women

All posts in the women category

Happy International Women’s Day!

Published March 8, 2014 by sleepydumpling

Yes, March 8th is International Women’s Day, and to celebrate/acknowledge it, I’d like to talk about just how life has changed for me as a woman, and with women over the years.

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All my life, I felt like I wasn’t “girlie” enough.  When I was small it was because I was poor and didn’t have the pretty clothes and things that other girls had, and because I was repeatedly told I was fat.  I felt like being a girl was a competition, and because I couldn’t compete, I wasn’t “girlie”.  Then along came puberty and I really did become fat.  Add hairy and spotty into the equation, that made me feel like I had even less of a right to girlhood.  As I passed through my teens and into adulthood, I still believed that because I didn’t fit what the media, my family, and men in general told me a woman should be, I still didn’t feel like I belonged to womanhood.

My response to that was to internalise misogyny.  I started to tell myself that “I’m not like other girls” and consequently I couldn’t be friends with women or girls.  I surrounded myself with male friends, denounced anything that read as “feminine”, shaved my head and wore big clunky boots and a lot of flannel.  I thought if I couldn’t “compete” with women, I didn’t want to be like one.

You see that’s what misogyny is.  It’s the myth of “femininity”.  The myth that womanhood fits one narrow band of features and behaviours, and that womanhood is a competition between the female of our species to appeal to male of our species, and only those that “win” the attention of men are allowed to consider themselves “feminine”.  Femininity is measured by how pleasing a woman is to men – by her appearance, her voice, her behaviour and her sexual availability.

Not to mention that fat women are so othered by society in so many ways that rob them of the things that are supposed to mark femininity – society sets the standards of femininity and then denies them to fat women.  When you cannot buy the clothes that are considered acceptable, when you are not seen represented by marketing and the media, when you are treated as sub-human, you cannot participate in society as a peer.  When you are led to believe that life is a competition, and that you are not a peer of the population in general, you tend to opt out.

There is no wonder that so many fat women (as well as other marginalised women) internalise the misogyny that is continually poured on us.

But for me, somewhere about the same time as fat liberation, I found feminism.  I started to question the way women are treated in our culture, and I started to see just how girls and women are forced into competition with each other to prove this thing called “femininity”, to prove their worthiness as human beings.  I learned to value myself not only as a woman, but as a fat woman.  I learned that girlhood and womanhood are far more diverse than society leads us to believe, and that there are no hard and fast rules about what makes a woman a woman.

I also began to see just how badly many of the men in my life, those who I believed were my friends, were treating me.  I began to recognise just how many of them dismissed my opinion, ridiculed my feelings, refused to respect my physical boundaries and generally just treated me with disrespect.  I finally put an end to the friendship with the man who was supposed to be my best friend, but had been repeatedly sexually assaulting me for the entire span of our 15 year friendship – assault which I had been groomed to believe was my fault and that I deserved it, and that I was silly for feeling uncomfortable and upset about.  I began to expect better of the men in my life.  Which meant that many of the ones I already had in my life either left or had to be removed, but it meant that there was room in my life for good men (y’all know who you are fellas) who treat me with respect.  The men I have in my life these days are amazing, and I’m honoured to know them.

Another factor that changed for me on discovering feminism and fat activism is that I’ve enjoyed participating in things that are coded as “feminine”, where I did not before.  I wear dresses.  I love anything pink.  I enjoy having my nails done and growing my hair long so that I can pin flowers and bows in it.  These things are not any indicator of womanhood, but are things usually denied to women who are seen as unacceptable.  It’s nice to have the option to participate in things that are seen as traditionally feminine.

That doesn’t mean you have to perform “femininity” to be a woman, after all “femininity” is a social construct.   What  it means is that you give yourself permission to enjoy those things that are coded as feminine regardless of whether you fit society’s narrow definitions of womanhood.

I’ve realised that how others judge me is not indicative of my womanhood.  My womanhood is my identity, not for others to bestow upon me if they deem me worthy.

However the greatest benefit of feminism and fat activism for me has been the discovery that now that I don’t feel in any way competitive towards other women, I’ve discovered I really like women.  I’ve made far more women friends and they in turn have enriched my life in more ways than I can express.  I enjoy the company of other women immensely and found that we have more in common than we have in difference.

So this is for you, all of the women in my life, all of the women who read my blog and all of the women who have been convinced by others that they’re not good enough, not “feminine” enough, that they don’t belong to womanhood.  YOU determine your womanhood, not others.

Here’s to the women of the world.  May you see your own value.

Her: The Movie

Published January 25, 2014 by sleepydumpling

I just got home from a day out at the movies (with a little brunch with a friend and shopping interspersed amongst it).  I saw The Book Thief, which is wonderful, I can highly recommend it, and then I saw Her.

I want to talk a little bit about the latter, because I came away with many thoughts buzzing around my head.  Luckily I had a bit of a wait for my bus and then a good half hour bus trip, so that I could begin to gather my thoughts on the movie into some coherence to write about here.

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Let me start by saying that Her is beautifully written, shot and acted.  Visually it is gorgeous, the language of the film is quite poetic and the cast are excellent, they all give nuanced performances that felt very human and real.

But the concept of a man falling in love with an artificially intelligent operating system-woman really stuck in my craw.  At first I couldn’t work out why, humans falling in love with robots/computers/artificial intelligent beings isn’t new, but when I sat with it for awhile, I realised what bothered me.  This perfect woman that Theodore (Joachin Phoenix) has found, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johanssen), has no body.  She has a brain, she has emotions, she has humour, she has intellect, she even has sexuality, but no physical form.

The perfect woman in this film is a woman whose body has been effectively photoshopped out of existence.

We’re all used to the concept of a woman’s body being photoshopped/edited to be something it isn’t.  We’re even used to seeing the results of that editing rendering women’s bodies smaller and thinner and more unrealistic.  All the “messy” bits of women’s actual bodies have been edited away for a long time.  Cellulite, wrinkles, stretchmarks, body hair, fat… even women’s genitals are edited to the point of “perfection”, which is completely unattainable by any living human being even after extensive cosmetic procedures.  Human beings are animals and we’re innately messy.  Our bodily functions are like that of any other animal – messy.  In this case she has been edited completely out of having a body at all.  All her physical “flaws” have been removed until there is no physical form left.

It reminds me somewhat of Alexandria’s Genesis, a fictional “condition” prevalent in science fiction where female characters have purple eyes, pale white skin, dark hair, slow ageing, no body hair or periods (yet they can still conceive) and they don’t get diseases.  This condition is a lazy writer’s way of making the “perfect” woman, who doesn’t have any of the messiness of things like illness, body hair or a menstrual cycle.  Because actual women are seen as dirty, messy, leaky things.

