A Serious & Official “Statement”

by Rachel on March 4, 2011

Knowing how I protective I am over my content, many people have been sending me e-mails this morning about something I want to address here quickly — the new “Own It!” campaign from BlogHer and USAToday.com.

So let me seriously and officially answer your question  — Yes, I know. Yes, I have seen it.

And to answer the many people who are aware that there are, um, politics between myself and one of BlogHer’s Owning It! bloggers, I should just say that she has asserted — correctly so — that it is not reasonable to expect that she has read every single post of mine, or to assume she has read the posts I link to in those of my posts that she has read/commented on, nor is it fair to expect her or anyone else involved with this new campaign to know about everything happening on the Internet. There are a lot of blogs out there.

And, really, the most important thing is that OWNING IT and (owning your body image!) is REACHING MORE PEOPLE! You guys know that I LOVE owning it. Your owning it posts (all of your fabulous owning it posts), e-mails, and Tweets (many of which are still happening around the Web!) are one of the best things to come out of this blog. And your enthusiasm and response to the idea has made it a huge part of my blog, one that I address regularly, in so many different ways. So although I’m disappointed that I was not one of the bloggers tapped to become an official blogger for this movement, I couldn’t be happier that, ultimately, more women will start owning who they are, stop apologizing for what they do, abandon asking for permission, and experience all of the confidence and happiness that comes from living a guilt-free life.

Have a great weekend!

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dori March 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Well said. You did an amazing thing with your Owning It movement. I always wanted to write a post for it but never did… definitely something I need to think more about.

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2 gene March 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm

well played.
no surprise there.
you are very classy.
keep it up!
-gene-

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3 LC March 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I don’t know – I think they’re being underhanded.

Not only do you write about “owning it” but plenty of other bloggers have referred to the movement, linking to your site. It would literally take a quick google search to find, and lead back to you. When you start a new series with USAToday, you do your homework.

Not to mention, I’m highly skeptical that another person just “came up” with the exact same idea. Oh, and didn’t check to see if they were the first one to do so.

I’m glad you’re being the bigger person, I just disagree.

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4 Kaytee March 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Stuff like this is why I love you, Rachel. Very well said.

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5 klh March 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Classy response as always! I love reading your link to owning its : ) Did that make sense!
Have a great weekend girl!

Katie : )

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6 Rachel March 5, 2011 at 10:46 am

Of course it did! xx

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7 Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing March 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm

They’re full of crap, but good for you for being the better person!

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8 Hannah March 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Her reply to you in her comments in hilarious – I think she is just clueless. Even though it isn’t her fault that the movement was titled after one of your very popular topics, she obviously has read your posts on Owning It before and could have, at the very least, mentioned your work on the subject. That’s all.

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9 lisa March 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Way to keep it classy! I’m not sure I believe in karma, but I hope it comes through for all parties involved in this instance. Which, of course, means good things for you :)

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10 Rachel L March 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm

You are classy and the bigger person and that is amazing. But I view their actions as plagiarism and believe it is bullshit. Sorry I’m not sorry.

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11 Rachel's Mom March 5, 2011 at 1:14 am

Thank you for that!

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12 Bonnie Bucqueroux March 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

You are indeed a class act. They, however, are assholes.

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13 Manon March 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Oh Bonnie, I could not have put my feelings about this into better words.

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14 Triz March 5, 2011 at 2:09 am

So true. Also, they aren’t smart or funny enough for you to fit in with them. Their loss.

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15 Emily March 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I am greatly impressed with the way you handled this situation. Represent: Keepin’ it classy.

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16 MelissaNibbles March 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Elegance is learned mah friends. Rachel, you are our teacher.

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17 Martha March 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm

You are one classy beyotch. I left my two cents on the other blogger’s blog.. Frankly, the proof is in the pudding- if you are an honest person with loads of integrity, it comes through by the things you stand by and choose to do… Maybe this blogger has sold out a bit, but you certainly haven’t…

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18 Rachel March 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm

You are definitely classy…because I googled “owning it blog” and yours came up first.

Way to be the bigger person though. :) Always love your stuff!

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19 Elisabeth March 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Well done, Rachel.

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20 Parita @ myinnershakti March 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I think you should’ve been chosen for this, but everything happens for a reason. Keep doing what you do!! You’re an inspiration!

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21 Whitney March 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I don’t know about the drama, who is who, what is what. I think I’m okay with that.

