On being a woman in the USA.

The Awesome and the Ugly

This week I saw this dress on Facebook and I LOVED it. LOVED the image, the fact the dress exists, that the woman wearing it probably made it herself, the fact that I could possibly own such a thing or make something that clever or cool. I shared it with my beloved Geek Girls Book Club* (GGBC) because I knew everyone there (male and female) would love it as much as I did.

Image

It never occurred to me (and never would to anyone in GGBC) to shame this woman for her size. But I’m lucky that way–I hang out with a better class of people than the ones you’re about to meet. (Also, I think she’s gorgeous.)

Tardis Dress w/Comments

Yes it is.

Unfortunately, we all know they’re out there. And as this awesome blog post on The Teresa Jusino Experience articulates so eloquently, when it comes to these sorts of Internet “critics,” women find themselves between a rock and a hard place:

Apparently, a woman cosplaying at ALL, no matter what she looks like, is risking some kind of backlash. If she’s thin (and thus, “hot”), she’s criticized for being “fake.” If she’s overweight, she’s criticized for not being “hot” enough. It seems that women in the geek community just can’t win.

The article’s overall thrust goes deeper, though–to the core of one of society’s most stubborn prejudices: fat-shaming. Male or female, people who exceed our collective, unspoken, ever-evolving body-size limit can expect us to treat them as somehow undeserving of our respect simply because of the extra weight they (we) carry around.

I am overweight by medical and societal standards. Men have called me “fat bitch” or “fat ass” on the street (or in my back yard). I’m not obese (by the above standards), so women don’t usually get in on the act (though it’s always hilarious to have a thin friend sit across from me at a restaurant and talk about how fat she is–I don’t take it personally because it’s not about me). But I grew up with a father who disdained fat, shamed my mother if he thought she’d gained weight while he was away on one of his trips, made crude comments about “fat girls,” and started shaming me when I was a teenager as soon as my body began displaying some curves. Between that and what I saw in the media, it was always clear to me that I didn’t measure up. And for people larger than I am, the problem goes from a voice on the inside saying “I’m not good enough” to people saying “You’re not good enough” in so many ways both literally and by treating “fat” people like they’re somehow failing at life.

I’ve been guilty of making stupid assumptions about all sorts of people, including “fat” people. But I learned as a child the difference between cruelty and kindness, and as an adult I learned about tolerance, and acknowledging privilege, and that mistakes are part of learning and I can grow and be a better person. What I haven’t learned is how to reach people like the ones above who still think it’s ok to shame someone for any reason because, like with so many people who make asshole comments like this, it seems that anyone who calls them out on it simply has “no sense of humor.”

That’s all I’ve got in me for today, friends. Sorry for the sporadic nature of my posts of late, but in addition to everything else, my old dog left me this week and I’m trying to keep up with work and life one day at a time. I’ll get it back together sometime soon. Meanwhile, thanks for sticking with me. It’s good to know you’re out there.

Love,

Rosie

*GGBC is on Facebook and Twitter and has a blog. Men are also welcome. (You can also follow Sasha, the talented lady pictured above, on her Facebook Tardis Princess page.)

42 responses

  1. Evisceratus

    Cosplaying is pretty rough especially when your not at a convention where everyone is in on it. (safety in numbers)

    The only time I would consider it is at a renaissance fair and I usually limit myself to a cape and a sword. Even getting to the renaissance fair can be an exercise in embarassment if you don’t drive straight there and back.

    Larpers get hit the worst though even other nerds make fun of them. Except for furries ………..poor bastards

    February 21, 2013 at 11:30 pm

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  3. bwomp bwooomp

    “Apparently, a woman cosplaying at ALL, no matter what she looks like, is risking some kind of backlash.”

    Hmmm… I don’t agree with fat shaming, but I do believe that anyone who engages in cosplay (woman or man) should be shamed off the face of the planet. If you’re Japanese, come on, just don’t. If you’re NOT Japanese- holy god what the hell are you doing!?

    January 28, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    • Well, you’re certainly entitled to your point of view, but I don’t agree with shaming people for their choice of hobby, either.

      January 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    • Leah

      Seriously? Do the Japanese have a monopoly on the TARDIS now, too?

      January 28, 2013 at 11:41 pm

  4. Melanie

    That dress rocks! And she has a beautiful smile to go with it.