It’s inherently a misogynistic view of women, that suggest we are somehow unacceptable for being living creatures, as human beings.  It’s acceptable for men to be hairy, flawed, smelly, sweaty and physical bodies.  But somehow it is considered far worse a crime for a woman to be any of the above.

I also take exception to the idea that the “perfect woman” is entirely there to please her man.  She is created entirely by and for him, and while she sometimes has emotions that he cannot understand or takes exception to, she never argues with him, never disagrees with him and spends much of the movie apologising to him for her questions, assumptions and actions.  In fact he gets angry when Samantha starts speaking with her peers – other operating systems, and befriends a male operating system.

If this behaviour were replicated in a human relationship, it would be an abusive relationship.  However this makes Samantha the “perfect woman” that Theodore has found.  There are other moments that are deeply problematic, but I don’t want to get spoilery on you all.  Ultimately when Samantha has very human reactions and feelings, things begin to turn sour for the relationship.

Ultimately while I could see the beauty and talent behind the film (both the cast and the director/cinematography) I came away feeling like the film was a very harsh criticism of actual women, that suggested the only way to make a woman meet the standard men are seeking was to erase her physical form and make her sole purpose to please her man.  Take away a woman’s personhood and she becomes “the perfect woman”.

A deeply misogynistic premise… and misogyny in films is so dull, we’ve seen it all before.

Permission to Geek Out – Granted.

Published October 19, 2013 by sleepydumpling

It’s no secret to anyone who follows my Tumblr that I am a massive fan of Tom Hiddleston.  It all started with his role as Loki in the Avengers films and grew from there.  This is because I’ve always been a complete geek, when I get into something, I get really into it.  I love to dissect every nuance and really get into the minutiae of a topic that I’m into.  So I’m one of those people who gets on Tumblr with a bunch of other geeks of the same flavour, and we talk about all the details of that thing we love.  Right now for me, that’s the world of Marvel’s Avengers with particular focus on Loki.

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It has always been like this for me.  I can remember being obsessed with everything Roald Dahl wrote when I was about 7 years old.  At 11 it was US Civil War history, after reading Janet Lunn’s “The Root Cellar”.  At 15, it was everything Titanic, after reading Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember” for a school assignment.  That particular obsession came back when James Cameron’s film came out in 1996.  At 16 it was the world of the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.  At 18 it was Dublin Soul music, thanks to The Commitments.  All through my life, I’ve been the kind of person who really likes to delve into stuff at a detailed level when the bug bites me.  When I discovered the internet in my early 20′s, I joined so many forums and chat groups (and remember IRC?) just so I could talk about stuff I love.  I still have friends now that I met online in Titanic, SeaChange, Mythbusters, and Tank Girl forums (among others) many, many years ago.

Science fiction, fantasy and superheroes are awesome.  I used to have an extensive collection of indie comics until my stepfather dumped them all (my favourite was one called Greener Pastures, followed closely by Tank Girl).  I have played some form of computer game almost every day of my life since I was 10 years old.   I work with technology for a living.  Every working day has me designing integrated AV systems and implementing IT solutions for everything from training customers in social media to 3D printing.  I squee over shiny new gadgets.   I’m a shameless Apple fan.  I’m a librarian for God’s sake.

Yet I’ve noticed something.  I don’t qualify as a “geek” in general geek culture.  People roll their eyes at my TARDIS lock-screen on my iPhone.  They scoff at the little Thor figurine that lives on my office desk.  People make snide little comments about “fangirls” in reference to our online discussions about Doctor Who and Marvel Avengers.  When I wear my PacMan earrings guys call me a “fake geek girl”.  Dudes often explain things to me at work (and outside of work) as if I’m stupid.  A particular bugbear is some guy who has never worked with AV in his life lecturing me about what kind of TV I should buy, five minutes after he’s watched me explain to my AV vendor what integration I want in a three room combinable meeting room system.  Or the friend who asked the teenage boy working in JB HiFi which DVD/Bluray to buy even though she had already asked me and I had given her some recommendations.  Because a bored looking teenage boy in retail clearly knows more than a 40 year old woman who works with AV integration for 35 large public sites.

In general, a woman’s interest in anything geeky is dismissed and patronised.  Women are treated like “silly fangirls” and “fake geek girls” while the dude sitting beside them is wearing a wookie hoodie or has only seen the JJ Abrahms Star Trek films.  Of course, there are always a million reasons given.  Let’s look at a few shall we?

You’re only wearing that because you like the look of it!
So no dude has ever worn some form of geek culture because he liked the look of it?  How many dudes have bought an Iron Man t-shirt because it looked cool?  So what if it looks cool and a woman wants to wear it.  How is that hurting anyone?

You’re only into [insert geek culture] because [insert attractive celebrity] is in it!
Oh and dudes don’t buy comic books because the female characters are drawn hot?  Like they don’t drool over Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia or a whole bunch of other actresses who have been in sci-fi/fantasy/super-hero roles.  It’s a good thing if a popular actor is a gateway drug into a fandom.  How different is it having Matt Smith or David Tennant draw a woman into Doctor Who than an actress in a skimpy costume do the same thing for another fandom?

You’re only getting into it because “geek culture” is trendy right now!
I’m sorry?  I played my first computer game when I was 10.  That was 31 years ago.  I read science fiction and fantasy, watched anime and bought comic books from the same age.  For chunks of my teens I was ridiculed for it, so I hid it away a lot, but I’ve been into geeky stuff longer than many of the loud anti-fangirl crew have been alive.

You only play girly games, not real ones!
Firstly, lots of women play games that are traditionally aimed at men.  I work with a 40 year old woman who has played WoW ever since I’ve known her and that’s over a decade.  A girlfriend of mine loves Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Mass Effect, Call of Duty and such.

Secondly, how welcoming are these traditionally male oriented games to women?  Are there any decent female characters for them to choose from, or are women just treated as tits and arse for the male players to ogle?  If they’re multi-player games, how are women treated when they join in to play?  One only has to follow Anita Sarkeesian’s work to see why many women shy away from these games and environments.

But finally, why are male oriented games considered more “real” or valid than other types of game?  Why is Grand Theft Auto  more “real” than The Sims, Tetris, Animal Crossing, The Simpsons Tapped Out or even Cookie Mama and Farmville?  Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds are as valid as games as any shooting or driving game marketed to the dudes.  Why is spending your time playing a game that shoots people more “valid” than spending your time playing a game that slices fruit?

