      I’m glad that this post resonated with you, and I agree that IFB is fantastic! Cheers!

  75. AnnieApril says


    You rock! I just read your article and found Hypeed’s reaction and it made me smile and laugh – good job!!! It’s so great to hear that somebody in fashion world is pointing to the clue that fashion outside the haute couture, editors&models world is not so different. I also joined some of those sites cause I knew that this exclusive fashion world is like nacism, so I taught that ~real~people~fashion~world~ is not and, god, I was wrong!!! I am white/caucasian, slender, blonde,… and my outfit pictures were okay, which means that according to your conclusions I should have a lot of popularity tags but I wasn’t hypeed, karma given or whatever because I’m from south east Europe, not Paris or London,… I deleted my profiles cause I came to conclusion that fashion world, first one mentioned or another one are fash(cism)ion and that it’s a real waste of time!!! And I just have to mention – congrats for being an opinion giving blogger, not just ~my~own~paparazzo~!!!

    • says

      Thank you, Annie! I appreciate your comment and am so glad you have a healthy outlook on fashion blogging and these sites. Hope you’ll pop by again soon!

  76. says


    Basically I have both LB and C-topia. And relatively new to it as well. I actually dislike LB but got talked into it… while I find Chictopia pretty nice.
    I am asian… and not the thin type. I am so use to people calling me chubby or fat… but that didn’t stop be from posting. I still did what I love and whatever people think about me is none of my business.
    But I like your article. Really opened my eyes. Thanks!
    Nekorine’s latest post: The Dress Up- The Gentlemen lend me his weekend clothesMy Profile

    • says


      Thank you for your comment…and I cannot BELIEVE someone would call you chubby or fat! That’s horrible! What is wrong with people?! I am glad it hasn’t stopped you from posting, though. Especially your wonderful graduation outfit with the little space of open back and those totally cool heels!

      Glad this post gave you some perspective. You took it exactly the way I intended it—as an eye opener. We all have to do what is best for us, just so long as we know what we’re getting ourselves into.

  77. says

    this is an awesome post. i experimented with lookbook.nu for a while out of curiosity as well, but left fairly soon after realizing that i’m not in the white, skinny, pretty group & hence wouldn’t receive any hypes which would have made me feel embarrassed, even though i shouldn’t care about such things. i submitted one look and i think it only got one hype before disappearing to the bottom of the new looks feed.

    i also didn’t have the time/patience to bother with submitting stuff to another site.

    had no idea about the copyright stuff. that’s not legit at ALL and i’m glad i found out about it here.

    apologies if this has been stated before – i didn’t read through all the comments – but another thing i noticed about lookbook that alienated me were that many of the top pictures were very very well done. as in, i perceived them as magazine-calibre well-done. i personally don’t have the resources to invest in expensive camera equipment and rely on a several year old point-and-shoot, so there is a class element there as well, i think.
    Lem’s latest post: threads 053011My Profile

    • says


      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad this post resonated with you, and that you also learned a little about the copyright fine print associated with posting on these sites.

      And you raise an interesting point regarding the class/status aspect of these sites. The above-average photography created using expensive DSLRs is just one way these sites make it harder for those without ample resources to keep up (or become popular). And that’s on top of the fact that many, many participants cannot afford designer duds, or do not have access to trendy Zara, H&M, and Topshop.

      Just more reasons I don’t care to participate…thanks for pointing them out and sharing your perspective.

  78. says

    WHOA… I just launched my blog this week and was actually planning to use these sites to help drive traffic to my blog. AFTER READING THIS… Thanks so much for this information and for also including the responses from the various site owners/mangers/handlers.
    Natasha’s latest post: Clutching ItMy Profile

  79. says

    Of course i saw this awhile ago and I’m just commenting on it. I signed up for Lookbook.nu and I basically was on there to get inspiration. Then i came across a young lady that was probably 90 lbs wet. I went to her blog because I just couldnt believe that she was real i guess. She had all these hits for votes and thats when i noticed the serious trend. You could see the bones on her teeth through her lips, thats how tiny she was. While half the comments under the picture stressed for her to eat, she still have about 500 votes or something. She used to be thin maybe a size 4 at the most. All of her old clothes now at this point were hanging off her small frame. The fact that people were on there and voting for her as if she clearly didn’t have an issue with her weight boggled my mind. I posted a few pictures to see what happened. I got 30 votes at the most, nice comments, but never too many hypes. I thought it would be a great way to get my blog out there, but after a week nobody was visiting my blog. I also found myself routing for the underdogs, and finding styles that were amazing but nobody voted on, perhaps they were scared to vote, people are funny that way. But anyway! I really think that it’s useless to post my picture, but then again i have some bloggers and fans on there that are curvy and i constantly get emails through lookbook praising me for posting and not being afraid! So it’s kinda like a catch 22.

