And There It Is
In 2005, I registered for BlogHer's first conference with a flippant, oh, maybe I'll go, maybe not attitude. I had never been to a conference of any stripes before, and I was pretty sure that I would be a fish out of water. But it was a mere two hours from home, and I was enthralled with blogging...and I was getting a little stir crazy in my native environment, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
Once Elisa Camahort asked me to co-lead the mommyblogging room-of-your-own session, I was thrilled. As the day of the conference approached, I'll admit to a bit of anxiety. Not about co-leading a session. Hah! Give me a microphone! No, like many women, I was worried about my appearance.
I didn't have a professional wardrobe any longer - although let's be frank, even when I was working full-time outside the home, my wardrobe consisted of little cotton dresses from the clearance rack at Target. I'd become chubby and my hair was mousy. My nails were traumatized from years of biting them. I was a hot mess. What would these other bloggers think of me? How harshly would I be judged for my lack of style?
That set off some panic shopping. I bought a couple of shirts and a new pair of shoes from Payless. I got my hair cut and highlighted. I put on fake nails, too, I think. And I drove off down the road to the conference. The whole way down the road, I was rehearsing how I would need to smile and tilt my head to avoid double-chin action in photos. Bloggers take a lot of photos, and that, above all else, freaked me out.
THERE WOULD BE UNFLATTERING PHOTOS OF ME ON THE INTERNET. And I couldn't do a damn thing about it. I could put on a pretty blouse, hold my head just right, and someone could still catch me mid-sentence, from the wrong angle, neglect to photoshop out my red demon eyes and slap my sorry ass up on Flickr. And there it would be. Photographic evidence that I'm just a regular gal, with a double chin and a penchant for making faces when I talk. Not an airbrushed goddess with perfect proportions and glossy mane.
After contemplating wearing a bag on my head, (I ruled it out because hello? New highlights?) I just gave it over to God and got on with the business of greeting and making friends. From the first moment I met Meghan and Jenn in our hotel room, to the final moment when I got in my car and drove home, I forgot to worry about it any more. People greeted me with a big smile and asked about my blog. I found that people actually read this thing - and liked it! Like, whoa.
In 2006, I didn't have a chance to get my hair done, but I still got a couple of new dresses and marched myself to San Jose with a spring in my step. I was slightly chagrined to see the photos later - hey look, same shirt, different year - but was gratified to see that even though the BlogHer community had grown, it still retained the anything goes vibe from the previous year. And even more importantly to me, the friendships that had begun last year were still going strong, and I had the chance to meet even more amazing women (and Karl) and do things like greet the dawn in the company of hilarious women like, um, Dawn. And Roo and Tammie and Meghan. And a giant man named Sasquatch, who was many things, including a pathological liar.
Last year's conference, I busted out a few new dresses, I think I got my hair done but I don't even remember at this point. Once again, I had the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful women - and to take a zillion unflattering photos with them. Being part of this vibrant sea of unique women, I forget that the outside world expects women to obsess about appearance. It isn't that women don't dress well, and inject their own personal style into the conference crowds. How do I put this...BlogHer is a community for women who have something to say - and, to paraphrase a lyric from Ben Folds, these are women who are into things that are too big to be expressed through their clothes.
Whether you're a personal blogger writing stories about your family, or a political blogger breaking down the issues, or a food blogger sharing the bounty from your kitchen - whatever your spin is, I'm interested in learning more. I've walked away inspired every year.
So this year, I'm looking for a comfortable pair of heels to match the outfits I'm planning to wear, knowing full well that I should be in flats. I'm wondering if I'll have time to squeeze in a mani-pedi before I head to San Francisco. And I'm confident that in the end, it is the connections I make that matter more than my shoes.
And there it is.