You don’t know anything about the history of [insert geek culture]!
How many male Lord of the Rings fans don’t know diddly squat about Tolkien?  Or male Star Trek fans know nothing about Roddenberry?  Or male Doctor Who fans who have never watched an episode prior to the Eccleston reboot?  How many male gamers out there never played PacMan, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong or have even heard of Pong?  How many male science fiction readers have never read Orwell, Wyndham or Wells?  How many comic book readers have never seen a vintage copy of The Phantom (or never even heard of The Phantom!) or collected indie comic books?  I could go on.  Why is it perfectly acceptable for men to pick and choose what geek culture they engage in, but women are quizzed and tested to prove their worth?  Besides, how often does something that is new and popular draw people into the history?  So, maybe they are only getting into Avengers because of Joss Whedon’s film, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to get totally into the whole Marvel universe and start collecting comic books.

Silly fangirls are ruining everything!
Ruining everything for who?  For men who like the status quo of no female characters of substance, of never having to feel inadequate next to a handsome male character, of not having their fragile masculinity threatened by a dude shown in a sexually attractive light.  They’re not the only people on the planet, and they’re not the only ones who are willing to fork out their hard earned cash on fandom.  So something needs to appeal to women as well as men now to make money and stick around.  Good!  Not only is there more money to be devoted to keeping something alive if both men and women can dig it, but women have as much right to stuff they can dig as men do.  We have as much right to be treated with respect, given diverse and detailed characters and to be considered when developing, writing, casting and marketing content.  Besides, if we have to sit through a movie with some woman in a gold bikini, the fellas can sit through one with a dude with his shirt off and tight pants.

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The reality is, women are not considered valid human beings, so our interests, knowledge and skills are not considered valid either.  Our wants and needs are considered “add ons”, not the default.  Our fandom is considered an irritant rather than the integral part of the machine of geek culture that it is.  Don’t let people treat your interests and hobbies as silly or unworthy.  You have every right to the geeky that any man does.  Embrace your fangirl nature if you have one.  Squee over the things you love.  Learn about technology and gadgets if you are interested in them.  Wear, create, use whatever geek culture you want, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not worthy, or you’re silly for filling your life with geekdom.  You keep these geek culture items alive as much, if not more, than any snarky dude in a Yoda t-shirt!

And don’t get me started on other systems of privilege in geek culture either!

Part of a Solution, Or Part of the Problem?

Published July 28, 2013 by sleepydumpling

I don’t know if you saw this article from the Herald Sun over the past few days.  It is a piece by the Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, calling for men to both listen to women when they speak about domestic and gendered violence, and for men to speak up against all instances of violence towards women, not just the big horrifying stuff.  It asks men to take a look at their own attitudes and behaviour, and whether or not they are contributing to a culture that excuses violence towards women.

It’s an excellent piece and I am happy to see such an influential man standing up and calling out the dismissive attitudes that many men have towards domestic and gendered violence.

I of course, shared it on my Facebook and asked the men in my life, who I believe are good men, otherwise I wouldn’t have them in my life, to take some action themselves.  I saw the article shared by many, many women but had not once seen a man share it.  So I asked the men in my life to ask themselves if perhaps this was an indication that they were not listening to the women in their lives, and could take a little more action to speak up against violence against women.

Two awesome dudes in my life took the time to post the article themselves and openly condemn violence towards women, no matter how big or small.  I’m so proud to know those two guys are listening, and are not afraid to step up and say that violence towards women is unacceptable.  That’s the kind of man I want in my life.

But I’m not so pleased about is the responses to the article that I saw.  They were the same response in every place I looked regardless of the gender of the commenter, or their age, or whether they were commenting on it posted by a man or by a woman.  Now while the actual wording of the responses were different, they all said basically the same thing:

Men are violent towards women because of [television/pop music/the economy/culture/parents/insert other excuse here].

Over and over and over again, something was to blame for men being violent towards women.  The shit kiddies watch on telly today.  Those awful rappers.  The economy, men don’t feel respected when they can’t be breadwinners.  Young people today.  Because women are sometimes violent too.  Porn, porn makes men violent.  Religion, religion makes men violent.

All these excuses.

I’m sick of the excuses.  Can we not just stand up and say that when men are violent towards women, it’s because those men believe they have the right to be?  And by making excuses and pointing the blame at external factors all the time, we’re GIVING them an out.  We’re telling men that we “understand” that things “make” them violent towards women, instead of placing the blame exactly where it lies, with the men who are violent towards women.

The one that bugs me the most is the whole “young people today with their television and pop music” argument.  I’m 41 this year, so I’m in my 5th decade.  I’ve been around since the 70′s, and guess what, the past isn’t some rosy place where no woman was ever subjected to violence.  Popular culture is no  more to blame for men being violent towards women today as it was in the 70′s when my father was kicking the shit out of me.  I’ve survived violence from men through every decade of my life, be it overt or subtle, it has always been there.  From the domestic abuse of my childhood, the sexual abuse of my teens and twenties, through abusive partners in my 30′s and I still have men groping or grabbing me in public, spitting at me, calling me a cunt in the street or sending me death threats online.  Music and telly didn’t cause that at any point in my life, the cultural excuses for violence against women did.

The same goes for the economy/breadwinner argument.  If violence towards women were based on economy or employment, then no wealthy man would have ever murdered, raped or assaulted a woman in history, which we know is not true.  We would never have had violence towards women in boom times, like after the second world war or through the early 2000′s.  Men in jobs they love that provide them with excellent incomes are still violent towards women, this is not about whether or not a man is “respected” as a breadwinner.  It’s pretty disgusting that anyone would demand that men should be “shown respect” through the struggling economy when women can’t even be respected as human beings whether the economy is good or not.

When we constantly try to find something to blame for violence towards women, we are contributing to the problem.  We’re building the culture that tells men it’s not their fault that they are violent towards women, instead of telling them that violence towards women is inexcusable.  We have to tell the perpetrators of violence that they are responsible for their actions, not find something else to blame.  Until we do, this culture is never going to be broken.  And women are still going to be living their lives in fear of “triggering” violence from men.

If you’re making excuses as to why men are being violent towards women, I want you to listen to yourself.  Whatever your gender, I want you to ask why there has to be an excuse, why you have to find something to blame?  Ask yourself, is this part of the solution, or am I part of the problem?

*And before you start in on the “But what about violence against men?!” crap, read this, and then read this.

Embracing our Bodies – University of Queensland Women’s Collective Event

Published May 19, 2013 by sleepydumpling

It’s short notice, but I just got this great poster for the event I’m speaking at on Tuesday night. If you’re in Brisbane, and you can make it… come along!