What I do know, however, is that of all these “big famous bloggers” you have got to be the most underrated blogger.

Seriously. Screw USA Today. I mean, the only time people READ that paper is when the hotel gives it to you for free.

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22 Cameo March 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I admire the way you handled this. Not for nothin’ but your blog intrigues me more than blogher. So…

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23 Stephanie March 4, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Wow – I already had a lot of respect for you, but your reaction here speaks volumes about your character. Truly keeping it classy!

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24 Rachel's Mom March 5, 2011 at 1:18 am

When I told Grandma about this she said you need to say something to the “Powers that be.” (I guess she means USA Today.)

Preston was listening and only half understood because he said, “I don’t like that girl who thinks she is smart because she was saying things on the radio that my Zsas said first!” (On the radio….lol.)

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25 Jodi March 5, 2011 at 1:30 am

Very classy response to a kind of trashy subject. I saw something about this campaign this morning and immediately thought of your posts on “owning it”. If it counts for anything, after a quick browse of the campaign posts and I think they’ve ripped the idea off – and they’ve ripped it off poorly. Their posts lacks the fun, the “joie de vivre” and the empowerment yours capture perfectly. Keep doing “the voo doo that you do so well”, it’s 10 times better than their Own It posts anyways.

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26 marie March 5, 2011 at 5:51 am

Money doesn’t buy you class….and neither do unsolicited book deals. Keep taking the high road, Rachel. Your writing talent will outlast many many others.

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27 Fit Chick Britt March 5, 2011 at 9:25 am

Hi Rachel! I just found your blog. I posted yesterday about how I’ve stopped wearing makeup on Fridays, because I don’t think women should feel like they NEED makeup to walk out of the house, and I myself have always been somewhat embarassed to show up anywhere without makeup on. So I’m trying to feel more comfortable going without it. I stated something about “owning your beauty” and linked to the Blogher page about owning your beauty (bc obviously I wouldn’t want to “steal” someones words, even though I think that could be kind of a universal phrase). Anyways, one of my blog readers told me you were a Houston (I’m also from Houston) blogger who has been blogging this concept for a long time. I’m really sorry this has happened to you. I think your approach and your message to women is wonderful. You’ve taken a very classy stance on what happened and I do believe the main message is to get more women to “own it” in whatever way. Hope you have a great day! I look forward to reading your blog.

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28 Emily March 5, 2011 at 10:28 am

Rachel I’ve just gone through the new OwnIt website, and I have to say that it’s incredibly lame. I don’t think it embodies the “Own It” philospohy at all. What a missed opportunity for them. Please keep doing what you’re doing. This blog is so unique and creative and has taught so many of us how to own it!

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29 Rachel March 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Hi Rachel,

I’ve been reading your blog for a couple weeks, including stalking your archives. I also believe that your content was ripped off, but I feel you are handling the situation gracefully and appreciate your response. I do hope that one specific effect results from USA Today adding “Own Your Beauty” to their website, and that is that other health bloggers start writing a bit more professionally. As a graduate student in English, I am appalled at how many typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes riddle these and other health blogs. Since I have an interest in fitness, health and cooking, I love reading these other blogs, but I am at the point where I can’t take another apostrophe misuse or basic misunderstanding of when to use “me” or “I.” You are one of the few blogs I continue to read because you actually put a bit more thought and attention into your posts. Not only is your content original, but your writing is clear, distinguished, and grammatically correct! What drives me nuts is that people often confuse being a grammar stickler with prosaic writing. You can use vernacular language and still write correctly and appropriately. Your blog is one of the few that seems to understand this concept, and so while your content may have been appropriated here, I believe your blog will outlast and surpass others because of your diligence paid to not just your content, but the writing itself.

What disturbs me is that many of these other health bloggers make a living off of their blog and even call themselves “writers.” When you are earning money off of your posts, I think the least you can do is run it through spellchecker, let alone do a quick edit (gasp!). My father is a journalist and I learned from him the importance of fact-checking and thorough editing–even when submitting a breaking news piece under a tight deadline. A typo now and then is fine, The New York Times even has one on occasion! But if The New York Times produced articles that were as poorly edited as many of these blog posts, they would lose business. I don’t understand why the professional standards of such news publications do not apply to any blog or website that also earns money under the very same model. I hope that USA Today’s use of “Own Your Beauty” will at least up the standards of writing for these health bloggers.

