IT HAPPENED TO ME: Creepy Dudes Made Me Stop Fatshion Blogging
In 2010 I started reading fatshion blogs. I had known that fashion blogs existed for a few years but I'd never been that interested in them, however when an Internet friend told me about Gabi Fresh (who was then blogging as Young, Fat and Fabulous) my interest was piqued.
Through Gabi, I found a few other fatshion blogs and I thought they were great. I've always been fat and I loved seeing all these fashionable, confident plus sized women and better yet -- they were telling me where I could buy their cute clothes! I found a lot of blogs written by women in the USA, and a few in Europe but I could only find a very small handful of Australian fatshion blogs so I thought Hey, I could do this.
I bought a DSLR, a domain and started blogging. I turned my (very supportive) boyfriend into my photographer, bugged all my Facebook friends to "fan" my blog page and started plotting good locations for outfit photos. I loved blogging and making connections with other women, both fellow bloggers and readers.
From the first month onward, I started getting the sweetest emails from girls and women who told me their stories about how they had had low self esteem, how they'd hated buying new clothes and how they gained inspiration from my blog, my attitude towards my body and my fashion sense.
These emails fuelled my passion for blogging; I wanted to show women that you didn't have to abide by silly "fashion rules." I wanted to show them that being fat didn't mean wearing only shapeless sacks with big belts or that you could never wear horizontal stripes. I wanted to be a visible fat woman, and part of that, for me, was showing my outfits from all angles.
I posted photos of my outfits from behind as well as from the front and side. I thought it was important to show these photos because I'd read a lot of comments and blog posts from women worrying about cellulite, stretch marks or lumpy backs of thighs and how worrying about these "imperfections" stopped them from wearing certain clothes. I hoped that by showing photos of the backs of my thighs, cellulite and all, in shorts I could show these people that fat women could wear these things and that cellulite and stretch marks weren't the end of the world.
Unfortunately, it wasn't just insecure women I was sharing these photos with.
After a few months of blogging I started looking at my traffic, the websites that people were clicking on links from to come to my blog. I saw other blogs, links from Facebook and Twitter, but there were a high amount of clicks coming from forums that I had never heard of.
When I clicked on the links to check out these forums, I was expecting them to be fashion related, but instead they were BBW (Big Beautiful Women) forums where men would post links and photos from fatshion blogs, fat web models and BBW porn stars to basically share "hot fat girls" with other dudes who were attracted to fat girls.
I was really surprised and a bit horrified by this. Before I saw these forums, I saw blogging as a medium that was for women. I only really imagined my readers to be other women who wanted to see cute outfits, I wasn't trying to attract men and I felt like these men were sexualizing my images without my consent.
The forums were, sadly, only the beginning. I started posting my outfit photos on my Tumblr as I had a fairly large following on there so there were a lot of people to share my outfits and my blog with. My photos were often reblogged by Tumblrs devoted to fat/chubby women or fatshion. A lot of these blogs had thousands and thousands of followers.
I quickly noticed that my outfit photos were also being reblogged onto porn or jerk-off Tumblr accounts. These were blogs run by guys who would use their Tumblr as their personal jerk-off folder. They would reblog photos of naked fat women, fat women in porn, and then also photos of me wearing the new cute dress I'd just bought from Top Shop. Often they would even include detailed comments about what they wanted to do to me sexually.
Some of them began coming to my blog and leaving comments about how they loved my thick thighs or how they loved "BBWs" (a term I have never identified with at all). Others sent me sexually explicit emails. I was hosting my outfit photos on Flickr and at last count I had 164 users blocked on there. That's 164 times that I logged on to see that a user had favorited multiple photos of me and clicked on their profile to realize, "Oh, hey, it's another perv who is sexualizing images of me without my consent."
There is porn all over the internet. You can find free fat girl porn all over the internet, thousands of photos and videos that were created as pornography. There’s no shortage of porn if you want to look at porn. Fat girl fashion blogs were not created to be used as pornography. I did not create Fat Aus and upload photos of myself and talk about my outfits with the idea in my head that men would sexualize these images of me.
It didn’t even cross my mind in the beginning that this was something that happened. Now I know that it does -- and it’s not anything that is specialized to me. I can’t think of any other fat girl fashion bloggers I know who haven’t experienced at least some level of this, of men completely ignoring and disrespecting the context in which you have shared these photos of yourself, and showing no respect for you as a human being.
I’m not naive, I know that once you’ve uploaded a photo on the Internet, anybody can pretty much use that photo in whatever way that they like but I do think there is a statement being made when a man adds a photo of me to their Flickr favorites or reblogs a photo of me to their Tumblr jerk-off blog, I think there is a reason they do this in a manner that makes me aware of it.
It would be easier to right click and save the photo into some folder on their computer where they could look at it all they wanted without me knowing about it. I feel that by making it known to me, they are saying something -– I consider you a sexual object who exists for my enjoyment, I don’t consider you as an equal human being, and I don’t care how you feel about this.
Let’s get one thing straight because I have heard it a lot when I’ve talked about this in the past –- there are no compliments here. It is not a compliment to me when some douchebag reblogs a photo of me on Tumblr and adds tags like "big tits" or "pleasingly plump." It is not a compliment to me when some jerk leaves a comment on my blog graphically detailing what he would like to do to me sexually.
I definitely should not be "thankful" or "grateful" that men are attracted to me as has been suggested to me before (because, you know, fatties are so unappealing we should just take what we can get). A compliment is my boyfriend telling me I look pretty today or a friend telling me they like my shoes. As far as "compliments" from strange men, no, thank you. Any commentary on my body, no matter how well intentioned it may be, is completely unwelcome.
This stuff really got to me; I stopped blogging completely for a few months. Eventually I missed it and returned but I am a lot more selective about what I share these days. I balance my outfit photos with text posts about books and recaps of "Party of Five," partly because I'm interested in writing about these things and partly because I hope that it will bore the men who come to my blog looking for photos.
I no longer share photos taken from behind or photos of myself wearing shorts. I still wear them, but I don't take photos because those were the ones that seemed to appear on the porn blogs more often. I started blogging because I wanted to inspire women and now the thing I think about the most when posting outfit photos is "How likely are these photos to turn on some creepy guy and make him desire to tell me about it?"
This is why I hate those jerk-off blogs and Flickr accounts and why I hate the men who run them, I hate that my enthusiasm for wanting to inspire women has been dampened by this shit. I shouldn’t have to censor myself and my clothes in order to avoid being sexualized without my consent.
At this point, I feel like I need to warn women who are considering starting a blog that this is the stuff they will probably have to deal with and the idea that I have to do that, to warn other women about this, makes me sick. The idea that we just have to deal with this and get used to adding people to our block lists on websites all the time, and factor in strange men on the Internet’s reactions when choosing an outfit, or not have blogs and not have photos of ourselves online is disgusting to me.