Embracing Our Bodies poster

Embracing Our Bodies: A panel discussion and information session on eating disorders in Australia
Date: Tuesday 21st May, 2013
Time: 6pm
Location: UQ Student Union Complex Innes Room 2

No Excuses – No Victim Blaming

Published November 22, 2012 by sleepydumpling

This Sunday is White Ribbon Day.  I blog about White Ribbon Day every year, because it is a cause close to my heart.

This year, White Ribbon Day is particularly important to me.

What is White Ribbon Day?  It is the one day per year that is devoted to the cause of ending violence against women.  It generally has a domestic violence focus, but it is in fact a campaign to end ALL violence against women.  I’ll give you a few Australian statistics:

  • Every week, a woman is killed by a current or former partner.
  • One in three women over the age of 15 report physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
  • Domestic violence is the major cause of homelessness of women and children.
  • 33% of women have experienced inappropriate comments about their body or sex life.
  • 25% have experienced unwanted sexual contact.
  • 1 in 5 women have been stalked.

Be aware these statistics are of reported cases.  This does not cover the hundreds of incidents every day that go unreported.  Violence against women is not just physical or sexual.  It is also mental, emotional, financial and institutional.  Every act of dehumanising a woman is violence against women.

This week just past has been hellish for me.  In the week since I attempted to launch a project for marginalised women and was forced to shut it down due to the amount of harassment, bullying and threats aimed at me and anyone who expressed interest in participating, I have been subjected to a constant barrage of abuse from complete strangers.  Everything from anonymous hate on Tumblr, days and days of harassment on Twitter, someone creating fake Facebook accounts in my name (with stolen photographs of me) and attempting to spam all of my friends and colleagues to actual death threats.

This abuse does not exist in a vacuum.  This abuse happens because culturally in Australia, and the rest of the world, violence and abuse against women is considered culturally  acceptable.  Not just the kind of abuse I’ve experienced this week either – rape, physical assault and murder are excused repeatedly.  Victims are blamed for their abuse – either they are told they actually did the wrong thing, ie were in the wrong place, wearing the wrong thing, behaving the wrong way etc, or if they do speak up, they are accused of “playing the victim” or “drawing negative attention to themselves”.

The most horrifying fact is that many women internalise these dehumanising messages and then turn them on their fellow women.  Just this week in my own experience, many women actively recruited men to help them abuse me online when I refused to apologise for telling them to fuck off out of my space.  This is disgusting behaviour, and a prime example of internalised misogyny.  “Women aren’t allowed to say that!” or “What a bitch, she’s going DOWN!”  Not once did I initiate contact with any of these people, nor did I go to their online spaces to leave abuse or even respond to them, the only time I responded was when they approached me, and mostly it was simply to tell them to fuck off out of my space.

There is NO excuse for violence against women.  There is NO reason that a woman is to blame for being abused.  No matter how she dresses, where she goes, what she does with her own body, what she drinks or consumes, what she says or how she behaves.

Women do not have to be nice, polite or submissive.  Women are allowed to say NO.  Women have every right to tell someone who comes into her space, be it physical or online to fuck off.  Women don’t have to give someone “the benefit of the doubt”.  If she does, and that person then abuses her, she is then blamed for not protecting herself.  “What was she thinking!?” people cry.  She was clearly thinking that she should give someone “the benefit of the doubt” like she was told to do.  Women are allowed to be loud, to swear, to dress themselves however they like, to have consensual sex with whoever they wish to, to be angry, to inhabit any public space without it drawing violence to her.  Women are even allowed to be rude, cranky, impolite, abrasive, abrupt, nasty, bitchy… and all those other words that are shame code for “women being assertive” without it drawing violence to her.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

If you do not like a woman, walk away.  Don’t pursue her into her space either online or physically.  Do not force her to pay attention to you when she does not want to.  Do not bully her anonymously to try to shame or silence her.  Don’t try to passive aggressively shame her by claiming you are offering “constructive criticism” when she does not want it and you are in her space.  You are not “offering” anything, you are forcing her, and that is violence against her.  Don’t recruit your friends or men to bully her if she doesn’t respond to your demands.  Do not abuse her for being rude if she walks away from you or tells you to leave her alone, even if she says “fuck off” in doing so.   She has every right to do so and owes you nothing.

If you really believe you are superior to someone, then you will walk away from them secure in that knowledge.  A better human being always will.

We live in a horrifically victim blaming culture.  We harass women online and off, threaten and bully them into submission, shame them when we deem that they are unworthy or inferior.  We get angry at women who stay in abusive relationships, but also deny them support and protection if they leave those relationships.  We shame them for not standing by their man, not standing on their own two feet, not caring enough about their children, not trying hard enough to make things better.  All the while we absolve the perpetrators of any responsibility.  We deny women support financially and emotionally when they leave abusive relationships, shame them for being “single mothers” or “sluts” or “a drain on society” for needing financial assistance when a partner has financially abused them and their children.  In the same breath that we tell women to give men “the benefit of the doubt”, we then blame her if she does and it turns bad.

But most importantly, we must speak up.  We must speak up as a culture and say “This is not ok.”  It is scary to speak up, as I’ve seen particularly painfully this week, and I am sure this very post will draw it as well*.  I am not “special” or “brave” for doing so – I’m just a woman who has had enough of being treated like shit by society and then blamed for it and treated even more like shit.  I have just reached a point where I can’t survive any more being pushed down for being a woman who is deemed unacceptable or inferior.  You too can speak up whether it’s loudly and publicly like I do, or amongst your own family or friends.  Big or small, every statement made against the violence women suffer gathers, accumulates and gets louder and louder.  Every voice, wherever it is, makes the world a bit safer for women and gives women courage to stand up to abuse and expect better for herself.

Tomorrow and through to Sunday there are many events happening around the country to raise funds and awareness for women who have or are suffering violence.  Every small donation for a white ribbon, every raffle ticket, every cocktail party or rally makes a difference.  If nothing else, donate a couple of bucks, buy a white ribbon and wear it to work, around your friends and family, on the street.  It is a tiny symbol of hope for women who have suffered everywhere that someone cares, that someone will stand with them, that someone believes that campaigning to end violence against women matters.

If I had seen that tiny symbol when I was suffering domestic abuse, I know I would have been empowered a whole lot earlier in life than I was.  I know I feel a whole lot more empowered now seeing it on men and women everywhere.

And if you are a woman suffering or have suffered abuse or violence of any kind, know that I care, as do many others.  I do this for you as much as I do this for me.

*I will be reporting any abuse I receive to the police,  including IP addresses and all other details.  I will also be publishing this information online.

Thoughts on Being “Othered”.

