BlogHer: Through My Lens
A recap of the empowering and inspirational conversations from women content creators and entrepreneurs at this year's #BlogHerHealth19 in Los Angeles.
Health. When you hear that word, what comes to mind? What about when someone says, “I’m living a healthy lifestyle?” What does that mean to you? What does it mean to the world? Today, when celery cleanses and keto diets are all the rage, it appears the meaning of health is directly related to one’s waistline. However, “health,” as defined by the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO 2019). We often forget about these other elements that make up a healthy individual. This definition of health was at the center of all topics discussed at #BlogHerHealth19 in Los Angeles, January 24–25.
Since 2005, BlogHer has been inspiring, empowering and celebrating women content creators. This mission flourished last week when more than 1,000 top bloggers, social media influencers, brands and journalists joined together at #BlogHerHealth19 for 2 days of keynotes, influencer workshops, networking and sponsor activations. The theme of the event was health, but more specifically, women’s health. Speakers focused on their battles with mental illness, vaginal health, the “me too” movement, reproductive freedom and issues, digital well-being, and the Know Your Girls™ campaign from Susan G. Komen®. These messages on the main stage converged, defining the overwhelming sentiment of the event: That being healthy is directly reliant on all these topics.
Actress, producer and activist Alyssa Milano spoke about her postpartum depression and how it affected her overall health and well-being. She discussed the need to erase the stigma that once you have kids, everything is supposed to be a field of daisies. “It’s not, and it’s so helpful to others to know that it’s not just them. We should be able to talk about that,” she said. “If you had a heart problem, you’d take medicine and tell people you have a heart problem. But, it’s not the same with a mental illness problem. We have to erase the stigma of mental illness.”
It’s these types of social change topics that #BlogHerHealth19 focused on. The integration of mental wellness, listening to your body, self-care, nutrition, exercise, getting out of toxic relationships, meditation, seeing a therapist, or anything else that makes you happy is their definition of health. Their message to the 1,000 content creators in the audience? Use your platform for social change and honesty. “Be authentic” seemed to be THE phrase of the event. Speakers such as Massy Arias, Angela Davis, Jaime King, and so many more highlighted the importance of talking about the lows and the highs, and that by doing so, you’re truly creating a community that ushers in unity. And THAT is a healthy behavior.
The breakout sessions topics were a little lighter, touching on ways social influencers could turn their passion into a business, with tips and tricks from the pros. One panelist, CeCe Olisa, talked about the “3 Ps” and how they were so instrumental in her journey: Purpose, Platform and Profit. This is where that theme of “authenticity” comes back into play. She explained, “What are you looking over that you’re naturally good at? Your followers want to know about YOU. Don’t ever start by trying to make money. Start with a purpose.” CeCe’s story is one that many in the audience could learn from. When she moved to New York City from California, she quickly noticed that, as a plus-size girl, she was having a slightly different experience than her skinny friends. From dating to finding wide-calf boots to job hunting, things were different for her, and she needed a place to sort through her own feelings of body insecurity and her constant quest to express herself with fashion.
So, in 2008, as a hobby, she created a blog where she discussed fashion, fitness, dating and life from a plus-size and body-positive perspective. She did this so well that she now has hundreds of thousands of followers with her on her continuing journey. She co-founded her own event, theCURVYcon—a convention celebrating body positivity and plus-size fashion during New York Fashion Week—she’s a TEDx speaker, she was named one of the “Top 10 New York Fashion Bloggers” by Who What Wear, and she was titled a “person who proves you can be fit at any size” by MTV.com. CeCe creates wildly popular plus-size workout videos on her YouTube channel and encourages women to work out because they love their bodies, not because they hate their bodies. It was this kind of inspiring story that really spoke to the event’s theme, and you could see the empowerment rush over the audience.
Amidst the educational and social-influencing set-list of A-list presenters was an equally impressive sponsor list. Sponsors like Boathouse Farms, Caulipower, This Bar Saves Lives, Tone It Up, Smartypants Vitamins and Lemonade offered brain-fuel for attendees and speakers in between sessions. The sponsor activations were tied in very seamlessly with the event and improved the overall excitement of being at the event for the attendees. Every time you turned around, there was a new sponsor sampling a product or handing out a freebie.
Participants at #BlogHerHealth19 practiced what they preached during this year’s event. The audience was directed along an inspirational and authentic path towards self-love, running your platform for good, self-care, mindfulness, listening to your body, and the value we, as women, bring to everything we touch. BlogHer is about amplifying the content of those who have something to say and is designed to celebrate the female storytellers who raise awareness for our collective health. I, and the other 1,000 attendees, heard them loud and clear. Now, it’s time to spread their message.
Photos courtesy of BlogHer.