TMI?

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?

7 Comments

  1. Don’t sweat that Javacia. I don’t think you have the “Why is everything always happening to ME?!” vibe to your writing, which is what I think the article is referring to. Nothing gets accomplished with that. Entertain, inform and report through your eyes.

    Keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

  2. Well said, Kat.

    Javacia, you always incorporate the real world and the reader into your columns and do offer resolutions.

    Being a journalist is essentially telling other people’s stories… but that doesn’t mean you don’t have your own to tell.

    In fact, my favorite columns of yours are the ones where we see more of you and your personality. :)

  3. Kat & Maisy,

    Thanks for such encouraging words. You ladies are awesome!

    xoxo,
    j.

  4. Jai, I don’t think that you really charter in to TMI territory. I agree with you that you do try to end on a positive note and encourage people to be empowered versus putting all your business on front street and singing the woe is me anthem so many are known for. There are some writers who do swim in those waters and tell me more than I would ever want to know about their personal lives but I think that you relay your information tastefully and in a manner where I feel that you are sharing with your readers and not just blasting them with TMI.

    Keep doing your thing lady!

  5. i don’t think you have to worry about too much info. if anything, that’s the stuff that gets people interested. whenever i write a column about my 20-something life, i get more response than i would about a good news feech. people like reading about other people. we are a nosy species.

  6. No, your column isn’t like the ones Freeman is referring to. You relate your column and your blogs to current events, and you don’t seem hopeless.

    While I don’t agree with Freeman’s assertion that the editors of these “I am woman. Hear me cry” columns are woman-haters, I do think she has a point. We have to be aware of what happens when narcissism and ratings collide, especially in a medium that’s supposed to be about truth, even with all of truth’s different perspectives.

  7. just tell anyone who may think this to kiss your grits!!

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