I really do. I started blogging a whopping 7 years ago and although I may sometimes hope for more comments or occasionally get frustrated by spam, I have always found my particular corner of the internet to be a friendly and encouraging place.
I think the same goes for the blogs I follow (certainly the sewings ones but also the few about history and the one rock climber's blog) and for the Facebook groups I am a member of (I've been a member of 'We Sew Retro Sew & Tell' right from the start and joined 'Learn How to Make Corsets Like a Pro' some months ago) as well.
With that limited social media landscape, I could easily tell myself that the world wide web was not scary at all. Just a big playground where people from different places and walks of life can interact.
Of course I'm not totally ignorant of the nastiness and negativity out there but in my experience, lifestyle related blogs, Facebook groups and Pinterest board were friendly places.
I guess I kind of took that for granted.
And then, at some moment last month, I watched the BBC 3 documentary "Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets".
I started watching it mainly because I have been surprised more than once in the past years by the odd hype diets cropping up. Hypes which were sometimes even taken up by friends.
The documentary follows a young blogger/vlogger who focusses on body positivity. A larger lady herself, she sets out to explore the world of "clean eating" blogs. What she uncovers is (spoiler alert!) mostly a deep pit of unsubstantiated health claims, dangerous food fads and a very negative, judgmental way of looking at women's bodies (mostly by women).
I was a bit shocked by this. I kind of knew this stuff existed but the scale and the conviction still surprised me.
I haven't really struggled with body image during the years I've been blogging and I am often aware of the fact that I am among the skinnier sewer bloggers. But I've had more troubled times too and of course I know it is an issue for lots of women. I used to alter wedding dresses for a living and I met lots of different women and encountered lots of different views on beauty and body shape. Most of them overly negative.
I am very glad I was a teenager in an era before social media. I don't want to imagine what might have happened if I had had access to the kind of toxic "inspiration" offered by the kinds lifestyle blogs featured in this documentary. I feel sorry for those confronted with it now.
I like to think that we, people who sew and who talk about that somewhere on the internet, are helping in that regard. We love to talk about fitting but that's always about making the clothes fit and flatter the body of lady who will wear them. Sewing for yourself frees you from the size system dictated by the high street. Of course, patterns come in sizes too but us sewing people quickly learn just how arbitrary those are. Even more so if we decide to try out vintage patterns. Sewing also opens up the possibility of trying out styles which are not currently in fashion but may suit our bodies better. And, most of all, the online sewing community I know and love happily supports such efforts. No matter who you are, no matter what look you are going for.
So, yes, I love all and let's keep up the good work!