I agreed to be interviewed by Kayleen Schaefer for a New York Times article that, presumably, was about how beauty companies and agencies are recognizing the growing influence of blogs. However, when Ms. Schaefer began questioning me about trips to Paris, free Chanel bags, and spa getaways (none of which I have ever been offered or received), I contemplated ending the interview. I should have!
Upon reading the piece in today's paper (NYT: Beauty Bloggers Come of Age: Swag, Please!), it was clear that the angle of the story was grossly misrepresented. Instead of a piece about a changing industry, we get a third-rate expose that paints all beauty bloggers as "swag whores" who are slaves to the beauty companies.
Ms. Schaefer's portrayal of beauty bloggers is beyond offensive. According to her, we're greedy, opportunistic sycophants who are rejoicing since we no longer have to "beg" for free product. In her view, we fear the wrath of the beauty companies should we post something even remotely negative.
One comment of mine in particular was taken entirely out of context. Ms. Schaefer asked me directly if I run negative reviews of products sent to me by publicists. I answered with an emphatic "YES" - if you've been reading Beauty Addict for any length of time, you'll know this to be true. I went on to explain in meticulous detail how I think it's important to be diplomatic and even-handed when posting a negative opinion of a product. Just because a color is ugly, a cream broke me out, or the texture of a lipgloss was sticky, it doesn't mean that every product from that particular brand is bad. Additionally, I told Ms. Schaefer that I often choose not to post at all when dealing with a product I don't like. This site wouldn't be any fun if all I did was tell you what NOT to buy. Mostly I just write about things I like...but if something is getting tons of hype and I just don't get it, I'll tell you (apparently Nadine Haobsh feels the same way).
Ms. Schaefer chose to run a quote from me where I emphasized the importance of dealing with these situations sensitively. However, she used it to imply that I "refuse to bite the hand that gives [me] perfume." This is entirely false. She then went on to accuse Tia Williams of "censoring herself" - yet another misrepresentation.
While I'm angered by the article and would like to set the record straight, I'm not going to let myself get too upset about it, nor any negative backlash. When I started blogging I opened myself up to public scrutiny and the fact is, you can't please all of the people all of the time. We're all grownups here and you're free to form your own opinions - on the credibility of my writing, Ms. Schaefer's writing, or beauty bloggers in general.
That said, a few points that I assure you are true:
- I do receive free samples to review on this blog. With the amount of posts that I write, I'd be broke if I had to buy every product I tested. Samples help me bring you more information, better information, faster information. That said, I still buy plenty of products, too.
- I do not regularly disclose which products were press samples, but I don't hide it, either. If you want to know, just ask in the comments.
- I have run unfavorable reviews of products that were press samples. I dealt with them sensitively and tried to communicate what I consider to be a balanced opinion. For a few examples, see this post on Bumble and bumble, this one on Smashbox O-Glow, and the entire Encyclopedia of Mascara...80% of those mascaras were free and not all of those reviews were positive.
- I did not receive a limited edition Behnaz lipstick as Ms. Schaefer indicated in her article, nor did "dozens of bloggers." I'm currently working with the Times to get this corrected.
- I have never "begged" a beauty company or a PR firm for free product.
- Lastly, I am NOT in this for "notoriety and freebies!" Come on, when I started this blog nearly three years ago I had no idea that the possbility to receive samples and gifts even existed. I love beauty products, I love writing, and most of all, I love being able to connect with other product junkies like you to dish on beauty. That's what keeps me going!