The Appearance Matters conference is extremely academic. I imagine that my presentation is the least academic of all of them. But people from all over the world have come up to me to tell me they have read my abstract and were moved and want to see me speak.
On Monday an academic from the Centre for Appearance Research introduced me as a Blogger. And I knew she was taking me seriously as a blogger. She saw blogging as Something Valuable.
Some of the other academics from the program have told me they are aware of my blog too. After all, my blog is how they found me, and the reason I am here.
I have been able to ask questions of the academics that relate to media and blogging. i do feel well read and informed. And my questions are taken seriously.
Sometimes when I talk to people about blogging, they ask what's a blog. Sometimes people laugh and don't consider blogging as a serious venture. They seem bored and disinterested and question the value.
Being here has shown me that blogging is important in communicating and creating awareness about body image diversity. Research has shown that real people sharing their stories about body image on blogs is having more impact than celebs in the mass media. I sat through a lecture yesterday hearing what blogs have done to help body image issues in pregnant women. It has shown me that what may be seen as frivolous to some can help others. And the people who matter - those in research and medical fields - do give consideration and place value on this new media. It is new to them but not new to me.
Twitter is telling me the blogophere is a tense place right now. Questions asked about ethics and the value of blogs. I feel shielded from that now. I have been silently reminded - just by being here - to keep running my own race. Because it is making a difference. I urge other bloggers to do that too. Don't sweat the small stuff. Realise that people will be ignorant to the purpose of blogging. But remember the people who matter will be interested in it too.
I am about to get out of bed and get ready to give my presentation. Last night at dinner a number of people told me now they have come to know me, they have been won over and will see me talk. I pinch myself that this blog is the reason I am here. And it feels great. Wish me luck as I talk about my desire to normalise difference.