The Story of How xoJane Made Me

I’m not crying, you’re crying.
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Alison Freer
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I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Readers, pals, haters, and friends: Gather round the campfire with me one more time  and I’ll tell the tale of how I came to be among you for the past five glorious years. (It’s really been that long — can you believe it?!)     

Way, way back in January of 2012, I sent a crazily unpolished essay about my disaster of a closet (despite not having written a single published word since my time as a rabble-rouser for my high school newspaper in Texas) to what was likely Jane Pratt’s junk email address. To my eternal surprise, I soon heard that xoJane (not yet a year old itself) wanted to run what I'd written . And with my silly admission to the world that I am, in fact, a slob of the highest order (none finer in all the land), the real me was born.

xoJane was the coolest group of babes you could ever hope to hang out with  —  a combination girl gang and slumber party where anything and everything was kosher. They welcomed me into the club with wide-open arms. Nothing was off-limits, ever  —  even things that probably should have been. Ideas and ideals shared space with makeup and shoes. Thought-provoking articles about race, feminism, and body image were there, just chilling next to posts about washing your hair with bottled water, tossing $10,000 worth of shoes in the trash, and the fact that I only have one pair of underwear

It was the Wild West of writing for women — revolutionary and unheard of at the time. 

xoJane was a place where it was OK to be weird. It was OK to not be skinny. It was okay to say the word "fat." It was OK to be messy, flawed, growing and learning. It was OK to not care what guys thought of you. It was just fine to not have all of the answers figured out yet. Whatever you were was already perfect. Reading, commenting, and writing here is what finally answered the question my brain had not stopped asking my entire life: “Am I good enough?” 

The answer, as you already know, was a resounding HELL YES.

Not only was I good enough, I was great. I was a damn diamond. Practically every ounce of self-doubt I secretly harbored and berated myself with over the years vanished the more I wrote and read. Being here made me braver than I ever thought I'd be. My fellow writers and editors were the brightest stars in the whole galaxy. We cheered, supported, name-checked, and lifted each other up when it seemed impossible to walk through life alone for one more second. (And a word to whomever decides to release the ‘xo After Dark’ email chains as a book: I’ll be sure to dump a drink on your head at the release party.)

Clockwise from top left: With Claire, Emily, Lesley and Jane.

Clockwise from top left: With Claire, Emily, Lesley and Jane.

I made friends for life at xoJane: editors, writers, and readers. My air mattress has hosted scores of them over the years ,  and will continue to do so forever (until I become a very fancy lady and have a proper guest bedroom for them to lounge in). I got stopped on the street by the sweetest girls who wanted to say hello, read thousands of comments from readers who agreed with me that fashion didn’t have to be so damn serious, received emails from foot fetishists after I admitted to using urine to cure my crusty feet, and got some well-deserved hate for ill-considered posts. 

I even published a book that became a dang New York Times Best-Seller, for the love of all that is holy  —  and I’m hard at work on another one (all about accessories, if you must know), coming your way in August of 2018.

xoJane is also where I nervously covered Wendy Davis’s historic filibuster in the Texas senate when I realized that no other lady blog was doing so, updating my post late into the night as my hands shook and my heart raced  —  because what business did I, nothing more than a mallrat, have in thinking I could report on such a heady topic? Who did I think I was? A journalist? What a ditz, Freer.

But many of you disagreed with my poor assessment of myself as a reporter  and wrote to tell me what a great job I'd done (and kept on doing). That was it for me. That was the watershed moment I stopped questioning my ability as a writer . I started believing in my knack for telling a tale and talking to readers about absolutely anything, like the true friends we all were. Your support made me who I am today, and I can never repay you.

I learned at xoJane. I changed my views on things. I grew. I blossomed. I became the real me in one of the only places on earth where it was truly OK to be the real you, no matter how ugly it may seem. 

Don't be a stranger, keep in touch! Read me at alisonfreer.com and find me on Facebook or Instagram. You can also sign up for my mailing list here or by texting ALISONFREER (all one word) to 22828. I'll only ever send you the very cutest stuff—promise.