Tag Archives: Facebook

That ol’ chestnut: The broken record of body shaming.

I feel as though I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.


[[M.A.C. Cosmetics at New York Fashion Week, via Facebook]]

Just. Stop. Hating.

I feel like this goes without saying. Right? But apparently it doesn’t, because it just keeps happening. (I’m not saying everyone should listen to me, but surely, as a society, we’ve managed to advance to the point where we understand that people have different bodies. Right?)

Listen to this song for a moment, and then return here to read my rant:

Here’s the thing:

When you comment on another person’s body just because it doesn’t meet your standards for beauty, you are doing something incredibly unkind.

When you shame someone for being too skinny, too fat, too muscly, too different to how you feel all people should look, you’re being a massive dick.

When you get on Facebook and call people anorexic, disgusting, foul, ugly, or otherwise (particularly women; I’m not saying that people don’t shame male bodies, but it seems to be much more prevalent a practice when women’s bodies are involved), you look like a bigoted piece of shit.

I’m not just talking about fat bodies.

I’m talking about all kinds of bodies. There is a disturbing trend of increasingly nasty body shaming happening online. I read a good little article the other day about Reddit, in which the author compares the relative anonymity of that space to the total “nonymity” of Facebook.

Reddit works on a system of up and down votes. Basically, in most cases, people will vote your opinion off the page if what you’re saying is boring/narrow minded/excessively controversial. (No doubt there are certainly exceptions to this rule, and with sub-Reddits existing for every topic imaginable, there are spaces within that site where body shaming is not only allowed, but encouraged; that’s not what I’m referring to here, as I’m assuming that decent human beings don’t frequent these pages. Reddit is also far from a perfect system.)

It’s also relatively anonymous, in that users tend to adopt usernames, a la pre-social-web days.

Facebook, on the other hand, is a space in which people tend to use their real name, for the most part. They make connections in one of two ways: by Friending people they already know offline, or by Liking pages set up by businesses, organisations, institutions, and communities. The vast majority of the other people whom also Like said page will be people that one doesn’t personally know; they will not be a part of one’s pre-existing social group.

Yet, for whatever reason, people are fucking jerks on Facebook.

They seem to think it’s okay to comment on advertisements, news articles, and posts, and say whatever the hell they like about the subject - especially when it features a body that displeases them, with complete disregard for who might be reading and what such comments might say about them as a person. And, boy oh boy, do people love to body-shame on Facebook.

Let me say this: It is never, ever okay to hate someone’s body (and, by extension, the person themselves) because it doesn’t look like what you think it should look like – whether that means it’s the “wrong” size, disabled, too old or young, a different colour to yours, or exhibits sex and gender traits that you don’t personally understand.

This rant has been sparked by a Facebook comment thread I saw this morning. I know, I know, stop feeding the trolls/consuming others’ ignorance. I feel like I’m on the verge of wanting desperately to quit Facebook, but I won’t because a) it’s a great way to keep in contact with my students, and b) I’m about to leave the country for a very long time, and god knows people don’t check their emails nearly enough these days.

The comments were on a gallery posted by M.A.C. cosmetics. I follow M.A.C. because oh my gosh, you guys – have you seen their eyeshadow range? Amazing.


[[My favourite part of the discussion on this page was all the comments on how the makeup wasn't appropriate for everyday wear ORLY? Funny that, at a fashion show. Le sigh. This image unashamedly thieved from M.A.C.'s Facebook gallery of New York Fashion Week.]]

Anyway, the gallery featured catwalk models wearing M.A.C. makeup. Some of them were pretty slim; the others, you could only see their face, but they didn’t look “unusual” in any way; they just looked like young women in makeup. The photos were taken at New York Fashion Week – i.e. one of the biggest fashion events on the planet. Let’s make a list of what we know about models, shall we?

  1. They are usually very slim. There has been a marked trend in recent years towards showcasing other kinds of bodies, but that’s a discussion for another day.
  2. There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about not using exceedingly underweight young women in fashion campaigns.
  3. Slim models are chosen because they are, effectively, walking coat hangers. (I detest this idea and feel horrible even writing it, because these women are much more than coat hangers, but that’s how the industry currently works.) The clothes hang off them and sway as the model walks. The fabric, not the model, is the star of the show.
  4. The modelling and fashion industries are, unfortunately, historically replete with drug abuse and eating disorders.
  5. Many of them are very young and have not yet fully developed bodies. (This is fact. Although females tend to mature young compared to males, many do not develop so-called “womanly” shapes until they are in their 20s. I had boobs from about 11 years of age, but didn’t have shapely hips until around 21.)

So we know all this. And yet, people still feel the need to hate on other women. To wit:

  • “Honestly all these girls looks sick. They need to eat.”
  • “Y do all ur modelz look like they have a drug problem ? Wherez the real pretty healthy women at?. Just sayin.”
  • “Mac makeup is fab, but really these models are way to thin, they look ill and there is no life behind their eyes – maybe it is drugs or just not enough food. They are not good role models, so why do companies insist on using these type of people rather than ‘ normal’ looking people. Shame on the world of fashion.”