    • says


      Thanks for your comment. Some of my regular readers who don’t fit the high-hype mold on Lookbook have acknowledged the same thing as you, and participate to attempt to ensure diversity. I can totally understand that.

      I personally have so little time to spend on blogging, that I’m not going to spend it hyping people on those sites. I’m going to go straight to the blogs I like and give THEM the traffic and love, without the middle man.

      Thanks again for chiming in!

  80. Kelly says

    I know its been a while since you posted this, but I just read it today. I’m glad I’m not alone feeling this way. I’m a member of Chictopia but I never put any pictures of me because I did not fit any of the catgories you mentioned. Because I realized this by reading this, I’m not going to Chictopia anymore. Thank you!

    • says

      Kelly, thank you for your comment! The most important thing is to do what is right for you, after considering all the potential advantages and disadvantages of these sites. I do hope you’ll drop by G&G again!

  81. says

    I just joined this site today because it seemed a celebration of individual fashion styles. Then the more I look through here, it seems like there is a certain type of fashion that’s popular, and I noticed all of the girls are stick skinny. I’m no where near being overweight. I’m 5’0″, 107lbs and 36-25-36. I like being curvy. I’m also half-white half-hispanic.

    Well anyways, I posted three different looks today and got nothing. I got two comments on one picture but nothing over all. I figured maybe its just because I’m new, but I’ve seen lots of new people who get tons of hypes, comments and likes right off the bat. I’m a retro-soul musical artist and I do A LOT of photo shoots with my photographer, so I thought it would be a cool way to show off our work.

    My fashion style doesn’t fit into what’s popular on the site at all. I’m definitely not the predominant body type on there either. Who knows why things work and why they don’t. My “rejection” wasn’t what started me questioning all that you’ve mentioned, it was perusing the site itself. I don’t really care whether people like me or not, but if its not effective then I will leave the site. I’m happy with my appearance, hourglass shaped body and distinct fashion style. I look like my music and I’m comfortable in my own skin.

    It’s just a shame there isn’t more diversity on the site. Not just in body shapes and ethnicities but in fashion style. It’s sort of the same weird style of dressing over and over again.

  82. says

    I wanted to sort of change what I said yesterday….

    I deleted in my lookbook.nu account. I have always been fine with my body and totally accepting of the way I look, but browsing that site started giving me body image issues. All the girls were super skinny. The most curvaceous it got was the asian girls. The white girls were ALL anorexic, and the ones I saw that looked like me had barely any “hypes”. I saw a woman today in nordstrom rack, grown woman, who was skinny like those girls on lookbook and it was nasty looking. She looked like a triple zero. Those girls are all flat chested, with flat stomachs, no ass, no inner thighs, and skeleton legs…. I am none of which. Then all those girls look like models and I started to not feel pretty enough. Since no one liked my fashion sense at all, I thought well maybe I’m just not fashionable enough. AND deep down I started feeling like I couldn’t be fashionable with olive skin… something I’ve never felt in my life!!

    You can take a look at the background picture on my twitter page… its a SHAME that picture is considered “fat” on lookbook.nu standards!! http://twitter.com/ashleyspencer For goodness sakes, I’m 107lbs and ALL those girls were drastically skinnier than me.

    So I decided to leave the site and stop putting that shit in my brain. This is the reason I don’t read fashion magazines EVER. I’m 26 years old and it had this effect on me, can’t imagine what it must do to those 13 year old girls on the site!!

    • says

      Ashely, thank you so much for both your comments! I am sorry that these sites actually made you feel less confident and pretty…but I’m glad you decided to not use them or let them affect you. You are definitely a very lovely woman…neither you nor I fit the “type” for these sites…does that mean we are less attractive? NO! It just means exactly what I wrote: these sites are extremely narrow in terms of presenting diverse styles and ethnicities. If that’s because the USERS are only hyping that look, well, that’s not a group I want to hang with either.

      Keep being curvy, exotic you!