Published February 28, 2012 by sleepydumpling

A few days ago I was writing an email to a friend of mine about fat, fashion and marginalisation, and while I was doing so, quite a few things kind of went “Ping!” in my head, and I realised I wanted to expand upon the subject in a general sense here on my blog.  We were talking about how many fat women feel about clothing and fashion, and the desperation so many of us feel when trying to find clothes that fit us, suit our lives, we like, make us feel good, and that are fashionable.

Those of us who engage in fatshion, the act of dressing/styling ourselves with pride and personal expression as fat women are outside of the acceptable cultural meme for fat women.  Fat women are expected to constantly be expressing their shame at having a fat body and doing everything they can to hide those fat bodies.  Regardless of whether or not that suits our lives, our needs or our personalities.

That’s the thing with inhabiting a fat body.  People see you as just that – a fat body.  They don’t attribute anything else to you, like a career or family, hobbies or convictions, let alone sense of humour, or intellect, or talent, or kindness and caring, or passion, or dedication… the list goes on.  The world sees you as FAT.  It’s the first thing people use to describe you, even if you have other more noticeable traits.  In my own personal case, my fat even trumps my candy coloured hair and tattoos as the most noticeable thing about me.  People notice that I am fat, before they notice a single other thing about me.

But of course, if you identify as fat and actually own this quality about yourself that the world constantly reminds you of, then the vitriol intensifies.  How DARE any woman not be ashamed of being fat.  She must be reminded that she is of lesser value, she must be brought down to the level that she belongs.

Clothing, indeed fashion, is one of the ways that society does that.  By restricting the options to fat women, it is another reminder that we are other.  That we don’t deserve the same things as “normal” people.  It serves to make us look even more different to general society, and then of course it is very effective in making us FEEL different to general society.

Having access to clothes that are fashionable and on a par with general society is both empowering and deeply emotional.  Because it takes away that demarcation of being socially other, and brings fat women to a point of being able to not just dress like, but BE peers to others in society.

I’m old enough to span a few decades of awareness of clothing and fashion.  I remember what it was like in the 80′s to try to find clothes to fit my fat body.  It was agonising.  So as a consequence, I spent most of my teens through to my early 30′s hiding.  Hiding in black, navy, burgundy.  Hiding in shapeless boxes.  No personal expression, no style, no fashion.  I never got to engage in fashion as a social event, so I was distanced from other girls/young women.  Therefore I never felt I could be friends with girls/women – and consequently only had male friends until my 30′s.  Of course, I didn’t know back then that this was institutionalised misogyny – teaching me that if I couldn’t “compete” with my peers, I couldn’t participate with them.

See how this shit works to push fat women further and further down the cultural hierarchy?

Then it came to work, and I couldn’t find clothes that matched those that my professional peers were wearing.  Instead, more shapeless, sloppy, dark sacks – which in turn made others (and myself) believe that I was less capable, less committed, less able than my thin peers.  After all, if you can’t dress yourself confidently, surely you can’t do anything else confidently right?

It just keeps going on and on and on.

I’ve also been the fattest person at the lunch table while everyone else talks about how disgusting their own, much thinner bodies are.  That’s always a special feeling.  I’ve been the one that the person with the fucked up food obsession uses for thinspiration.  I can’t tell you how it feels to have someone in a position of power use you as their metaphorical piggy-on-the-refrigerator, stalking your every move around food… and because they’re in a position of power, you can’t say “Fuck off.” or if you say anything to anyone else you get told you’re imagining it or over-sensitive.

I understand.  I know how it feels.  I live it every day of my damn life.

My only way of coping is to take it on and try to change the world.  I did 35 years of trying to change me to fit the world, and it didn’t work – it almost killed me.  Now I intend to devote the rest of my life to changing the world to fit everyone.  After all, the world is a big diverse place, there is room in it for all of us, no matter who we are, what we look like or what our lives are.  And we fat people have as much right to it as anyone else.

Rage Against Injustice

Published February 8, 2012 by sleepydumpling

Following on from my last post, and after the good ole ranty pants I had on Twitter this evening, I want to talk some more about anger.  Because you know, the minute a woman stands her ground and says “Enough!” she is accused of two things – being selfish and being angry.

I think there is a whole lot of shame attached to anger, particularly in women.  We’ve talked before about how accusing someone of being angry is meant to derail and silence someone who is speaking up/out about something.  I want to expand on that a bit further.

Particularly on the accusation “You’re such an angry person.” that so often gets thrown in the direction of women.

When it comes to social justice, which is what fat activism is a form of, anger is a completely understandable emotion to feel, and to see from social justice activists.  Because really, we’re talking about injustices here.  We’re talking about the oppression of people based on their size.  We’re talking about the open hatred of people because of their weight.  We’re talking about social and medical discrimination of human beings.  We’re talking physical, emotional and social abuse of a whole swathe of people, simply because their bodies don’t fit into a narrow, arbitrary measure of “acceptable”.  I say there’s something wrong with you if you’re not getting angry about this.

In fact, I get angry about ALL forms of social injustice, be they based on gender, size, race, sexuality, spiritual beliefs, physical ability, economic status or beyond.  I get angry at the marginalisation and oppression of human beings for any arbitrary reason.  Because it’s fucking wrong!

If that shit isn’t making you angry… there’s something wrong.

Of course, speaking up about any of this gets that dreaded accusation “You’re such an angry person!!”

What many people fail to understand, is that they so often only see one aspect of someone.  Many readers of my activism work know little more about me than what I write here, or tweet.  They see just this perspective, Kath in her activist boots.

We’re all a whole lot more multi-faceted than that.  Yes, as an activist, there is a good amount of anger expressed through my work.  But then there’s my career – those people only know me through my employment.  They see a different side of me, and many of them don’t know about the activism I do.  They see dedicated Kath who loves her job to bits and most of the time, has a whole lot of fun doing it.  They see Library Kath, in her librarian hat.

Beyond that, there are people who know me primarily through my hobbies.  They see yet another facet of me.  They see someone who loves to have fun and laugh.  They see playful Kath, who loves to try new things and expand her horizons.  They see Leisure Kath, in her leisure dress.

Then there is Kath the friend.  Kath who cares about the people in her life.  The Kath that wants to hear when her friends are going through good times and bad.  They see Friend Kath, in her friend socks.

Then there is private Kath.  This is the Kath who enjoys her own company, likes quiet down time on her own, away from any need to perform to other’s expectations.  Almost nobody sees this Kath, since she likes to keep that side of herself to herself.  That is Kath, in her private underpants.

