Writer: Lisa Schoenberger | When I decided to start a plus size fashion blog I definitely had some apprehension about putting myself out there on social media and being vulnerable to haters. Before I began blogging I wasn’t much of a social media person, I rarely posted anything on Facebook and I didn’t know what Instagram was till my nail technician told me about it and I set up an account so I could enter their monthly contest!
Slowly but surely I found some accounts I liked that exposed me to the plus size community. I saw how wonderful it was but I also saw how cruel people can be. I will admit that it was completely shocking to me. Now of course I grew up being bullied and teased about my weight and I was not immune from hearing rude comments from complete strangers. But social media has taken things to a COMPLETELY different level.
The ability to hide behind a screen I think is a blessing and a curse. I have made so many wonderful and amazing connections with people that I would have never met without the likes of social media. Many I know will be lifelong friends. But with the good comes the bad and the ability to say something mean to someone without having to look them in the eye when you do it has become far too appealing for many.
And while I could go on and on about this topic what I really wanted to focus on in this piece is a new wave of body shaming that has in my opinion completely gotten out of hand – fat people fat shaming fellow fat people. This is my Public Service Announcement to anyone who has ever said “I’m not body shaming you because I am fat too or I used to be fat so I know…”. Really???? Well I hate to break it to you folks but body shaming is body shaming PERIOD. Being a fellow fat person or former fat person does not give you a free pass to body shame anyone EVER.
I have been pretty fortunate in my almost two years of blogging to not have to deal with a lot of haters and trolls. I do get the odd comment here and there but nothing crazy. But as my following has grown and I started getting reposted on major brands pages like Lane Bryant or Full Beauty or even a brand like Society+ that has always promoted body positivity, I have seen the negative and hurtful comments come out in full force. But it is only in the last 6 months I have personally found that this justification for their actions has consistently started popping up.
And let me be clear, I am not talking about “outfit shaming”, a term I just heard and is a topic for a whole other article! Quite frankly I could care less what you think about my outfit. But when you attack me or someone I know on such a personal level as to try and make them feel less about themselves because of their body is where I take issue. I cannot figure out what has perpetrated the notion that this behaviour is ok.
The quote I attached above is probably the worst comment I have ever received. This person took the time to send this to me on a blog post that I wrote about activewear. It was a very personal post where I opened up about my personal struggles with exercise, weight loss and assumptions that society makes because I am fat. I was already emotionally raw after I wrote it but to then be fat shamed like this and have my integrity questioned on top of it was honestly too much.
So in particular I struggle with this issue the most within the plus community. We are supposed to be here for each other to provide support and encouragement and work on taking away the stigma that we have faced for so long. But the worst hate that I see is quite frankly from other plus size women. Ironically I noticed it more when I became friends with a group of bloggers online and I was the only plus size one in our group. I would go to their feeds and see the comments on their pictures and there was nothing negative, no one throwing insults or giving unsolicited health advice. Just people being supportive and respectful and doing their own thing. So I left asking myself why we can’t do the same.
I subscribe to the mantra that if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. That is the way I was raised and I firmly believe in it. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have an opinion but there is a time and place. There is also something to be said for using tact and thinking before you say or write something. Remember once it is out there, it is hard to take back, especially in the age of social media.
My wish is that we try to be kinder to one another and it’s not a cliché. We have so much work to do and so much that we can accomplish. Look at how much HAS changed in the last few years! Can you imagine how much change we could achieve if we also refocused this negative energy into something positive? Think about the next generation of young women, I for one do not want them to have to experience what we have gone through. But that change needs to come from within.
We only have one body and one life to live, let’s focus on living it to the fullest! It’s time to end the body shaming, it’s time to stop making excuses for poor behaviour and it’s time to be better humans.