I’m going to stop right there for a second - not good role models?????

Since when are fashion models role models? What the actual f? Here’s a crazy idea: If you have a son or daughter, how about encouraging them to look for role models that do more than walk down a runway in expensive clothing? I do not mean to demean the work of the fashion industry here, but seriously… how about encouraging your child to admire and aspire to the work of scientists, doctors, teachers? How about being a good role model for your child, rather than expecting the fashion industry to do it? Absolutely ridiculous. I continue:

  • “Not for nothing, the makeup is gorgeous but these models look anorexic!’ That’s not beauty”
  • “Love M.A.C but models are extremely thin!!! I dont like it at all!”
  • “These women look disgusting.”

No, commenter. You are “disgusting”, but it has nothing to do with your looks. Shame on you, you piece of shit.

I’m not a follower of fashion, but I do keep an eye on it and discussions about fashion because I am incredibly interested in the place of the body, so this thread doesn’t come as a surprise at all, but it upsets me nonetheless. Why does anyone believe it is their right to say horrible things about another person – especially people they don’t know? You can’t assume anything by looking at these photographs. To call a woman “anorexic” because she is skinny is just mindboggling incorrect. One of my best friends is 5’10″, weighs 58kg (about 120lb), runs half marathons, and eats like it’s the reason she was put on this earth. I’ve been friends with her for 17 years, and she’s been tall and slim the entire time. Yet, these commenters, without even knowing her, would probably call her anorexic.

Do people even know what anorexia is? Do they understand that it’s not a controllable disease of vanity or of disgust with seeing fat bodies? That nobody has anorexia because they think they’re better than others, or more successful at remaining thin?

Putting it another way, would those who are quick to bitch out models for being “anorexic” be just as quick to bitch out someone for being bipolar, or having multiple sclerosis, or having cancer? Or is it just easy to hate on anorexia because it concerns the body – the part we can easily see – and that body is in public space, getting all up in your face and offending your sensibilities?

Somewhere along the line, it became really quite acceptable to hate slim bodies, in a way that not acceptable when it comes to fat bodies. People still do hate fat bodies, but it’s almost more institutionalised, more ingrained in society; it’s just accepted that fat is disgusting. We’re not quite at that point with slim yet, because it’s still very socially acceptable to love slim bodies. Because of that, people have no qualms about hating on them publicly – like their opinion is, in some way, doing everyone a favour, by pointing out the unbearable thinness of being.

This has gone on for a very long time, so I’m going to wrap it up, but not before sharing something with you that I read on Twitter yesterday. Meghan Tonjes is one of my most favourite ladies on the Internet. She is absolutely freaking awesome. She’s all over YouTube and Twitter and Tumblr so I highly encourage you to get on board, because she comes up with gems like this:

Never has a truer word been spoken. When you praise or insult a woman’s body, every woman around you – whether it’s your girlfriend, friends, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin, acquaintances, or strangers on Facebook - takes that and internalizes it as a standard you hold for them.

Please. Stop body shaming, stop body hate.

My Facebook network via Gephi

Today I’ve been mapping some social networks on Gephi, and really trying to develop my knowledge of the program a bit. I wish that I’d come across this a long time ago because I do feel as though I’m rushing to take everything in at the moment, but it’s going okay for now.

I started by mapping my Facebook network. I used Persuasion’s fantastic guide on mapping Facebook networks, which has definitely been one of the most useful guides I’ve seen to mapping data on Gephi. Unfortunately, for me anyway, it’s been a bit of a mystery and has involved an awful lot of guess work to try and figure out how to use it. I’m still trying to get my head around .csv files.

I retrieved the connection data using netvizz – a Facebook app that trawls your network and pulls out all kinds of data. You’ll need to install the app to do the same (just search ‘netvizz’ within Facebook), but it’s fairly straightforward. I imported the data to Gephi as a .gdf file – make note, because this took some fiddling around with for me. I couldn’t get the file to just save as .gdf for some reason, but I eventually got there. (You might not be as new to this as I am so it might not be such a headache!).

Following Persuasion’s guide, this is what I came up with:

my facebook network connections labeled jpeg

I added the labels myself as annotations in Preview. They’re not exact, but, they’re pretty close. I’ve set the parameters to exclude anyone that has no network connections with anyone else on my list. There are a couple of people who are (technically) mislabeled here, as they might provide the most significant number of connections to others (for example, the individual that has the largest node is a friend I met in 2007, but through her I have met a lot of people since 2010, so she is in that ‘group’).

Pretty cool hey? I’m hoping to do some more updates as I have more of a play around with the program this afternoon. I’m going to try to retrieve some information about place from the data now, so hopefully there’ll be something interesting to see later on.

