Comments 25 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Veering off the Vancouver-topic path and onto a more personal note this is simply to express my own sentiments and feelings on a topic.

I recently received a very critical comment from a fellow blogger in relation to a photo I posted within an entry on my blog (the iPhone post) asking why I would reduce myself to “bimbo” standards by posting the photos that I do on my site. This prompted me to share the following.

Flaunt ’em if you got ’em.

If you’re familiar with America’s Next Top Model you’ll know that it’s the more “buxom” contestants that have to worry about the fine line between pretty and sleazy or fashion and Maxim. More slender and less endowed women can tastefully get away with posting sensual photos, even on their blogs, because if anything it’s beautiful and their own expression. However, when someone with a bigger cup size were to post the very same photos, in the very same manner they could be construed as borderline pornographic.

Sometimes I am made to feel bad about my chest, in many ways. This is not a pity-party by any means, I’m simply enlightening those on the topic of “larger chested women don’t have it all” (and there are certainly many others that have much more than I do). There’s the shirts that don’t fit, the mis-matching bathing suits or underwear sets, the paying $5 more for your size of bra compared to others at Victoria’s Secret. It ain’t all fun and games.

Intelligent women are not allowed to be sexual.

I’ll specify a little – if a smart and fully “geek-cred” approved woman who has worked, designed and coded four websites over the last few years, blogged and podcasted for four years, gone to university with honors and has been working in the tech industry for eight years – why can she not feel sexy sometimes? Does it immediately discredit everything she’s worked so hard to build simply because she has cleavage showing? Does it bring down her IQ?

What about simply being playful? Tongue in cheek? The Humor? And what about an artistic expression? It’s not always about seeking attention and attraction – and there’s also something to be said about always being “one of the boys”.

If the Wired.com “sexy geek” poll says anything it’s that there are a ton of attractive women out there who have focused on their careers, research, or their own craft in their own intelligent ways – and they just also happen to be pleasing to the eye.

When a female wants to post photos on her blog amidst any kind of content that she worked hard to create who is to say what she can and cannot post?

Are we writing simply for a specific audience? Will people judge me now that I mentioned Top Model instead of the many documentaries I would rather be watching?

When and how should we censor ourselves to suit our traffic’s needs and so that they don’t immediate look at us in a different less-worthy light?

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25 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JackieMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 9:55am PST

    One can have lots of female curves and still dress lady-like and appropriately for the office (or any place where you want to be taken seriously). Keep the sexy or low cut clothing for home, weekends, parties, etc. Yes, it’s unfortunate that the world works this way, but put the foot on the other shoe: do you take the man more seriously who wears a suit or someone in old torn shorts and dirty sneakers?? I think it works the same for everyone.

  2. Ian BellMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:12am PST

    These days you should take the guy in the sneakers A LOT more seriously than the guy in the suit Mark Zuckerberg walks around in flip-flops and a hoodie — I’m far more interested in what he has to say than in what the CEO of AT&T might bring to the table.

    Old conventions are being torn down everywhere. It’s because people challenge them. No challenge = no change.

    Censoring ourselves is contrary to the purpose of the blogosphere in particular, and the web in general. If you cave to the judgement of a few strangers, Rebecca, then you’ve torn apart everything you’ve worked to build on this great site. The easiest thing to do is be who you are.

  3. RaulMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:15am PST

    This is a really good post, Rebecca. I asked myself that question this weekend. In some ways, I feel that my blog is a somewhat sanitized version of who I am. I don’t think I do that to suit the needs or interests of my traffic, although I can totally see how some people would disapprove of me if I posted a certain type of content.

    But the truth is, as my good friend Nomade Moderne (who also has a blog) told me this past Monday – a week ago – it is YOUR BLOG. You can post ANYTHING you want, and I can assure you, your credibility wouldn’t change.

    I think that you’ve worked really hard to establish a position in the blogosphere that many of us would call enviable. You are well read, and your content is linked left, right and center. That fact is completely not linked to how sexy you are. You are a very smart woman who happens to be sexy.

