A Bit of Clarification

Update: One other thing I want to make perfectly clear, because I’m seeing this coming up a lot: We Are the Real Deal is not sponsored by Dove. It is a grassroots project, and nobody’s getting paid. MamaV approached Dove about sponsoring the panel at BlogHer — which still did not mean anybody got paid, just that Dove put money into promoting it. As part of that deal, we all agreed to put links to Dove on our blogs right before and after the conference, and there was a similar one at WATRD when it launched. That is the full extent of what I’ve done to promote Dove as part of my brief involvement with WATRD. Dove had no input into the content of the panel and is not sponsoring the blog.

Meanwhile, I’m not only seeing claims that the blog is Dove-sponsored, but seeing it characterized as “astroturfing.” That is utter bullshit, and it is incredibly not cool for people to keep spreading that lie. Feel free to criticize the content all you like, and criticize me for getting involved at all, but calling it “astroturfing” suggests that we secretly took money from Dove to promote their products while pretending to be blogging as usual. That is simply false, and incredibly insulting. I’d love to get paid for blogging, believe me, but I would never take money to fucking lie. If you’ve been running around the internet saying that WATRD is Dove-sponsored, let alone that it’s fucking astroturfing, please do your best to correct those falsehoods. Thanks.


So naturally, when I’m offline for most of two days, blog drama happens.

If you didn’t see my tweet yesterday, I have officially quit We Are the Real Deal.

What I didn’t add is, I officially quit days ago, and you’ll note I haven’t posted there in a few weeks. I didn’t just walk off in a huff yesterday. Quite honestly, my main reasons for leaving were that I already did not have time to keep up with what was going on there, and I’ve got a full-time job opportunity on the horizon which, if it pans out, will make that pretty much impossible.

But yes, I was terribly disappointed by the post yesterday, and that inspired me to make a quick announcement about my leaving, because I did not want to give the impression that I endorsed it. And yes, I’ve been uncomfortable with other elements of the content, and with the decision not to moderate comments. Since my time is becoming even more limited, engaging with hostile commenters and further discussing concerns with contributors behind the scenes is just not feasible, so the only choice was to leave.  As I feared I might need to from the beginning.

New Contributor Miss Lori posted a great comment that pretty much sums up how I feel, which you can read (along with a snapshot of what went on) over at BFD. As I just said to all of the contributors in an e-mail, I hope that these growing pains are part of building an inclusive, empowering site. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to be as active as I’d like to be in shaping that vision, and in the meantime, I don’t want my silence to be taken as agreement with everything that goes up there.

That’s pretty much my last word on the matter, and I’m going to be offline all afternoon.

107 thoughts on “A Bit of Clarification

  1. Thank you for the clarification.

    I just don’t see how that site could ever be redeemed when that is the attitude the founder has toward women who don’t “fit the mold” like she does.

    Again I invite people to read her response to Anna’s post (voicing concerns about the site from the POV of disability).

    http://trouble.dreamwidth.org/44456.html

    She completely ignored Anna’s stated objections to the idea that the appropriate response to a challenge on diversity is “write it yourself or ask to be a contributor” — and went on to say exactly that.
    And then somehow brought in the idea that PWD were criticizing “beautiful people” for being beautiful. Or something. Nobody’s really sure where that came from.

    But it showed up again yesterday in response to similar criticisms. And all I have to say to that is, “hmmm.”

    I’m not going to put my spare energy into a site filled with people who don’t know anything about me, don’t seem to care about my issues, and respond with hostility whenever they are challenged on their narrow focus on privileged persons. But they seem to think that it’s my responsibility to put myself in that situation, or else I have no right to complain.

    That’s just fucked.

  2. You know, after reading your blog and other FA blogs for the last few months, I’ve almost forgotten how others “outside” of this community can be. You have created such a wonderful safe space for all women (and a lot of men) to feel good about themselves, that it almost comes as a surprise when someone else doesn’t share that perspective!

  3. I do understand what it’s like to be away from the internet while stuff is goin’ down, but it would be nice to hear from someone on the SP crew about the events there, rather than just a general disassociation, if/when possible.

  4. I wondered how long you’d last, given your stated fears and the nature of many of the posts I’ve seen over there. I’m of two minds about that site. One the one hand, who has time for all the FA 101 that needs to go on over there?? On the other hand, it would be nice to have a strong, unyielding voice for FA on a group blog about body acceptance. Maybe we’ll just have to keep battling it out in the comments. *sigh*

    On the OTHER hand, mammaV’s response to Anna, to Jelly, to all the commenters who called her out on the lack of diversity and her post sucked, and she’s the founder so maybe it’s a lost cause. (Yes, I have at least 3 mental hands)

    Thanks for the clarification. I’d doubted you’d left in a huff to begin with. Good luck on the job, as long as it doesn’t interfere with Shapely Prose ;-)

  5. I have to admit, I never liked WARTD. Maybe because WARTd is in the title. BUt honestly, I kinda felt that the ‘We’ just didn’t include me. Can’t tell you why…no, I can, I’m afraid…

    …White Middle-Class Privilige (or however you spell it) just reeked out from the title…and the posts.

    I’m sorry, Kate, but I never understood what you were doing over there. Didn’t seem like you really “fit in” haha.

  6. Lordy, and Heather’s response to Anna – for a blogger supposedly interested in diversity and “giving people a voice” (a phrase that really narks me off) – she really does seem to have grown up in a box.

  7. Fwah. I can’t even bring myself to comment over at WATRD anymore. Sometimes you’re in the mood to slay dragons, and sometimes you just want to make a cup of tea and keep the heck out of it… and I am out of it. MamaV’s recent posting is just… wow.

    I am really amused at the folk that are all upset at SP’s moderation policies, though. “If you don’t agree they HATE you and call you names!” …no, if you’re rude, you’ll be treated rudely back. The Internet is not a good place for the thin-skinned. We can either stick to places where we know we can stand the level of discourse, or we can strap on our armor and go fight dragons. A dragon stomping into my tea party isn’t going to be well-accepted, nor is my tea party going to go over well on the dragon battlefield.

    I think this analogy is getting a little laboured. Hm.

  8. For a place that was supposed to make me feel included and empowered, it did just the opposite. Sanity points binge time. I couldn’t get away from that blog fast enough.

  9. I’m very, very glad that you are out of there, Kate. Maybe the site had potential, but it seems like many of the people commenting believe that it is a weight loss blog (I have no freaking idea how anybody could think that a blog that states its mission about being about body acceptance could be a weight loss blog, but I don’t understand a lot of things about how people think about weight), and there’s very little going on in the blog posts to change that impression. I was particularly bothered by the fact that fat hatred was rampant and unchecked in the comments–not even given an acknowledgement as problematic by the bloggers–while any charge of unacknowledged privilege warranted a quick smackdown by the bloggers. I’m assuming it started out with good intentions, but from the very first post about how great it can be to lose weight, it seemed pretty clear things were not going to be headed in a good direction.

