“Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil, or cruel? Not to me.”
- J.K. Rowling
That was the quote that went up on The Unedit’s social media that sounded the alarm. The troll alarm. Overnight, and for up to ten days later, we were trolled for the very first time. This is by no means a complaint; everyone gets trolls. I have friends who are influencers that face them in their hundreds, thousands even, especially when their profiles or content is shared by super trolls, who then send their flocks of baby trolls their way.
As I said, this isn’t about the trolls, it’s about what I learnt from that process. Not from the process of them physically coming on to The Unedit’s pages, and leaving their comments, but from what I learnt as a result of them choosing to leave those comments.
There were many who left comments talking about how bad obesity is for your health. There were some who got defensive, removing the quote from its generalised state and saying that ‘nobody’ thinks fat is the worst. One particular troll used an ableist slur towards me, and another - which was my personal favourite - said that they’d rather be smashed in the face with a brick every single day of their lives rather than being fat. What can I say, I appreciated the creativity of that one and it made me laugh.
Talking to friends who deal with trolls all the time, I spoke about how, due to a family emergency that I’d been dealing with, I didn’t have the energy to respond to each of them, even though their was a fiery pit inside of me ready to school each and every one of them. Also at this point, I must add that there were initially comments from users who I personally think may not have been purposefully trolling, but just used the post as a place for their own opinion surrounding fat. And it’s also important to point out that that’s totally okay, even if it’s somewhat misplaced. I responded to the first two, talking about how I wanted to protect the space, and suggested they looked into healthism and unbiased obesity studies if they were worried about health and fat (I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt).
After that, trolls took to the page. One even argued about the concept of gravity. As the ‘real’ trolls left their comments, trying to rile each other up, I just got bored. Running a site like The Unedit daily, dealing with all of the other components that you don’t see directly on the site, working on the admin, the brand relationships and so on — it’s a lot to do. So when that then means then finding the time to sit on social media, swatting flies (or trolls), it’s dull, it’s tiring, and I have much better and more important things to be doing with the little spare time that I have. As my friend Megan said to me, ‘you are under no obligation to reply to anything… ever.’ So from there on, I didn’t. In fact, I made friends with the block and delete buttons.
The point of me talking about trolls leads me to this: The Unedit is a safe space, and I'm keeping it that way.
It’s a place where all bodies are respected, regardless of shape, size, colour, ability, gender identity, and so on. The list goes on. This is not the place where fatphobia is given the opportunity to flourish even more than our society already allows. As I replied to the first of the comments, there are thousands, if not millions, of corners of the internet where fat can be vilified, and the people who exist in fat bodies can be looked down upon. This is not one of those corners. The initial reason I gave a response was because I set up The Unedit for a reason. I set it up for the people that needed a space like this. I didn’t want people - genuine followers - to think I wasn’t prepared to protect them, or that I wasn’t going to let people become exposed to the kind of anti-fat bias they’re targeted with from all other directions.
Trolls will come and go, but if you don’t believe that fat or other marginalised folk don’t deserve the same kind of respect as privileged bodies, or that ‘you’re body positive but…’, then this place isn’t for you. We tolerate zero body policing, fat shaming, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, or any other discriminatory bullshit of any kind. So if you find yourself ticking any of those boxes, then it’s time you find a new space.