I know this is a ridiculously long comment–one that is starting to look a like a graduate student’s bitter rant (that’s only partially the case)–but I really only hope to continue the discussion of what it means to be a professional blogger or web writer. Should blogs be held to the same accountability as other professional publications? I think that both copyright laws and professional standards of writing should apply to any print or electronic publication that procures money through its offered content. What do you other bloggers think?

As for myself, I’m working on building my own website, and I’ve been taking awhile because I want my website to be original and professional like yours, and not just another unpolished copycat blog. Your posts on starting your own blog have been most helpful with this endeavor! Keep up the great work, Rachel!

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30 Meghan March 6, 2011 at 11:39 am

Yes! I agree completely! One of my pet peeves when it comes to blogs, particularly ones that are profitable.

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31 Laura Georgina March 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Rachel (commenter!), I completely agree with you on every single one of these posts! It’s a shame that such shoddy writing gets rewarded in the blog world. I understand the whole appeal of blogs being written by everyday, normal people… but surely everyday, normal people who blog ought to be able to write well and edit well if they are in the business of “writing” (and I believe that, as blogs are becoming more and more mainstream and lose their novelty as a new media source, the difference between bloggers who blog and bloggers who actually write will take care of that problem).

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32 Amy March 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I am REALLY late to this post but I was quite struck by this notion: “What disturbs me is that many of these other health bloggers make a living off of their blog and even call themselves “writers.” ” While I completely and TOTALLY agree with everything you’ve said regarding paid AND unpaid bloggers utilizing proper grammar, spell check, etc., the way this was worded is extremely off-putting to me. I liken it to “Well, you haven’t run a marathon or a half-marathon, so God forbid you call yourself a runner.” That’s bullshit.

I’m a blogger who DOESN’T get paid for content and blogs as a hobby…and I wouldn’t hesitate to call myself a writer any day. Do I spell check? Yes. Do I grammar check? Yes. Do I sometimes make a mistake or two? Yes. I don’t have an English degree, I don’t have an editor…but I am a writer. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

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33 Rachel March 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Hi Amy–

Thank you for your reply and sharing your insights. I was surprised to learn that you were so offended by one of my statements, so perhaps I should clarify what I meant by that sentence. What I meant by the term “writers” (and why I put the word in quotations) is professional writers, i.e. people who are paid to write. When I said that these bloggers “even call themselves writers,” I meant that they say that their professional job is being a writer, as in they would put the word “writer” on their tax forms. (You see what happens when people, i.e. myself, don’t write clearly? Your audience misunderstands you.) You said that you totally agreed with what I had to say about paid and unpaid bloggers using proper grammar and spell checking; however, I was making the point that while I think everyone should use proper grammar and spelling, I think it’s egregious that PROFESSIONAL bloggers, i.e. “writers,” don’t take better care in producing their product, not “hobby bloggers.”

I certainly was not saying that people, who don’t have an English degree or who don’t have an editor, cannot call themselves “writers.” If you’ll notice in that same paragraph, I point out that professional bloggers should edit their own work, not that they need an editor. As for the English degree, when I referred to the misappropriate use of apostrophes and confusing “me” with “I,” I was talking about basic elements of grammar taught at the middle and high school levels, not anything taught in collegiate level English.

In that sense, your runner analogy, while I understand the point were you were trying to make with it, does not work for the point I was trying to make. First of all, the analogy was flawed in that there are multiple types of professional runners–Usaine Bolt might never run a marathon, but there is no doubt he is a runner. You cannot compare using good grammar–something that is INHERENT to writing–to only one facet of another activity, as the marathon is to running as a whole. You COULD make the case that I’d be wrong, and offensive, in saying that bloggers aren’t writers because they haven’t published a book. But I wasn’t making that case. I simply was pointing out that anyone who considers their herself a professional writer should simply put effort into her job, not that people who engage in the activity of writing cannot call themselves “writers.” (And just to clarify, as someone looking to be an English teacher, I firmly support everyone engaging in the recreation of writing. I do not believe that writing is reserved for an educated elite.)

I feel this way about all professions, not just writing. Would you want to hire a road-paver who missed a couple spots? How about a chef who was always mixing up seasonings? In my post, I clearly said I was not referring to the typos that now and then slip in. I even pointed out that big time publications, such as The New York Times, have these as well. I was talking about consistently not proofing your writing, as in there are errors and misspellings in nearly every single post. If you’re being paid to blog, and you have mistakes in a majority of posts, that’s just being unprofessional. In that regard, yes, I am appalled that you would still consider writing to be your profession when you treat the work unprofessionally. For that, I’m certainly not sorry.

