On the Fake Walking Pictures thread, hamcats wondered whether I was "dancing alone on a street corner" or "picking a wedgie."
Out of a sick curiosity, I’ve cruised the top Fashion/Beauty Bloggers threads on GOMI. I’ve cringed on behalf of my favorite bloggers, but also found some of the feedback helpful. Amid the sarcasm and straight up hate, sensible rules for blogging emerge.
If you’d like to get off GOMI (or, rather, never get on in the first place), do not violate the following commandments:
1. Thou shall wear clothing that fits. This sin is more likely to be committed by pro bloggers in receipt of c/o items, but newbies squeeze into too small clothes, too. Abide by the following: no muffin tops, no cameltoes, no overflowing shoes. Zippers should not be near to bursting. Blazers should button without undue strain. Sleeves should not cut off circulation to the lower arm. Ill-fitting clothing on a style blog is akin to a recipe blog with no units of measure. GOMI has no mercy for the poorly fit style blogger.
2. Thou shalt have camera skills. A fancy DSLR with a 85 mm lens and a pro photog boyfriend aren’t a requirement. At the very least, though, the photos should be properly lit and in focus. Unless the photographer has a good understanding of camera functions, pose in the shade or other even lighting. Harsh shadow or overpowering sun detracts from the outfit details. Know how your camera’s focus works. One GOMI forum was alight for weeks as its target blogger continually posted outfit photos in which the roof of a distant house was in focus, and the blogger herself was blurry. If you’re in focus and properly exposed, earn bonus points by choosing a background without trash, dirty dishes, or discarded laundry.
3. Thou shalt not post too many photos. Maybe you do have a fancy camera and an even fancier camera man. But that’s no excuse for posting three billion photos of the same outfit with a slightly different head tilt in each image. At the minimum, include a full-body shot and a detail shot. Additional images should show the outfit from a different angle, in motion, or at a different distance. It’s a style blog, not a vanity blog. Each image should have unique value. Scrolling is hard, people!
4. Thou shalt not abuse Photoshop. GOMI is rife with complains of too-perfect skin, overblown exposure, intense saturation, stretched legs, and artificial thigh gap. I can’t help but agree with the hamcats. Don’t we get enough fictional representation of women’s bodies in mainstream media? It’s excusable to obscure a blemish, airbrush away the pet hair, or correct proportions caused by a wonky camera angle. However, if there is a thread dedicated to just how different you look IRL (or on your friends’ instagrams) vs your blog, the photo editing has gone too far.
5. Thou shalt be genuine. Liars and poseurs are called out with regularity on the GOMI forums. Bloggers are accused of living entirely fake, posed lives. They are suspected of buying instagram followers and posting glowing reviews of their own books. Clothing budgets are analyzed with scrutiny of the IRS. Woe to the blogger who posts her paleo meal strategy but then instagrams herself eating cronuts. Share with care and then live up to your message.
6. Thou shalt use correct grammar and spelling. Calling oneself a “teen idle” or commenting on the “heal height” of a shoe or offering a “sneak peak” of an upcoming outfit sets the GOMI forums aflame. Know the difference between the verbs lay and lie. Don’t confuse it’s and its or you’re and your. Review proper usage of I vs me and us vs we. Among fashion bloggers, the following are the most abused homonyms: peak, peek, pique; heal, heel; and palate, pallet, palette. A grammar mistake or two is understandable, but spellcheck is pretty foolproof. Use it.
7. Thou shalt not stray (too far) from the clothes. Diet, fitness, and even home decor can have a place in a style blog. A few posts on one’s children or even mental health are not out of place. But when the off-topic posts outnumber those on style, GOMI will call for you to rebrand or get off the internets. The safest bet for those who don’t want to limit topics is to become a “lifestyle blogger.” Anything goes (topic-wise) for lifestyle blogs, but there’s an entirely different set of commandments governing that genre. (Don’t ask me about Lifestyle Blog Commandments. You’ll have to do your own GOMI research.)
8. Thou shalt not pimp salad dressing or wine. Or Diet Coke. Or Vaseline. Obscure and famous bloggers alike are lambasted in the forums for obvious product placements among the outfit photos. Sincere, on-topic product reviews and recommendations are welcome, but paid advertisements rankle the ranks. Keep the Ann Taylor fitting room reviews. Ditch the awkward 7th Generation dish soap rave. Choiceful partnerships don’t give the impression of selling out.
9. Thou shalt not wear all “courtesy of” items. It doesn’t seem fair to regular working folks, but influential bloggers are sent clothing and accessories, free of charge, from stores and manufacturers. It’s understood that wearing free stuff is a blogging perk and sometimes even a requirement, but it can make the blogger unrelatable. It’s even more vexing when the c/o items are worn once and then shamelessly sold. The business of blogging was built on relatability. Show the audience you’re still the hard-working girl next door and mete out the freebies. Be subtle about the OMG “gift” from an AMAZING brand. It doesn't matter if it's head-to-toe Old Navy or Kate Spade. No one wants their nose rubbed in someone else’s privilege.
10. Thou shalt be nice. Pretty is as pretty does. Bloggers who aren’t nice to their readers will be told to GOMI. Style bloggers may engage with their readers not at all or on every platform: blog comments, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, email, or even on GOMI itself. Those that choose to engage must be unfailingly polite. Never be defensive. Never be sarcastic. Never be critical. Never be disrespectful. Never be mean. If you can’t follow these rules, don’t engage at all.
In the end, you may follow all the commandments and still be told to GOMI. Haters gonna hate. Especially if you are a pro blogger. Those ladies just can’t win the hamcats. But the rest of us should merit no more than a quick mention if we follow the 10 GOMI Commandments of fashion blogging.