Some very special people in my life get to see all those facets, and they know me better than others, so they see the whole outfit – dress, hat, socks, boots and if they’re really lucky, underpants.  They see all of me, the whole outfit.  They see that the anger is tempered by the humour, which is balanced by the caring, which is strengthened by the intelligence.  Now sometimes parts of those aspects of myself get a bit worn through, and I have to lean on the others.  That’s how it is with everyone – we sometimes focus on one aspect of our lives more than others, until we are refreshed about our careers, our loved ones, our activism, our hobbies etc.

Yet because people may only see certain parts of the whole, they decide they can judge someone only on the strength of the part they see.  So in my case, lots of people know me as the angry fatty, who rants and raves about how people treat fat folks.

I hold no shame for my anger.  Just like love, or humour, or sadness, or passion, or worry, or dedication, it is part of who I am and a genuine emotion that I have as much right to express as any other emotion.

Many people equate anger with violence as well – but the two are not the same thing.  I believed they were until my late teens, because that’s what I was taught anger was.  I was taught all my childhood and most of my teens that if you made someone angry, the repercussion was violence.  It wasn’t until I met a dear friend of mine at 17 (hey Big Dude, love you!), who taught me that someone could be absolutely livid, totally pissed off, and not engage in violence at all.

Anger can be damaging, for sure.  It can be damaging if we direct it towards the wrong things.  It is also damaging if we let it fester inside us and don’t deal with it.

So often, we bottle up our anger.  We suppress it to be “nice” or “polite”.  Particularly women – women are expected to be pleasant and nice, caring and gentle.  We’re not allowed to express anger at hurt or injustice.  If we are, we’re aggressive, unfeminine… bitches.  So instead, many women learn to be passive-aggressive, and engage in snark or spite.

For the first… well most of my life, I didn’t express my anger at injustice.  I held it in, worried about what people thought about me.  So it came out at things.  Instead of allowing myself to be angry at people for behaving like complete arsehats, I let it fester inside me until I took it out on something inanimate.  I can’t tell you how many appliances I’ve destroyed in complete rage that was boiling over from the way I had been treated as a fat woman.

Now, I focus my anger on the injustices of the world.  Instead of swallowing my anger at bigotry and ignorance and hate, which forces it to surface later, in my job or at my loved ones, I let that rage out at where it should be -  at the injustices towards human beings.

Tattoos and Candy Coloured Hair: Sending a Message to Young People

Published December 22, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Some few weeks ago you might have seen some furore around the traps about a tattooed Barbie Doll with pink hair being sold.  This Barbie doll (pictured below) is a collectable collaboration between fashion/accessory label Tokidoki and Mattel, makers of Barbie.  There was a lot of furore about this doll corrupting children somehow despite being a very expensive collectable few children (if any) will ever own.  Tokidoki Barbie (originally $50US) sold out very quickly and I have since seen them showing up on eBay for around $500.

Now of course, I have some issues with Barbie in general, mostly around her unattainable standard of beauty and body shape, and the lack of diversity of race available in Barbie, a doll that is marketed all over the world – that all needs a post of it’s own.  But what I noticed was the repeated message that went with this collectable tattooed, pink haired Barbie is that tattoos and candy coloured hair are trashy, low class, unintelligent and even mark a woman as promiscuous.

As a tattooed woman who usually has pink hair myself, I take some exception to this message.  Just reading around a few articles on this doll, I found the following quotes:

“I think it is horrible and sends the wrong message to young people”

“In no way should a tattoo be honored.”

“Encouraging children that tattoos are cool is wrong, wrong, wrong. Mattel why not put a cigarette and a beer bottle in her hand while you’re at it!”
and my favourite:
“Forget being a doctor, this Barbie sports a pale pink bob and is covered with tattoos on her neck and shoulders.”
So someone with tattoos and coloured hair can’t be a doctor hmm?

Well, being a tattooed, pink haired librarian myself, I put the word out on Twitter and Tumblr and asked for candy-haired, tattooed women to come forward and share their stories, just to see what kind of women have brightly coloured hair and tattoos.

Bri of Fat Lot of Good (above) is a counsellor, social worker and social justice activist, as well as being a Mum to two kids.  She got her first tattoo when her son was about 6 months old, and now has 7 tattoos.  She has also had pink, purple or red streaks in her naturally black hair.  Bri has never had anyone say anything negative to her face about her tattoos, though she has sensed disapproval but chooses to ignore it.  She feels that she gets more disapproval for her fatness than she does her tattoos.  She finds that generally her family and friends are very accepting of her tattoos, though her Dad has made it clear that he hates tattoos and has voiced “at least they can be covered up”.  She has also found that in her work life, people are interested in hearing the stories behind her tattoos, and in some cases have been helpful in engaging with her clients.  She does admit that  her tattoos are mostly covered though, and are fairly discreet designs.

Rachel of Very Busy and Important (above) is the Director of Location Services for a television network based in Chicago, IL.  She is a liaison  between station viewers and partners and it’s various departments at headquarters, developing both operational and marketing-based support programs for each.   She got her first tattoo at 22 and first ventured into candy coloured hair at 27.   She says she was surprisingly conservative as a teenager, and says she rebelled against her Mom, who owned a body piercing studio and hair salon by being aggressively square.  Rachel says that surprisingly, she has never experienced her hair or tattoos being the focus of negative attention in her job, but has got more flack on the streets than at work.  Her boss loves her hair and her CEO has asked for tattoo artist recommendations for his teenage son.  However she does find it intrusive and bothersome to explain the meaning of (or lack thereof) her tattoos repeatedly.  She also says:

As I’ve gotten older, not that 27 is particularly “older,” I’ve realized that the only way for me to maintain mental health is to stop compartmentalizing my personality between work and home. I am the same silly, opinionated, compassionate, and intelligent woman with my friends that I am with my colleagues. Not only do my colleagues deserve to interact with an actual person, instead of a robotic facade, I deserve to be free to be myself. Why spend all of that energy maintaining the illusion that I am a, you know, mild mannered person without opinions who isn’t covered in various swirls of (semi)permanent colors when I could be putting that energy into actually doing my job?

Kara (no photo supplied) from Vicious Sioux works in retail and is an activist who supports her family.  She has been colouring her hair since she was 16 and her first tattoo at 18.  She finds both her family and her workplace are ok with her hair and tattoos, though her conservative grandmother really objected to them, though she’s sure her current employers would not appreciate her returning her hair to hot pink, yet her colleagues and peers love it.