    January 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm

  5. Wow, so many great comments this morning! I’m having trouble keeping up with you guys.

    I just learned that Sasha (the woman in the photos above) has a Facebook fan page called Tardis Princess. :)

    January 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    • Thanks just went and liked her page. Over 1500 likes. A lot of great comments too. She is amazing.

      Thanks again. :)

      January 28, 2013 at 2:11 am

  6. I long for a day when women (and, to a degree, men) aren’t judged at all by their appearance. I understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m not overweight, but have had my looks critiqued. I have no problem with the idea that someone might not find me attractive — but why do they feel the need to express it? In the case of this lovely, creative, vivacious young woman and so many others who are viciously attacked for their appearance, I simply can’t understand the need people have to lash out with hate just because they don’t care for someone’s appearance. It’s bad enough people do it about religion, sexual orientation, life choices — you name it. But to attack a stranger’s appearance for what appears to be cruel sport makes no sense to me. I know I’m being idealistic, but I long for a day when people can keep their negative opinions to themselves. In a case like this, what good does it do other than to somehow elevate the hater’s own opinion of themselves (only explanation I can think of)? Sure, speak out against injustice, intolerance, laws that need changing, etc. But to attack someone’s appearance out of pure malice just puts negative energy in the world. Really pleased to see so many positive comments here. I applaud this young woman’s creativity and zest for life — and her genuine beauty. She looks so comfortable with herself, my hope is that all the negative comments in the world won’t bring her down.

    January 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm

  7. Hi,
    I liked the comment about a skinny girl being “fake” vs
    real girl not being “hot” (&/ “fat.”)
    I think that the paradigm exists because the cosplay community ostracizes itself from the “Normal.” Many people who cosplay are doing so for some escape from reality, where they are not judged as “nerds” and “losers.”
    When a cosplay person sees someone from the “in-crowd” participating in their sacred act, the individual gets called “fake.” just like someone who isn’t wearing enough black gets shunned from the goth kids back in the day, etc.
    The more interesting dynamic to the paradigm is that the “typical” cosplay individual who would put another cosplayer down for being fat, does so to have someone below them on the social totem pole. This act simultaneously acknowledges their own short comings, and I believe, reaffirms that they think that they deserve a mate from a similar caste.
    -Branden Baker

    January 26, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    • Leah

      Not all cosplayers do it for escape. Some of us like costumes (permanent excuse for Halloween festivities); some of us are crafters, tailors, and creative types who want to build automail arms or replicate space-time manipulators. Some of us admire characters so much that we want to pay homage to them by dressing as them. I don’t think the criticism was coming from other cosplayers but from other self-professed geeks.

      Now, as for the tendency to criticize and shame people we perceive as more attractive or popular as well as those we feel we are more attractive or smarter or somehow better than, you’re quite right, and we need to stop with the assumptions that conventionally attractive people are shallow or dumb as well as that people more awkward or less attractive are less worthy of our attention. The best way to do this is when you find yourself or others being openly judge-y about superficial elements, stop or stop them.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

  8. lisa

    Someone took a pic of one of my tattoos and posted it. It was a drawing my 4yr old did. Strangers comments were beyond horrid and rude! It’s a shame we can’t celebrate each other. Instead, creeps need to bring others down to make themselves feel better, or above the rest. I try really hard to realize those that post mean things have way more problems and issues than me and i should pray for them, but its hard when I’m sensitive. I hope this girl can realize just how awesome and creative she is and I hope she continues to create. If I knew who she is I’d invite her to join ggbc too xoxo

    January 26, 2013 at 11:43 am

    • Great idea! I found her Facebook page and linked it above. Maybe I’ll send her a message via the page. :)

      So sorry you went through that with your tattoo. The fact that people think it’s ok to do that is exactly why we need to talk about it and expose it when we see it. They say these things because others tolerate it. If it’s not socially acceptable, people won’t do it.

      January 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

  9. I forgot to mention that 1. I love this dress and would wear it. 2. Daughter has seen this on Tumblr and there was no mention of weight there.

    January 26, 2013 at 5:14 am

    • I’m so glad she didn’t run into it there. I think these were all from Facebook.

      January 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm

  10. i am so weary of society. Currently not talking to my Dad as I just can’t handle his attitude. Commenting on my friend’s daughter’s weight and every sentence that starts with “I took a picture of a pretty girl” or “she would be so pretty if. . . ” y question is was she nice? Was she good? How is her character? Looks fade good never fades.

