Stigmatized Scrapbookers

This entry is part 10 of 86 in the series Scrapworthy Lives Results

Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.

Not only do handcrafters hide their “stash,” but Stalp (2006a; 2006b) finds that quilters hide their identity as quilter from both family and friends and Simonds (1992) finds that women readers of self-help books prefer to read at home rather than be subjected to the scrutiny of their reading choice by co-workers and others in public. My respondents did not talk about hiding their identity as scrapbookers from others like quilters or self-help readers do. Perhaps this is because the nature of scrapbooking is that of collaboration. In particular, scrapbookers need others to consent to being photographed for the scrapbook. The nature of scrapbooking does not allow the scrapbooker as much ability to hide her or his hobby. Regardless, some respondents did talk about how scrapbooking can be potentially stigmatizing.

Women scrapbookers talk about how they thought men scrapbookers are stigmatized negatively. According to one woman scrapbooker, men generally do not scrapbook because:

it is the stigmas that people place on scrapbooking. That it’s you know, you get taunted like, ‘that’s a girl thing.’ It’s just like if a guy knits, he is going to get labeled that he is gay or something if he scrapbooks. I think it’s just the stigmas that we place on certain activities.

In my sample, the men scrapbookers were both straight and gay but they both scrapbook in different ways. The straight men either began scrapbooking as a way to spend time with their girlfriends or wives or compiled a scrapbook that was more like a photo album and less like a conventional scrapbook. None of the women in this study compiled a book that was more like a photo album and considered a scrapbook. In my sample, the men who create scrapbooks like women are gay. Importantly, straight men scrapbook like women, too, they just do not appear in my sample. For example, one gay scrapbooker had a straight male friend who scrapbooks like he does, but lives too far away for me to have interviewed him. The lack of men scrapbookers in my sample could speak to the stigma placed on them in that it prevents some men from scrapbooking in the first place.

Not only do stigmas potentially prevent some men from becoming scrapbookers, but women scrapbookers also talked about the stereotypes placed on them and scrapbooking and how they did not fit the stereotype of a scrapbooker. For example, a respondent says:

I think that a lot of people view it as it probably was 20 years ago when it was just like moms and grandmothers doing a lot of like religious or stuff about babies and kids and using cheesy store bought stickers and papers, whereas there is certainly a new moment, if you want to call it that, or at least what I do, it’s a more like personal. It’s like a form of art journaling.

Here this scrapbooker discusses how scrapbooking has changed from what it once was (negative, old-fashioned, provincial) to something different (and improved, arty, cutting edge) and at the very least what she is doing is the latter. In other words, she does not fit the stereotypical image of a scrapbooker and neither do her scrapbooks.

It seems that those scrapbookers who are marginalized in some other way or who feel less welcome in the scrapbooking community are most likely to discuss how the hobby is stigmatized or how they are stigmatized. For example, one respondent talks about how her partner thought she was kind of nerdy for being involved in scrapbooking. The characterization did not, however, cause her to stop scrapbooking. Other respondents also mention others thinking scrapbooking is nerdy or quirky. Scrapbookers are potentially stigmatized for some of their scrapbooking activities among scrapbookers or by outsiders using outside standards to judge scrapbooking. It is possible that the already stigmatized are more perceptive to others stigmatizing them for their scrapbooking compared to those who are not stigmatized in other ways.

What do you think? Have you ever been stigmatized as a scrapbooker? How have you dealt with it? Comment below or join the conversation on facebook or twitter.

Simonds, Wendy. 1992. Women and Self-Help Culture: Reading Between the Lines. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Stalp, Marybeth C. 2006a. “Creating an Artistic Self: Amateur Quilters and Subjective Careers.” Sociological Focus 39(3):193-216.
——. 2006b. “Hiding the (Fabric) Stash: Collecing, Hoarding, and Hiding Strategies of Contemporary US Quilters.” Textile 4(1):104-25.
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