  10. Long time lurker, first time commenter, love this blog!

    Seems to me the last post from mamaV crystalized something that had been floating around, undefined on that site (from some of the other commenters too, but particularly from mamaV) since its inception. At first I chalked it up to a certain narrowness of view and effort on the part of the contributors to introduce themselves to a new audience. It seemed like the atmosphere there was just a little too preachy and distant. I get it now. Many of the posts come across as “hey, just because I’m beautiful & happy NOW, doesn’t mean I always was, here’s my awesome achievement, aren’t you impressed?” Whether it was mamaV’s battle with and eating disorder or Roni’s weight loss, there seemed to be this sense of smugness that really rubbed me the wrong way. In a way, I’m glad the recent post dragged the smug out into the light of day for examination & mockery.

  11. I really liked the idea at first because the bloggers seemed to be open to discussion and body image goes beyond weight so I thought that as long as they don’t go there much it might work, but then I tried reading their blogs and… disliked all of them. I guess to each it’s own, and of course everyone concentrates in what they understand best (hence mamav writes about EDs and Roni about weight loss). Not my cup of tea, though. Also, comments were not even worth reading, I commented once or twice and truly felt like a drop of water in the ocean, since every attempt at a conversation was overwhelmed with trolls. Also, Roni’s post about fat acceptance felt like she had never read your blog in her life and I found quite annoying really. Like when some women say they’re not feminists, they’re equalists because they don’t hate men.

  12. I like your reasoning – makes sense and clearly wasn’t a snap decision. Also, I think it’s the right decision (for you).

  13. Ditto to Amy – it’s gotten to the point where I tend to only read about FA and SA within *truly* dedicated FA spaces, which have also been quite open about dealing with all of the respective privileges that folks are dealing with. Makes my life a lot better, but then there’s that naïve moment of ‘oh! right – some people don’t Get It’ that I have to have when venturing outwards. (Which is itself a mark of my able-bodied, white and cis-gendered privileges.)

    Interestingly, today marked 2 disparate FA-outside-the-fatosphere moments: reading WATRD and realizing that it fell too short of the mark on FA and on civility, and then reading an AWESOME post by Dorothy Snarker about the whole Cintra Wilson debacle. As disheartening as the former was, the latter kicked all KINDS of ass – seeing FA principles in a non-FA blog is just too damn cool.

    I hope that the job opportunity pans out, and I too would be interested in hearing your take on what went down at WATRD when (and if) you’re able to share more about what it was like on the inside.

  14. it would be nice to hear from someone on the SP crew about the events there, rather than just a general disassociation, if/when possible.

    Just FYI, FJ, AS, and I were not involved in WATRD in any way; FJ and I commented over there on the last post because it was so shocking (and because we both knew that Kate was stepping down from it). So I don’t know that we have anything to say beyond what you already saw in the comments thread. I had hopes for that blog being a good read when it launched, but basically I make it a policy not to read unmoderated comments *anywhere,* so I stopped reading after a day or two.

  15. Aye, I completely support this decision. (Not that you asked.)

    It’s one thing to FA 101 it out in the comments, which I was prepared to at least try. It’s quite another to see the moderators consistently privileging “thin=healthy” over all else, and the voices of fat haters over those DEFENDING THEIR EXISTENCE. They can use the words “diversity” and “body acceptance” all they like, but they mean “body acceptance for thin, beautiful people, because we’ve had enough of not realising how pretty we are!!!”

    And god knows there are societal pressures on even the thin and conventionally pretty, but that doesn’t change the fact that fat women, disabled women, trans women, women of colour, women who aren’t conventionally beautiful and others all suffer all that shit PLUS 30000 TIMES MORE, and they/we deserve to have that acknowledged and discussed ON A SITE THAT IS MEANT TO BE ABOUT THAT DISCUSSION. How was Jelly’s anger unjustified?

    I also, as others have noted, never understood why so many commentors seemed to believe it was a weight loss blog that had been unaccountably invaded by these unreasonable FA people — an impression the mods did nothing to dispell. It was like a WW support group over there most of the time.

    It’s a pity they can’t get beyond “this is the terrible effect our society’s had on my body image” to see that, you know, maybe it’s negatively affected others too. Even others who don’t look the way this society privileges above others! Imagine! Hey, maybe someone should make a collaborative blog about that.

  16. “I can’t seem to get BFB to load and I’ve been trying all morning. Anyone else having this trouble?”

    mopie tweeted earlier that the blog was down and that she’s contacted the site hosts to get it up and running again.

  17. Booooo Where’s the total throwdown blog war? What’s with all this maturity and civility?

    I’ve found you have to stick around for a day to let it percolate over a couple of blogs before teh drama really starts. Gives me a chance to go grocery shopping for popcorn.

    (had to switch to IE, I hope this works)

  18. Ok I am really having trouble getting my thoughts together about this post, not least of all because it was just poorly written and defensive, to the point where I can’t really break it down very well to determine what exactly I’m taking issue with bc it doesn’t really make any sense.

    MamaV wrote a post last winter over at her home blog called “Oprah Part 2: Who am I kidding?” (I won’t link bc I’m not sure it would be in keeping with the comments/linking policy) that came to my mind when this WAtRD thing went down. In it she calls herself a hypocrite because she thinks she would “freak out” if she ever weighed 200lbs and would do everything in her power to lose weight, even though she’s trying to promote body acceptance. It’s honest of her to acknowledge this, and admitting you have a problem is the first step toward changing, but it seems to me like she just stopped at that first step.

    So when I read her response to Jelly, I wasn’t totally surprised to find that she hadn’t made it to the chapter of FA that talks about the difference between approaching an issue from a privileged position versus a non-privileged or oppressed one (like why it doesn’t fly to call fat discrimination the last acceptable form of prejudice.) Yes, her voice is legitimate, but there is a difference between a thin person promoting body acceptance and a fat person promoting body acceptance. Her response, being more of a knee-jerk reaction than a thoughtful discussion, didn’t seem to grasp that. She perceived that she was being told to shut up, not that there might actually be a reason that someone who doesn’t “fit the mold” (be it fat, differently-abled, non-white, whatever) would be a better or at least a different (and vital) kind of advocate for body acceptance than a thin person.

    Obviously the point of WAtRD isn’t that everyone has to be completely on the FA bandwagon, but I think it goes back to the idea that there are some “lines in the sand” when it comes to “activists” who claim to represent a group of people (as WAtRD does) versus allies. I guess my point is that while she has every right to be a hypocrite, and at least she seems reasonably self-aware, when she is trying to create a platform for herself and others like WAtRD, she at least has an obligation to work on that hypocrisy, not just admit it and move on.

    I think when you invite people from different perspectives to blog together, you don’t always have to agree with them, but you do have to do more than pay lip service to their experience (or you get tokenism). It seems like mamaV pays lip service to FA, but hasn’t made the effort to understand what it’s really about, or how it might apply to her. That’s ok for her personally, but not for her blogger persona, which carries a different set of responsibilities.

    To sum up: I not only had a problem with that specific post, but also her attitude toward FA in general, of which I see evidence in that post.

  19. They can use the words “diversity” and “body acceptance” all they like, but they mean “body acceptance for thin, beautiful people, because we’ve had enough of not realising how pretty we are!!!”

    Yes. It seems exactly like the kind of “body acceptance” you sometimes see diet companies promote in their ads. “Hey, it’s okay to not look exactly like a model! If after losing the 30 or 40 pounds you obviously need to lose, you’re a size 8 instead of a size 0, it’s okay!” Basically, telling women that they don’t need to strive to be really, really thin; just being thinner than they are is fine! It’s obviously complete and total bullshit from the perspective of actual body acceptance, since it’s premised on not accepting your body as it naturally is.