    I have issues with weight and probably always will. I can tell you at every major event as an adult what my weight was at that particular time.

    I want better for my daughter!!!!

    January 26, 2013 at 5:11 am

    • Yes! We want better for our daughters and their daughters, and that’s why we have to steer our culture away from body-shaming.

      I haven’t owned a scale in years, and only get weighed at the doc’s. I go by how my clothes fit, and I’ve definitely lost some weight over the past few weeks (though I have no intention of disappearing ;)).

      January 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm

  11. Penntdreadful

    I too loved this dress and think she’s awesome and gorgeous! Mean people suck, and as a person who has been called a fat ugly b#$ch all her life I do hope this woman does not take the hate to heart! And focuses on all the positive comments about her and the dress I’ve seen.

    January 26, 2013 at 4:10 am

    • She’s been getting so much positive attention, I hope it outweighs this sort of thing. But I do feel the need to shine a light on these cockroaches. ;)

      January 27, 2013 at 7:07 pm

  12. Rosie–
    Thanks for posting the picture — my first reaction to seeing it was “why does she have the word ugly in the headline?” It wasn’t until reading your commentary that it occurred to me. It’s a fucking glorious outfit — her size is inconsequential.

    I know that fat-shaming goes on — I certainly see it often enough in the media. But I don’t understand it — my wife and I are both zaftig, and over my lifetime, my girlfriends have been of all sizes — from small to large (although my preference has always tended towards curvy). Their size has never mattered — it’s who they are that does. The same with the people I call my friends, so I guess I’m with Norm — the people who say things like that aren’t worth my time.

    I guess I’m not really doing anything more than blathering — I guess I wanted to make a point that not all men think in those terms.

    And by the way, I was sorry to hear about your dog — I’ve got a beagle myself that I’m really attached to, and I get how you feel — the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make it hurt any the less.

    January 26, 2013 at 3:23 am

    • I really appreciate your comment, Peter. Never fear blathering–that’s how I feel when I write a post. :)

      I still feel guilty about my dog. That’s the worst thing, I think. I miss her, but I’m relieved she’s out of pain, and intellectually I know I did the right thing. But there’s this feeling that I did something wrong.

      January 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

  13. Pingback: Arinn Dembo » On the Subject of “Ugly” People

  14. peterisaacblanton

    Rosie–
    Thanks for posting the picture — my first reaction to seeing it was “why does she have the word ugly in the headline?” It wasn’t until reading your commentary that it occurred to me. It’s a fucking glorious outfit — her size is inconsequential.

    I know that fat-shaming goes on — I certainly see it often enough in the media. But I don’t understand it — my wife and I are both zaftig, and over my lifetime, my girlfriends have been of all sizes — from small to large (although my preference has always tended towards curvy). Their size has never mattered — it’s who they are that does. The same with the people I call my friends, so I guess I’m with Norm — the people who say things like that aren’t worth my time.

    I guess I’m not really doing anything more than blathering — I guess I wanted to make a point that not all men think in those terms.

    And by the way, I was sorry to hear about your dog — I’ve got a beagle myself that I’m really attached to, and I get how you feel — the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make it hurt any the less.

    January 26, 2013 at 3:20 am

  15. I love the dress and the model is beautiful. THE END. <3

    January 26, 2013 at 2:53 am

    • Exactly! <3

      January 27, 2013 at 12:08 am

  16. Thanks so much for the shout out to my blog post! :) And yes, the fact that anyone would see anything other than her talent in that photo boggles my mind.

    January 26, 2013 at 2:22 am

    • Hey, Teresa! Thanks for stopping by. I loved your post–thanks for writing it.

      January 26, 2013 at 2:25 am

  17. Yeah, I am pretty much done with listening to any remarks about a woman’s body in public, unless the woman herself specifically requests a comment. But I am particularly done with the crude, hateful or crappy remarks, from people of any gender or age, regardless of what motivates them.

    Don’t care if you don’t like skinny chicks. Don’t care if you don’t like fat chicks. Don’t care if you think she is hawt. Don’t care if you think she is nawt. If you have something nasty or hurtful to say, sew your mouth shut and put your hands behind your back to prevent typing until you get the hell over yourself. And if you have something nice or affirming to say, find some way to say it that isn’t ugly and demeaning.

    In general, learn to act like something other than a braying farmyard animal in public spaces.

