On trolls, blogging, and fatphobia

I just wrapped up watching Shrill, the Hulu original series based on Lindy West’s memoir by the same name. First, let me say this: if you enjoy this blog, then you’ll love this show. Go watch it. For real.

Second, to clarify the kind of troll I’m talking about when I say this it’s not so much the little weird creatures I collected in elementary school (though they do incite their own level of phobia), it’s the person who leaves hateful comments on the internet when they disagree or dislike something.

On Shrill, Andie (the main character) was a journalist who wrote an article titled “Hello, I’m Fat”. Andie then gets her first nod of “making it” – a nasty troll man who leaves her extraordinarily mean comments based on the fact that he has fatphobia (a whole other topic). Simply because she is fat, he spews venom: she is worth nothing and threatens to kill her family.

Remember, this is based on a memoir. This is not fiction. This disgusting behavior actually happened to Lindy West, and happens every day.

So then maybe you can see why my #1 fear of being honest on my blog is this:

I have trollophobia.

I hate conflict. I will not voice an opinion if I think it will cause any disagreement, or someone to not like me. This is hard when you’re a blogger, and a Christian, and well…anyone. Because this is a messed up world we’re living in, and if you’re saying anything worthwhile, someone will disagree with you AND if you’re publishing it on the interwebs, you’ll probably acquire a troll.

In fact, I’m reframing: I WANT a troll.

I’m not going for a total opposite here, I’m not a trollophile. However, if I have a troll, it probably means my blog has gotten out there at least to some extent and also that I’m not keeping it so safe all the time.

Things I would say about our (crappy American diet) culture if I didn’t have trollophobia:

I believe in the Christian message and Jesus as my Savior, and also constantly worry that it’s all wrong.

I believe that gay people, fat people, black people, brown people, old people, people with disabilities, veterans, and the many other marginalized groups in our society deserve love, respect, and dignity.

I believe the above requires major systemic changes and individuals with privilege in an area acknowledging that privilege and working to improve their communities as well as themselves.

We do not have an epidemic of obesity. We have an epidemic of fatphobia. We aren’t afraid of being fat. We’re afraid of what being fat means in our culture. If not for my fatphobia, I would not have an eating disorder.

Diets don’t work. Our fatphobia drives us to dieting and tons of research tells us that the more dieting a person does, the more weight they end up actually gaining.

I notice your weight. I just do. I have an eating disorder that makes me look at your body and take note of your size. However, I look at you much differently than I did a year ago. Now, I see you as a person with a story. I wonder what your story is, no matter what size you are. And I accept you, and don’t think you need to change, no matter what size you are.

No one needs to lose weight as a moral imperative.

I worry that my daughter will have severe body image issues and a disordered relationship with food. I worry that may start much sooner than I can imagine. The percentages of girls in elementary school who diet and believe they are fat is shockingly, terrifyingly, high.

All people can have body image and body-loathing issues. Including thin people.

I’m truly curious…what would you say…?

  • If you don’t or didn’t have trollophobia?
  • Have you ever stood up to a troll-type?
  • Anything I said above inspire you to troll me (or just disagree but nicer)?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Em says:

    I like that idea, “we are afraid of what fat means”. That’s very true for me; it’s an excellent point. As for trolls, I engage in politics on Twitter. They show up quickly and they’re awful. It is, at times, tempting to meet them on their level and be nasty but so far, I’ve mostly avoided doing that.

    1. I can definitely see how it would be VERY hard not to get on their level – good for you!

  2. Shannon Tremper says:

    To be honest, every time I met with a prospective doula client, I had a little voice in the back of my head asking “What will they think of your fat body? Will they not want to work with someone who looks like you? Will you be judged because of how you look rather than the qualities and skills you possess?” Even then, before you were in recovery, you had it in you to look beyond my size; you saw me for who I was and what I brought to the table. You allowed me to be a part of one of your most vulnerable and sacred moments in your life. You were, and are, a tolerant, caring, thoughtful and generous person. You are not owned or defined by your eating disorder.

    I love reading your blog so much. It somehow amazes me that people on opposite sides of the “size spectrum” have such similar struggles, fears, and thoughts shaping our decisions. Our bodies look different, but we have shared societal “standards” and “norms” of what “beauty” “is” or “should” be.


    You’re amazing and beautiful and I’m proud to know you.

    1. Wow, this is the best comment ever. I was soooooo blessed to have you support me during my pregnancy. I LOVE following your social media and am so inspired by you!

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