  20. [i]Obviously the point of WAtRD isn’t that everyone has to be completely on the FA bandwagon, but I think it goes back to the idea that there are some “lines in the sand” when it comes to “activists” who claim to represent a group of people (as WAtRD does) versus allies.[/i]

    I think that’s why many of us didn’t really end up fitting in though, because as a part of the FA movement, we find many contraditions in body acceptance without fat acceptance. I personally, can’t see it as true acceptance without it and from what I’ve read, neither can many others. So everything feels like it’s half way through, like they’re not buying what they’re selling in a way. “It’s ok to be fat, just not too fat” is still disguised fatphobia. Lori said it very well.

  21. SM, I know it was only Kate with a formal affiliation — I think I’m just itching for a good, detailed takedown that I don’t think I have the energy to do, and I know you, as writers, are perfectly suited for it ;) Bit of selfishness.

    I know Kate took on this affiliation with some trepidation. I do hope that the past couple days *would* have made her at least reconsider it if she hadn’t already been leaving. I don’t care if it’s a split-second decision in a case like this, as long as it’s the right one. And, like I said — I don’t see what could possibly be redeemed there. Not when the organizer herself is the source of the exclusionary behavior and clearly has no interest in reflecting on that.

  22. I think that WATRD could be very positive, for a person in a specific stage of FA. They promote dieting, and WL in a way that may not be healthy mentally, but it is at least physically. They can cater to all the new FA-ers out there who are of the opinion that being fat is ok, but not for them. They can start to feel better about themselves through WATRD (in theory) and eventually through linkage hopefully find their way to true FA. Their blog might lead to converts, who had they come across the sometimes radical SP first, would have been put off, converts who need to be eased into believing they have a right to exsist.

    That being said, I would have found no fault with you at all Kate, if you had walked off in a huff after MamaV’s post, which was childish and mean-spirited. I’ve still yet to understand how the goddess comment could make sense, or be less offensive read sarcastically.

    Not to mention the writing itself, though I did get a chuckle out of the “whoa is me,” line. Especially the fact that she never seemed to understand that it should have been “woe,” instead. It made me think of Joey from “Blossom.” :)

    Good luck with the job! I’m glad you left WATRD deal if it means that you can continue in SP even if you get the job.

  23. I think I’m just itching for a good, detailed takedown that I don’t think I have the energy to do, and I know you, as writers, are perfectly suited for it ;) Bit of selfishness.

    Oh, believe me, I totally understand. ;-) I just don’t have enough info to do a blow-by-blow. Thanks for fighting the good fight over there — it doesn’t bother me that people we’ve banned from SP are bitter about it (I find it kind of funny, honestly), but I was sad to see them trying to derail the mamaV discussion by snarking on us instead.

  24. “I was particularly bothered by the fact that fat hatred was rampant and unchecked in the comments–not even given an acknowledgement as problematic by the bloggers–while any charge of unacknowledged privilege warranted a quick smackdown by the bloggers.”

    This. I find it really… interesting… that the unmoderated comments result in comment after comment of really quite hateful sentiments against women who don’t fit the conventional mold – in any way, race, weight, disability, gender identity – are allowed through without any kind of response from the writers of the blog itself. And then THIS is the issue they choose to start pitching a fit over.

    And then they wonder why so many commenters called them out on the matter and have stopped reading.

  25. I just don’t see much potential in WATRD. Personally, reading the posts there and particularly the comments makes me feel bad. A “body acceptance” blog is failing, IMO, if you consistently come away from it feeling badly about yourself.

    It’s funny because I couldn’t stop myself from commenting on some of the ridiculous statements about “health” that were being made last night. And then this morning I go to the doctor, and I’m pretty sure I’m finally going to be diagnosed with high blood pressure. Now, I know intellectually this is a largely genetic problem for me. Every single person over 35 or 40 on both sides of my family are on BP meds. It happens earlier and is more severe on my mom’s side, even though they tend to be thinner than my dad’s family. I’ve been having high BP readings since I was 15 (and I was within the “normal” BMI rance at 15). I had pregnancy-induced hypertension in my first pregnancy, which is a risk factor. I have panic disorder, which is a risk factor. Basically, I’ve been having occasionally high BP readings since I was a teenager, and it was pretty much inevitable that at some point a doctor was going to label it chronic.

    And yet, I still feel a bit like crap about myself, as if it’s my fault. Why wasn’t walking 3 miles a day and doing yoga enough to stave it off? If my diet were lower in fat and salt, could I have fixed it? I know rationally that, in the last 3 years, I’ve lost 30 pounds of pregnancy weight, been exercising more than I ever have before, and have been eating more nutritious meals than I did in my early and mid 20s, but my blood pressure has been creeping up, not going down, so this is not about my weight. But I still feel like a failure, and that I’ve somehow brought it on myself.

    I should add, my BP Isn’t even all that high, and my doctor isn’t concerned. She just very unjudgmentally noted it, and didn’t mention weight or diet or exercise. So it’s not a health crisis. But it’s making me realize that, in my head, I’ve been thinking, “It’s okay to be fat, as long as…” And one of my “as long as” is “I’m healthy,” and maintaining normal blood pressure was on my list of things that mean being healthy.

    I know it’s ridiculous. I know and will argue that health is NOT a choice. But we get the message so many times, from so many places, that if we get sick it’s our own fault, and particularly if we develop a condition like high blood pressure or diabetes that is associated with obesity, it’s our own fault, and it’s hard to break that.

    I’m just venting, but partly because I don’t see how any space that doesn’t make it entirely freaking unacceptable to promote the idea that health problems are, if you’re fat, your own damn fault can consider itself one that is either diverse or accepting.

  26. For the record, I love all four of you and this space precisely because of the draconian comment policies and heavy handed moderation on this site. I love having a space that is safe, and I agree with whoever said the internet is not for the thin-skinned (metaphorically speaking).

    And yeah, I am one of those people who likes to pounce on the occasional troll or troublemaker you let through moderation so we have a new toy to bat around like a bunch of bored kittens with a squeaky mouse. I’m not perfect.

    DRST

  27. This. I find it really… interesting… that the unmoderated comments result in comment after comment of really quite hateful sentiments against women who don’t fit the conventional mold – in any way, race, weight, disability, gender identity – are allowed through without any kind of response from the writers of the blog itself. And then THIS is the issue they choose to start pitching a fit over.

    Aye. That. That exactly. I’m tempted to send that Dove myself.

  28. In a sick, twisted way, I’m sorta happy this happened. I was beginning to buy into the whole “you should accept yourself… unless you gain ten pounds then you should loathe yourself completely” mantra. WATRD-gate has cured me of straddling-the-fat-acceptance-fence-itis.

  29. I’m glad you walked away from it, Kate. I dig what you were trying to do, and maybe one day there will be a better opportunity and better space in which you can do it in. And whatever this new full-time gig may pan out to be – hope it works out!

  30. Having a thin, conventionally gorgeous woman sign off as “Barbie, the Goddess you’ll never be” was a huge slap in the face to me, as a fat woman.

