As a blogger, I am always looking for other bloggers who I can relate to and who knocks me off my feet with their powerful information. THAT PERSON is L’oreal Thompson Payton as I accidentally found her after reading her blog about “The Angry Woman”. As I stalked her website and read her brilliant pieces, I became a fan overnight. As an award-winning journalist, L’oreal says being true to yourself is what makes you a good blogger!
L’oreal Thompson Payton, Writer and Award Winning Journalist
How did you start blogging? What makes your blog different from the rest?
L’oreal: “I started blogging in 2011. At the time, I was the assistant editor for a regional home and garden magazine and let’s just say this was before I discovered my love for HGTV. I wanted to write about topics that were important to me and could help other women.
I think what makes my blog different is that it’s so personal. I’m a big fan of honesty, transparency and authenticity. What you’ll find on my blog are lessons learned, or lessons I’m still learning. It’s different because it’s unique to me and my experiences, but if I can help at least one woman by sharing that, then it’s all worth it.”
As a millennial black woman, how has your brand changed you for the better?
L’oreal: “There was a time when I played it safe and didn’t really take a public stand on important and political issues, but as I detailed in my blog post, “How 2016 Became My Blackest Year Yet,” that’s all changed. I can no longer afford to remain silent on issues that are impacting people who look like me on a daily basis, brand be damned. And if I lose a few followers or readers in the process, than so be it. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything and I feel a responsibility as a millennial Black woman to use my platform to bring awareness to these issues and educating people on their importance.”
What is the motto you live by?
L’oreal: “There’s a Maya Angelou quote I absolutely love: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” It really summarizes my whole philosophy behind why I do what I do. Yes, a six-figure salary would be nice, but if I’m able to help girls and women feel more powerful, more confident as a result of my work, then my job here is done.”
I started following you after I fell in love with you blog piece about The Angry Black Woman. Why do you think we are so misunderstood?
L’oreal: “Thank you so much and my goodness, where do start? The Angry Black Woman trope goes wayyy back and frankly, I’m sick of it. We’re humans, we’re real people with real emotions, so of course we’re going to be angry sometimes. And quite honestly, we have a lot to be angry about!”
It’s really frustrating that in order to succeed, in order to move up in the workplace, I have to keep my emotions in check at all times lest I perpetuate the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman. I mean, this is something Forever First Lady Michelle Obama has had to deal with, too. We’re either the Strong Black Woman, carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, which is a whole other story, or we’re the Angry Black Woman. When do we get to just be women? I think Mama Pope (from Scandal) perfectly captured that emotional burden we as Black women carry every day:
Damn shame. I tell you… being a black woman. Be strong, they say. Support your man, raise your man, think like a man. Well damn, I gotta do all that? Who’s out here working for me, carrying my burden, building me up when I get down? Nobody. Black women out here trying to save everybody and what do we get? Swagger jacked by white girls wearing cornrows and bamboo earrings. Ain’t that a bitch? But we still try. Try to help all y’all. Even when we get nothing. Is that admirable or ridiculous? I don’t know.”
Pain bring purpose. What obstacles have you faced personally that interfered with your brand?
L’oreal: “You know, I’ve been pretty blessed my entire life and I’ve managed to turn those obstacles into opportunities by the grace of God. I’m not sure that I’ve had any specific challenges that have interfered with my brand because my brand is all about honesty and authenticity. So if I’m going through a tough time, my readers and followers are going through it with me because there is power in sharing our experiences. It helps us recognize that we’re not alone, we’re all truly in it together. That’s the magic of powerful storytelling.”
Tell us more about the organization SheSaysChicago and your part in it. What other organizations are you passionate about?
L’oreal: “I first learned about SheSays Chicago through my friend, Anuli of anuliwashere.com. We actually met on Twitter after we both moved to Chicago in the summer of 2013. She’d tweeted about a SheSays event and I essentially invited myself. What I love about SheSays is that it’s more of a sisterhood than a networking group. I’ve met some pretty incredible women through this organization and I love that the emphasize community over competition. There’s room for all of us.
Outside of Girl Scouts, whom I work for, I’m also passionate about Polished Pebbles, a mentoring nonprofit for Black girls in Chicago; GirlForward, a nonprofit for teen girl refugees in Chicago; Girls Write Now, a writing nonprofit for teen girls in New York City; and pretty much any organization that empowers women and girls. I’m all about girl power, what can I say?”
You have written pieces for magazines such as Ebony and Jet. What advice do you have for writers that are trying to branch into the magazine world?
L’oreal: “Write and read as much as you can. You don’t have to wait for permission. Back when I started out, mostly everyone took the traditional route into print publications, but now you can start a blog out of thin air. The important thing to remember, however, is that there are no shortcuts to success and there is still value in hard work. There are lot of bloggers calling themselves journalists, but there is a difference.
And be sure to read the publication before you pitch. Research the proper editor by looking at the masthead or their website. Show the editors that you’ve done your homework. And keep pitches short and sweet. I typically include a suggested headline and 3-5 sentences about the post. And you should definitely follow up if you haven’t heard back in a week or so, but don’t be a pest.”
What books have you read lately?
L’oreal: “My gosh, so many. I’m always at the library either returning or picking up books! I just finished The Good Girls Revolt, Feminist Fight Club and The Big Life, and up next on my list is Hunger by Roxane Gay and The Hate U Give. I love reading, I’m such a nerd!”
Do you feel opportunity knocks on your door or you have to go get it yourself?
L’oreal: “A little bit of both. I’ve definitely purposefully finagled my way into some opportunities, namely my previous role with JET and my current role with Girl Scouts. But what some people don’t know is that I was rejected from previous roles I’d applied to at both companies. I don’t give up; where there’s a will, there’s a way. I believe in being prepared, so when an opportunity does knock, I’m ready to swing that door wide open.”
What is the most important thing you think bloggers should know?
L’oreal: “Just be yourself! I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. I see too many bloggers trying to be like this girl or that girl. And it doesn’t work because it’s not who they are. Be true to yourself and your brand. You don’t have to be everything to everybody.”
L’Oreal Thompson Payton is a writer, editor and public speaker with a passion for empowering women and girls, one story at a time. As the Director of External Affairs for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, she oversees the media strategy for one of the largest councils in the country. Prior to joining Girl Scouts, L’Oreal was an award-winning journalist, most recently as the Digital Content Editor for JET magazine. In addition to her day job, L’Oreal is a blogger and freelance writer whose work has appeared in various publications, such as EBONY, Sesi, Brit + Co and HelloGiggles.
When she’s not busy writing, L’Oreal can usually be found reading, dancing and eating her way through Chicago. Learn more at ltinthecity.com or follow her online at @LTintheCity everywhere.