It is no secret that I view social media as tools of the trade(s) and not as several million others on this planet do, the Alpha and Omega of social existence. I continue to look with disdain at the posting of people on fb and am utterly disgusted at many of them. What do I care who checked in where and is eating what with whom? Thank goodness it is now possible to suppress all the unwanted feeds on the timeline.
In recent years, social media has curtailed the younger generation´s ability to interact face-to-face, with many preferring to hide behind virtual worlds, creating images and lifestyles that are exactly that – virtual. This leads to extremely insecure and introverted people with a pathological inability to cope with the real world, in addition to another dark side of social media: cyber-bullying. I have seen it all happen first hand, and have had to live with the consequences thereof. Good old fashioned bullying on the playgrounds was so much easier to deal with because all you had to do was walk away. With cyber-bullying, however, the conflict is not contained to the parties involved, X and Y, but is glorified by this or that thread, shoutout or cyber-shaming and everyone and their friends (aka digital friends) have the opportunity to jump in and comment. I absolutely abhor the concept, but you see it unfolding every minute on Twitter, FB and Instagram alike. There is no avoiding it, and the way it has destroyed many a self-esteem and self-confidence among adults and youth alike, is alarming .
Media (which includes art of every medium and the written form) has been (ir)responsible for a lot of social standards over the centuries, particularly for the fashion trends and beauty ideals. I will ignore fashion for now and focus on the female body because I am sick and tired of people telling me how thin I have to be to be worthy of something or someone, be considered beautiful and desirable, or even acceptable. Yes, I am on the warpath again against fatophobia, with all the fat and body/shamers out there, especially the media and all the chauvinistic photographers who continue to project the ideal woman as thin, long-legged and blond.
Pause to let out a cry of fury.
I am am tired of belonging to the group of people that photographers hesitate to shoot because they are not worthy of a “good” or “pretty” image, that whatever they shoot of plus-sized women is something to be ashamed of, that the women are to be ashamed of themselves for being heavier than the models.
I am tired of being told off to be sporty, walk faster, climb higher, eat less. Why? I love strolling, am sporty in my own way at my own damned pace, and I enjoy eating and cooking. So what? Are these reasons justifiable to be ashamed of a person and humiliate them?
Pause to let out another cry of fury.
I am so tired, of being put down for my weight, scars and mistakes. Does being fat make me less of a person? Does it diminish my humanity? Generosity or kindness? Tell me, why we plus-sized women must conform to the skinny images of the world? I want to celebrate my curves, be photographed for who I am and not what I should be or am not replacing.
Prior to the ancient Greeks, the perfection of womanhood was defined in being heavy weight and big-breasted. The Greeks refined this a bit, by retaining the large hips, heavy breasts, pronounced stomach, but added the dimension of attractiveness – or character. True beauty, according to them, was in the ability to navigate good and evil. Enter the Renaissance, where the concept of beauty is trimmed down, but emphasis remained on the breasts, perhaps an allusion to the soul and love, the art of living. Maybe I should invent time travel and live with the Ancient Greek or during the Renaissance, where curvy women were honoured, and not blurred out or hidden away in shame.
I feel bullied and humiliated, and for those of us who are already fragile for other reasons, we need more reasons to feel empowered, uplifted, and encouraged. So imagine my surprise when Instagram and Facebook decided to clamp down on weightless ads and miracle diets last month, especially for minors.
But it is not enough.
This is a challenge to all photographers out there to start empowering plus-sized women who are just as sensual, erotic, passionate and beautiful with all their flaws. I want to see more GOOD photos out there, not half-baked portraits by delusional amateurs who think they know what they are doing. I want to be able to visit professional sites and smile at the fact that this is a photographer who celebrates the curves and love handles, and doesn’t try his best to photoshop them away. We need a reason to believe that we are worthy of a photograph.