Whether you are aspiring to be a style blogger, a freelance fashion writer, or seeking employment with a publication, one topic of journalism that should not be ignored is ethics. Blogging and publications come with their own unique ethical dilemmas so it’s important to understand all sides of the conversation. First, we’ll break down the issues within style blogging. Style bloggers can, and do, make huge amounts of income through affiliate links in their blog posts. This means that companies can send them free products to wear and then write about, encouraging readers to buy those products. The allure of style blogs is that readers can see a real person, with real opinions, creating looks and discussing fashion. This makes them a more trustworthy source of information and reviews about brands and styles. The problem comes, then, when bloggers accept free clothing or accessories in exchange for positive coverage of the item. This ruins the original concept of real reviews and opinions about certain products, and companies seek bloggers out because they understand that the blogger’s readers trust them. This practice can blur the lines between actual journalism and promotion/advertising. Affiliate links and promotion, however, is a much smaller and different issue than the ethical problems that come into play with fashion publications and major media.
The way the fashion industry operates through print and publications has been a hot topic of discussion for quite some time. People look to the media as a source of truth in the world, for information on the way things are and should be. The media looks to the public as a means to get money. This creates an insidious relationship where fashion writing and advertising can create a false image of what is normal and desirable, and play on the insecurities of women to sell them clothing and other products. It has become so ingrained into the operation of our society that it’s practically inescapable. Fashion journalists who write about how awful so-and-so looked in a certain gown because of her belly or arms, for instance, are setting the tone for the way we view ourselves and the way we view what is normal and acceptable. Those who want to become respectable fashion writers should consider what’s most important about it overall-the pieces, styles, trends, and designers, rather than blasting the individuals wearing them. It’s true that a large part of a particular journalist’s job may be going to parties and asking celebrities what designer they’re wearing, but that can often translates into low-brow body shaming for internet clicks and magazine sales. Those with a drive for fashion and writing must make the decision of what they will and won’t write for themselves, so it’s important to understand the consequences and impact their work can make, both in print and online.