    Amandaw made a comment on that thread or another one that WATRD is a site devoted to reassuring the pretty people that they are indeed pretty… and, yeah. There’s a strain of body acceptance that seems to come from a place of… when it was just fat women, and women of colour, and disabled women and women who weren’t sufficiently feminine who felt badly about themselves… well, that’s just normal. But when it started extending to thin, white, young, currently able bodied women… well, now it’s a crisis! Isn’t it just terrible that all these obviously attractive women are being made to feel that they are unattractive? We must do something about it! But we are certainly under no obligation to extend that to other women. If they care about their body images, well, they can start their own websites.

    Well, we can, and have, and we don’t need anything to do with yours.

  31. I’m also honestly wondering about this phenomenon, of spaces for white, middle-class, cisgendered, heteronormative, currently abled, conventionally attractive, thin-to-average women to talk about their self image issues — and this being presented in a universal sense, as in, the issues of a very narrow set of the whole of women are presented as though they are the issues of all women, full stop. And they privilege these discussions, those that affect them (normative white women).

    What this does, in effect — whether they like it or not — is shut down discussion of the body image issues facing non-normative women. Because the message is effectively communicated: “you don’t count.” You get the message from the very start that What Needs To Be Discussed is all this stuff that affects the privileged women, some of which might apply to you but not in the same way or to the same extent, but all these other issues you face — that’s just not part of the discussion, that’s separate, something else.

    They might not like it, but we get that message. That’s why no one was clamoring to be a part of WATRD. It’s not a space for us to discuss these issues. Not when comments are unmoderated and people feel free to tell you that it is Not Acceptable to be less-than-perfectly-healthy. I’m really going to feel comfortable talking about my sense of brokenness and learning to appreciate that disability does not have to be a negative — in a space where we can’t even get as far as accepting that people are ALLOWED to be “unhealthy” in the first place.

    So women like me are, effectively, shut out from the start.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have a space where all women feel comfortable exploring these issues together. But it has to be a space where certain things are accepted as true: that fat doesn’t have to be unhealthy, that unhealthy does not have to be a tragedy, that the world racializes the idea of beauty (so that light skin and Caucasian features are the pinnacle of beautiful), that privilege exists.

    In other words, it’s going to be a rather radical political space.
    And that’s something that these women aren’t comfortable with, because 95% of it challenges them and their identity. They’d rather feel validated — not only in their basic humanity and worth, but also in their supremacy due to their privileged status. No, they don’t consciously think this, but of COURSE it’s more comfortable when you aren’t being challenged about that.

    So that is the space they create from the start.

    And that means the rest of us don’t get to participate.

  32. There’s a strain of body acceptance that seems to come from a place of… when it was just fat women, and women of colour, and disabled women and women who weren’t sufficiently feminine who felt badly about themselves… well, that’s just normal. But when it started extending to thin, white, young, currently able bodied women… well, now it’s a crisis! Isn’t it just terrible that all these obviously attractive women are being made to feel that they are unattractive? We must do something about it!

    And you’ve nailed it, exactly.

  33. Someone over there has made a nasty comment about Kate and SP, stealing A Sarah’s name to do it under. Just FYI.

  34. What Becky said. And also amandaw.

    Isn’t it just terrible that all these obviously attractive women are being made to feel that they are unattractive? We must do something about it!

    That’s kind of the vibe I get off of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. Sure, you can show women of different ages, races, and body shapes, but they’re still conventionally attractive in an able-bodied, heteronormative way.

    “Everything I love is ugly, I mean really, you would be amazed.” Ani Difranco changed my life with one little line, everything I love is ugly too, even me. I think there’s something deeply flawed with the concept of beauty itself, and we should chuck the whole thing as a measure of worth.

  35. See what I mean? http://threeriversblog.com/about#comments

    Author : fitnessboy
    I just wanted to let you know that you’re yammering at the WATRD site has earned yourself a very persistent troll. It’s on! I think you should start by stopping your food intake. I have seen your photos and strongly suspect that you are obese. You also yap and complain too much. So, to fix both problems, try opening your mouth less.

    sigh

  36. “In a sick, twisted way, I’m sorta happy this happened. I was beginning to buy into the whole “you should accept yourself… unless you gain ten pounds then you should loathe yourself completely” mantra. WATRD-gate has cured me of straddling-the-fat-acceptance-fence-itis.”

    Word. I was slipping back into that as well. Triggered by my first weigh-in in four years, and WATRD came at a very bad time for me. No more. I too am Kate Harding. This place rocks, and I didn’t realize how much until I had something with which to compare it.

  37. “Someone over there has made a nasty comment about Kate and SP, stealing A Sarah’s name to do it under. Just FYI.”

    That person is commenting on BFD as well, FYI.

  38. Amandaw, I think we are braintwins on this subject. That was precisely the vibe I got off mamaV’s post and endless defensive responses to it.

    I’m white. I’m currently abled. I’m het. I’m married. I was raised solidly middle-class by intellectual people. Somehow, I manage to see the masses and masses of privilege in those facts.

    Unlike mamaV, though, I want to learn. I want to know more about how others experience the world. I want a chorus of voices representing different shapes, sizes, colors, sexualities, gender histories, levels and kinds of ability, religions, socioeconomic strata…pretty much whatever is out there. We all gain when more people sit at the table.

    Sometimes my privilege may get in the way. I may be blinded by it. I may need to be smacked over the head firmly with a clue by four sometimes. I sincerely hope and pray that it never results in my trying to shut out other voices altogether.

    Kate, I wouldn’t have minded if this was a snap decision brought on by a supremely egregious post. I’m also not surprised that it wasn’t, One way or the other, though, I think it’s a good decision. For my money, Shapely Prose is the Real Deal, as are a number of other FA/body image blogs that aren’t afraid to admit the rest of the world isn’t an endless sea of Barbie Goddesses.

    Diversity is a very real deal. WATRD doesn’t seem prepared to deal with that fact. And that’s why this het white married woman won’t be going back.

  39. Like Twistie & Amandaw, I’m cicgendered, hetero, white, middle-class, and currently able bodied. I’m also about average size (which doesn’t stop me from feeling fat sometimes, but I’m working on that). Reading SP has helped me see that there’s nothing wrong with me, my eating habits, or how I live my life. WATRD actually makes me especially defensive about my choices because I end up questioning all the self acceptance I worked so hard to gain.

    Its not worth it.

  40. I swear, this is the third Special White Woman case I’ve seen online in the past two days. MamaV doesn’t even know the meaning of the term “privilege”, but she thinks she understand and is qualified to represent the views of women of all sizes? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I’m skinny too, but I sure as hell don’t want anyone like her trying to speak on my behalf.

    To MamaV, I have but one thing to say:

    “Teh Stupid is strong within you, young padawan learner!”

  41. I just squee-ed all over mo pie’s blog comments when I found out the the new contributor coming into WATRD is Miss Lori, from PBS Kids! She was one of my son’s first television experiences. I felt like it was reasonable ty for him to watch, in part because she is a WOC and not particularly thin. Plus, Movin’ and Groovin’ Time! I don’t think she’s on anymore, now that my 2nd is old enough to watch, so we’re talking a couple of years back.