Amanda of FatWaitress.com (above) runs Love Your Body Detroit, a non-profit activism organisation that fights fat phobia and weight bias, and is a full time college student who works both on campus and as a nanny on weekends.  She got her first tattoo at 22, and started colouring her hair at 16, to have every colour under the sun, including her favourite, bright red with purple tips.  She has had to cover her tattoos when working in hospitality, but says people rarely react negatively to them.  She has only had one particularly bad response, in which she says “I was waiting on her a few years ago and she refused to look at me or even talk to me. Every time I would drop things off at the table she would stare at my tattoo.  She has found that her family is mostly ok with her tattoos, but some aunts have mentioned that they wish she would hide her forearm tattoo, which is a Gandhi quote.  Her father got his first tattoo at 65, just before she got her first.  She finds that most employers want her to cover her tattoos, but don’t mind her coloured hair, so long as it looks good.  At her current workplace her appearance is not an issue so long as she can perform her job, and says “At this point in my life if a place has an issue with what I look like, then they have an issue with me as a person. I’m more happy to not work there then have to hide my body.”

Lori St.Leone of The Story of Lori ran a successful piercing studio (and was a piercer herself for 16 years), is currently studying midwifery and has two children.  She started colouring her hair candy colours at 15 (she is now 36) and got her first tattoo just before her 18th birthday.  These days she dyes her naturally blonde hair more natural hues, at the moment it is coppery red.  Lori has had complete strangers comment on what a bad mother she must be for having tattoos, piercings and coloured hair.  She doesn’t feel that she should educate them or be polite to them, when they police her body and appearance.  She hasn’t had many problems at work but has used retainers for her piercings and covered her tattoos.  However she has faced some judgement at her oldest child’s pre-school, mostly from the staff!  Lori’s mom thinks her tattoos are beautiful and proudly shows off photographs of her and her family.  Lori’s partner did not have any body modifications when they first started dating (except for an earlobe piercing) and had not dated anyone with serious body modifications before.  Lori has not had much negative response in the workplace to her tattoos and piercings, but she is interested to see how future pregnant clients will react to a tattooed, pierced midwife.  However she says from her own experience, most women in labour don’t have time or attention to care what their midwife looks like, so long as that midwife is caring and supportive and doing their job well!

Alicia Maud, aka @rightingteacher is a high school English Teacher and co-director for Capital District Writing Project.  She is also a dancer and writer for a local magazine on health issues.  Alicia Maud has coloured her hair since the 7th grade, everything from Sun-In to reds, pinks and mahogany, and then on to candy apple red.  She was a junior in college when she got her first tattoo – she and her mom went together for her mom’s birthday!  She hasn’t had any negative reaction towards her tattoos and hair, but has received plenty of attention.  Her parents are big supporters and her mom sees hair as an opportunity for play and loves her tattoos.  Alicia Maud has also received positive attention in the workplace with regards to her hair and tattoos, but feels her supervisor is OK with Alicia Maud having candy hair and tattoos, but would never do it herself.  She hasn’t had any concerns brought to her by the parents of the kids she teaches either.

Abi of Adipose Rex is a stay at home mom of three boys and part time student, who has been experimenting with coloured highlights in her hair for years, but six months ago went the whole kit and caboodle and dyed her hair a candy colour all over.  While she moves in fairly conservative circles, she does get some sideways looks, but mostly people have treated her normally, much to her surprise.  Abi’s parents aren’t entirely thrilled about her hair colour, but she says that’s nothing new!  Her kids love it, and her husband, while he prefers her hair to be a bit less vivid, has the good sense to know that it is HER hair and is happy that she is happy with it.

Bek of Colourful Curves is a stay at home mum, a Christian and a single parent.  She has two boys, aged 4 and 6, cares for other children in her home and has a degree in Early Childhood teaching.  She started colouring her hair when she was 18 on her first trip away on her own.  Her parents weren’t keen on the idea of her dyeing her hair, but without them there, she dyed her hair dark red and has been colouring her hair ever since – she associates it with freedom, friendship and independence.  Bek says she hasn’t really had any negative attention from her hair, but working within the home gives her an advantage over those in other environments.  She finds her church circle are accepting of it as well.  Bek’s children love when “Mummy gets her hair painted” and want their own hair painted too.  Her mum has grown accepting of her hair colours.  Bek relates a story when a small girl of about 10 stopped her and said “I love your hair!  My aunty would love to dye her hair that colour, but she’s too scared to.”  Bek was very encouraging of the girl’s aunt’s wish!  She mentions that even her family GP has a purple streak in her hair (see, Barbie could have pink hair AND be a doctor!)

Ealasaid (no photo available) is a technical writer, bookbinder and movie reviewer who was first tattooed in January 2009, adding two more to the collection since then.  She has waist length hair and doesn’t feel confident in colouring it, so leaves it natural.  Ealasaid’s parents don’t comment on her tattoos, but she knows her mom doesn’t approve, but hasn’t given her too much of a hard time about it.  She covers her tattoos for work, but her colleagues that have seen them have had positive reactions – but she thinks it might help that she works in the San Francisco Bay area!

Kate aka Craftastrophies is an editor and project manager – she describes it as “a regular office job”.  She has been colouring her hair bright red for about 5 years, after a run-in with an inattentive hairdresser and some bleach.  She went bright reddish purple that time, but it wasn’t until Easter 2010 that she went for the blue.  Kate says she has only ever had positive feedback about her hair, or people simply ignore it.  She says “I have gotten a few glares on the street, but mostly people have better things to think about.”  She says that her hair is a big hit with kids too.  She says “About three months ago we were at a family dinner and an uncle, who has seen me at least six times since I dyed it, stared for a few minutes and then said ‘your… hair is… green!’ He was swiftly corrected by my grandmother. ‘It’s BLUE.’ Obviously.”  Kate finds that most people she works with seem to think it’s none of their business, and has only had one positive comment on it.  She dyed it blue between leaving one job and taking another, and asked at the interview if they minded, which they did not.

So as you can see by these amazing women above, women with candy coloured hair and tattoos are diverse,  professional, caring, intelligent, witty, giving and overall awesome.  How is this not something for girls and young women to aspire to?  What I see above are 10 inspirational women who rock their body art in their rich, full lives.

Why shouldn’t candy haired, tattooed women be honoured in doll form?  It’s an honour for me to share them with you here.

You Have No Power Over Me – The Futility of Trolling

Published September 1, 2011 by sleepydumpling

The bulk of this post was written a week ago, and I had intended to publish it then.  However with my coming down with some kind of stomach bug at the end of last week, and then other topics coming up, it waited patiently in my queue, ready to be posted when I got a moment.

However, over the past 48 hours, I’ve been hit by a wall of trollery both here (mostly at people pissed off that I and others keep saying that no matter how fat someone is, they still deserve nice clothes) and on other social media sites of mine – particularly my Tumblr.  So this topic became all the more relevant for me.  I was also preparing to post it tonight when I read this beautifully honest and heartfelt piece from Gluten-free Girl, which I cannot resist linking back to here.