  83. says

    I only found out this post yesterday (from Twitter) and I liked it so much that I read not only the post but almost all the comments as well!!! I opened a Lookbook account after reading some tips by HE over at IFB about gaining blog traffic. Ok I got some Hypes now and then and even fewer “fans”. I was intrigued that most members where teens (and I guess not the best demographic to appreciate not only my looks but also my blog). And yes the most hyped pictures not only where the pretty/skinny etc but also the more artistic photos! Hell, I don’t have time for that. Or to participate in forums in order to attract people to my profile and ultimately my blog.
    Your post made me look again at my statistics…The “hits” on my lookbook button on my blog (I did a customized one, didn’t like theirs) were almost triple the views my blog got from lookbook. And even if somebody clicked my lookbook profile, I don’t think he/she sticked much around or fanned me…So it was decided…I closed my account!!!
    At this point I have to say that I have an account on a new Greek site called Tag Your Closet and I post every now and then. I also haven’t placed a badge on my blog so I have only incoming traffic, which is what I aim at after all!

    • says

      Hi sweetie, thanks much for your comment. Since you read the whole lot (uh, WOW!) you can see my approach is that we should all do what works for us. Some people participate in order to ensure diversity, some choose not to, others just don’t have the time. As long as we make informed decisions, that’s all that really matters.

      IFB is a much more healthy and diverse community. I recommend it to all bloggers looking to expand their reach.

  84. Alice says

    Hi! This is a wonderful post, and I have to say, in real life, you don’t have to be thin, or “cute” to necessarily be beautiful. But, I was wondering if maybe the reason there aren’t many dark skinned girls on the top pages was because there aren’t nearly as many dark skinned users registered? :)

    • says

      Thanks, Alice, that is certainly and probably the reason for the white, skinny girl propensity. Some commenters have noted that they’ve chosen to continue on these sites for that reason…to provide diversity. It’s a very personal decision.

  85. says

    Thanks for this insightful post! I always wondered about the fairness of these sights and how frustrating it is to be a girl with chunky thighs and a lopsided short hairdo. The stats speak for themselves. It really is a popularity contest and the already-deemed-popular folks getting upvoted each and every time.

    But then again, life was never fair. Smart, doing the research before signing up for all these sites!
    Angie’s latest post: Brittany S. PiercedMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you for your comment, Angie! As you said, it’s all about the research. If one chooses to participate regardless, at least they are making a conscious decision, after reading all the facts.

  86. says

    Wow. That was quite a read. Very good article V. I’m a 45 year and tried Chictopia for a while. As you say not a whole lot of attention, and it certainly did not produce a lot of traffic to my own site. Being overwhelmed by all the young girls, it actually motivated me to create a site specifically for the over 40 crowd. As you mention, I think it’s important to really develop your own site and keep fully in control of your own images.
    Sylvia @ 40PlusStyle’s latest post: Shopping ideas: my favorite animal print shoesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Sylvia, thanks for your feedback. And good for you for creating a site for the over-40 crowd! I’ll soon be in that group myself!

      I agree that keeping control of your content and intellectual property is of the utmost importance. If your image is going to be used for profit, you should have a slice of that pie, or at least the last say on whether it can happen or not!

  87. says

    So first let me sa i am not the biggest reader……im such a visual person……But i could not stop reading this. What i love about it was its honesty and slight wit. Its crazy that i began searching for tips to help better my new blog and i run across this articl which hit right home considering i am a member of both lookbook and chictopia. I gave up on chictopia because just felt like representation was so biased….then i stick with lookbook….and after reading this it definitely opened ,y eyes to the fact that who gives a shit on who does or doesnt like my look of the day. i rather get my own audience than having to use a biased social network format. i dont have time to commit and participate in their forums to be recognized….i have my own blog and point of view to build. i sincerely thank you for this post! a new follower in deed!

  88. says

    oh i read this post last night while i was supposed to being doing homework but i thought i would come back and comment :). I have accounts in both lookbook and chictopia and i really do like both sites although probably chictopia a bit more. i know when i first started blogging i was completely awestruck at all of gorgeous posters that were featured, At first it kindof got to me how the majority of people all looked like models but after a time i found myself only focusing on the clothes instead of comparing myself to the girls and that is why i got interested in blogging to begin with all of the awesome outfits :). I go on those sites for inspiration and often i can see something i want to try out which doesnt look half bad on me in real life. As far a hypes or points go it is a true fact that the most popular girls very thin and very beautful but on those sites it is the users who give those out, i know i go by the clothes but i cant speak for anyone else. I did want to mention something about picture quality, i know when i first started on those sites i got the usual no hypes on lookbook thing which is discouraging. But when i got a better camera and started taking much nicer photos i immediately started to get some. I had the same clothes, hair, very normal sized body (i am totally not a twig) and i was the same age but that did make a large difference. I am not saying people who dont get any hypes have bad photo quality, if i saw ceces photo i totally would have hyped it for the super cute long cardigan but i know in my case that definitely made a difference. I do agree the whole invitation only thing on lookbook kindof put me off i didnt start on there until after that was removed and the age limit i really dont think thirteen year olds should post photos of themselves on the internet. But i have found my favourite bloggers of all different sizes and ethinicities through those sites, i know i always find myself following someone who looks different from the norm on there because i can relate to them more and the nice comments have done wonders for building my self confidence. But this was a awesome thought provoking post, i wrote a massive comment!!

