Those of you who follow my work for Velocity Weekly know that I have no qualms about sharing personal stories with my readers. I’ve written about my boobs and my big hair, my faith and my feminism, the ups and downs of married life and even my struggles with lupus.
I write these essays with the hope that a woman (or man) will read my words, relate to what I’m going through and feel a little encouraged, even empowered. But yesterday I started to wonder if I’m just playing into what writer Hadley Freeman calls a “very wrong genre of journalism very wrong genre of journalism that is becoming all too popular: female confessional journalism.”
In an article in The Guardian yesterday, Freeman writes:
Here’s how it goes: a female journalist describes her obsession with her weight/breasts/ageing face/food or alcohol problems/inability to have a happy relationship. The article is illustrated by the journalist looking as miserable as possible. There are tales of daily woe. It concludes with the writer still sufficiently unhappy to be commissionable for another very similar piece.
Freeman goes on to say that this type of writing is hurtful, not helpful, to readers and that it sets back feminism because it perpetuates editors’ misogynistic image of women being self-hating and self-obsessed.
Sadly, I have seen this type of self-hate in essays by some of otherwise very talented female writers and after reading Freeman’s piece I was left thinking, “Has my writing actually been discouraging women this whole time?”
Deep down inside I feel the answer is no, though I could be kidding myself.
In my personal writing I’ve always made a point to never end on a note of self-loathing, and to instead share a tale of a journey toward self-acceptance. I also strive to make each personal column timely, if possible, and about something to which others can relate so that in the end it’s not all about me. And whether it’s oversharing or not, through the years I’ve received very positive responses from readers.
But what do you think? Are journalists who share personal stories stepping into TMI territory?