Recently some of the pathetic trolls from the usual internet troll playgroups have cooked up yet another fat-shaming project, and today I reached 100 requests to blog about it, so here we go.
In this project, they photoshop pictures of fat people including singers, actresses, models, and activists (they’ve e-mailed me two pictures of me that they used and altered without my permission) to make us look thin. (Though perhaps the only thing more appalling than the project are the photoshop skills of the trolls – I’m considering creating a gofundme to get them some classes, good lord they are terrible.) They also used pictures without permission by creating fake accounts to generate fake requests to be photoshopped.
A little bit of reading on the thread behind this shows just exactly how 12-year-old-who-watches-too-many-spy-movies this project is:
In case you’re blissfully unaware, SJW stands for Social Justice Warrior – which they use like it’s a bad thing, not a shock when you consider that these are people who would rather oppress people than fight oppression.
A lot of people who wrote to me about this were really upset, and that’s understandable – it’s part of a sustained campaign of terrorism that is perpetuated by these people and it’s perfectly natural to be upset and angry when you and your community are the victims of this kind online bullying.
As regular readers know, I have been dealing with things like this every single day for years – from silly things like having my picture photoshopped, to an ongoing campaign to use my brother’s suicide to hurt me, so I have some experience with this, and so I thought that I would try to provide my perspective.
First of all, we’re fighting back and we’re succeeding. Many people, including members of Rolls Not Trolls, have successfully worked with Facebook to have this project deleted (despite their attempt to keep putting it up under different names.) Even better, the media has picked it up.
I know sometimes people feel like it’s better for them not to get attention and that’s a completely valid opinion, but let me suggest this – these people aren’t doing this stuff for us, they are doing it for each other. They don’t care about outside attention – they are substituting fat hate for actual achievements and so they are showing off for each other with their fat hate, like someone who actually has talent would show off their painting, or quilt. We can use them to help us fight oppression and weight stigma, and that’s what this kind of media does.
It’s important to remember that the people who do this are a relatively small group of people who are very vocal and apparently have a lot of free time (though I imagine there’s a lot of attrition as they graduate middle school and face the demands of high school.)
When they do things like this and the media picks it up they rush to add comments (using the multitude of fake accounts that they’ve created) to make it seem like lots of people feel like they do. But the truth is that most people find this appalling, and every time they pull something like this I get a ton of e-mails from people telling me that they didn’t understand what I was talking about when I talked about fat shaming, but now they understand what we’re dealing with and that they want to help. When I work with organizations to help them with Size Diversity and inclusion, I use these types of projects to show the end result of a society that allows size-based stigma (whether justified under the guise of “health” or not) and it really helps people to “get it.” So, though of course their behavior is terrible, know that many of us are using it to help the fight against weight-based stigma.
Finally, it’s important to remember that this kind of thing shouldn’t happen. We are not the problem – they are – and this isn’t our fault though it may become our problem. Each of us gets to choose how we deal with this – some will choose to engage with the trolls, some will choose to ignore them, some will choose to fight it in their own way – and all choices are valid. We may choose to handle the same things in different ways at different times based on how we feel at any given time and that’s ok too, I think it’s really important that we support each other in the different ways that we choose to deal with these unfortunate people.
I also think it’s important to remember that some of the most powerful activism we can do is to just live our lives – take that dance class, go to your kid’s soccer game, go to the waterpark in your fatkini, lead your knitting circle, whatever your thing is go do it. Of course this isn’t the only way we need to address fat hate, and it’s completely optional – nobody should have to deal with duress just to step out their door – but it is one powerful way that we can fight back. In the meantime, do what you need to do to take care of yourself from people like this and their bigotry and bullying behaviors.
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