    • says

      Thank you, Alexa. some people love them, others don’t. It’s all about knowing the details and making the right decision for you.

  89. says

    I completely agree with everything I’ve read in here, it feels like a huge popularity contest, and being a size 3-5 in juniors, I still feel much too big to join any of those sites. Plus, it seems like you have to be made of money, which, as a college student, I’m not. Thank you for making me feel like I wasn’t alone <3

    • says

      Hi Pandy, thank you. You are so NOT alone! Most of us are not young, super-skinny cuties with unlimited funds, and you know what? That’s a good thing. That’s why fashion blogging has seen explosive growth in the last year. We all identify more readily with people like US…whatever it is that defines us as individuals.

      If people want to participate in those sites, that’s their choice. I just don’t feel they are the best place for young, impressionable girls, in particular. There’s already so much pressure to look “perfect,” and although there is a lot of really inspiring style on these sites, they perpetuate a false reality in some aspects. That’s another reason I like to do video. I think people forget bloggers are REAL people, with real feelings, challenges, and imperfections!

      Thanks again for your comment.

  90. Krissy says

    Wow! This is such an interesting post! I can’t wait to share it with a few people, everything you said is true! I am on Lookbook.nu and I do get some good feedback however it doesn’t really matter now that I realized what is behind all that jazz from reading your interesting post!!! What intrigues me most on these sites is when I see alot of new posts with lovely women of different ethnicity & shapes and I feel amazed on how a person can be stylish no matter what, however, as you said, i cannot accept the fact why these looks dont get any feedback at all!! For example I absolutely adore Cece’s look, she’s not skinny but she’s beautiful just the same, she managed to combine an outfit that totally matches her shape, which makes her look uber stylish and this could be an inspiration look for girls of the same size! We need REAL girls for inspiration, not posed photoshopped looks of perfection. Thanks for the lovely review and I am glad I came across your blog, will follow :)) FASHION LOVERS : You do not have to be rich (as in money, shape, size, etc) to look like a million dollars! Love, Krissy xo

    • says

      Hi Krissy, thank you and welcome!

      You’re right…fashion is for everyone! The sooner we all accept that and stop rewarding only conventional beauty, the better off we will all be!

  91. says

    Hi, I just read this article, well only the section about lookbook because that is the one I am part of and whilst I do agree with the large majority of what you are saying which I can only give you praise for; at the same time, when people join these sites they have to realise they are entering themselves into the harsh world that is the fashion industry, the industry is based around ideals.

    Now, whilst I do not entirely agree with all the ideals, in fact some of my favourite models are black, the fact is they exist, and if someone hasn’t got the will to put up with those ideals they perhaps shouldn’t be joining the website in the first place. Anyway in my opinion the website isn’t about getting hypes its about sharing your style, and those who are only concerned with hypes must be more obsessed with ideals than those that are not.

    Forget about the hypes, if what you are looking for is some sort of approval from others then you have a harsh realisation to come to in the future. Nobody’s going to give you that. No matter who you are and what your appearance may be someone will find you attractive, I like to think there is someone for everyone. However confidence is something you need to find in yourself, ‘self-approval’ is key. So don’t approach these sites with any expectations, just as the fashion industry should be approached, and you will only come away with the same or more than you expected.

    Also it shouldn’t be forgotten that the karma filter can be turned off.
    Jack Jones’s latest post: A half-made decision that I might chicken out on…My Profile

  92. says


    This post is a masterclass !!! Thank you so much for your time on it! Learn a lot.
    You gorgeous!!!


    ps.”If you are black and female, bigger than I’d guess about a U.S. size 8, or older than say, 35-ish, you have very, very slim odds of being selected. So good luck.” – Oh girl…this is me, myself and I ! Lol…
    Gigi Guerreiro’s latest post: Gothic or not GothicMy Profile

  93. says

    Hi I’m fairly new to blogging and I must say this article was a serious eye opener, I only joined chictopia and lookbook because I thought I was supposed to that it would help me gain traffic to my blog, I don’t blog solely for popularity but I also want my view to at least get out there and be noticed how do I build traffic to my blog without being tied to Chictopia and Lookbook besides leaving comments, I don’t always leave comments I mean when I do it’s simply because I really have an honest comment to an article or outfit post so that’s only going to get me so far, what else could I do?