    I think I sometimes censor things I write on my blog simply because I don’t feel entirely comfortable posting them, but not because of my traffic. I am sure some people couldn’t care less that I am having stomach pains, but I blog about it because that’s what I feel.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  4. Jan KarlsbjergMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:16am PST

    I don’t have an ad blocker on the puter I’m currently sitting at, so I got the following two Google ads with this post:

    1. Asian Girls For Marriage
    Beautiful Chinese ladies seek men for love and marriage. Join free!

    2. Bras that Fit
    Large cup sizes small band sizes Help with picking size

    That’s quite the spread in context relevance. One is 0%, the other 100%

    Anyway, I don’t know what prompted your comment. In which context do you feel censored? Dumb comments on the blog? Ditto of Flickr? Something at work? (And if so, was the comment at work about your look and behavior AT WORK or elsewhere?) It’s a little hard to comment in general, as “Jackie” shows above where she assumes that the context is the work place and (as I read her comment) that you must have done something inappropriate in order to get negative reactions.

  5. Miss604Monday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:21am PST

    Naw, my workplace is just fine – no issues there. It’s more about what I post on my blog. I really admire people who can put it all out there, or simply have a strict type of blog ie. food, but what about us personal bloggers who just happen to have a theme? Sure I write about Vancouver, it’s my theme, I love it, but I am also Rebecca Bollwitt who lives in Vancouver… and this is about my life and experiences. When I receive negative feedback it’s not the end of the world, and I certainly pay attention to what people are saying about my site. However, I find that I do have to censor myself a lot of the time, because of my audience or in fear of those negative comments that are never any fun regardless.

  6. JohnMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:32am PST

    I agree with Raul.

    The tagline on my blog is “This is my blog, not your blog”. It’s an homage to a line from Tom Green’s old tv show theme song “This is my show, not your show” but is also a reflection of the fact the posts are my words and thoughts on whatever the hell I want to post about.

    You’ve proven yourself as a smart cookie that also happens to be sexy (the Geeks shall inherit the earth!)….I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.

    But I also see a tipping point when someone’s blog gets to a place where the audience is large and they come to expect a certain type of thing from the blog author…and anytime there is a post that veers off the expected path, the natives get restless. I’m not about to start talking politics on my tech blog since I’ve never really discussed it there and have no interest in wading in on that topic – at least in that context. I don’t think you’ve done anything like that because of the way you’ve positioned your blog.

    If some people get upset over a cheesecake shot (usually with some kind of cool tech in there), maybe they need to move on. Miss403.com maybe?

  7. fotoeinsMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:40am PST

    As Mulder once said to Scully: “Smart is sexy.”

    As I’ve always maintained : “Smart and sexy are lethal.”

    IMHO, that the follow-up response was condemning speaks more critically about the person who responded. I have to question why some feel so threatened about this.

    You keep doin’ what you’re doin’ there, Beck.

  8. raymiMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:45am PST

    always view the source, and question why they even care to begin with? bitter, envious, just stirring up some drama for their own amusement, and really, they DON’T care they just want to get under your skin. i look at it from a purely desensitized perspective at this point, sad, but that’s how it goes. when you’re sitting there thinking is this too smutty, what are they going to say now about this now? i take that as a sign to proceed, and fuck caution.

  9. raymiMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:46am PST

    ps. i want to see this photo!

  10. DanielMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:46am PST

    Bloggers censor themselves based not on the suitability of the content, but rather by the purposes behind the blog.

    If we’re blogging with the intent to make money off this site, then we have to care what people think of content. The greatest amount of money comes from appealing to the majority of viewers, so censorship comes with the decision to “sell” our content to the largest audience possible.

    If however we blog for personal or political reasons, we say what we want, however we want to say it. There is no law, no Internet police to push you in one direction or the other, so the decision to censor rests entirely with the author.

    Frankly, I’m a little annoyed that you would (a) give credit to such a narrow-minded reader, and (b) take the image down, and then (c) complain about how this was somehow imposed upon you. This is your site, your canvas to paint your view of the world onto the commons. You’ve made the decision to monetise this space and have to accept the consequences of that decision.

