My body-positivity is not your porn

Mary janes and socks

Last week, I blocked a user on Flickr who was sexually, explicitly commenting on my outfit photos, mostly pictures of my socks and shoes but a couple full-body shots did not escape mention.

I noticed the activity when my phone started blowing up with notifications from Flickr. This user had gone on a favoriting spree, stopping every so often to write a graphically detailed comment on a particularly remarkable photo. Thankfully, blocking a user on Flickr automatically removes all their comments, so I didn’t have to spend the afternoon manually deleting messages.

This issue has rarely come up on my blog itself, but my socks-and-shoes photos on Flickr do gain a lot of attention. It often creeps me out when someone with an empty profile and no photos on their account starts favoriting some of my outfit photos, but there’s not much I can do about that. However, when their imagination is no longer private, and those thoughts are publicly posted, I take action.

I can hear the words of a bunch of jerks right now, saying “Well then, don’t post your photos if you don’t want sexual comments! You know what the internet is like!” But here is the thing: it’s about intent and consent.

I started this blog as an experiment in style, and it has grown a bit beyond that. It’s helped in my self-esteem journey by getting me into body-positivity and making friends with other style bloggers. I do this for myself and for others. I do this for fat visibility. I do not do this so I can be sexually abused. Those are my intentions, and I consent for my blog posts and my photos to be viewed in those ways.

There are countless websites that cater to just about anything sexual you can imagine. Their intent is sexual and the models there (hopefully) have consented to their photos being posted for these reasons. It’s not as if these creeps cannot get porn from anywhere else; they are seeking out blogs and photos like this in order to take away the originator’s consent. Brian Stuart has a great breakdown of this behavior as framed from a fat-admirer’s perspective.

I’ve seen this issue pop up a lot on many of the fat fashion and body positive blogs, and especially on tumblr, when gorgeous photos of happy stylish people are followed up with a note to “not reblog on porn sites”. Seriously? Do we really need to qualify our posts like this now? If that’s the case, then no, I do not consent to your sexually explicit comments on my blog or my photos, and I do not consent to your publishing these photos elsewhere.

Now, I understand that folks may have thoughts about things that the content creator did not intend, but to quote Brian’s post above, maybe let’s not be assholes about it. Unless you’ve got clear-cut consent from someone, show a little respect for their personhood and their boundaries by refraining from expressing your sexual fantasies.

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2 thoughts on “My body-positivity is not your porn

  1. Thank you for writing this! Explicit blog comments feel a lot like street harassment, and (by itself) existing in a public space is NEVER an invitation for harassment or assault.

  2. Yes! That’s exactly it. Your point about comments like this being similar to street harassment is something I had a hard time articulating. Just existing in public or posting photos online is not an invitation for catcalls or sexual threats. (And that’s really what these are: threats.) I also feel like I’ve gotten to a point where I know I’m going to get nasty comments regardless of what I’m wearing, so I might as well just wear fun things that I like, and fuck the haters. I mean, I still got harassed when I was wearing baggy jeans and hoodies (when I thought I was too fat to show off my body at all) and I get them now in skirts and sweaters. It’s hard to stop feeling the shame, but blogging like this and finding a community of like-minded folks has really helped to fight back.

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