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Mrs. Tumble

March 14, 2014

I don’t know what we did before the internet. I mean, I know that that’s a thing people say, but I really don’t know what we did. Want to know the menu for the highest rated Italian reflectionsrestaurant two cities over? Tough. Interested in the filmography of that guy you saw in that thing? Hard luck. Fancy connecting with an ever-changing pool of like-minded humans? Well, you could try the local youth club…

Basically I am pretty sure that the internet was invented for (and probably by) people like me: slightly shy over-thinkers who are better at writing stuff down than they are at saying it out loud. And that’s probably why I have been addicted to it since the get go.

pc

My first PC had 4mg of RAM. It was freaking awesome.

I was in my early teens when I first remember being aware of the internet, or being aware that the internet was something that I could personally access. Before we got it at home, visits to my friend’s house would consist of me begging her to connect their giant, whirring family PC to dial-up so that we could sit in chaotic chat rooms (ASL?!). God only knows what her parents thought we were doing as, aside from the fact that their phone line was blocked, parents back then didn’t get annual lectures from their children’s schools about the extent to which the web is definitely evil and probably melting our children.

It didn’t take me long to become addicted to forums and I was well into OkCupid before it was cool (is it cool?). I was on MySpace, I joined Facebook not long after it started, and I met my husband on PlentyofFish. I’m the one who explains memes to my 30-something-year-old friends, I barely ever shop in physical buildings anymore, and my browser never has fewer than eight tabs.

All that said, I just don’t get Tumblr. I don’t get it. I joined it recently, and I understand that people share images and text, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just not doing it right. When I click on things, unexpected stuff pops up, and I’m fairly convinced that if and when a post finally gets reblogged by every single Tumblrer (Tumblrite?) then the whole site will just cease and be replaced with simple white text on a black background: You Win, Game Over.

Am I doing it right?

Am I doing it right?

What I do understand about Tumblr, though (aside from the fact that its huge porn element will ensure it probably “wins” the social network battle, a bit like VHS vs. Betamax) is that you can see fat people. Not only fat people but fat Fat Acceptance people, and all sorts of people espousing body positivity. A big part of (at least that area of) Tumblr, it seems, is for people to take selfies of their lovely, fat bodies, either clothed or less so, and put them up for praise, adoration, and encouragement from a willing crowd. These are acts of confidence-building and of self-love that seem to have a profound influence on the viewed and the viewer simultaneously. The content is backed up by affirmation and positivity from both sides. Little pockets of the internet are being created and shared as safe spaces for owning and displaying bodies that have previously been hidden and shunned. Of course, it’s not flawless; trolls can and will pop up everywhere, but, from what I have seen, these selfies seem mainly surrounded by good, at least.

And a strange thing has happened since I joined the site and stocked up my “follow” list on all these body-positive blogs: I am starting to feel differently about my own body. After just a couple of weeks of daily exposure to positive images of women my own size, and to those a little smaller and to those a little bigger, my interaction with the mirror has markedly improved.  It’s almost as if — stop the presses — seeing women like me has made me feel better about me! Two weeks. It begs the question, just how much damage has been done by 30 years of almost exclusively seeing women who are smaller than me? When we are so massively unrepresented in the media to which we are subjected, what does it do to our sense of self?

This isn’t a new question, obviously. And it can be — and has been — applied to other groups possibly more profoundly (PoC, LGBT people, disabled/differently-able people and so on), but what struck me was just how quickly my perceptions have changed. Just seeing more fat people has really accelerated my acceptance of my own body. I thoroughly recommend this kind of gentle, positive exposure as another tool in the set toward loving our gorgeous, abundant selves.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    March 14, 2014 12:33 pm

    I’m glad that Tumblr is working out so well for you on the body acceptance front. I haven’t managed to figure out how it works even though I’ve been online since 1998 and have managed to adapt pretty well to most of the changes that have occurred – going from dial-up to dsl to cable internet with a detour along the way with wireless. Adapting to Facebook and blogging was fairly easy, but Tumblr and Twitter are beyond me. I’ve checked them both out, but haven’t been able to make sense of how to find what interests me on either of them. Now, I’m the queen of internet searches – almost everyone in my family asks me to find things for them online, even though they’re all online too (my results seem to be more informative, for some reason). But I just haven’t been able to figure out how to use Tumblr and Twitter. And as much as I like keeping up-to-date with technological/informational advances, I’ve just had to take a pass on these.

    • March 15, 2014 2:22 pm

      I really, really don’t get Twitter or Tumblr at all. I’m glad it’s not just me. :/

      Twitter in particular always seems like a blueprint for disaster. Hey, let’s try to discuss extremely complex issues and ideas only one sentence at a time. No way could that lead to huge misunderstandings and massive verbal firestorms. Nope.

      [sigh]

      • March 17, 2014 4:19 pm

        The only thing I (and the other members of Team Netherworld) tend to use Twitter for is to post links to things we’ve written or links to other cool stuff, like cat pictures. Other than promotion, I can’t much see it as a great place to interact with other people.

  2. Rubyfruit permalink
    March 15, 2014 1:44 am

    I second being glad that Tumblr’s working out so well for you, since it…didn’t work out for me as well. It doesn’t fit the way I read or write blogs.

    I find that our stories are similar, and my first PC kinda sucked hardcore. It was the crappiest ever Packard-Bell that froze at the best of times, so I often used the computers at the library for my internet-surfing instead.

    • March 15, 2014 2:24 pm

      The only tumblr stuff I really like are the simple scrapbook-style repostings of images. (People used to link to my flickr stuff from there regularly –before flickr got trashed by its own owners and I gave up on it– and that was cool.) But even those are so image-heavy that my old-timey Mac generally balks if I try to view for more than a few minutes at a time.

    • March 17, 2014 4:20 pm

      I’ve had my most recent P.C. since 2006. When I was younger and had a little more liquid cash, I tended to buy a new one every year.

  3. March 15, 2014 8:35 am

    Love this. For me, it took 3 days at the Binge Eating Disorder Association conference a couple of years ago. Incredible isn’t it. I wrote about it on my blog (shameless plug): http://www.neverdietagain.co.uk/you-are-not-alone/

  4. March 17, 2014 4:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Sly Fawkes and commented:
    While Tumblr has helped me find some body positive blogs such as This is Thin Privilege, overall I find it to be rather a frightening space. I don’t allow “asks” on my Tumblr, because I want it to be a place where I can simply express myself without fear of being directly attacked by shitheads. I don’t link my Tumblr to any of my other blogs. Like Reddit, there seem to be a massive number of dudebros and other a-holes on Tumblr.

  5. lifeonfats permalink
    March 17, 2014 5:55 pm

    I don’t tumble, tweet, pin, reddit or Instagram. I’m on Facebook but that’s mostly to talk with fans of Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, Sherlock, play slots and post results of silly quizzes my friends and I take. I do post selfies from time to time. I don’t like Tumblr’s format and while I would join Twitter to follow celebrities, right now one social media site is enough for me. I’m not one to put myself out there all over the place because I’ve seen the rammifications and I think I’m a lot safer for it. Not because of my size, but because there is such a thing as TMI and there is so much that people can take. I’m glad it’s helped you though. There are positive aspects of the Internet and that’s what we need to focus on.

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