  94. says

    Amaaazing post; so glad I ran across this after all this time. Thin, pretty, and great hair. Tired of the perfect hair. This should be required reading for fashion bloggers, yeah? Thank you so much for shining some light! Loved it.

  95. says

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be helpful to read articles from other authors and use something from other web sites.

  96. says

    Amazing accuracy of Lookbook.nu. I joined a while back and I think its sad there’s not more diversity first of all but also because its more based on fancy photography and babyfaces lol. I wanted more of a place to just look for inspiration on clothing and post some looks to get some feedback/ comments or something but instead I felt overlooked by many because I was not a size two and a minority. smh.

  97. Charla says

    Wow, great post! Thank you for speaking out!

    I couldn’t quite put my finger on why my inner caution flag was raised when viewing these sites but you hit the nail on the head. I’ve always been wary of fashion magazines and the media perpetuating one vision of beauty. For the most part, I’ve done very well finding my own beauty ideals and feeling confident about myself. However, I was caught off guard at the obvious beauty hierarchy on these sites. I’m so glad I found your blog and this post. It’s heartwarming to know there are thoughtful freethinkers who haven’t yet taken the blue pill.

    • says

      Hi Charla, thanks for your comment! So nice.

      Yes, there are thoughtful freethinkers and rogues out there! For me, it stems from an childhood and adolescence in which I was teased and most definitely did NOT fit in. In college, I never joined a sorority or even lived on campus…I was still on the fringe. So I’m extremely wary of popularity contests in the form of lookbooks, etc. I just don’t subscribe to sites that reward external beauty and ostracize people based on the way they look.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  98. says

    Thank you for posting this. I have launched a new blog recently and am questioning whether I have the time or inclination to sign up to such communities. I signed up to one and was bombarded with spam, some calling me darling or dear which I didn’t appreciate, not at my age.

    I’m also ancient in the fashion blogging world but I don’t care. I’m the same age as Kate Moss and she is still cutting it in the fashion world. The whole point of fashion blogs for me is to offer an alternative view of fashion and style and to see clothes modelled on and appropriated by real women whose photos have not been airbrushed etc. I’m seeing people’s individual style not just 10 foot tall, underfed models wearing the latest fashion.

    I’d rather my blog evolved naturally and organically, as opposed to forcing it upon everyone. I will push it along a little bit, but I won’t be spamming fellow bloggers in such communities to follow my blog so I can follow theirs. Any style blogs I have joined, I have looked for via a search engine because they are something I am genuinely interested in – not because I want to have hundreds of followers overnight, commenting on anything. If I comment, it is because I want to, and this is how it should be. I am definitely going to let my blog evolve naturally as I just don’t have time to sit glued to my pc spamming etc.

    • says

      Glynis, thanks for your comment. Sorry for the delayed response! I think you’re totally on the right track, and I’m glad my post was meaningful for you.

  99. says

    lovely post!! very inspiring.. I am a user of Lookbook and Chictopia and you are definitely right.. I am a male, Asian and brown in skin color.. you are correct in every way.. I have used the two hoping to get noticed and find inspirations.. but like what you have said, the majority of the famous looks there have that “appeal” or “beauty” attached to them.. I have seen lots of unnoticed looks that are way too better than those who are featured.. but they are either fat, not-so-pretty or black.. what I realized was that these sites are actually racists, defining beauty through size and skin color.. it is not about that.. fashion is for everyone..

    thank you for the inspiring posts.. now I am having trouble whether to still use them or not.. but still, thank you! :D

  100. says

    OH MY GOD!! THANK YOU!! I was in love with those fashion blogs but then I started to get bored of it and tired of that that it wasn’t inclusive. Here’s a blog very much like yours that I critique Chictopia.com
    F.W’s latest post: Why I hate ChictopiaMy Profile

    • says

      Ha…loved your post. We clearly picked up on the same things. I just knew for me to really get my point across, I’d have to have some real, undeniable numbers. It got their attention, that’s for sure!

  101. says

    I know this post is old, but I still need to say a big giant THANK YOU for summing up every single reason why I hate those sites, and the popularity of “fashion” bloggers as a whole to an absolute TEE. I mentioned this on tFS forums months ago and was dismissed with a bunch of bootstraps excuses *eye roll*.

