Recently I came across something that disturbed me. In my travels on the web I saw a photo that had been put up on a blog – of a woman. Well a woman’s behind actually. When I first saw it I thought ‘WOW’, how cool. A celebration of this gorgeous piece of female form.
Now we females, we come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us have actually been all shapes and sizes. Over the course of 54 years my weight has seesawed more times that I like to think about. There have been times when I was very unhappy with how heavy I was and the shape I was. In a recent post I even mentioned a photo of me on a beach.
There have also been times when I was happy until someone made some unkind remark that hurt. For example, as a young woman one day I was out at the beach with two friends. One male, one female. I was happy, having fun, until my girlfriend made a remark about my ‘flabby belly’ and my happiness meter took a nosedive. I’m sure she meant well. And we were young. Sometimes the young speak before they think of what their words will do.
When I look back at that time – honestly I would kill for the body I had then. So I guess what I want to say is it is all relevant.
Not so long ago I was – well BIG. For years I had battled my weight due to two broken backs which meant a rather sedentary lifestyle for a while. More mobility of late and a healthier lifestyle have luckily meant a reduction in size.
When I was big I tended to hide under both dowdy and large clothing. Most fashion tips tell you this is NOT the way to go. You just make yourself look bigger they say. I never possessed the confidence to wear figure hugging clothes. Trinny and Suzannah would have had a field day with me. But oh how I loved looking at women who did have that confidence. I still do.
With their beautiful bigger bodies they flaunted larger than life colours and clothes that gave them curves. As the mother of a daughter I have from day one tried to make her understand that no matter what shape she is she is beautiful. I have also tried to teach her that she MUST march to her own drum [she does that all right], no matter what others expect of her.
So where am I going with this you ask ?
Why was I disturbed by someone’s photo ?
Along with the photo [in my opinion], came words that mocked and ridiculed this woman’s decisions regarding the clothing she was wearing. With words the blogger invited others to mockery.
Here’s my submission. Be prepared to laugh!
Is what was displayed asking people to visit the blog. But in my opinion worse was to come. Above the photo of this woman’s bottom were more derogatory remarks.
In the past I would have simply done nothing. But the times they are a changing. So I politely commented that I was dismayed at the post and what it represented. An exchanged ensued. I thought it was quite a polite exchange on both sides as to the pros and cons of her stance. I was even complimented on how I look and dress, to which I said thank you.
I made the point that I thought her post a little unkind, hurtful even to this woman. She replied that the woman’s clothing was inappropriate for her size. I responded that I thought it was a little presumptuous of her to feel she should dictate how this woman should clothe herself. Still all very polite conversation.
Now back to the whale [me] on the beach. You see had someone taken a photo like this one [other than the friend I was with] and then placed it in a public forum such as a blog and invited discussion as to whether they should tell me my attire wasn’t as great as I thought it was, I know how that would have made me feel. I am warning you – DO NOT zoom in !!!!
You tried to didn’t you ??? Doesn’t work people. I’m not completely silly.
Which led me to wondering if the blogger has ever thought about; “What if it was me they were discussing…or my daughter?” And what if that daughter came across the post. Read that others were snickering about her. Unlikely ?? Perhaps, but I garner from our conversation these two women live in the same town…so possible. Stranger things have happened.
To cut a longer story short I replied to a comment by this blogger that I thought she was actually missing my point. We are [or should be] free to be ourselves.
She deleted all comments by me – as is her right. But I did send her this comment.
I am sorry that you felt the need to erase my comments on here. I did not think they were disrespectful…just merely pointing out how others may read your words. I am sorry if I hit a nerve.
To which I received the following reply.
There is something seriously wrong with you. You need to see a shrink or head doctor. You are some fucked up broad. Do yourself a favor (and me too) go back into your world of illusion.
Ummm…I should point out here that I never actually leave my world of illusion.
You are probably asking yourself why am I bothering:
- To even engage the blogger
- To raise this with you
Because it saddens me. It is to me a statement of the loss of kindness and empathy that infects this world. It is a statement about how judgmental we have become as a species. I am reminded of a news item I read recently about a young female broadcaster.
Jennifer Livingston spoke of trying to laugh of the very hurtful attack on her appearance but how her friends and family could not. The blogger I speak of would possibly respond that Jennifer dresses appropriately. This was one of her points in the comments she later deleted. I have difficulty in seeing any real difference. Both are attacks on the way someone looks.
Livingston replied on air that “the truth is, I am overweight — you can call me fat — and yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. But to the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see? You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family…you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside, and I am much more than a number on a scale.”
She also talks about the problem that this type of bullying has become in society and on the internet. Of how the internet has become a weapon. And of how internet bullying is a behaviour that is learned, passed down from the adults who indulge in it, to the children who see Mummy and Daddy using the internet to criticize and ridicule others.
On air she says: ” If you are at home, and you are talking about the FAT news lady, guess what ? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat.”
She’s right. These children then go on to bully other children on social media websites. Ridiculing their peers and sometimes driving these vulnerable children to suicide.
So for me [like I said - the times they are a changing] it is time to speak out when I see behaviour that is unacceptable. Yes I have always been quite vocal when I see injustice. Now I see I have not been vocal enough. Because apathetic responses to injustice only allow this type of behaviour to flourish and garner an appearance of acceptability within society.
I believe that along with kindness we need to also learn responsibility. And not just for our own behaviour but for those around us. Silence is what allows bullies to get away with it. How often have you stood by while another was bullied and badgered ? I have, to my eternal shame, stood by in the past.
I justified it with: “After all it’s not my problem. Why should I get involved ?” That makes me just as guilty as the bully. I can’t change the past. But I can and will change the way I behave both now and in the future. I will no longer watch – afraid to step up and speak up.
My hope is that my behaviour will teach my children to do the same.
Have my words had any effect ? Probably not going on the blogger’s last comment to me. What I do hope is that by speaking out I will encourage others to do the same in similar situations. And if enough people say: “stop, this is unacceptable”, maybe, just maybe people will think before they do things such as this a second time.
Related post: Kindness need not apply if you’re overweight apparently…