    This may be completely ridiculous toddler celebrity worship on my part, and this in no way ameliorates mamaV’s privilege FAIL, I’m going to at least check out Miss Lori’s first few posts and see how things develop.

  42. Here to join the chorus of I am Privileged But. I am a white, cisgendered, raised-middle-class(though currently dirt poor and seeing how our culture treats anyone below the poverty income line), educated, raised-by-intellectuals, young, able (mostly, I’ve got SOME disability physically), woman.

    I used to not think about it that much. I knew there was a lot that was wrong, but back then, I thought it was okay to treat ME like shit just for being a fat girl, so my perspective was a bit skewed.

    I learned early on what it feels like to be picked on and singled out, and I hated it. I never wanted anyone to feel that way. That’s why, when I was broken out of my privilege-blinded way of thinking, I trained myself not to get offended when people see me for my privilege instead of who I was. No, it wasn’t fair to be called names by men or women of color, but it was in response to what my privilege symbolized to them. I don’t get mad (annoyed, maybe), and it makes things go a lot smoother.

    MamaV had her privilege ruffled and stomped all over anyone who made her feel like her opinion mattered any less.

    …Sorry for the length. v.v

  43. amandaw — LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    RE what was said about a blog to make pretty people feel OK about being pretty, and also the idea that they think their experiences are universal — YES.

    This is what I posted on the bullshit “apology” thread:

    So sad for you, Heather. I’m sure with your life experiences you could really be contributing to the body-image community, but you just can’t if you are completely unaware of privilege.

    Since you seem unaware of the concept of privilege, check out the classic “Unpacking the Privilege Knapsack” on white privilege: http://smu.edu/housing/Resources/SS%20Class%20Knapsack%20article.pdf

    Then start thinking about the way the world around you reacts to you as a white, cisgender, straight, thin woman, vs. say, a queer fat woman of color. It isn’t just about the way you react to fatness, or queerness, or whatever. It’s about the way the world PRIVILEGES you.

    Take that question, and apply it to how a fat queer woman such as myself reacts to this blog as a whole. You purport to talk about body issues, but really, you’ve been talking 99% about THIN WHITE MIDDLE-CLASS STRAIGHT body issues. Great, fine, just own up to it, and change your damn header image. Bonus points: read up on privilege and think about how you can help women of ALL descriptions and backgrounds develop positive body image.

    The Barbie thing, while not attractive, wasn’t really the point at all.

  44. Quick note also — with SweetMachine I know we have some queer representation on SP — but it WOULD be awesome to have some additional diversity here in terms of the posters. I do read women of color blogging about FA elsewhere, maybe I’m just lazy since SP is my FAVE FA blog. xoxo!

  45. Reading SP has helped me see that there’s nothing wrong with me, my eating habits, or how I live my life. WATRD actually makes me especially defensive about my choices because I end up questioning all the self acceptance I worked so hard to gain.

    Yes. I always felt worse after reading it than I did before.

    The contributors I’ve read so far have bought in 100% to the idea that there is one right, healthy, moral way to live, but you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself while you’re living it!!! (Unless you’re a WOC, fat, queer, trans, disabled, or anyone else icky. Then we don’t care how you live, stop cluttering up our space.)

  46. ooh, now i’m all curious what kate’s new professional opportunity is. i will just be here hoping it’s full-time writing like she’s always wanted, because how cool would that be?!?

    i never did go over to WAtRD … kate’s reservations and un-moderated comments were enough to put me off of it. god hates a coward, as my grandfather says, but you also gotta know when to fold ‘em. or something like that.

    @Lori, i hesitate (not enough) to internet-diagnose, but high blood pressure is often connected with wonky thyroid function, as is panic disorder. (so is very low blood pressure, paradoxically, which along with my panic disorder/ reptilian basal body temp/ skin problems / and WEIGHT GAIN eventually helped me get a diagnosis on the low thyroid issue i have.) doctors would always compliment me on my low blood pressure, which i actually found irritating – like, great, i would love to be happy about it, but i’m in here because i DON’T FEEL WELL. let’s get past how happy we are about the fact that my BP reading shows me *just* above dead and figure this out, shall we? which remarkably, no one did ’til i quit practicing various mutations of not-eating and gained some weight to “match” the other low-thyroid symptoms i had. oy.

    anyway, i feel i have to mention this to you because if half a dozen other people i barely knew hadn’t mentioned the low thyroid possibility (repeatedly) to me, well … i don’t think i would have finally looked for a doctor who specializes in thyroid function and gotten on the right damn meds for it. after like, over five years of feeling worse and worse. so i am mentioning it because, why not? it might be you too. (you don’t say your blood pressure is bothering you, but the panic disorder must be) … and living with panic disorder is so horrible i would not wish a single unnecessary day of it on anyone. good luck to you, whatever it turns out to be. but checking for low basal body temperature is cheap and easy to do, and could rule thyroid malfunction in or out.

    oh, and i’m treated for low thyroid – but still fat. i lost a few pounds of what was probably retained water, and stayed right about there. my body is so smart about the eating disorder thing (‘must … save … just in case!’) but i feel so much better that i no longer care about the weight like i did when i felt bad.

    well, i no longer care because i’m now being properly treated *and* because i get to hear sane writing from the wonderful women here that remind me i am just fine as i am, and it’s okay to eat. believe it or not, it makes a difference to hear that from them (and all the rest of you/us), in many ways, over and over and over. thanks, girlfriends.

  47. Er, I should have said “please,” sorry. Please? :)

    And until I sort through this, please everyone know that I haven’t commented at WATRD or BFD. Anyone who wants to get my back in whatever thread I’m being impersonated on, I’d be grateful!

  48. A Sarah, don’t worry, it’s been pointed out that it isn’t you and that the troll’s a coward. And the post unmistakeably wasn’t you anyway. You’re covered. :)

    It’s here, if you’d like to see.

  49. Amandaw, you’re getting trolled by fitnessboy too? He has shown up at quite a few FA blogs lately, it seems (though not mine yet, and if he ever did he’d go right into the spamtrap).

    I think this confirms what I’ve long suspected, that the obsession with “obesity” would not cease if we somehow got everyone’s BMI under 30. Then all the retching and drooling would be about people who are “overweight,” because as Amanda Baggs once put it, standards for normalcy only tighten when certain people are eliminated, those standards don’t disappear. And once we got everyone’s BMI under 25, the obsession would be getting it under 22. Then 20. (But of course, anyone who fell under 18 would be demonized for their “vanity emaciation” and “sick aversive relationship with food.”)

    Look, I think it’s perfectly fine — hell, even important — to explore the issue of why even “beautiful” women feel ugly and not good enough. But if that’s going to be your focus, say so, and don’t pretend it’s about “everybody” when it’s not, at all. And understand that some people ARE going to think you’re whining, when they have way more problems than you could have nightmares about. I was flabbergasted that MamaV actually had to ask what privilege was. I can understand struggling to understand how it applies to her — I’m doing that myself — but not to even be familiar with the concept?

  50. I guess I’m glad I never went over and checked out WATRD beyond a brief read or two.

    I want to chime in and say I really appreciate the comment moderation, and the Comments Policy here. I have learned so much and have enjoyed decent discussion (including, yeah, disagreements) that isn’t waylaid, sidetracked, and shit on by a bunch of haters. Thank you.

