The frustrations of a fragmented fat online community

A little while ago, I talked about how it’s problematic that the bulk of online FA thinking is happening in XOJane, a non-fat-friendly space. I know there has been movement toward creating and improving FA spaces: Redefining Body Image has added Facebook comments (I’d prefer Disqus, but any comments are better than none!), and Issa is working on an awesome project that I can’t tell you about yet.

But the bulk of FA work is still going on at XOJane. And today I got a reminder of how that isn’t always good.

I wrote what I thought was an innocuous response to a question in an FA-related thread. Not a minute later, I got an angry response accusing me of defending a fat-hating troll.

I’m not going to lie, that hurts. It hurts to be misread. It hurts to be accused of saying something I would never, ever say.

I’ve gone over what I wrote, and I still can’t figure out how it could be interpreted that way. I just don’t see it.

But I do understand that sometimes miscommunications happen. They happen in real life, and they can happen even more easily on the internet.

Especially in non-FA spaces. Not that any online (or real-life space) is 100% miscommunication-free, but I think such misreadings are more likely to happen in a space that isn’t explicitly fat-friendly. There are plenty of fat-hating comments on XOJane, and people are understandably on guard, which can sometimes lead to seeing fat hatred where it really, really isn’t there.

Whereas in a fat-friendly space, fat-hating comments wouldn’t make it through moderation in the first place. People would be much more likely to assume good faith on the part of other commenters. There wouldn’t be this kneejerk defensiveness that’s warranted nine times out of ten, but misplaced and hurtful the tenth time.

I just want a place to talk with other fierce fatties, free from both people who think fat is bad and people who somehow assume I think fat is bad.