So, I’m going to talk about a subject that is often considered taboo in Fat Acceptance spaces.  It’s often taboo in many social justice spaces.  That is the subject of trolling.

I bring this up because of a comment on an earlier post about someone being attacked by trolls, and because I read this excellent piece by Melissa over at Shakesville about the level of hate that is aimed in her direction, and Ragen from Dances with Fat often mentions the same issue.

There is this unspoken (or rarely spoken) understanding that to talk about the amount of hate and trolling that we get, we are somehow feeding the trolls, that by acknowledging their presence, we’re encouraging them to continue their shitty behaviour.  However, what nobody acknowledges is that they troll anyway, whether you ignore them or out them, whether you keep silent about the hatred or you speak about it.

Just existing feeds the trolls.

To me, this results in a real feeling of solitude, as though we stand alone in dealing with this.  But the truth is, we don’t.  It happens to all of us in the Fatosphere at some point, and the more visible you are, and the more you stand up and speak out about the injustice of fat stigma, the more they do it.

The real irony to me is, it seems that the happier you are, the more comfortable you are in your skin and in your life, the more vicious and nasty the trolling gets to be.

That’s the bit that I don’t understand.  I actually have people, not just random anonymous trolls who pop up for a bit of “You suck, fatty boombaladah!”, but people who have met me somewhere (either through work, or through friends or other things I’m involved with, or they know who I am through someone else) and they are so angry that I’m happy, that I’m confident and have strong self esteem, that they have to troll my blog, and various other social media sites and try to tear me down.  They spend their precious time (and I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have enough hours in the day!) watching my every move, keeping notes on what I say on Twitter, Tumblr, here on my blog and other places, and saving them up to try to use them against me to make me feel bad or something.

These people have so much time on their hands, and are so fascinated by me and my life, that they spend inordinate amounts of time following everything I do, trying to find a way to make me angry or feel bad or something.  Here are some examples of things I’ve discovered my own little posse of trolls doing.

  • They go through BOTH my entire Twitter streams (I have two Twitter accounts, I keep a separate one for work stuff) and catalogue every single time that I mention I’m tired and any other statements they can use to try to prove that I’m unhealthy, and tried to fling that back at me.
  • They spent several hours one evening signing me up to every weight loss clinic, gym, diabetes organisation, personal trainer and diet company they could find in Brisbane.  Those poor businesses had so much time wasted in contacting me back, but I was happy to hand the culprit’s IP address over to their internet service provider’s fraud investigation team, as I’m sure the businesses I gave that IP were too.
  • They spam my Tumblr and Formspring with the most boring, inane questions, like “How much do you weigh?” and “How much time do you spend on the computer?” (Zzzzzzzz)
  • They send childish, passive-aggressive notes, pretending to be my “friend”.  Bwahahahaa!
  • They Google my name and find out as much information about me as possible, and then they troll me saying they hate everything about me (and list it off, every bit of it!)
  • They search for where I have commented on other blogs or news articles, and leave personal comments hating on me.
  • They go through my Flickr stream and look at every photograph of me, leaving insults and bitchiness on my photographs.
  • They comment on Facebook pages for anything about obesity saying that there is this horrible blog called Fat Heffalump that is hating on thin people and “promoting obesity” and urge people over here to “Stand up against this bully!” and troll me further.
  • They are even stupid enough to log on using their work email or on their work internet access to leave nasty comments here on Fat Heffalump… where I can see their IP address, and can put in a formal complaint about them to their employers with concrete proof!  You can get fired for trolling people’s blogs and websites on your work internet.

And these are just some of the examples of just how much time and energy these people put into directing their hate at me.

Here you go darlings.  You don’t have to pour over my Flickr or Tumblr or Twitter, here’s a photo JUST for you:

Check out my big fat middle finger Trolly McTrollerson!

My experience with being trolled is by no means isolated.  Many in the Fatosphere experience all of this and more.

However, do you know what I think?  When people do this kind of stuff at us, they don’t hate us at all.  I know I don’t actually hate anyone (nobody is worth that kind of passion if I don’t like them) but I can’t imagine spending hours and hours examining someone online, looking for any little thing you can pick at them on, reading everything they write and share and looking at every photograph of that person in detail when I don’t like them.  The first thing I do if someone gives me the shits is block them, wipe them totally from my view and move on with my life to all those awesome people I do really love and enjoy.  I don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with all the awesome people and stuff out there, let alone waste it on those I don’t like.

But these trolls, they spend hours pouring over every thing they can find, compulsively checking every single iota of online presence.

I think they actually admire us, but they’re too scared to admit that they’re not happy and wish they could be like us.  I think they fear us, and worry that somehow, by our being happy and confident, they are missing out on something in life.   I think they are jealous of us, because they see our happiness and joy, our successes, the praise we receive, the community we hold and the fact that we simply refuse to hate ourselves because of what other people say about us and they want that.  I think they wish they could be as outspoken, passionate, funny, intelligent, respected, honest, confident and bold as we are.

I think they are sad, frightened, angry, lonely and envious.

That must be the case, because I can’t for the life of me think of any other feasible reason why someone would devote so much time and energy to reading, viewing and interacting with someone they actually didn’t like, let alone supposedly hated.  I’ve said it before, but people with full, happy lives don’t need to hate on others.  They are too busy, too otherwise engaged to do that.  They don’t feel hate in their hearts, or feel the need to make others feel bad.

We fascinate them, we fatty unicorns.  That’s what we are, those of us who refuse to buy into the fat loathing and hate ourselves for being fat, those of us who stand up and say “I won’t apologise for my size, and I deserve the same rights as every other human being.”  We’re fat unicorns.  There aren’t that many of us in comparison yet (though we’re breeding rapidly, which must be a mix of terrifying and fascinating to these people) and we have special powers.  We have the power of confidence and self esteem.  We have the power of the Fatosphere, our very own community of fatty unicorns around us.  We have the power of self respect.

I know, that it gets hard dealing with these people sometimes.  In the past it used to hurt me terribly when I got that kind of crap turning up on my blog or social media pages.  Nowdays I mostly find it funny, or just ludicrous that someone would spend so much time watching me so closely.  But the thing that really twigged in my head a while back was that these people have no power over me.  For all they think that they’re going to bully me into hating myself, or shut me up from talking here on my blog or any of my social media accounts, or change who I am or what I do, they have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually doing any of that.

Because they are completely powerless.  That’s why they do it – they know they have no power in their everyday lives, so they try to exert power over us online.  But it’s completely redundant.

The only person who has the power to make us change anything about ourselves, is ourselves.  Promise me you will never forget that lovelies.

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