This is a response to a post on The Curvy Fashionista called the 'The Enabling of Self Loathing and Shame - A Brand's Facebook Observation' here. Check it out before you read my response. Also, read the comments.
The first time Torrid posted a look of mine it was without my consent. I noticed the increased traffic to my blog and found that it was coming from their Facebook page. I was happy to be featured on their page as it is wonderful when important figures in the industry of your chosen field (most young fat girls shop at Torrid) recognize your talent. Also, this meant more exposure for Fat Shopaholic which is never a bad thing. The problem started when I looked at the comments. Many of them crossed that fine, almost invisible, line between constructive criticism and a vicious attack. While we are here lets discuss the difference.
Constructive criticism usually points out a flaw or flaws, but offers suggestions to fix the issue. For example, if you were commenting on an outfit post you could say something like, 'I'm not a big fan of that skirt. I find that maxi skirts make most people look frumpy. I like mini skirts best'. Even if your distaste for an outfit won't allow you to be nice enough to make a suggestion you can simply say, 'I don't like this outfit' or 'I don't like this outfit because...'. That's not really constructive, but not rude either.
Vicious attacks are just what they sound like. For example, 'That skirt looks a mess. I'm fat and I would never ever wear anything like that. It's just terrible. You look like a clown'.
In addition to being vicious many comments were body shaming. For example, 'Why are your big titties hanging out of that dress?' or 'You are too fat for those shorts. No one wants to see you big thighs hanging out. Just because it's sold in your size doesn't mean you have to buy it'.
I was not hurt by the unfortunate comments made on my outfit. I have accepted three very important things.
1.) I have a strange and unique style. My style is especially different to fat girls who are used dressing a traditionally acceptable fat girl way.
2.) Because I have accepted my weirdness so whole heartedly most negative comments about my style are not a factor in my life. They won't make me change my style or stop wearing the things I love. I don't see them and cry. I'm almost unaffected. I mean I've been told I make fat girls look bad and that I'm misrepresenting the stylish fat community on Torrid'a Facebook page, but I couldn't even think of a fuck to give.
3.) In blogging you will encounter all three kinds of comments I mentioned above. If you break down or have a full scale freakout every time some dislikes something you do blogging may be for you, but not right now.
While the personal attacks on me left me unfazed there is a bigger issue at hand. That issue is the message of self hate and bully mentality those comments perpetuate. Those comments instill hate in others and make them censor their style for fear of ridicule. They can mute potentially amazing perfectives because now blogging looks too hard. A young girl who thought she found a safe haven of love and acceptance could continue choking down Lean Cuisines because thanks to those comments she thinks she's too fat to be accepted by fat people.
Solutions to this problem:
In the past (after their first post without my consent) I have sent Torrid links to my outfits to be posted on their Facebook page because we have an on going relationship and I know the risk of it being up there. In terms of other photos I do feel like Torrid should email the blogger before using their images. In fact, many bloggers explicitly ask that permission is asked before their photos are used. This gives the blogger time to assess the risk and determine if they can handle would could happen when their look is posted.
There should have been some form of moderation on Torrid's Facebook page from the start. These days many companies employ a person who's job is solely social media. While that person is sitting at a desk all day handling blogger relations, updating twitter, and posting things to Facebook there is bound to be time in the day for moderating the comments on outfit post. There should also be comment guidelines and repeat offenders should be blocked from the page. My mother used to say, "The constitution may say you have freedom of speech, but in my house I make the rules. In here your mouth will get you fucked up". Torrid doesn't have to issue ass whoopings, but you get the point.
Finally, we need to be more conscience of the way our comments affect others. As I've said in the past you are entitled to your opinion, but you are also responsible for it. That last part is something people don't often consider when they're yelling and carrying on about their rights and freedom of speech. You're entitled to entertain yourself with your hate speech using typed words, but if someone harms themselves physically because of it why is it only then that it makes an impact? Hateful words imprison people by their emotions. I'm not going to tell my whole life, but it happened to me. It made my life harder then it had to be. Just think about what you're going to say all the way through before you say it. It may seem like a small thing, but kind words change lives; many of yours have changed mine.
Some of the comments on Marie's post suggested that Torrid was posting photos of women with bolder styles as well as women on the larger end of plus to boost participation on their Facebook page. I don't agree with this. I have seen women posted on Torrid's Facebook of different body types with a variety of styles. I think Torrid had pure intentions when posting the pictures and were really just trying to show different perspectives. The method in which they do this is what needs to be tweaked.
Shorty after Marie's post Torrid issued a statement on Facebook and I was delighted to see all of the comments and likes praising Torrid for finally taking action in this area. Torrid's quick response to this issues shows that they care about making money, but they also are listening to the needs of bloggers and customers. My hope is that this continues beyond a single post and brings about better moderation to make Torrid's Facebook page a safe space.
Thanks to Marie for writing the orignal post and mentioning me in it.