    If you don’t appreciate the ill-conceived views of the occasional sexually-oppressed idiot, then your options are to either ignore them at the risk of putting a dent in your financial model, or self-censor. Personally, I think you made the wrong decision.

  11. LoxyMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:48am PST

    I’m one of those personal bloggers who strives to be personal on her blog and yet I still find myself censoring things – and will even have to reconsider the direction of my blog as my public name becomes more known.

    But having some of you and your personality is what makes your blog better than the other Vancouver-type blogs. We hear things from your perspective and it’s nice to hear the background of that perspective.

    Good on you for ranting every once and while. I think it’s healthy.

  12. MegMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 11:04am PST

    I wrote a post about how women get a lot of mixed messages from the media re: where their value lies, and it had “boobs” in the title. I’ve never posted any shots of my chest on my blog, but that post alone catapulted me to the first page of Google.ca rankings for “boobs”… I think I’m no. 4 now. Other variations on the same theme see me all the way at no. 1.

    Clearly, the Internets like their boobs, and they’re looking for them anywhere they can get them.

    Now, when they click on my blog, are they disappointed? Probably. And that post is the most ironic one they could click on for that search, anyway.

    But they’ll keep looking. 🙂

    I think when you make the choice to put yourself out there publicly, you’re going to get a wide range of opinions coming back at you about everything you do. You know this, of course — you’ve been at this a long time, to much acclaim. 🙂

    Those opinions aren’t “censorship” per se, they’re a response… and if you keep comments open and post your email address, you’re going to get a response.

    But unless they can shut down your site or force you to take down posts — which they can’t — you’re free to do what you will in your own venue, according to your own judgment. And they are free to comment back.

    Is it fun all the time? No way. Can you delete comments and ignore emails if they are abusive? Definitely. And I advocate that, though not for most discussion or dissent. That just kills the conversation.

    But it’s your site, and as much as you open yourself to response, you decide what aspects of that you accept. Now, if they go post on their OWN site about you, well…:)

    I think we all wish people saw us and our efforts the way we intend them, but that’s not going to happen. You can get offended, or you can just be. And even as I say that, I know the responses people give me offend me plenty at times. But they have as much right to them as I do my views — and conversely, I can delete them if they choose to post them problematically in my venue. It’s a fun cycle.:)

    World’s longest comment, sorry.

  13. GregMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 11:04am PST

    The complainer needs to make a post defending their puritanical ways and why they feel the need to impose them on others.

  14. bzMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 12:01pm PST

    subtlety is sexy.

    blatant cleave shots with gadgets? a little trampy. but that’s just my opinion, do what you gotta do – it’s your blog.

    be who you are, i just think you’re smart enough to not have to rely on titillation to get attention.

  15. Duane StoreyMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 12:25pm PST

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, and as John said, ultimately it’s your blog and you can do what you want. I’ve fielded emails before from people that didn’t agree with the content of my site, and didn’t understand why the emailed when they could have simply walked away if they didn’t like it. Am I a form of entertainment whose sole purpose is to entertain my readers with what they want? That’s sort of the implication of that email, and someone who goes out of the way to disagree with your content.

    I would probably take offense to someone who claimed to be a geek or a techie and posted raunchy shots of themselves with techie gadgets simply to draw attention to themselves. If they actually were techies/intelligent (as you are), then I have no problem with it, but knowing how much time it takes to stay current with technology and the sacrifices you have to make to be a qualified geek these days, I’d hate to see someone capitalize off of that with nothing to back it up. In that case, the end result would simply be me walking away from their site.

    On another note though, I think everyone I know who posts boob shots or sexy shots of themselves is fully conscious of the fact that they will receive more traffic because of it. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just think to disguise it as something else to appease a few people would be a disservice. (this is a general statement, not related to this blog at all). There’s nothing wrong with being sexy, and using that as an advantage in the blogosphere.

    If you got it, flaunt it.

