First came the viral pic of the man on a train ride from Philadelphia who was supposedly raving on a train about cheating and, in turn, has been publicly shamed on Facebook feeds the world over. Now, photographer Kimberly Massengill, aka Substantia Jones, has started a Tumblr called Smile, Sizeist!, which invites anyone who has experienced fat-shaming to snap a photo of their harasser and submit it for publication on the blog, ideally with the story of the incident.
Jones told The Huffington Post that she started the site because "I want fat people to know there's a way to fight back non-violently, another way to shield against the shame and humiliation the harasser seeks to impose. I want to help facilitate a power exchange."
Given how shameful, out-of-control, and prevalent fat-shaming has gotten, I get why there's an impetus for something like this Tumblr. But I can't help but feel like the mentality seems to be, let's fight fire with fire, shame with shame ...
Plus, as in the case of the man on the train, there are the issues of privacy (photos of sizeist shamers so far appear to be mostly candid, although one was taken with permission), and also, how about ethical reporting? Sure, a blog is a blog, it's opinion ... not necessarily fact. But the way Substantia is presenting the fat-shaming incidents on the site, you would assume they were all true -- word for word, detail for detail ... But there's a chance what we're reading is more fiction than fact.
It's one person's story next to a photo of someone who -- in most, not all, of these posts -- has been given no voice to defend him or herself. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, something was misheard? And now their photo is on Tumblr for all the world to see next to a post that makes them look like they're a discriminatory jackass. Isn't something about that troubling? Or just ... not kosher?
Furthermore, doesn't going to the trouble of taking the person's photo, writing the story up, and then making it this big, hairy, publicized thing empower the fat-shamer? Make them a pseudo-celebrity (you know, of the lowest on the totem pole kind)?
Fat-shaming is a serious problem that must be addressed, but I'm not so sure this is the best way. I'd much rather deny these insecure, hateful bullies any attention whatsoever. Ignore them, be above it. (Just look at Melissa McCarthy! Perfect example.) Because, in this case, an eye for an eye isn't going to get the message across that shaming -- in any form -- is just plain wrong.
How do you feel about publicly shaming fat-shamers?