    Also, I think you’re being generous with the sizes. I can’t remember the last time I saw a successful size 6 fashion blogger!
    Kim’s latest post: Las Vegas 2012: A Quick Overview of TradeshowsMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Kim, and thank YOU for your comment! We all need to do what’s right for us, and as an adult woman, I don’t have time to deal with any other sites but this one, and I sure don’t care what anyone thinks of what I wear. But I worry about the younger bloggers who end up feel discouraged and left out, and who may already have self-esteem or body issues. I’d hate to see them lose their zeal for fashion and blogging—or worse—because they don’t get 500 hypes on a post.

  102. says

    Wow–while I recognize that this is an older post, I can certainly see why it is your most popular. You’ve tackled an issue that alot of bloggers of minority race (myself included) encounter with poise, sensitivity and even some research to back it up. This was a great read for me because it captured some of the doubts I’ve occasionally experienced, and reminded me of why it’s important to continue to remember why I blog, to not seek validation according to a pre-set standard (that is symptomatic of deeper issues as you stated and can’t be changed overnight) and to continue to carve out my own path to success in a writing/blogging/fashionable community that can identify with my story. Thanks for writing this!
    Kim’s latest post: Style Struck: Bold PrintMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Kim, thank you and you are most welcome! The great thing about the blogosphere is there’s room for EVERYBODY! Keep at it….you have the right attitude!

  103. says

    “And no matter how we try to change it, it is human nature to identify with what we know.”

    While I agree with this statement in general, I have to say that the only person that caught my attention on Lookbook was Andre Judd, and I’m not a flashy-clothed blonde guy from Manila.
    That extends into my other, non-LB, fashion inspirations – I can’t think of one that matches me.

    This isn’t meant to take away from the article at all: I love the conversation you’ve started here.
    Ana’s latest post: lauraferreirastudios: Technicolour. Model is Soowan Bramble.My Profile

  104. says

    Hi… my name is Michael Zhang (a Stanford student), and your post inspired us to create Dujour.im.

    “You are beautiful” is a message we want to send to every woman. We hope that we can create a space for everyone, regardless their color and shape. I mean, it’s enough -fashion magazines, ads, and other media are warping our definition of “beauty.” This sense of beauty is unrealistic and unhealthy. It causes problems for women. And now we have all these sites that sort of do the same thing. It’s all about extreme stylist, skinny models and one type of people. I mean, come on!

    So my friends and I decided to do something. We decided to create something for everyone. You guys know the Spark Girls? They helped us putting this here:

    So I want to ask everyone here a favor. If you also believe what we do, please come to htttps://www.dujour.im/ to take our survey. The genuine you are in our survey, the better we can help you. We thank you so much.

  105. says

    I’m so glad I found this article! I stumbled upon this while researching Weardrobe, so I will definitely not be joining the site. I’m on LookBook and Chictopia and I totally understand the issues and this has inspired me to participate more on IFB. Some of top bloggers I know they’re on these sites and I see girls who are not the typical model type supporting each other – so I will keep my accounts, I’m not concerned about being hyped.

    Thanks for this article!

    Xoxo Spice
    Aprila’s latest post: The Lady In RedMy Profile

  106. says

    Like most other people who have commented on this post, I too, am glad that I found this post.

    It seems as if all the adults have left these websites and they are now being bombarded by teenagers (such as myself)
    Although I have been a keen follower of these websites since I was 12, now that I am some-what older, I have realised that these websites aren’t for the purpose of appreciating other’s style, they’re there to see who gets the most hypes, who’s most popular online, who’s the thinnest, who’s the prettiest, who can afford the most designer stuff. It’s basically like an exclusive clique. I miss the times when these websites had people with genuine style and taste. Also, I’ve noticed that (almost) everybody on the site dresses almost exactly the same as each other. What’s interesting about that? Although I visited the website when I was 12 (about 2-3 years ago) in retrospect, I now think, what was I even looking at? Thin, pretty girls who could possibly trigger eating disorders in other girls? Skimpy American Apparel ads? People smoking?
    After a while, I started to feel isolated.
    All the girls on the website were pretty, thin, rich, white girls. They were nothing like me. I couldn’t find anybody who understood my background, who knew where I was coming from, who was a real, sort of ‘role model’ for other girls of my culture. Which is why I no longer spend hours scrolling down those types of websites. Again, I am so glad that I found this post, so I can find others who I can relate to about this. I really wish there was another website that promoted body shapes and skin tones of all types, so people don’t get intimidated and scared off. After all, fashion looks it’s best when it’s displayed on people from all different cultures, backgrounds and races.