  51. it WOULD be awesome to have some additional diversity here in terms of the posters.

    We hear ya. We’ve tossed some ideas around, but want to spread out the addition of new posters a little. We still haven’t gotten A Sarah on the About Us! (Or the masthead, but I’m lobbying for getting ALL the pictures taken off that, or we’re going to have an overcrowding problem if we bring on anyone else.)

  52. Someone over there has made a nasty comment about Kate and SP, stealing A Sarah’s name to do it under. Just FYI.

    Seriously? They don’t even moderate for spoofs?

  53. Thanks Caitlin! Incidentally, I just posted a really garbled comment over there, realized it could be interpreted as my taking sides against you, then posted a followup, and now I’m sure I’ve got everyone confused. I should not be allowed to write today.

  54. Oh good, Caitlin hooked up the BFD link. Don’t worry, it was very quickly evident that the “A Sarah” posting on that thread was 1) not you and 2) a troll.

  55. Look, I think it’s perfectly fine — hell, even important — to explore the issue of why even “beautiful” women feel ugly and not good enough

    Meowser, as one of those women (ha, what a thing to write. I’m actually pretty damn funny looking, and no-one will ever confuse me for a model, but I ‘conform’ fairly handily), the thing is that I’ve learned more about that issue from reading the perspectives of less privileged people than I ever would at a dedicated Woe Is Us For We Carry The Burden Of Beauty site.

    Before, all I noticed was the basics – well, marketers would like me to buy beauty products, so they have to create a sense of insecurity in me first; it’s not feminine to display appetite, that sort of thing. It’s only reading more diverse perspectives that made me realise the huge intersectionality of privilege at play, here.

    What I mean is, it’s perfectly fine to acknowledge that beautiful people are victims too (see also re: the patriarchy hurts men too) but I don’t really think there’s any discrete aspect of that that couldn’t be covered elsewhere. The experience and perspective of people with less privilege encompasses my experience. If privilege can be mapped with a Venn diagram, the white TAB cis- het- thin etc etc experience sits in a little teeny circle right in the middle.

    I know you weren’t arguing for special safe places for the privileged, by the way, I’m sort of riffing off your comment. Mostly because I have never heard of WARTD before today and have no opinion except that the concept of Privilege 101 should be high school teaching.

  56. I only stopped by WATRD once, and didn’t go back until this situation started (just to see what exactly took place), so I can’t really speak about the blog, but this situation does make me really appreciate the comments policy here at SP. In a sea of insanity, this is a safe haven.

    Thanks, ladies. :)

  57. I’d like to join in the chorus of people thanking you for your moderation policy. Even on the progressive blogs I read a lot of comments can be hatefilled and triggering, and they’re partially moderated. (I don’t touch comments at public blogs like NYT or Broadsheet, I don’t have the sanity points.) This is one of the safest spaces I know, and I really appreciate having it.

  58. Also, I just noticed the intitial failpost on WAtRD is tagged “women against women”.

    *headdesk* does not begin to cover it.

  59. What amandaw said upthread:

    I’m also honestly wondering about this phenomenon, of spaces for white, middle-class, cisgendered, heteronormative, currently abled, conventionally attractive, thin-to-average women to talk about their self image issues — and this being presented in a universal sense, as in, the issues of a very narrow set of the whole of women are presented as though they are the issues of all women, full stop. And they privilege these discussions, those that affect them (normative white women).

    THIS. You know how in video games white is the default color? Or how white is seen as “neutral?” I think mamaV’s immense hubris arises from this universality of whiteness. Like, she can represent everyone, because everyone else’s woes are just a variation on her own.

    When Jelly complained that she was normative (“Barbie”), mamaV not only defended her able thin white cis middle-class privileged mindset, but took pride in it, signing off with “Hugs and kisses, Barbie…the goddess you will never be.” ‘Cuz Barbies are normative. And therefore “goddesses”. Guess who doesn’t get to be a “goddess” (read: “real”)?

    But because mamaV doesn’t see the problem with “Barbies,” she doesn’t understand the ensuing shitstorm.

  60. *the problem with the privileged headspace OF “Barbies,” I should have said. There’s nothing wrong with BEING normative, as long as you recognize your position of privilege within the larger context and conduct yourself accordingly

  61. “Many of the posts come across as “hey, just because I’m beautiful & happy NOW, doesn’t mean I always was, here’s my awesome achievement, aren’t you impressed?” Whether it was mamaV’s battle with and eating disorder or Roni’s weight loss, there seemed to be this sense of smugness that really rubbed me the wrong way.”

    Jeanne, I totally agree! You’ve described exactly what’s been annoying me about the site, something that I hadn’t been able to put my finer on until right now.

    It all reads like a long “After” blog, reminiscing on the “Before.” It has that same sense of condescension about it. “Yes, I used to be like you, but that was BEFORE, you see.” Granted, never put into terms quite that blatant or hurtful, but that seemed to be the subtext running underneath…

  62. Yes, Jeanne (and Emma)! I find this attitude to be pervasive as well. Also, a condescending pat on the head for you confident, beautiful, and happy fatties who are role models for us all *sparkleglitter*. See being kinda fat might be ok, if you’re the right kind of fatty (you know, the good kind, not the bad kind).

    I tried to express something similar on Roni’s post on FA, that they all seem ok (-ish) with FA as long as one is fat IN SPITE of “eating right” and exercising, otherwise being fat is NOT OK. And this all gets a nice gooey coating of ableism and healthism, which brings us right back around to unexamined privilege. You can check out the whole thread if you’ve got the Sanity Watcher’s points to burn.

  63. they all seem ok (-ish) with FA as long as one is fat IN SPITE of “eating right” and exercising, otherwise being fat is NOT OK.

    This really annoys me. Not specifically in relation to WATRD, but just in general. The people who insist that its ok to be fat as long as you exercise or providing you have a medical condition, but insist that the majority of fatties are that way because they stuff in the baby donuts while sitting on the couch? HOW CAN THEY TELL which one of the fatties on the street is which, which is deserving of their approval and which is not?

    Ugh.

  64. I’m really glad you left, Kate. The blog… horrified me, a lot of the time, mostly because of mamaV’s input. I hope it’ll improve in the future, but with her bigotry and ignorance at the head it’s a very small hope.

  65. Oooh good luck with your new job Kate!

    And yeah, I get a bad vibe from WATRD but also it’s so tempting to respond when someone is WRONG ON THE INTERNET! lol.

    Plus, on many levels there are things I identify with, or struggles I share, with the women on there. Only I feel like they kinda think the answer is to be thin and conventionally pretty and realize that that’s what you are. LOL.

  66. Holy living shit. What an entitled, immature, little rant. I don’t think there’s anything I need to see so badly on that site that I can risk seeing that kind of crap pop up again. Removing that one from the bookmarks. Christ on a pogo stick. I can’t even believe that.

  67. they all seem ok (-ish) with FA as long as one is fat IN SPITE of “eating right” and exercising, otherwise being fat is NOT OK

    Eh, I’m not even sure about that, unless one is willing to define “fat” as being a size 8-12. The sense I’m getting from most of the blog posts and from many of the comments, even those from the bloggers, is that they are assuming that, if a person is “eating right” and exercising, they will still ultimately fall within a relatively small range of body sizes. Bigger, maybe, than the range represented by print models and most actresses, but still quite narrow. I have not gotten the sense that anybody but the SPers over there was really buying that it would be possible to eat well, be active, and be a genuine plus size.

