I spent last weekend in San Jose, California at the 2014 BlogHer Conference in the presence of mommy bloggers, nerdy bloggers, plus size bloggers, tech bloggers, queer bloggers, women who blog about food, dating, having autistic children, post partum depression, and living with mental illness.
I ate most of my meals in the presence of two of my favorite women - Jes Baker and Chrystal Bougon of Curvy Girl Inc. I finally met Brooke Warner, the founder of Warner Coaching, someone who's changing the publishing industry and the woman who saw the future of books fat positivity and acquired Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion. I met a hilarious woman named Johanna Stein (@johannastein) who wrote a book about how not to keep a kid quiet on a plane, who writes screenplays and who I'm now kinda Twitter stalking (apparently it's mutual).
I learned about ebooks, meaningful font selection, taking amazing images, blogging with purpose. I learned that blogging was a vehicle for visibility, activism, keeping it real, opportunities for success, a way for women to connect and feel like they weren't alone. There were women there who had created communities and changed the conversation about size, beauty, ability and race.
And yes, I met Khloe Kardashian.
I was totally in awe of an entire convention hall filled with women who had contributed in some way to making the interwebz a place that I spend a lot of time on. During the conference a woman who began a blog about dealing with post partum depression asked all of us "what is your internet?"
My internet is where fat folks, nerds, critical race scholars, queers and fashionistas converge to create a community I call my own.
We organize to take care of each other.
We message each other when we see someone is having a shitty day.
We create gatherings where we redistribute wealth like lipstick and shoes and dresses.
We fight for each other when trolls and assholes attack us for being fat or brown or feminist or gender non-conforming.
We help boost each other's signals when we have projects we care about.
We admire each other's perfect outfits or delicious meals.
We share our chub rub solutions, our aluminum free deodorant tips, our guides to making clothes fit better.
We share vulnerable things and send ((((hugs)))) when things get harsh.
That is my internet and I saw a lot of these women doing the same kind of work in their way. I remembered how much I love being completely surrounded by feminine presence. I remembered how much room other women have made for me. I remembered being a baby feminist who had a lot of self hatred and fear of being a woman and projecting that onto others. I remembered that it was women who taught me to let go of that hatred and fear. I was totally in awe this weekend and I left feeling utterly convinced that we own the internet.
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.