    Marya xx

  107. says

    As a new blogger that was a VERY helpful post! Thank you! I signed up for Lookbook.nu earlier today and then googled them to see what other bloggers opinions were since I had never heard of them. From what I have seen so far on Lookbook.nu……ur post here is totally on point. Thanks again for the awesome info….I’m sure it has brought you a lot of REAl karma :)
    elkeeb’s latest post: Outfit of the Day: Green VelvetMy Profile

  108. saly says

    I deleted my accounts from the various fashion social networks because I think actually they only appreciate commercial and “wannabe original” teen looks, there is no real interest in sharing a personal point of view on style and on fashion.
    T beauty ideal are models, in the physical and poses.
    I find that tools are a bit ‘childish, especially Lookbook, which now cin my opinion is strongly made for teen ager or a bit more, 23-25 years old max.
    Chictopia is better, the public and the looks are more mature and less ridiculous, but unfortunately I have noticed a decline in interest and public.

  109. says

    Great post. I searched online for “lookbook is not stylish” to see if anyone else also felt that the outfits people post are often boring, not actually fashionable/stylish, but mostly just provocative and of skinny white teenagers in short cut off shorts with a tshirt, boots and moto jacket and maybe cool sunglasses and a hat or top bun or red lipstick. It’s all the same “look.”

    I’d be curious to do an experiment and post several different “types” of females of different races and body shapes wearing essentially the same outfit and see who gets hyped to the top of look book.

    • says

      Nic…thanks for your comment! Hmmm, that experiment would be quite interesting. Very interesting. And I’m pretty sure even if were EXACTLY the same pieces, the outcome would be the same as the discoveries I found in preparing this post. IF you ever decide to try this out, please let me know. I’d love to read (or even feature) the results.

  110. anon says

    At the time of reading this post, you have 270 comments and I didn’t think it possible for me to go over each and every one of them to see if someone else may have posted a similar conclusion as to the one I’m about to write, so I apologize if someone has already said this.

    While I understand where you are coming from, I didn’t quite agree with you.

    If those fashion photo-sharing websites are populated largely by a young and white demographic then you will have nothing but young and white support. Let’s say that 85% of the users of those fashion photo sharing websites are young and white (a mix between male and female) then they will largely support that which they identify with closely which would be young and white. If the remaining meager 15% is populated by a mix of Asian, Hispanic, black and other such “minorities”, then they will get little to no attention because they do not have the support of their respective ethnic or cultural communities. Is that to say those white people are racist? Not quite. I’m Asian and I find that Asian girls are some of prettiest girls I’ve seen. If I were on any of those websites, I’d probably support more Asian people than any other race/ethnicity on there. That doesn’t mean I’m racist. It just means I want to support my community.

    Without a strong community base, you won’t get very far. If a website was created to counter those you listed and marketed towards black women, curvy women, or older women then you will have a community of nothing but those types of women supporting each other. You’ll get karma and hype by the truckloads!

    With your short stint on any of those websites, did you ever encounter another black, curvy, older woman whom you promptly hyped/karma-ed and supported? And did she in turn do the same for you? Or was it rare to see anyone else like yourself on there? I read that you quit those websites as many others have. But by doing so, you didn’t solve anything – you just ignored the problem. And by writing this article, you may have brought some issues to light but it didn’t fix anything. Rarely does complaining about something change anything. Action is what changes things. If you want things to be different, then you should stay a member, invite more of your friends to join, invite bloggers of similar mind to join and support each other. Build a stronger community that supports black women, curvy women or older women. Carve your own niche; don’t shy away.

  111. says

    I’ve thought of all these points countless times before, except the part where I’m advertising for these sites on my blog. Come to think of it, I don’t even get traffic flow from Lookbook as much as I used to. Makes me question why I’m still on there. I suppose I have some degree of body privilege, since I’m a “white” Hispanic and I’m not overweight. But my hypes are on the conservative side.

    Aside from the PYWT Lookbook elite, there are other kinds of distinctive groups on the site (and on the rest of them). I found this thread posted on Lookbook itself very insightful: http://forum.lookbook.nu/topic/62547-15-Types-of-Lookbookers-Just-for-Fun-D

    Thank you for writing this post. It had to be done.
    Nathy’s latest post: Monochromatic MintMy Profile

  112. says

    I love the fact that you took the time to research your suspicions and expressed them so well. I only recently started blogging and joined lookbook/chictopia because it just seems that that’s what you’re supposed to do. Literally every guide to “being a successful blogger” or ‘marketing for fashion bloggers’ lists joining these sites in the top 3 steps. After being on for only 1 month or so I was already starting to see what you saw; essentially the lack of diversity in hyped outfits, body types and race.

    I cant lie and say I’m going to discontinue using these sites immediately but I am definitely considering it . Thanks so much for a great article!

