Today marks one year of me starting this blog. The last 12 months have been a learning experience. I’ve not posted nearly as much as I had intended to. I have a list of 40 posts waiting to be written, an Instagram account that’s barely touched and a Twitter account where I keep replying to messages a few days late. Oops.
It’s really hard trying to find my voice in the overcrowded field of travel blogging. Prior to this I had a lifestyle blog for 10 years that I wrote regularly, just for my family to read, but since then the whole environment of blogging has changed. There’s so much theory, best practice, schools of thought, books, online courses, talks, events and conferences that have led to blogging becoming formulaic, dull and most sadly, feeling a bit desperate.
Blogging is not something that can exist alone though; it’s part of the wider world of social media and ‘travel social media’ is an area I’ve been getting very familiar with over the last few months. Firstly I’ve learnt that it’s incredibly popular. We are all so fascinated by the fantasy of foreign lands and the beauty they represent.
There’s no denying that images of perfect unspoiled landscapes and glowing sunsets hovering above ancient ruins aren’t appealing. I’m a ‘liker’ of these images myself. When I first signed up to Instagram these were the accounts I followed. Next I got to know the important travel hashtags, including the right phrases to use, to get spotted and shared by influencial accounts. I admired these accounts daily, wondering whether I’d ever appear on one…and then it finally dawned on me: I will never get featured on these accounts because of the colour of my skin.
Nothing opens a person up to diversity and culture more than travel – so why is it that there’s such a lack of diversity in some of the most influential travel accounts there are, aimed at female travellers?
And yes I am going to name and shame. I used to follow all three of these accounts but with time it dawned on me just how un-inclusive they are; selling us an idealistic vision that travel is something that can only be enjoyed by attractive white females, and I’m not prepared to support this way of thinking because it’s Racist.
So here’s the culprits (figures as of date of posting this blogpost)
Darling Escapes – 145k followers 653 posts
Approx 13 of their posts feature women of colour (half of them fall into the white Asian category of being Chinese/Japanese, so there’s very much a lack of brown skin tones on their grid)
She Is Not Lost – 151k followers – 636 posts
Around 10 posts feature women of colour and three of those posts are of the same person, lucky her!
We Are Travel Girls – 256k followers 1,114 posts
I counted 15 posts that feature women of colour
Of these three accounts there are around three South Asian women across them in total (see, I have no hope). But it’s not just the unequal percentage of Caucasian women appearing on these accounts that makes them so unattractive: there is no evidence of any woman whose body shape is anything other than a stick.
So essentially what these carefully curated lifestyle accounts are showing us is that only thin, white women go travelling. Need I say more?
The creators of these accounts need to know that this inaccurate representation of women is unacceptable.
I urge you to unfollow these accounts and those that are similar to them and to start leaving comments about why you are doing so because until we ‘followers’ say NO to this type of blatant racism, there will never be any change. Travel is for everyone and that needs to be represented in every aspect of the industry.
I know how privileged I am that I have travelled and I will travel more. I’m also aware that some people will never in their entire lifetime, leave the region in which they are born, but for those of us who are lucky enough to travel we can’t let these influential social media accounts continue to send out negative messages. Let’s make this stand against racist, non-diverse accounts together.
As for my blog, I love writing every one of these posts. It gives me so much pleasure. I’m far off from being a ‘travel blogger’ or ‘influencer’ but not my intention. I love the diary element of what I do, having a place to store my memories and photographs. It makes me feel so chuffed when someone likes my posts or leaves a comment. As I said, I’m still finding my voice and I will continue to try out different types of posts. I also aim to increase my content and stay true to myself by writing more honest opinion posts like this one.
Thank you to every one who has stumbled on these pages in its first infancy year. I hope you’ll come back soon and get inspired to take a more creative themed approach to your adventures.
Portrait photo: Horaczko Photography