Dear Conscious Community, let's be nicer.

Selflessly Styled

I believe we can do the hard work and engage with messy problems and still be kind to one another while we’re at it.

This post has been updated from the original version in order to clarify some misunderstandings.

For the past couple years, whenever asked about my favorite aspect of blogging, my answer was immediately, “The community. The ethical/sustainable/conscious community is so incredibly supportive to one another.

In recent months, I’ve sadly felt these words begin to ring untrue.

While I used to encourage aspiring fresh bloggers to jump right into this work without fear, I now find myself giving them gentle cautions that they’ll need a robust support system and thick skin if they’re going to survive the conscious community.

You see, in the name of justice, sustainability, etc. this community can be very cruel.

Over the past few months I’ve seen multiple conscious bloggers/instagrammers bullied, called terrible names, forced to shut down their accounts for the sake of their mental health, and shunned from groups they were once welcomed into.

The most disheartening part about all of it is that these attacks are primarily coming from within the community.

As awareness around the issues we care about rises, it feels as though we’re losing sight of the fact that we still need each other.

All of us have different priorities within the space of conscious consumerism, and we should be delighted to find other humans who care about any of it. We should be eager to work together in spite of our varied opinions or passions.

Why do we put energy into bashing a small business or an “ethical influencer” who doesn’t do things perfectly?

Oh wait, I think I know why: It actually sort of works.

You see, I’ve watched mini-conscious-mobs rise up on instagram and take down individuals and brands who have fallen short of idealistic expectations. They’ve pushed influencers to quit, they’ve caused small brands to suffer major loss.

They can actually “win.”

This stands in stark contrast to the unreturned emails and phone calls and comments directed towards the Big Guys and Corporations who are doing the real damage.

I think the conscious community is so fatigued from going after the Big Guys with little results that they’ve started to target those who will actually feel the sting of their words. They’ve started to target those who care too.

Is it really a “win” to take down a brand or person who is at least trying to make the industry a better place, even if their values don’t 100% align with ours?

I don’t think so.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of healthy discussions and pushing one other to think through how we might do even better. I have had plenty of private discussions and respectful disagreements, but I will never condone name-calling or public shaming.

Kindness doesn’t mean we never say hard truths, one of the things that I love about this community is that it is made up of people who are willing to take a stand. While I alluded to nit-picking arguments earlier in this post, there have also been brave individuals and groups willing to call out injustice and exclusivity in the ethical fashion space which has been primarily dominated by thin(ish) white women like myself. I value the challengers and the change-makers who push us to greater levels of justice. Don’t mistake my plea for kindness as an ask for comfort or cowardice from the conversations that we really need to be having.

Kindness doesn’t always mean keeping everyone comfortable. Kindness includes asking hard questions, standing up for one another when we see injustice, taking the time to educate those who are willing to listen before assuming the worst about their intentions, remembering the humanity of every individual behind usernames and platforms and doing our utmost to respect that.

I know so many incredible humans in this community who are beautiful examples to me of kindness and open-mindedness. I love and cherish this community deeply, and that is why I want to challenge all of us to check ourselves and not fall into the trap of subtly (or not-so-subtly) making this an elitist community where anything less than perfect is punished.

As communities grow, kindness takes increased intention, but I believe we can do it.

I believe we can do the hard work and engage with messy problems and still be kind to one another while we’re at it.

From my heart,