  113. says

    I agree with so many of the points you make here and I’m impressed you took the time to do your research so well, I’d agree that it would be good to see maybe slightly less of a certain type of person on the ‘Hot’ page or strict filter of lookbook.

    However (and I apologise if this has been said before – there are a LOT of comments on this and I hope you understand why I haven’t read all of them), I don’t think the way to change this is by not using these sites. By all means, if it makes you feel negative about yourself then don’t give it the time of day and I fully respect other reasons which you’ve stated to do with privacy and ownership of your photos, but I think if we want to make the ‘it’ crowd more diverse, the wider variety of people who join, the better. I’m not saying that anybody should devote their life to this but just that, whilst there are features these sites can and no doubt should change, the only way the statistics are really going to change is if there are more members and more posts which don’t fit the norm.

  114. says

    OMG, (I know the post is a little old, but I just stumbled upon it looking for opinions about lookbook) The fact is that I logged LB a few days ago, even if I’ve been visiting the site for a couple of months now, and the first thing I did was to try and find some “normal” people.
    I wanted to post some looks there, but felt a little shamed because EVERY single person there was like a Victoria Secret’s model or so. I don’t really consider myself fat, maybe with a few more pounds but mostly normal, I guess. But really, seeing all those blondes, model like, was depressing.
    It was impossible, literally, to find a newbie anywhere! Even if you delete karma filter and all that stuff. Not even to mention “fat” people. Those were nonexistent.
    So I started to look for other people’s opinion about the page, and if there was a reasonable reason for that.
    Now, I read enough. I’m not even gonna try it. I wasn’t expecting much anyway, or wasn’t going to share it with my friends and relatives. It was something for me. But I prefer put those kind of pictures in my blog, and if someone finds it, awesome, if not, at least they are still my photos.
    So thanks for this. Sorry, I made it terribly long.

    Nikki :)
    Nikki’s latest post: DIY: Paper Beads with Self-Adhesive NotesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Nikki! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you came to your own conclusion about those sites. I just don’t see the value in anything that continues to drive one ideal of beauty, especially in this day and age. Many have said that it is better to join and put your photos out there in order to help level the playing field, but even YEARS after I wrote this post, it’s still the same. So why waste time on it? Better to build community by interacting directly bloggers on their own sites, where at least revenue that is generated from traffic or clicks is their own.

  115. Natalie says

    Great review of these fashion blogs, all a waste of time, no friends to be found there, it is just about making money, aweful data collection, same as NSA :-) Thanks for the warning, I keep my pictures offline….

  116. says

    This was really enlightening. I have a lookbook and I did notice the lack of diversity and how all of the top people are the same, but it never really clicked in my head. After this I’m going to delete my lookbook. I think the only thing that I really like about those sites is that if you can find someone with unique taste and they put the labels that they are wearing then you can discover new brands. I generally go to the shame online shops each time so it’s fun to learn what’s out there.

    • says

      Hi Emily, glad to have inspired you to reconsider your participation in these sites. People should do what they want, of course. My intent was to illuminate the unconscious effect these sites have on participants, especially on those who don’t meet the basic criteria for popularity.


  1. […] Vahni from Grit and Glamour wrote her reasons for why she’s not on Lookbook and other conglomerate sites where from the masses, cliched notions of beauty arise (the most popular users are generally thin and caucasian).  She also points out that bloggers really don’t have any control over their content once it is submitted to these sites, though it is a look they have styled, a photograph they have taken, downloaded onto their computer and enhanced.  If you haven’t read Vahni’s post yet, check it out here. […]

  2. […] V from Grit and Glamour wrote on the lack of diversity on the site, or lets say, the lack of visibility of diversity on the site. I’m sure there are many different looking people on the site but since it’s moderated by the Karma system it makes it hard for anyone to be noticed. Also, the original intentions of the site was invite only meaning that there was a dictated ideal beauty from these people. It can be argued that the seniority on the site heavily influences what is being seen. V states, “The overwhelming majority of members in the Top and Leader sections are young, thin, white (Caucasian) women. Lots of hypes for lots of PYWTs—pretty, young, white, things.” If you go on the site for yourself, you’ll notice the trend. […]

  3. […] Grit and Glamour: Why I’m Not on Weardrobe, Chictopia, Lookbook or HypeedV of Grit and Glamour is the author of many inspiring posts (as are all the ladies I’m mentioning here – with the exception, perhaps, of the very first: Miss Kelly). In this particular piece V boldly acknowledges the favoritism and stereotyping issues of social fashion Web sites. The opinions she gives voice to in this post are some that I share in quite passionately. […]

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