Body Image

I didn’t come here for the cutesy body shaming images.

31 January, 2014

People seem to have this weird barrier between digital and non-digital life. Naively, the general consensus is that life away from the screen is “real life”, as if what you do on the internet doesn’t count. Online bullying has serious consequences and I think bullies carry on abusing people because they don’t consider themselves bullies if they do so via a keyboard. Employers admit that people aren’t hired on the basis of their public social media profiles, and crowd-sourcing campaigns have the power to significantly change someone’s life. Real life is digital life too.

So my beef today should not be dismissed as “Internet stuff” because it closely mimics the interactions women have with each other in face to face socialising; and while it is certainly not bullying or overt discrimination it contributes to a culture of feminised body shame. I follow a couple of fabric stores on facebook, hoping to be the first to hear about a bargain, however most of the time my feed is full of “cutesy” images about dieting and exercise that make me want to see if I can run my iPhone through my own sewing machine.

"A smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman's body."

“A smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman’s body.”

"Calories (noun) Tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night."

“Calories (noun) Tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.”

"Who you callin' a fat quarter?"

“Who you callin’ a fat quarter?”

I run my own pages, and I’m the first to admit my community building is pretty non-existent, but I absolutely abhor online community building targeted at women that leans heavily on the body, and how flawed it apparently is. Instead of building rapport with audiences about your products, inspiration and projects it seems the easy way out is to fall back on that time-honoured feminine adhesive: how to be skinnier, or at least look it. In my own life I refuse to engage in this topic with family and friends, and it’s really bloody hard to feel part of a group when you cut out body-snarking conversation filler.

It goes from “this food is just empty calories” to “god she looks like an anorexic velociraptor!” and all of it serves to redirect your focus away from meaningful living towards how desirable you can make your body, presumably for men considering the hetero-centric culture we live within. Facebook page owners continue this distraction seamlessly via humorous images that have us chortling “oh carbs, you fiends!” and hitting like.

I prefer to see actual products, the ways people have used them, inspirational photos relating to the topic of interest and most of all, discounts and special offers. Coming back to fabrics, and sewing as a skill, how is it that there is a lack of material to discuss on a page for a fabric shop? There’s a truly immense field of techniques to learn, with a rich history reaching back thousands of years. When people reduce sewing to a mere women’s past time it raises my ire, and conflating it with de rigueur body shaming hits not just angry buttons but shame switches too.

Just tell me what you sell and how useful it will be to me, and I won’t unlike your page.

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  • Cassandra Goodwin

    I hate SO much the idea that all women everywhere can bond over diet talk. I see it all the time in my office – people who don’t even like each other suddenly giggling over celery sticks and sharing the intimate details of their juice regime. I’m not bothered that they’re eating healthy or whatever – but I resent the implication that I should be interested in joining in and there’s something weird about me if I don’t give a damn about their latest measurements.