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34 Amy March 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Rachel–Thank you for clarifying! I really appreciate you taking the time to respond after I commented so late to the game!

I now better understand what you’re saying and I agree, whole-heartedly. When I first read it, that sentence stuck out to me…but when I look at your point on the whole and take a step back to re-read your original comment and read your new response to me, I see that you did not mean it the way I originally interpreted it.

Thank you again for clarifying and always bringing interesting points to light. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog–your intent to own everything you do is very inspiring and I love the smart and well-rounded discussions that your commenters provide. Kudos!

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35 Amy March 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm

P.S. I too think you took a very high road in all of this. Props to you for staying classy. :)

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36 Rachel March 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Ah, this is why I love you guys. Great, great discussion!

(Also. Amy, did you know that I wasn’t the one who wrote the original comment about grammar? Not that I don’t agree with what Rachel said, but I did want to clarify that there were two Rachels here!)

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37 Rachel March 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Hi Amy–

Yes, there are two Rachels here! I’m just a commenter, not Rachel Wilkerson, sorry for the confusion! (The book “Freakanomics” taught me that Rachel was one of the ten most popular names for the 1980s. Thanks Mom and Dad. My sister, Mariah, got the cooler, more original name. The downside for her is that everyone thinks she’s named after Mariah Carey.) Back to the topic at hand, I’m really glad you raised the point because I could see how what I wrote was confusing and my whole point was not that writing is for a select class, but that people who are fortunate enough to get paid to write should take their job seriously. Also, I was glad you commented because I never came across your own blog before. I love the bookworm theme (of course)! And I look forward to reading it.

(The other) Rachel

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38 Amy March 25, 2011 at 9:48 am

OMG Sorry for the confusion on the Rachels!!!!! Too funny.

In the end: two Rachels = two smart gals with two great sets of thoughts and observations brought to light. Right on! :)

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39 Sable March 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

You are nothing but class! I, like some others, tend to disagree. BUT you are being the bigger person and I give you major major props. :)

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40 Rachel March 5, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Oh Rachel, you handle things so gracefully. That is why I love you and your blog. YOU own it my friend xo xo

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41 Ashley March 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Maybe they will come up with “shedding it” and “getting it” randomly next.. so ridiculous.

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42 Marie March 6, 2011 at 9:52 am

I agree with everyone– well said. But I’m still peeved for you.

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43 hemp jogger March 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

you’ll always be the one in my book who taught me to OWN IT. you’re an awesome chic, and super inspiring. what a great response to it all :)

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44 Nikki March 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm

As a reader of both your blog and the Harry Potter-esque “blog that shall not be named”, I have to let you know that I support you.

And as neuroscience researcher, I want to point out that (at least in my field) ignorance is not an excuse for plagiarism. If you didn’t know it existed – tough shit. You should have done your job better.

There is never, EVER an excuse for passing off someone else’s ideas as your own. Equally important, there is never, EVER an excuse for going along with it because you believe it was someone else’s job to fact check. You are responsible for your choices, your actions, your life, and your character.

Kudos to you, Rachel, for a classy response to being dragged threw the mud. You came out clean.

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45 Caroline March 7, 2011 at 10:16 am

Just wanted to add my support. I love your posts and thoroughly enjoy reading your original, smart and sexy content. I am utterly impressed by how you handled this situation. I don’t know many people, myself included, who could handle such blatant theft in such a clear-headed, classy way. I’m taking notes as we speak. Thank you for the inspiration. Keep your head up, with character and class like yours, you WILL go far.

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46 Stephanie March 7, 2011 at 11:13 am

Well…here’s what I know. Every time I utter the words…”Own it” to myself I will not be thinking of this “new” craze or movement…I think of you and the words that I’ve read ON THIS BLOG. Such a class act you are, Rachel. So impressed with you right now.

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47 kate March 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

Your position is mature and you own it. We can only hope that USA Today & BlogHer correct the error of their ways and own UP to it.

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48 LindsayH March 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Theirs sucks, yours is awesome.
That’s all have to say about that.

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49 AR March 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

You are not only an original, creative voice…but you’re a class act. I can’t imagine anyone else out there would handle this situation like this.

Which is why I read your blog, and not theirs. ;p And I own that statement. :)

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