Originally published May 16, 2008.Brands like Dove broke ground by celebrating "Real Women", and now it's cool for brands to adore the female consumer for who she is&#8212;at least as a brand strategy. But even while we, the customers, are embracing brands that embrace our curves, we're still struggling for the ultimate zen with our bodies. This means that products and services dealing with diet, weight-loss, or any cosmetic procedure continue to push buttons, most vocally with women who blog.Since we launched our community hub, BlogHer.com, in January, 2006, we've noticed a strong thread of body-image blogging throughout many of our categories: fashion, health, and beauty, of course, but also in parenting, feminism, even world issues. In fact, this topic was so pervasive that we decided to make Body Image its own topic. Since July 2007, our community team has added 151 new blogs to our network that relate to women's bodies. It's been fascinating to see the breadth of coverage, from child obesity to the pros and cons of hair removal in certain nether regions.The overarching message behind this coverage: Self-acceptance = good. Anything that pressures us to alter our appearance = bad. Note that I didn't say that such things as cosmetic surgery or make-up or weight loss programs are bad, just any pervading message that we are not OK if we are not perfect.Among the maligned: the "Cute Little Dress Approved" Pink Patch, which encourages women's insecurity about their bodies by giving us unrealistic images of how we should look. Among the embraced: The Swimsuit Brigade for Honest Photos, an initiative led by a BlogHer Contributing Editor who was sick of seeing unrealistic shots of women in swimsuits, and who rallied likeminded bloggers to join her in photographing themselves without any pre-season dieting, fat-vacuuming, or airbrushing.BlogHer launched an initiative in response to this ongoing interest in body image: A Letter to My Body. We asked bloggers to write a letter to their bodies and post it on their blogs or on BlogHer.com. We created a widget featuring the letters that added to the viral effect. The responses were overwhelming--in number and in content.From a woman who suffered a miscarriage:I know it's not your fault, what happened this weekend. Not entirely, anyway. But still. It's hard for me. It's hard not to be angry with you. It's hard not to feel betrayed. It's hard not to rage against you for getting rid of what I so desperately wanted.And from a 50-year-old woman who had been sexually abused as a child:I remember feeling self-conscious about EVERYTHING, including wearing a swimming suit at age 4 and 5. And later in her life:My body betrayed me hugely by giving birth to a badly hurt baby with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. I ask anyone trying to reach women bloggers about anything relating to their body image: Do you really want to enter this emotionally-charged fray telling us you''ll help us shed those pesky five pounds? How we NEED your botox? How having our children has made us less sexy?This seemed like a good subject to bring up, as swimsuit season approaches, and I speak with roughly 150 companies who are contemplating sponsoring the BlogHer summer conference and making a splash with female influencers. All of these companies have the best of intentions, only some mistakenly opt to approach women by reminding them of what they don't have, versus celebrating who they are.Most conversations and sponsorships go surprisingly well. Scrapblog, a digital scrapbooking company that approached me about sponsoring last year, understood inherently how women bloggers operate. In addition to allocating some of their media to promote their pre-event design contest, a portion of their media dollars was allocated to the promotion of the winner of the contest--a very public way of saying to a blogger, "Honey, you are fabulous." This is brilliant, because for most bloggers, recognition IS the currency they most value. We appreciate companies that appreciate us.Other sponsors have taken to less successful tactics. Two years ago we had two examples: One major brand launching a new health beverage distributed their product with a smile and the tag line "Drink this and lose eight pounds in a year!" Now, I'm a relatively data-driven person, and so are my blogging colleagues, but by all accounts, this was not a tantalizing message. A prominent food blogger, said, "If they had just said the stuff would make me feel better I might have paid more attention." Ironically, a condom brand received no negative feedback for giving out samples, but did attract the ire of normal-sized women, irritated by the size small baby tees the samples were rolled in.I learned a huge lesson that year: When you are talking anything relating to women's body image, stick to health, not cosmetic benefits. But what if your product is cosmetic in nature? Last time I checked most women in the community were quite jazzed about lipstick, and hair color, and all kinds of things that help to enhance our appearance. The key is approach. Just think about what your messaging implies.In 2007 I attended a BlogHer Conference session held by the body image bloggers and no, there was no sharing of weight loss strategies; there were stories, there were confessions. Some of them made me tear up. The wrong sponsor would have pushed weight loss. The right sponsor would have kept that conversation going, even if it meant not selling product or getting the coveted write-up. Bloggers don't respond to guilt, but to choice.So, are you ready to tell us more about your product? That depends: Do we look fat?