Skinny and Fat on Tumblr
The popular blogging site Tumblr has announced that it is going to ban blogs devoted to self-harm including blogs about anorexia, bulimia, cutting, suicide… etc. This raises a couple of interesting thoughts about freedom of speech and what qualifies as self-harm.
I, for one, applaud Tumblr’s decision to ban self-harm blogs. I’ve never actually visited any of these sorts of sites on Tumblr but a while back, when I worked as a women’s issue coordinator for a radio station, I was doing a radio piece on anorexia and found myself exploring the world of pro-anorexia. Pro-ana sites from that point forward have held a very prominent place in my mind as a major issue. I spoke to a few pro-ana girls on my radio show that week and all three of them stated that without the support groups they wouldn’t be proud or out about being anorexic. Now, I think it is important to have a support group – but not one supporting your habit… rather supporting your place and life and leading you toward recovery.
However, I know that this Tubmlr issue raises an important question about freedom of speech. I used to be the Ontario executive director for the Center for Inquiry. While I was working there we started the “Campaign for Free Expression”. During the campaign I realized that I don’t actually support limitless freedom of speech (*edit* Some people think this sounds wrong – I just think there needs to be self-censoring in the world). I think there are a lot of instances where people need to be censored. Hate speech, this sort of thing on Tumblr, sexism, racism… etc. Social networking sites that promote the use of their services as a way to get your word (or pictures) out about an issue should actively censor things that cause harm to people. And yes – I would contend that these blogs do indeed cause harm to young girls looking to harm themselves.
Now, what does really bother me about this is that pro-fat girl blogs won’t be targeted. This is a serious beef I have when it comes to body image stuff. I should maybe at this point state that I am a plus size girl… I’ve worked in plus size stores, I’ve done a lot of love-your-body awareness type things and like looking at plus size blogs (such as my beautiful friend Sadia, who has quite a presence on Tumblr). However… pro-fat movements bother me almost as much as pro-ana movements. Being fat is really unhealthy. I know I am unhealthy – and as I get older I am definitely trying to change my lifestyle to become healthier (and being much more successful than when I was younger). These pro-fat sites often have women complimenting plus sized girls calling them “real women” and “gorgeous” because they are curvy. You’ll also see some of these girls calling themselves “healthy fat”… because they can still run up a flight of stairs or whatever. While I think that women should love their bodies and I think beauty standards are really unfair – I also think that we, as a culture of strong, intelligent and gorgeous women need to stop lying to ourselves. Fat women might be beautiful – but we are also at risk for a lot of health problems (like heart attacks, diabetes, sleep apnea and more…). For example my doctor told me that I really should lose about 20 lbs before going back on the pill because being overweight seriously increases the chance for blood clotting and strokes with the medication I’d be taking.
So… it is great that Tumblr is doing this but I also think that they perhaps should be looking out for open feeder girls or blogs that seriously promote being obese. I think that plus size girls really can be gorgeous – equally as gorgeous as skinny girls. Everyone is gorgeous. YOU’RE ALL GORGEOUS. But we all need to keep our health in mind as well. It bothers me that fat girls get called beautiful and curvy while a really skinny girl is called sick or gross. Both types of girls need support and motivation to be healthy and happy in their own skin – at any size.
Image Cred: Bestweekever.tv