    One thing the site really makes me think is that WLD and FA are completely and totally antithetical. I had been kind of on the fence about that one, but WATRD pushed me over. I now do not think it’s possible to simultaneous celebrate/promote WLD as a heatlhy option and also hold to even the most basic ideas of FA or HAES. WLDers are, almost as a rule I think, going to be hostile to the very premise of FA and HAES, which is that most people cannot permanently change the size of their bodies. I just don’t think a space that is affirming and approving of weight-loss dieting can be anything approaching a safe space for those interested in FA and HAES.

  68. I now do not think it’s possible to simultaneous celebrate/promote WLD as a heatlhy option and also hold to even the most basic ideas of FA or HAES. WLDers are, almost as a rule I think, going to be hostile to the very premise of FA and HAES, which is that most people cannot permanently change the size of their bodies.

    I thought this before, but yeah, WAntRD really rammed it home for me. The entire premise of WLDing is that if you eat “right” and exercise “enough” you will become thin. Fat people who eat “healthily” and exercise a lot and are still fat just DO NOT FIT in that worldview. Eating and exercising right has to make you thin. Has to! must! The fat people are lying because they have to be and *headsplode*

    HAES fatties are the people who, by their very existence, prove the futility (both in terms of weight loss and health) of WLDing. WLDers just can’t deal with that. Just cannot. Being “good” has to come with the desired “reward” (weight loss). Or else maybe diets don’t work, and then what are they wasting all this time and effort on?

  69. Caitlin, your comment makes me think that one of the blessings of being a genuinely fat HAES fattie is that we can really know through personal experience that weight loss dieting doesn’t work. Our thinner sisters, though, can get stuck in a trap where they believe that all that’s standing between them and being supersized-enormous-immobile-eating-donuts-on-the-couch is their own dieting and exercise behavior. Since they’re naturally thin they’ll never GET fat, so they exist in what feels like a constant tension of doing exactly the right things to keep from being fat.

    I’m certainly not talking about everyone. But many women I know are like this. They really can’t understand FA or HAES viscerally, because they can’t see that they’re experiencing it. Their bodies are what they are, but these women’s experiences of those bodies are a constant battle for thinness.

    I don’t feel particularly sorry for the WAtRD women. Some of them seem to be deliberately avoiding learning more about a world lived in other bodies. But among my friends I find it tragic to see slim women constantly torturing themselves with weight loss as the goal.

    It’s not what society expects of us, but the fatties who’ve done the research and lived the experience of HAES are the lucky ones.

    Hah! I HAZ FATTIE PRIVILEGE!!!!

  70. Wow. I’m really sorry about all of this. I have been out of touch with the fatosphere in the past few days due to my own health dramaz, but it’s always sad to have come back to stuff like this.

    At any rate, I’m glad Shapely Prose is moderated the way it is, I’m glad you all make an effort to be inclusive and to use words carefully, and I certainly hope your full-time thingy works out like crazy.

    I also forget what the word “outside” is like sometimes, which is a testament to how strong and special the community here is.

  71. “Hah! I HAZ FATTIE PRIVILEGE!!!!”

    Yes, but if you could, you’d rather be thin. I know, because I read it at WAtRD.

  72. On the topic of Dove:

    The parent company also sells Axe (If you have a TV you have seen these revolting ads) and skin-whitening cream to Indian woman so that they can lighten their complexions. Also, when she mailed away for a size “large” sweater offered in a Dove promotion, my aunt (who is a size 6 or so–not a large woman) found that it was too small. It’s okay to be yourself, but if you’re over a size 6, don’t expect us to acknowledge you in our clothing-type promotions.

    So let’s see… there’s three strikes against women and body acceptance. The whole “self-esteem” thing coming from Dove’s corner is no more than lip-service for marketing purposes.

    Back to the immediate topic at hand: I’m glad mamav came out and said it the way she did–this way, people will spot her more subtle non-barbie-body hating where they may not have been looking for it before. Honestly, I felt too embarrassed for her to be outraged. You want to be an advocate for women and body acceptance, and yet at the slightest provocation you turn into this catty monster of a female stereotype? Eeh. Good luck ever being taken seriously on the topic of any womens’ issue again.

    … the apology was even more ridiculous. I personally won’t be reading anything over at that blog anymore.

  73. Yes, but if you could, you’d rather be thin. I know, because I read it at WAtRD.

    Right. No woman who wears a–gasp!–double-digit size wouldn’t jump at the chance to wear a single-dgit size.

    I’ve asked all the fatties I see eating at Chili’s, and they all agree.

  74. You know, earlier this week I learned that a woman had essentially sabotaged a con panel on diversity in SF publishing (it was a response to RaceFail09 – how to approach writing diverse characters and also how to get more diversity of voices in the field overall). This woman doesn’t believe in diversity efforts because she “never sees race.” Apparently she said that over and over and the panel got sucked into people trying to explain to her the most basic principle of white privilege to no avail. (She also called the WOC who were arguing with her “girls”).

    Then this whole mamav thing happened.

    I’m not sure if there’ve been more incidents of people showing their privilege in public in a more offensive way recently, or if I/we are just noticing things more because there’s a network of people who’ve started to communicate with each other online to call out examples of this kind of behavior. In other words, is it happening more or are we just noticing it more?

    Food for thought, anyway.

    DRST

  75. I think I actually understand what mamaV was going for with the barbie “sarcasm.”
    To see how she could do that, you have to assume what she assumes when it comes to body image:
    1. Everyone wants to have Barbie-style good looks.
    2. Everyone is equally able to achieve Barbie-style good looks.
    3. Specifically, everyone has a 0% chance of achieving Barbie-style good looks.
    4. Because none of us can reach perfection, we are all equals in the struggle for self acceptance.
    5. Because we all want to look like Barbie, accusing someone of wanting to look like Barbie is redundant.
    6. Because we are all equal, and none of us is capable of perfection, accusing someone of already looking like Barbie is unfair and dismissive of that person’s struggles.
    7. When all of us are struggling, and accusations of perfection are unfair, acting as if you have achieved perfection is ludicrous.
    8. Acting as if you have achieved perfection can be seen by anyone in the group as a play on the impossibility of reaching perfection.

    And that’s where the sarcasm comes in. mamaV is being sarcastic if you assume that the options are: 1) mamaV literally thinks of herself as being perfect like Barbie. 2) mamaV is being sarcastic, saying she’s perfect like Barbie even though that’s obviously impossible. She thought that the problem was people reading 1 when she meant 2.

    Where mamaV slipped up is that we aren’t all equal, some of us are much closer to that unattainable perfection than others and are rewarded for that, and we don’t all want the same thing. mamaV is closer to Barbie-perfection than many other people, even if she isn’t quite there. Her Barbie comment looks like she’s cashing in on that.

  76. Anoif, did you read the update? It’s the part in bold at the top.

    Yes, and the arguments against believing anything Dove/Unilever says about self-esteem have been hashed out at great length on this blog before. (Note to Anoif: I’m about to go off on a rant here that is not directed at you personally, just an outgrowth of the cumulative effect on my fragile psyche of having had this conversation eleventy billion times.)