  16. Miss604Monday, February 18th, 2008 — 12:31pm PST

    There are a lot of “stunts” bloggers can pull in post-form that can immediately drive up their traffic or comments. I just like giving context to my posts with photos. If that means posting a playful photo of me with my new Christmas hatchet, or smooching my husband, so be it 😛

  17. GZ ExpatMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 2:32pm PST

    Bottom line…some people just need to lighten up. Keep on doing what your doing and f* those that can’t take a joke. 😉

  18. Kerry AnneMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 4:15pm PST

    Good on ya for sticking to your guns, Rebecca. Screw ’em. Just do what feels right for you. Well behaved women never make history, anyway.

  19. ArianeMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:34pm PST

    Seriously? You effing tell them!

    That kind of attitude just grates on me, one more person trying to make a gal feel bad about her bod. And for what?

    Boob size aside, I think it’s great that you flaunt what you got and put across the message of good body image, it makes you a great role model for both your peers and the youngsters. If people weren’t so afraid of their bodies sexuality, I would hazard a guess that a lot of body image crap would stop getting passed down to the next generation of girls. And that, would be fabulous!

  20. ArianeMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:36pm PST

    ps. that shoulda been “bodies AND sexuality”…whoops

    pps. you are all class 😉

  21. LucMonday, February 18th, 2008 — 10:40pm PST

    There is an undeniable aesthetic value in your personal photos, as your put it “pleasing to the eye”. The compositions are witty – compare the original iPhone photo to the current one. Are you’re completely entitled to use you image as much as your brains, just like a typical male would do.

  22. KeithTuesday, February 19th, 2008 — 12:41am PST

    I’ve known ya a long time, though maybe not as well as I once did. You run a personal blog. The key word being personal, it has to reflect you, and your personality.

    Putting things on the Internet opens us up to criticism. People will take shots at you if they don’t agree with your opinion. Unless you’ve done something truly wrong (read: some kind of human rights violation) their opinions are just that: opinions.

    Do your thing. And in the words of Wayne Turmel: “Don’t let the weasels get ya down.”

  23. JenniferTuesday, February 19th, 2008 — 10:41am PST

    This is a great post, Rebecca. It’s funny, some of the girls at my office and I were just having this discussion a couple days ago- about how a smaller chested girl can get away with wearing things that a larger chested girl would be perceived as provocative, or even inappropriate in. I can relate, being a well endowed girl myself, this has always been a source of insecurity for me. I’d love to have little A cups and be able to wear any top that I want- but c’est la vie. It’s important to feel good about what you’ve got.

    Personal blogs are reflections of ourselves and whatever we choose to put out there into the world. I think it’s fun when the type of content changes all the time- those are my favourite blogs to read. Most of us have many interests and lots of different things going on in our lives; of course we’re going to have a plethora of topics that we could choose to touch on. As for the photos that you post- they’re hot and are always in good taste. You are a beautiful and intelligent woman; anybody who reads your blog knows that. I think Raymi’s right-people just want to stir it up or they’re jealous. Who’s to say that you have to be a bimbo just because you’re sexy? You’re a fab role model for healthy body image. Like Duane said, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” You do and you have every right to!

    Keep up the fantastic job that you do on this site!

  24. TylerThursday, February 21st, 2008 — 9:31am PST

    Forget the empty criticism of half-wits, Rebecca.
    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now, and I’ve yet to see anything that I would consider remotely objectionable.
    You just keep being you; that’s why we read your blog.
    People who’s opinions ammount to “ZOMGWTFBBQ, I SAW HER CLAVICLE!!!” aren’t worth paying attention to.


  25. Melissa YeuxdouxThursday, March 6th, 2008 — 8:59pm PST

    “Yes, it’s unfortunate that the world works this way, but put the foot on the other shoe: do you take the man more seriously who wears a suit or someone in old torn shorts and dirty sneakers??”

    Well… it may be an apocryphal story, but I recall hearing once about Bill Joy, of vi fame and founder of Sun Microsystems, visiting a car dealer dressed less than formally and being blown off. Did the salesman make the right decision? I think not.

    Let me belatedly (after hearing about this on Lip Gloss and Laptops) add my voice to the chorus supporting you and lamenting that some think beauty or sexuality and intelligence can’t coexist.

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