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. OMG I just spent about a good hour on your site, thank you I now feel we are best friends! lol
    Love your content, keep it up =)

    P.S Hope I get to meet you at the conference!!

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. Martine~

      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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

      1. 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 =)

        1. Pierreyann~

          Thanks much for your comment. You make some very valid points about participation being key in “success” in these communities. Yet, because you can rank photos, they are still largely a popularity contest based exclusively on looks, which is the main reason I dislike them. If your blog is popular because you have great style, a great voice, and you interact with your readers, that’s fantastic. But these sites only reward external beauty…pretty pictures by pretty people, and popularity is not the sum of many parts.

          I suppose it’s one way to generate traffic to a blog, but from my experience, my time has been put to much better (and more productive) use engaging in conversation with others on my blog and Twitter—building friendships through prose and pictures, not through votes alone. One thing I pride myself on is that G&G has readers of every age, every ethnicity, from countries across the world. They feel welcomed and validated here, and they’ve told me before…they trust me. That’s major. I’ve generated a wonderful, loyal community of readers not via hypes on other sites, but via reciprocal respect and kindness on G&G and other blogs.

          Again, I thank you kindly for sharing your thoughts here and do hope you will stay a while and read some other posts. You may find these quite interesting as well:






  5. 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

    1. 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!

  6. Wow!

    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~!!!

    1. 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!

  7. WOW……

    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!

    1. Nekorine~

      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.

  8. 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.

    1. L~

      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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. Michelle~

      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!

  11. 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!

    1. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!!

    1. 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!

  14. 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!

    1. 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.

  15. 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? 🙂

    1. 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.

  16. 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!

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

    1. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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!!

  20. I absolutely love everything you wrote….im on chicisimo and chictopia….and i was on lookbook and noone hyped my look neither…and i have to say i dont like those sites…and im thinking about deleting them ASAP!

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

  21. 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

    1. 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.

  22. 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

    1. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. V.

    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…

  25. 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?

  26. Forgive me, I was about to dismiss your blog based on a look until I read this post . I have resisted fashion blogging for a long time for this very reason. Thank you for this post. Thank you for speaking up.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

    1. 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.

  31. 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.

    1. 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.

  32. 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! 😀

  33. 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

    1. 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!

  34. 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!

    1. 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.

  35. 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!

    1. 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!

  36. “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.

  37. 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.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for your comment. I took your survey and am looking forward to seeing your site when it launches.

  38. 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

  39. 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

  40. 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 🙂

  41. 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.

    1. I think you are 100% correct in your analysis of these sites. I really think past age 30, you’re ancient on them!

  42. 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.

    1. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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!

    1. Well, thank you so much, Justin! Nice that it resonated with you. Thanks for the follow and happy blogging!

  46. 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.

  47. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

  48. 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….

  49. 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.

    1. 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.

  50. I know this blog post is old, but I just wanted to say that I went on lookbook again after several years of not using it. I couldn’t remember my username so I just decided to make a new account. The sign-up process for lookbook is very simple: Name, email, password, and gender. This wouldn’t be so bad except the only choices for gender are Male and Female. You just pick one button or the other, and you have to choose one or else you can’t sign up. So I guess I’m not signing up for lookbook. If they had more inclusive options for gender (or, maybe, just not even ask for your gender at all???) I would consider signing up. Guess I’ll have to find a different, more inclusive fashion site.

    1. Now that’s an issue that I haven’t heard of before, but it’s a valid one! I don’t even know why they need to know your gender to sign up! Well, I’m sure it’s for demographic reporting, but it’s still stupid. It should just be optional, as far as I’m concerned.

  51. Interesting read, I am one of the pretty young white things you mentioned and owe all of my success to Chictopia and Lookbook, they launched my blog for me at the beginning! I thought I was incredibly lucky, so I am grateful to these sites for showing me what a fashion blog can do for you, I had no idea companies even sent people free stuff! I was featured a fair amount a few years ago, but I find that looks on Lookbook get maybe 10% of the hypes they used to, so I presume less people use it now? I have no idea why, but maybe it’s because of what you talked about? I have yet to find a solid answer!

  52. [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (comment token failure) *]
    Wow. This is sich a great and informative post. I’m a new blogger and in hopes of building an audience, I tried joining lookbook recently. And guess what, my images doesn’t even get to their ‘filtered’ list of new post. Your post is such a great eye-opener!

  53. I will try Independent Fashion Bloggers to connect with like-minded fashionistas (and fashionistos). I think its hard to remain authentic and true to yourself when being on a site when ratings are all that matters, just like in high school, most of us probably weren’t true to ourselves because we just wanted to be in the “in-group”.

    Fashion is art and should reflect the beautiful diversity in humanity – but there is always a downside to this.

    The downside to art is that it can show incredible flaws in humanity and our ability to accept and love things that are a bit out of the ‘common’ or are considered to be outside of the standard norm.

    I think Instagram can turn into a competition and stop us from forging authentic connections with our followers – maybe there will be a platform promoting diversity and authenticity. Now that would be nice.

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