I sometimes wonder, would we be so quick to poke fun of the people around us, if we were accountable for our actions.
On the internet we’re safe behind our shiny screens and keyboards. It’s easy to poke fun and troll. No real consequences there, right?
But what about real life. When you’re walking down the street and see someone different from you, maybe they are overweight or have a quality that marks them as different, are they fair game? If it’s behind their back or out of eyesight, does it count?
Haley Morris-Cafiero sought out to answer just that, with a series she calls Wait Watchers. After experiencing some public shaming about her weight while on vacation a few years ago, Morris-Cafiero decided to run a social experiment of sorts, turning the cameras on the very people who are mocking her.
Wait Watchers documents the way people react to her in public places. Moments we don’t assume are being witnessed by anyone. Moments where we don’t think we’re accountable.
I think it’s an interesting project, but are we doing the very thing we speak against? Making an assumption from a photograph the way we, ourselves, are often victims of assumptions about our weight or health or happiness?
It’s sometimes easy to write off teenage girls with antiquated cliche. Girls who lose their minds at One Direction concerts, post millions of selfies on Instagram, girls who attack twitter users in the name of Justin Beiber.
I mean, look who we see representing them in the news and online? MTV reality show stars? That can’t be a career goal.
Thankfully, the truth is so much better than that; it just tends to get buried beneath the piles of twitter breakdowns and viral youtube girl fight videos. Over the course of a month, I’ve read the stories and followed the journeys of teenage girls who do so much more than that; girls who are changing society, not just for themselves, but for us all. I want to introduce you to some of them.
The Stand Against Slut Shaming. Katelyn Campbell was a senior, 7th in her class with a 4.8 GPA, and student body president at George Washington High School in Charleston West Virginia this year. Despite those accolades, Miss Campbell was not only barred from speaking at her High School Graduation ceremony, she also spent the better part of her school year seeking an injunction against her principal, Mr. George Aulenbaucher. You see, last April, Katelyn spoke out against a Christian Pro-Abstinance Sex-Ed Speaker, Pam Stenzel, whom Principal Aulenbacher booked for a mandatory school assembly. And assembly that featured such highlights as warnings that condoms are unsafe and that sex in high school leads to infertility and renders teens “impure.” You can listen to the audio here. So, because Katelyn Campbell spoke up against this assembly full of blatantly inaccurate health information, screaming and scare tactics, she had to seek legal action against the Principal, the man who booked a speaker who said things like “if you take birth control, your mother probably hates you,” or “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous,” yeah, that guy, she had to take legal action against that guy from calling Wellesley College, where Miss Campbell had been accepted, and informing them of her “bad character.” Katelyn was a senior in high school. She took on her Principal and the school board, and a whole host of others to have her voice heard, to make sure what people her age were hearing was accurate and balanced, and to have the right to do so without retaliation. Good on you, Miss Campbell, and it looks like Wellesly College is proud to have you!
I’m thankful for Julia Bluhm and Izzy Labbe for taking on Photoshopping and the portrayal of realistic bodies in the media, including, but not limited to, Seventeen Magazine.
And I’m thankful the Spark Movement. An international girl-fueled movement to provide a platform for their voices to be heard, and change to happen. Their mission is clear,
“To demand an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media.” and to “to reject the commodified, sexualized images of girls in media and support the development of girls’ healthy sexuality and self-esteem.”
These are girls ages 13-22 working to promote positive body image and confidence for their peers. And I just don’t think you can get anymore amazing than that.
Are you a teen using your voice? Do you know one? Let’s hear it!
Updated to reflect the notation of Brittany Minder’s dress code violation.
On our way back into Seattle from a nice, relaxing visit with the in-laws (no, really), my wife and I decided to stop at Fred Meyer for some much-needed household supplies. As Lindy was busy filling the basket with useful sundries, I foolishly thought, “Hey, we’re going to a film festival in a few days. [...]
Last week, I casually mentioned I needed to go bathing suit shopping and thousands of people (or maybe just my six remaining friends) told me how “brave” I was. I started worrying about why bravery was required to go bathing suit shopping, and then I remembered that my ass looks like it lives down the [...]
Apple. I know it’s kind of a hard name to hear, I mean, have you looked at an apple lately? It’s not the sexiest fruit in the produce aisle, but you’re not an apple—you’re an apple shape, and that’s something you can make work (“werk” even). For starters, you’ve got a great rack and some [...]
“You must be Angie’s little sister.” For the past 35 years, that phrase has followed me wherever I go. From Kindergarten to middle school band, from my first internship to Twitter, I have dodged and ducked, trying to escape being known as anything other than just me. I resented any inference – implied or stated [...]
It could be the new hashtag, #afhatesfatchicks. Social Media has placed upon our doorsteps the latest in body hate news, Abercrombie & Fitch and their distaste for fat people. No wait, fat girls. Just girls. You see, Abercrombie doesn’t make girls clothes past Large, but goes up to XXL for men. You know, for the [...]
Hey you, curvy girl over there, did you know you can be fashionable and have a blast doing it? I think sometimes we forget that, because for so long, the style choices just weren’t there for us. And even as more and more options open up, it’s admittedly a bit of a learning curve trying [...]
I am not a curvy girl. Not even close. Breasts? Forget it. I don’t wear a bra with 99.9 percent of all articles of clothing. Hips? Not even mildly interesting unless you count that weird mole I had but it fell off ten years ago. My weight – all 125 pounds of it on my [...]