Ooh, my keyboard is on fire – I can hardly type quick enough to keep up with my thoughts on Liz Jones’ rant against Mumsnet bloggers.
I need to remind BBB readers that it was a chance meeting with Liz Jones that indirectly led to this blog even being in existence. We talked at an event and I told her I wanted to write the truth about beauty and the industry. She said to me, ‘you could make a fortune’ because nobody ever tells the truth about beauty. Buoyed by that, I phoned the Daily Mail commissioning desk to put my idea for a no-holds barred column on beauty products. I was told.. and I quote, “if anyone was interested in what you had to say it would be a good idea.. but they aren’t.” Cheers then, Daily Mail. A few weeks later and Elsa Mcalonan’s column, Beauty Confidential, promising to ‘tell the truth’ about beauty appeared. Of course, it does anything but.
It was genuinely the moment when I thought, I don’t want to do this anymore (write for papers) and started to search out ways to talk about beauty and the beauty industry with complete honesty. Finally, I heard about blogs and the rest is history. I keep one regular print job, but can quite honestly say that I have never pitched to any other paper for work since then.
So, in a way, I have to be grateful to Liz Jones, because while my fortune is most certainly not made, it was her enthusiasm for my idea that ended up as BBB. I’m really happy to leave the Daily Mail to talk endless nonsense about ‘miracle creams’ and breast enhancing/reducing lotions, but there is always the uneasy truth that millions of women read it as gospel and buy their ‘truth’. I can only do what I can do in some small way to counterbalance the baloney.
Liz Jones hits some unpalatable nails on the head when she describes mummy blogging as the new home-knitting and without knowing it, gets to the nub of the problem with mummy blogging… we are utterly swamped with millions of mums blogging and it is pretty much all the same – babies, sleeping and lack of, traveling with babies, cooking for babies and basically how to do everything motherly better than anyone else. It’s awash with moral highground and superiority complexes as a result of playing Beethoven in the womb and yoga retreats – a more competitive playground you will not find. However, what Liz has totally forgotten is the utter pleasure that having a baby can bring – the desire to share with the world the joy of your child. It’s what we are programmed to do – see our babies as the centre of our universe – that’s how it’s meant to be! Sharing it with like-minded mums – what on earth is wrong with that? Baking, cooking, making things etc – what instead would she have women filling their baby days with? Boil washing terry nappies while wearing a hair shirt to make it ‘worthwhile’ enough?
The issue seems to boil down to mums on maternity leave having what Liz calls a ‘holiday’. Well, yes, if you’re lucky enough to have blessed time with your child on a work break, then fabulous, but it’s not a holiday. Far from it. It’s the time in which you discover yourself as a mother and get to know your child properly and if that leads to happier children who forge through to useful adulthood balanced and loved, then you know what, it’s time well spent.
However, I do see the other side – how very, very annoying that while your colleague is blogging about her cupcakes, you are working extra hours to cover her workload. That, though, is an employer issue, not a mother issue. Before blogs, the issue of what mothers did while at home caring for their babies on maternity leave wasn’t really an issue at all. Now, because blogs are so public, I guess it does leave people wondering where exactly the time comes from to knit an entire nativity scene – maybe babies aren’t quite so hard after all.
Anyone who has a blog knows that it’s a labour of love – I call mine the child that constantly needs feeding! Liz has forgotten (or never realised) all the peripheral stuff around blogging such as hours spent researching and sourcing content, constant emails to and fro to acquire images, endless thought about stats analysis and trying to please an audience who now, if your blog is successful, have come to expect – and indeed, deserve, certain standards, to name but a few things. It is certainly not a question of sitting idly in front of the laptop and writing about pureed carrots and eyebags.
From what I can gather about Mumsnet, it is bitchy (so is beauty blogging, probably all blogging is) – she’s right – with a constant stream of out-mothering mothers – but it is not compulsory! Nobody makes you read that stuff. And, I’m pretty sure nobody made Liz turn up that day to sneer at something she really doesn’t understand – on both counts; parenting and blogging.
There is so much that’s good about blogging – I get very irritated with those who made their ‘fortune’ on the back of blogging but now don’t want to be called ‘bloggers’ – and it’s brought the genre of writing back to a generation who can barely be arsed to read a book, never mind write something themselves. Liz’s assertion that blogging is lucrative is misinformed – for all but a very few, it doesn’t pay a penny (head to YouTube for the bigger bucks). Blogging is a way to polarise your thoughts instead of letting the general muddle rule your head, it’s a way to communicate to people who have a choice about whether they want to hear you or not and ultimately, it’s a way to have a purpose when you may feel other things in your life aren’t that purposeful at all.
It would not surprise me one little bit if Liz Jones ends up with a blog herself.. oh, wait.. Dispatches From Fashion’s Front Row: Liz Jones’ (paid for by the Daily Mail) blog.
There’s no point in hysterics over Liz’s views.. who cares what she thinks. You have the thing, in your blog, that most journalists would give their eye teeth for – a chance to air your views and be heard literally whenever you like, and if that’s 4am snuggled up to the most wonderful thing that ever happened to you, then you win.
NB: Sometime later, I checked the mumsnet forum on the subject – it seems that they too rather think that blogs are a load of drivel and agree with Liz on the subject of blogging. Who knew?