So, there’s a new body image website in the neighborhood, and I’m a part of it — which some of you might find surprising. I kind of do myself, actually.
We Are the Real Deal is a companion project to the body image panel I’ll be a part of at BlogHer tomorrow. Heather Blessington, who’s been blogging about body image and eating disorders at MamaVISION since 2006, approached a bunch of people who deal with the same topics about working together. So far, so good. But here’s the surprising part: the list includes weight loss blogger Roni Noone and competitive bodybuilder MizFit as well as Inside Beauty‘s Claire Mysko, Heather, and yours truly. ED blogger Melissa Henriquez is also joining us on the panel — not sure if she’ll be blogging at WATRD or not blog (see comments for how I screwed that up) — and Jessica Weiner will be there at BlogHer, too. (Cherry on top? The BlogHer panel, as you might have noticed in the sidebar, is sponsored by Dove.)
The good news is, all of these women seem lovely from the interactions I’ve had with them. (And surprisingly, Dove was awesomely hands-off in terms of content for the panel — they just forked over money and let us do our thing.) The arguably bad news is, there’s already one post on the site I substantially disagree with. (Short version, as I’ve said before, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to lose weight, either — that desire is a natural response to all the pressure to be thin in this culture. But I do think there’s something wrong with buying into the belief that making “healthy lifestyle choices” can make anyone thinner, with expecting that you will be among the tiny percentage of people who keep it off permanently, and with trying to move toward a more positive body image by changing your body. Roni herself lost a lot of weight and is keeping it off, but that makes her a statistical outlier, and I think that for most of us, hoping to be a statistical outlier instead of making peace with our bodies as they are is deeply unrealistic and damaging.) Better still, there’s a good chance that comment moderation will be a whole lot less Draconian than I would prefer it to be.
So why the fuck am I involved in this? Well, I thought it might be interesting to stick a toe outside the Fatosphere and enter into the kind of conversation I have no patience for here — the 101 stuff I don’t want to deal with on my own turf. We Are the Real Deal is Heather’s turf, and she — like all of the other bloggers, who have built up loyal followings in their own ‘spheres — has a very different audience than we do here. I do like the idea of talking to a different audience, and I can muster some patience for the 101 in a new context.
Do I like the idea of reaching out elsewhere enough to keep attaching my name to this project? We’ll see. Totally depends on how it evolves. Again, I can’t emphasize enough that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Heather, Claire, Carla (MizFit) and Roni during the planning process. (Despite my taking Roni to task for that one post, she’s also said some really cool things, both on the blog and behind the scenes.) They are all absolutely committed to the goal of improving girls’ and women’s body image, coming at it from different angles. In theory, at least, this is a really good thing. In practice, if it becomes some kind of Better Body Image Through Weight Loss clusterfuck, I’m out of there in a cartoon blur. No question.
And of course, nothing’s changing around here. I have not gone soft on dieting or diet talk. I still do not have the patience to explain this entire blog to people who can’t be bothered to read it. If we get newbies via WATRD, they’ll have to abide by the comments policy or get the banhammer. This is absolutely not a portent that I’m reconsidering my values and standards and about to make a big announcement that I’m dieting “for my health” or something. I’m just trying something new, somewhere else. It might work, it might not. But Shapely Prose will still be a haven for all you noisy, companionable folks to have Advanced Blamer-style discussions about fat and body image, with no fear of the same old shit creeping in here.
Anyway! All of this sounds terribly negative when I’m supposed to be promoting a new site, but I’m not about to bullshit you. I’m nervous about this. You might have noticed I don’t tend to compromise when it comes to this stuff, and working with a bunch of people I don’t really know involves a lot of compromise. But so far, it’s been good, and it might even turn out to be great. Go check out the site and let me know what you think — and if you do have patience for 101, please get into the comments there.
Also, if you’re going to be at BlogHer, please do come by the body image panel at 1:45 tomorrow, then come get your copy of LFTF signed at the bookstore (Claire Mysko will be there, too, signing You’re Amazing!) between 4 and 4:30.