There are some things on the internet I wish I could UN-see.
I’m not talking about “two girls, one cup,” or just about anything else that comes with that NSFW warning.
I’m talking about Skinny Gossip.
If you follow Reddit, or Jezebel, you already know about this. If you don’t, here’s the Reader’s Digest version of what’s been going on over the past week or so: Skinny Gossip purports to be a community of like-minded women who are doing the internet an enormous favor by providing a much-needed “snarky counter-view to a culture that glorifies excess consumption.”
How do they do this, pray? By attacking other women who are happy with themselves. By posting their pictures and eviscerating them without their knowledge or permission.
Take, for example, their feelings about Kate Upton:
Huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition – she looks like a squishy brick.
and Lindsay Lohan:
Gross! – her boobs are big and porny, her stomach bulges in all the shots, her thighs, hips, and butt are chunky, and she has zero body definition. Even her back looks fat!!
…and this about a “plus size” model:
I’m really glad I can’t read the number on that measuring tape.. eww…can we say fat rolls!? Do you have any idea how much someone has to eat to look like this?
I sat there reading all of this vile, bilious nonsense until I was literally shaking and crying. It brought me back to every afternoon at the playground, or on the bus, hearing the girls in my class tell me how disgusting I was. It brought me back to an afternoon in seventh grade – before I had to switch schools because of the ceaseless bullying – as I stood in line for kickball. A group of girls were staring and snickering at me as one of them asked me when my baby was due, because my stomach stuck out so much (this same girl sent me a “friend request” on Facebook years later, which I politely declined).
Aren’t we supposed to be PAST this kind of middle-school bullshit?
The creator of the site has been frantically trying to defend herself and her “community” since the rest of the internet caught on:
I was a shy person growing up, so it seemed like fun to have an alter-ego where I could say things I’d thought but never said.
Well, this just explains EVERYTHING. “I’m shy! The internet lets me say what I want!” Listen, sweetheart, a lot of us bloggers are shy and/or have social anxiety issues; it’s why we choose blogging to express ourselves. But there’s a difference between expressing your beliefs (Americans eat too much, we need to be healthier) and attacking people who didn’t ask for it (OMG that model gained 10-15 pounds…what a fatass!).
As a thin person, I was also annoyed by our double-standards around weight. For example, people think nothing of telling a thin woman – to their face, in front of an entire group of people – how skinny they are and even to suggest what they should eat.
On this point, I actually agree. Body-shaming is something I try to be conscious of at all times. Telling a thin woman to “eat a brownie” is every bit as insulting as calling a heavier woman “a cow” (which you have done, as recently as last week).
But I’ve never seen the reverse happen to an overweight woman.
Really? You’ve NEVER seen that happen? This is so patently absurd I don’t even know where to begin. You’ve never seen it happen, so you’ve taken it upon yourself to make sure that it does. Bravo. Your parents must be so proud.
I have had my own issues around food and eating, both personally and in my family…
Then WHY – for fuck’s sake – are you writing this stuff?
But again there is a terrible double-standard: “big beautiful women” sites on which people exchange recipes for 4,000-calorie cheesecakes don’t seem to unnerve the social critics the same way we do.
Perhaps it’s because BBW and other body-positivity sites (at least the ones I frequent) aren’t bashing other women for loving themselves as-is. Just a guess.
We have never supported illness or self-harm.
Guess what, cupcake? When you call other women “disgusting,” when you have tags like “thunder thighs,” “fatties,” “thick,” “vulgar” – all in reference to other women – YOU ARE SUPPORTING ILLNESS AND SELF-HARM. And don’t tell me I misunderstand your intentions or am taking your words “out of context.” You are a bully. Period.
Not that any of you will listen to me about what’s counterproductive, but calling every skinny person anorexic doesn’t do sick people any favors.
Fair enough, as I’ve said. Now apply this sound reasoning to what you’re currently doing by ripping apart women who don’t fit your standard of beauty. Not all thin women are anorectics. Conversely, not all women who are carrying extra weight are lazy, vulgar, or unhealthy. Got it?
She goes on to detail changes she will be making to the site, effective immediately, such as removing the “Starving Tips” section, adding links for support with depression and eating disorders, and explicitly prohibiting the promotion of “self-harm.” Good. That’s a start.
I do not intend to visit this site again. I have my doubts as to whether or not the fat-shaming will cease altogether, and I don’t need to trigger all of those horrible memories again. I don’t need to sit in front of my computer crying because I cannot believe this is still going on. It has taken me decades to come to some kind of understanding and acceptance of my body. I have starved, taken laxatives, over-exercised, and engaged in the same kind of bashing (of myself) that I found so incredibly repulsive on that site. I don’t need to go there and see women comparing other women to barnyard animals. I prefer to surround myself with women who accept me exactly as I am, who are doing amazing and creative things without worrying if their upper arms are drooping. I prefer to visit sites where healthy lifestyles are promoted without bashing others. I prefer to see young women taking a stand against unrealistic standards of beauty. This site does none of those things.
I was once a size 2/4. I was miserable. When I decided to stop being miserable, when I decided to stop obsessing over every single thing I ate, I was no longer a size 2/4. And you know what? I’m okay with that. My blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels are exactly the same now as they were when I was a size 2/4. So kindly don’t tell me I’m promoting an “unhealthy lifestyle” by saying IT’S OKAY IF YOU’RE NOT A SIZE 2.
Here’s what I’m promoting: I love myself. I am beautiful even if my teeth are crooked and my thighs rub together. If you don’t like the way I look, fine. If you want to post my picture on your “thinspo” website and pick me apart, that’s fine, too. I don’t care what you think about me. But don’t eviscerate other women and claim it’s social commentary. Have the balls to call it what it is – bullying.