So, bloggers I respect like Kate Harding and Roni were participating in a
Dove-sponsored blog [ETA: I have since been corrected in the comments; the blog is not being sponsored by Dove.] called We Are The Real Deal (with a masthead that I quite frankly love).
Anyway, one of the bloggers posted a kind of unbelievable post responding to what I think was a valid criticism that the site contributors are conventionally attractive, fairly thin women. Here’s an abbreviated version of the (admittedly snotty) comment:
Iâ€™m sure you all mean well. But, pleaseâ€“every contributorâ€™s photo looks like she idolizes barbie. Why would anyone listen to people who â€œfit the moldâ€ talking about body image issues???… If youâ€™re trying to be anything other than a jokeâ€“get some WOMEN OF COLOR, SOME FAT WOMEN, SOME â€œUGLYâ€ WOMEN, and SOME DISABLED WOMEN on here ASAP.
Here was the blogger’s response (both it and the title of the post demonstrate a confusion about how to use an apostrophe, so right away I’m not on her side):
I am a barbie [sic] and proud of it. But I am not proud of the fact that it took me 20 years to figure it out, all the while letting the Jellyâ€™s [sic] of the world make me feel like crap.
The green-eyed-monster will kill you. This I know is true. [Signed] Barbieâ€¦the goddess you will never be.
And here’s where the good stuff is: in the comments.
On a superficial level, I think Jellyâ€™s comments are valid. Since I have been a regular reader of Shapely Prose & Roniâ€™s Weigh, I know that two of you have credible experience to bring to the discussion of body image.
Jellyâ€™s thoughts and feelings have a right to be expressed and acknowledged. How does pointing out possible â€œthin privilegeâ€ come to be equated with being â€œclose-mindedâ€?
And your closing, â€œthe goddess you will never beâ€ feels dismissive and rude. How can you be sure she already isnâ€™t one?
The original poster then asks someone to define “privilege.” Here is one response:
Go look it up. The rest of us did. And good lord, your post wasâ€¦juvenile, to put it civilly. â€œThe goddess you will never beâ€? Seriously? On a self-image/self-acceptance blog? Instantly this short, olive-skinned, brown-haired/eyed Mexican-American non-Barbie was back in first grade, listening to her blonde, blue-eyed Barbie doll-looking classmate taunting her with â€œdonâ€™t you wish you were blonde so you could be pretty, tooâ€?
Based on Kate Hardingâ€™s participation here, I wandered over thinking that this was going to be a body acceptance blog in which a diversity of bodies, abilities, sizes, etc would be celebrated. Instead the first three posts mock a commenter for bringing up legitimate issues in an albeit mocking manner, celebrate diet shaming by parents, and question whether fat acceptance is appropriate.
Not quite what I expected, but itâ€™s my perogative to leave.
Here’s one of the other contributors:
The lack of diversity of your panel was exactly what I pointed out to you at the Blogher body image breakout session. I was very pleased by how receptive you were to my comments during our brief exchange on site. I know that you are a thoughtful, reasonable person, passionate about doing good for others. That is why I was happy to accept your invitation to be a part of the endeavor, WeAreTheRealDeal.com.
I had not commented on your current blogpost till now, because what I have to say about it is not how I wanted to be introduced to your site. However, I feel I have a duty to speak up if I am going to be a regular contributor going forward.
Although I am a huge believer in freedom of expression, I must tell you in all honesty I believe you did more harm than good with your post. I have a personal policy, â€œDonâ€™t freak and blogâ€. I can absolutely appreciate the nerve that was seemingly rubbed raw by Jellyâ€™s comment, but I must echo another personâ€™s comment in saying as a host you have a greater responsibility beyond your own personal feelings. Your comments reflect not only on you as an individual, but on the group as a whole. And if your goal is to make this blog a destination for people to come for insightful communication about a subject so raw as body type, image and self-worth, then it needs to remain a safe place for discourse, and should never involve personal attacks launched by the contributors; even when justifiably provoked.
There’s lots more to read there, including an apology of sorts from the original blogger, who shut down the comments on the first post, and more comments commenting on the weakness of the apology.
In the meantime, Kate Harding has left the site and promised a post about it. I’ll be interested to see if the site really does move towards diversity and inclusion. And maybe they could hire a proofreader.
Posted by mo pie