    I am on record — from long before WATRD was a gleam in MamaV’s eye –as saying I believe Dove is doing some good things with the self-esteem fund, despite the bad things they and their parent company do elsewhere, of which I am well aware. (Though unlike in 2006, when I wrote the linked post, I am not any more likely to buy Dove over another brand at this point, mostly because their products don’t especially impress me.) Besides which, a great deal of the products I actually buy are also affiliated with companies that behave reprehensibly in any number of ways, without doing anything I even remotely approve of. Whether I’m aware of the specific instances or not, I’m quite sure I support unrelated products I find offensive, sweatshop labor, child labor, union-busting, environmental atrocities, and all manner of corporate malfeasance every day of my fucking life, because I do not restrict my purchases to hand-made and home-grown products produced within a 6-block radius of my apartment.

    I’m being glib and I’m obviously irritated, but seriously, that’s the truth — and I suspect it’s also true of a large percentage of the many, many people who complain about how eeeeevil Dove is every time someone mentions their name. So I am just so sick of being condescended to about this. As far as I can recall, I’ve never seen anyone attempt to organize a boycott of Dove, but I’ve sure seen a lot of people smugly pointing out the same damning factoids whenever anyone’s stupid enough to say, “Hey, I think Dove did something sort of cool here.”

    Let me reiterate that I have never been paid a cent by Dove, cannot envision a future in which I would be, and don’t even particularly like their actual products. I think they’re a big, faceless, probably somewhat sinister corporation that’s owned by an even bigger, definitely rather sinister one — just like the corporations that produce a lot of the shit I actually DO buy. And yet, they also make some pretty nifty videos about insidious media messages, which reach a lot of people who can benefit from them, which I applaud. I’m not saying Hitler was a nice guy because he was a vegetarian here; I’m saying a broken clock is right twice a day. There’s a big fucking difference.

    Criticism of Dove and Unilever is perfectly appropriate and justified, but I’m just tired of hearing it trotted out every time Dove does something sort of good — like making one of those videos, or promoting a panel that featured a bona fide fat acceptance activist, for fuck’s sake — as though anyone who appreciates those tiny gestures for their own sake is either naive or a hypocritical asshole. I get it. They’re selling cellulite cream. Their parent company sells Axe and skin-lightening creams. This is not news to me, or anyone who’s been reading the Fatosphere or feminist blogs for five minutes. And yet, they’re making tiny gestures in the right direction, which most corporations — including many of the ones I buy clothes and food and drugs and indeed beauty products from — are not even doing. I can appreciate that small thing without being a patsy.

    And when this very tired subject comes up apropos of slamming a blog that IS NOT SPONSORED BY DOVE, WHICH I JUST FUCKING SAID — especially when there are quite legitimate reasons to slam the blog’s content, as opposed to its imaginary backers, I just don’t even know what to do except throw up my hands.

  77. Puffalo, thank you for explaining that. I haven’t willingly hung around women like this in ages, so I really would not have thought of this. There’s a whole language barrier here. It’s like an American and a British person having a conversation. What causes misunderstanding is not obvious differences like lorry/truck or lift/elevator, but the subtle ones where you think you know what the other person means and you really don’t.

  78. I put up Dove contact info here. Sorry for causing a misunderstanding. I’ll try to correct that notion if I see that misinformation repeated elsewhere. Thanks, S.

  79. Gee, I just went over there and had a bit of fun. Sometimes I think there is something wrong with me. I went through my doubt my body stage like everyone else. I went through a stage where I had to avoid hurtful comments for my own inner peace. But now I RELISH a chance to get under fatphobes’ skin. It has almost become a sport. That no matter how hard they try to insult or knock out my self-esteem they just can’t do it. But I can sometimes raise their blood pressure instead. And I love it more in person than face to face. (But have to keep a low profile to protect a professional image and a roof over my head!) It almost doesn’t seem right to enjoy it as much as I do! Well, when the lipophobes bore me there is always the right wingers to mess with!

  80. I stumbled across WATRD via the WordPress “random post” thingy and then found yours through the same link. I had never heard of WATRD prior to tonight, and as a fairly hardcore feminist, I can assure you that I will never stop by that site again.

    The crap promoted by the moderator(s) on that horrendous thread were completely anti-feminist and the two line apology that was tantamount to “my bad, comments closed” was some bullshit.

    Had to chime in with my two cents.

  81. I went through the thread and found all mamaV’s non-apologies. A sample:

    “Please know, my ears are open, wide open….but I just can’t give most of you what you want on this — an apology for what I said. Just can’t do it…because like it or not, I meant what I said (minus the Barbie sarcasm).

    Does that mean I will never change my mind? Absolutely not! Life is about growth, making mistakes and taking chances….so you never know — I may come crawling back for forgiveness someday. :)” )

    She doesn’t think she did or said anything wrong, and she has no real idea why we’re all getting all crazy at her. She’s just going to wait for it to blow over, placate people with some stupid Q&A on a concept she doesn’t begin to understand, and keep doing exactly what she was doing (because otherwise you can’t have a positive body image, or something, I didn’t really understand that bit.)

    I went back for this kerfuffle to see if there was some change to be effected there, but there really isn’t. All the diversity of contribution in the world doesn’t change the fact that the founder hates the fatties (whether consciously or not) and refuses to examine her own privilege, and other contributors didn’t distance themselves from her bigotry at all, but in fact offered support to her (instead of to the non-privileged who were once more being denied a voice. Imagine that).

    I’m so glad you had left already, Kate. The longer this goes on, the more we can see mamaV’s true colours, and they leave a very nasty taste in the mouth.

  82. I’ve been reading SP for over a year now. I’m still trying to work through my own feelings about FA and this particular blog. However, while I may not agree with everything on this site I am unendingly grateful for the level of discourse. After reading through several WAtRD posts I am not convinced the founder has a complete grasp of grammar or proper English (having said that I know I’ll find a typo in this post) let alone privilege or the complexities of what it means to be female today. The comments were painful to wade through with all the derailing from various trolls/asshats; it was even more painful to watch some of the gleeful women bashing on a site that’s supposed to promote self-esteem.

    Long story short, I’m so happy to have this place as I wade through my own feelings about all this.

  83. I’ve only been briefly aware of what’s going on at WAtRD, but I wanted to pop up here and say thank you thank you thank you to all of the SP bloggers for doing what you do. I have never before been aware of how much work it must be to maintain a safe and sane space for women of all sorts.

    You guys rock. That is all.

  84. Personally, what worries me about WATRD (besides the no moderation turned we-are-happy-to-give-trolls-a-platform-for-their-trolling policy) is the communication fail I perceive in most of Heather’s responses to comments. Very simple example: I criticised the way she had closed the comments in the original post. She asked whether I would like to see comments reopened. I replied no point in doing that, since the discussion had already moved elsewhere. She reopened the comments.

    If communication on such a basic level fails, I don’t really expect her to engage with the serious issues and concerns raised by some of the commenters. As I write this, Prof. Susurro is still waiting for Heather to respond to the very interesting (and quite complex) points she raised in her comments, which I find, as she puts it, “telling”.

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