Dear xojane (ATT: Daisy, Emily and Jane),
As someone who has overcome a whole slew of food/body issues, I found Daisy’s discussion of weight and body image to be uncharacteristically insensitive and lacking in accountability. While there are lighthearted ways to discuss these types of poignant issues (see Emily’s articles), shaming yourself as “fat” and complaining about losing a few pounds is not one of them.
I’ll admit that my motives were masochistic and inevitably soliciting trouble. The words “I’m fat” trigger years of self-sabotaging behaviors, most prominently the insatiable urge to measure myself against others. I urgently needed pictures to know what Daisy looks like and if she weighs more or less than I do. And if it was less, did that mean I was fat? Fucked up, I know… Like any good recovering eating-disordered person, I wanted/needed a visual to calibrate the immeasurable, elusive concept that has always remained a vague blurry blob in my mind, which is what “fat” actually looks like. I felt like this person would know, like she could be a reliable, trustworthy, unbiased source being that she contributes to a publication that I value, respect, and turn to for other newsworthy updates and thought-provoking content. I fully acknowledge the stupidity of this assumption.
If you didn’t read Daisy’s article, which you can find here, it was basically an essay about how she does not feel comfortable half-naked or in a hot tub amongst friends, even though most people probably don’t see or categorize her as fat. It was an article in which she discussed her reluctance to post things about her physical appearance because she viewed it as self-indulgent (this irony is not lost to me). It was an article in which she labeled herself as “FAT,” all the while exhibiting an acute awareness that she was, at the very most, a few pounds heavier than she finds aesthetically pleasing.
I know I’m perverse for actively seeking out destructive ways to clarify my own skewed and demented conception of my shape and size. And I do appreciate that Daisy is speaking candidly about her discontent with the way her arms look or her tendency to drink a bit too many alcohol calories. I am in full support of a person’s will to improve upon their bodies and bad habits for the sake of both health and vanity, and to be vociferous about it. My main gripe about Daisy’s article is that she accuses herself of being “FAT” in front of an audience of women who consider xojane.com a safe, sympathetic, non-judgmental place. And “FAT’ is a judgmental, emotional trigger word. Whether it should be is a whole different question.