The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Bullying or Feedback? Bite me.

Last night, I was flicking around the TV channels, while sipping my nightly bourbon and devouring the souls of babies, and came across E! News. Shutupyoudon’tknowmylifedon’tjudgeme. I watched for five minutes, this “news”, wherein gossip and fashion and scandal and a dating show pass for actual information.

They were reporting on this video, something that has reduced me to tears already twice this week.

This video has been shared far and wide. It is wonderful.

E! News showed some footage of a news panel, wherein a (thin, white) woman, said the email isn’t bullying, it’s “feedback”. And then E! asked people to tweet what they thought, under the hashtag #bullyingorfeedback. And I hate myself, so I went and looked at the hashtag.

Here’s the thing. I can’t imagine a world where someone daring to comment, regardless of whether it was in a private email, on your body is considered anything other than bullying. Where saying “you’re not fit to do your job because you’re fat” (because that’s what he was saying, despite the role model concern trolling) is considered “feedback”. Where your worth and ability and talent is prescribed not by how you do your job, but by how your body looks in a navy suit.

Feedback is “that story you reported on was bullshit”. It’s “There’s a spelling mistake in your copy.” It’s even “I don’t like that blouse you wore today”. It is not “you’re too fat to be on TV.”

And the reason I can’t imagine a world where that’s considered feedback, is that I’ve never lived in that world. We live in a world where women, regardless of their size, shape, colour or sexual identification are asked to hate their bodies. Where nothing we ever do is good enough. We’re too fat or too thin, too pimply or too pale, too tall or too brown.

Where men from passing cars feel free commenting on my tits. Where a doctor filling in for my regular doctor feels the need to pass judgement on my weight, without reading my patient notes. Where the size of my body is fair game for comment, shaming and faux-concern.

For Jennifer Livingstone to stand up against that is brave. For her to say “screw you, friend, and here’s why” is an act of courage. But of course it is. Because living in the world, as a fat person, being on TV, having a public profile, all of those things take bravery, and a thick skin.

I’m tired. I mean, I’m fat, so of course I am, because along with being fat comes being lazy, being stupid, being unhealthy and being poor. But mostly, I am tired of having to ask why I don’t deserve to be treated with basic human dignity because of how my body looks. Of having to explain that you can’t tell anything about my health, physical or emotional, because of how my body looks. Of knowing how the world feels about me, and that there is people in it who believe that I – clever, talented, kind and generous as I can be – should never be a role model because of how I appear.

Fuck ’em. That’s really all I can say. And it’s all I should have to.

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