Flickr – the web’s most successful SNS?

As the picture above suggests, I’ve been an Flickr user for 8 years, and Instagram (though I do use it) does not even compare. One of my main reasons, other than research purposes, for using Instagram was the fact that my social network on Flickr was limited. There was nothing wrong with the site – it’s just that the kids (i.e. my friends) hadn’t caught on.

Flickr has recently launched a new smartphone app (as far as I know it’s on Android & iPhone – I’ve got an Android and it’s definitely available there) that makes navigating, sharing, and socialising easier than ever, whilst the web-based site remains as good as ever.

I’m going to comment more on the whole Instagram-photo-ownership-shebang when I’ve had my morning coffee and sorted out what this day has in store for me, but in the mean time you can read what Tama Leaver had to say about the service’s updated terms of use.

I don’t know if I’ll jump ship on Instagram entirely, but I’m going to preference Flickr once more – just like I did for 7.5 of the past 8 years.

8,993 photos in to a flickr love affair


Social media demographics: Not just loudmouth ignorant kids, after all.

Pingdom released data a month ago charting the demographics of various social media platforms, and it’s an interesting read.

There is a very real negativity when it comes to social media, with many people assuming that it’s destroying our youth and creating a generation of ignorant, anti-social zombies who have no ability to communicate face-to-face and little interest in anything other than posting endless selfies on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Not so, critics.

One of the most interesting things from my perspective is that this study is that more than 50% of social media users are aged between 25-44. At 28 years of age I slot in at the lower end of this age group, and I must stick up for my demographic category when I say that I’m certainly not part of a disconnection generation.

Then again, I grew up offline.

The age groups younger than mine – 0-17 and 18-24 – possibly didn’t have that luxury. Many of them don’t remember a world without the Internet, and more significantly, a world without broadband, which has allowed instant and persistent connectivity. However, I refuse to believe that lifelong Internet use has has a negative impact upon these people. In fact, I firmly believe that growing up in this era of digital ubiquity has created a generation of people who intrinsically understand technology and how to process information. They’re a generation that know more about the world than we, and those who came before us, ever did.

Sure, they sometimes post stupid things online and forget that the written word is markedly different to spoken ephemera, but I’d like to speak to the person who didn’t do something silly in their youth and have to learn a harsh lesson from their actions.

The widespread cynicism over social development amongst smartphoned young people is another thing that bothers me. Critics seem to forget something fairly major about the perma-connected youth of today: they still do things like attend school and hold down casual jobs. They still have families and friends. This means that they’re still interacting with people on a daily basis. The fact that they might seem endlessly engaged in a Facebook conversation doesn’t mean that they’re not learning to engage with others. It might just be that they’re engaging in a different way.

I refuse to believe in the myth of the selfish, distracted youth of today. Sure, sometimes you get shitty service in stores or some snot-nosed kid pushes in front of you in line, but guess what? That’s pretty much every group of teenagers, ever, since the invention of teenagers themselves. The only different is that we’re getting older and more critical, just like every other generation has done before us.

Back to the study, though. There are more people using social media between the ages of 45-54 than there are between the ages of 18-24. Think about that. Yes, it’s a bigger age group (10 versus 7 years), but it suggests that social media is far more embedded into our parents’ daily Internet use than they’d like to believe. Even sites like Facebook – long considered the bastion of youthful irresponsibility online – has far more ages in the 45-54 age bracket than it does in the 18-24.

Perhaps, just maybe, the youth of today aren’t as stupid and shallow as we like to think they are.

If you’ve ended up here via Twitter…

Hi everyone!

If you’ve ended up here via Twitter, there’s a fair chance you responded to my tweet for Perth bloggers, so I thought I’d write up a little bit about what I’m doing.

I’m in the final stages of my PhD, and writing up the thesis is… an adventure, to say the least.

Basically, I’ve been observing a whole heap of Perth blogs for the past four years with varying degrees of commitment (often not much), but as I’m nearing the final stages of writing up I really need some hard data to back up my ramblings.

That’s where you come in.

In the initial stages I’m going to compile a list of bloggers (which I will make available here if anyone is interested). Then, I’ll be looking at which other platforms they’re using: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and so on.

I’m going to use a pretty snazzy open-source software called Gephi to plot the connections that exist between the people whose blogs I’ve been following. So I’ll track links between blogs, links between Twitter feeds, links between Facebook pages, etc. until eventually I should have some pretty awesome visualisations of what Perth’s online community looks like.

I will update here over the coming weeks with what is going on, but if you would like to know anything more please feel free to email me or leave a comment here.

A note about how I am using this information

I won’t be doing anything unethical with your information. Nothing will be made public that is not already public online. If you do not use your real name online, your name won’t appear online or in my thesis. I certainly will not be publishing anything like personal contact details.

If you would prefer not to be involved, just contact me and I will take you off the public list (and remove you from my research data altogether).