Is community in plus size blogging an illusion? Thinking aloud

Hello loves,

I've got a lot of things on my mind at the moment so I thought I'd talk about them.

*Inserts generic photo so this isn't just a huge wall of text.*

I've been feeling a bit removed from the plus size blogging community recently. Because my mental health has been dire I don't know how much of it is in my head, and how much of it is the truth. I know that depression is an insidious thing which tries to isolate me from people, and I'm writing this post cognisant of the fact it might do me no favours. I realise I'm not everyone's cup of tea. I like a good whinge, I'm a bit la-la, I'm a fan of calling out bullshit, I over think things and I'm probably over sensitive too. I'm an acquired taste, I know that.

I'm trying really hard not to make the next section sound like a 'Why me?' pity party, but it gives some background to why I might actually be on the outside of the plus size circle of trust (gotta love some De Niro!)

Up until about a year ago I used to comment on a huge amount of plus size blogs. Being out of work I saw supporting my fellow bloggers as something I could do to contribute to the scene, and of course I was really interested in these women as they're my peers/inspirations. After a year or two, I decided to cut back and focus on those who interact with me. Of course commenting on someone's blog never entitles anyone to a comment back, but if you've commented on someone's blog for months without so much as a pity comment back, it might be time to say byeeee. From the perspective of the people I dropped, they may have thought I stopped commenting as I got up my own arse as my follower count increased, or that I don't care about them any more. Hell no.

I don't know what it is exactly about bloggers which makes them great at sharing their lives but not so great at giving that interaction back but I do know from personal experience that the more popular your blog gets the more in demand you are and there aren't enough hours in the day. I always reply to blog comments and still spend an hour or so a day reading and commenting on blogs, but I totally understand that some bloggers will just not have the time to interact with others. Who knows how busy any blogger is behind the scenes and in their lives? But at the same time I know some bloggers who are only ever on the take, have no interest in supporting anyone else and are only there for you as long as you're there for them. Blogging naturally attracts self obsessed people - it helps us want to talk about ourselves every day - but I do feel loyalty within blogging circles is written in sand, just waiting to be swept away by the next wave.

I realised recently from a conversation I had just how much I miss out on the community aspect of plus blogging by not going to major plus size events. I was reminded - as if I needed it - that I'm massively out of the loop. When I first began blogging my anxiety disorder was off the chain, and the first time I went to a blogger (brand) event I was a wreck. Over time my anxiety got a bit better with CBT and anti depressants, and even though the thought makes my knees knock, I planned to to go to more events, both from brands and major weekend events. But I hadn't accounted for my physical health and the impact travelling long distances would bring. Even on going to relatively local (London) brand events the stress of travel on my own, the feeling of not being safe in bustling London because of pain/fatigue all took a lot out of me and did me more harm than good. I did go to Plus North last year (hubby chauffeured me despite his total disinterest) but was in pain all day and the recovery time afterwards was long. I was due to go to Style XL this year, but was ill so I couldn't go. I can't go to the Curve Fashion Festival as we have a wedding that weekend, and I'm not sure if I can go to UK Plus Size Fashion Week yet as we can't make any concrete plans anyway because of the situation with my step dad. If I was an independent woman in good health I would be at the major events like a rat up a drain pipe, but I'm not, and I do miss out on the unbeatable bonding that meeting face to face gives.

And the thing is, when you're out of the loop like this, no one even bothers to check if you're going to events any more. They just assume you're not. I'm in a few plus size groups on Facebook, and I see all the bloggers chatting excitedly about who they're rooming with and what they plan to do at the major events, and I just feel SO far away from everyone. Since my step dad has had cancer - and especially in the last month - I drew back from Facebook (where a lot of blogger chat goes on) as I didn't have the energy to deal with anything but existing. I felt even further away from the plus size community, and very few people checked to see how I was. Maybe it is petty to count the times people haven't been there for me, and maybe it is just my evil mental health isolating me from everyone, but I feel I've been a friend to many and it can be so one sided. I can be there with kind words for people over and over again and some just lap it up with nothing in return. I'm very disillusioned with the community right now, especially as I'd thought that when I needed support it would be there. Maybe me talking about my step dad's cancer comes across as attention seeking or bores people to tears. Maybe my constant health dramas test the limits of believability, but trust me, if reading about it is tiresome, guess how living it feels. ;)

There are SO many plus bloggers now with various different reasons for getting into it, everything is so competitive and as such it can be a pressure cooker waiting to go off. It feels like there's something massive and malignant growing, and I'm not too sure how much longer things can carry on without it breaking into factions. It has changed SO much in the 3-4 years I've been blogging/blog reading, with people starting blogs just for 'free shit'. I didn't even know there WAS free shit when I started blogging - I just thought everyone was incredibly rich. Naive, or what?

Maybe I am a big ol' drama queen, but I *had* expected that when I went off the grid some people might've cared. As I said previously in the post I know people are busy. I know we all have our own shit to deal with - with blogging, with our lives - and that often insulates us to the plight of others. Before the last few months I would've said the plus size community is amazing, strong and supportive, but that just hasn't been the case for me of late, and I feel incredibly sad about this. All along I felt like I belonged to this massive force for good but now it feels like it was an illusion. I feel like I've deluded myself. To me, community celebrates your successes and holds you up when you need it. If you're only a valued part of a community when you're putting in, is that really a community? I'm slipping out of people's minds, if I was ever there. I just can't devote the time it takes to be an active member right now, and I know that people who used to have time for me now don't.

Are people's memories really that short? Does the loyalty only lie with the people who've commented on your blog that week? Or is it really just every bugger for themselves? Am I the only one feeling this? Because of all this depth of feeling I've kinda fallen out of love with outfit blogging and feel like talking about make up more at the moment. Whenever my depression is really bad I just want to look pretty, and makeup does make me feel happier. I'm not buying new clothes because we're skint so I'm only showing old outfits, whereas I have LOADS of makeup I've never talked about here. This change of focus may only be temporary, until I get my head straight, or I may take a break from blogging altogether.

I don't know if community in plus size blogging IS an illusion, but increasingly my community consists of my readers and my Twitter/Instagram followers, not other bloggers. Maybe I've been placing my trust in the wrong places all along, and maybe that's why I'm so sad.

So, readers and fellow bloggers, is community in plus size blogging an illusion? Do you feel supported by it? Is there a rift brewing? Or am I being an over sensitive dick? I know this is a contentious subject and will probably go further towards alienating me from the community, but these are my feelings and I've got to spit them out.

Thanks for reading.
Leah xoxo

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