    On another note, sorry to hear about your old man. He sounds like a real monster.

    January 26, 2013 at 1:35 am

    • Thanks, Arinn. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. I think I’ve lost my ability to keep my mouth shut. :)

      January 26, 2013 at 2:24 am

  18. Sorry about your dog. big hugs. Also, one cannot explain to stupid how stupid they are. I thought she looked beautiful.

    January 26, 2013 at 1:08 am

    • I thought so, too. Thanks, Jackie.

      January 26, 2013 at 1:37 am

  19. Desiree

    hi there. a friend just linked to this post – never been here before and haven’t been able to spend time in the ‘blogosphere’ for a while but this was beautifully written, i can relate OH so much, and i really just wanted to comment to say [hugs] and i’m sorry about your dog! :( thank you for the lovely read!

    January 26, 2013 at 12:26 am

    • Thanks so much, Desiree. Glad you found your way here.

      January 26, 2013 at 1:16 am

  20. I didn’t see as her fat or thin, All I personally saw was “cool TARDIS dress, Neat Idea.”

    To those people who only thought “how fat she is” … well, I shake my head and walk away from them, they are not worth the waste of breath.

    As one meme I read once said (and I agree with it totally) If I turn and walk away, it is not because you won or were right, it is because you are not worth the time it would take to try and explain how wrong you are.

    January 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    • That was my reaction, too. And I appreciate that sentiment. Thanks!

      January 26, 2013 at 12:38 am

  21. Le Clown

    Rosie,
    I don’t have a habit to linking to other posts on people’s blog, but I think you would enjoy this post by Laments and Lullabies: http://lamentsandlullabies.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/fat-is-the-comic-sans-of-bodies/
    Le Clown

    January 25, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    • Thanks, LC! I’ll check it out.

      January 26, 2013 at 12:38 am

  22. I saw this young woman and her dress on Facebook a few days ago. I loved the dress and my initial response to the young woman was how pretty and confident she appeared and also, how much like my daughter. How appalling the negative comments; no matter how we appear, there’s always someone to demean us, to tell us how we don’t fit in — to the other’s concept of beauty. This has happened to my daughter, too. I tell her to look into Art History and see how many skinny, undernourished & unhealthy women have been commemorated. I think this young woman looks like a woman Renoir would have loved to paint as does my daughter.

    I’m sorry about the loss of your dog. From the little I know about you from you blog, I imagine that you and your dog were happy together. Losing a pet is hard but the joy you gave each other is eternal and I hope that when you’re done grieving your beloved pet you’ll find yourself ready for a new one to give a home to and know and love.

    January 25, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    • Thanks so much. I knew she was on her way out, and she was in pain, so I was prepared and relieved and yet, it hurt very, very much.

      I’m so glad your daughter has you to counter the messages she gets from the world. Not so long ago, the ideal woman looked a lot like the woman pictured above–which means she looked a lot like your daughter.

      January 26, 2013 at 12:53 am

    • Leah

      Looking through art history for examples of different standards of beauty is a good thing, but don’t forget that all mainstream standards of beauty are tools oppression and that painting is just old-school Photoshop. For example, if a painter wants to make his or her model more in fashion with the shape of the era, s/he can add fuller hips, a fuller bust, a thicker waist, a rounder face, just as the contemporary graphic designer can use Photoshop to smooth out pores, lighten the skin, reduce the waist, or add a sharper jaw line.

      What I’m trying to say is that, in showing your daughter that beautiful women, celebrated women, the muses and patrons of artists, come in all shapes and sizes, shaming others for being skinny is not a productive activity. The more time we women spend body shaming each other for not fitting in to the current cultural idea of beauty –or alternatively, for being too mainstream– the less time we have to create our own art. Pitting body type against body type, talking about “real women,” excluding others–that is being divided and being conquered. Only when we stand up together, the lot of us, against all body-shaming will we make progress.

      Rosie–excellent article and analysis as usual. Also gives me some ideas of ways to recycle my own prom/bridesmaid gowns!

      January 26, 2013 at 1:12 am

      • Thanks, Leah! Great points. I liked what Teresa Jusino said in her article about how we treat anorexia like a disease but overweight like it’s the person’s failing. But we do shame thin people in a lot of different ways, and one of them is by making fun of eating disorders. I agree that we need to be wary of any sort of body-shaming behavior or statements.

        January 26, 2013 at 2:09 am

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