Some Changes

When I bought this domain name on a lark, I never thought it would end up here. The idea was to create a gossip site with a snarky counter-view to a culture that glorifies excess consumption. And, I was a shy person growing up, so it seemed like fun to have an alter-ego where I could say things I’d thought but never said.

As a thin person, I was also annoyed by our double-standards around weight. For example, people think nothing of telling a thin woman – to their face, in front of an entire group of people – how skinny they are and even to suggest what they should eat. But I’ve never seen the reverse happen to an overweight woman.

It also seems thin is only OK if it’s an accident. We hear thin celebrities say “damn, I eat like a horse and I just can’t gain weight!” This is a lie and one they feel they must tell, because honesty (“I work hard for this body!”) is for some reason socially unpalatable. It’s also terrible because it feeds the delusion that our body weight is outside of our control.

I know it sounds weird in a world where we hear about “pressure to be thin”, but sometimes it feels like if you are thin – whether naturally or as a result of your daily choices – there is pressure not just to eat, but to overeat. And those of us who want to be thin – or need to be for our career – need ways to deal with that.

I have had my own issues around food and eating, both personally and in my family, and obviously they have found their way into my writing here. I realize I haven’t always been great at knowing where the line is. But again there is a terrible double-standard: “big beautiful women” sites on which people exchange recipes for 4,000-calorie cheesecakes don’t seem to unnerve the social critics the same way we do. I’ll leave it to smarter people to figure out why.

What I write on the site is intentionally outrageous and intended to provoke controversy, but I never imagined it would grow to the point where the celebrities I was writing about were actually reading the articles, and that has made me think.

Over the past week, things really snowballed. It seemed to start with an IBT article, which I believe led to a Reddit thread where the submitter implored readers to “please stop” me. It worked; that thread resulted in Anonymous hitting me with a DDoS attack, forcing me to change web hosts and spend most of the week wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.

The site was barely back up when a wave of major articles hit – many of them labeling us as “pro-anorexia”, which is absolutely false. Anorexia is not mere dieting, it is not striving for a certain look or to fit into a certain piece of clothing. We have never supported illness or self-harm. But these days if you’re slim or even average and want to be a little thinner, the anorexia label is not far behind. Not that any of you will listen to me about what’s counterproductive, but calling every skinny person anorexic doesn’t do sick people any favors. It’s also worth noting that not a single one of these so-called journalists contacted me before filing their stories.

Had the media bothered to look a little deeper, they would have seen the community behind the site – a community I’m very proud of. The Skinny Gossip forum is made up of more than 1,000 awesome young women supporting each other in health and, in some cases, recovery. It is a community where we prefer the skinny look, but not at the cost of health. Promotion of self-harm is not tolerated, and in several cases we have suspended or even banned members who did.

The community also includes a number of fashion models (including some who are quite well-known) whom I either know personally or have invited via friends and colleagues. They have access to a private “VIP” area to discuss (anonymously, if they wish) the challenges of their careers and the struggle to balance the thinness their jobs demand with the health we all want them to maintain. They also share their work experiences with others in the industry, and I believe it has served as a great resource for young women working in a very difficult business.

But returning to my key point, the site’s reach has grown tremendously, and with this reach comes new responsibility. So, effective immediately, I am making the following changes:

  • I am removing the “Starving Tips of the Day” until I can review, edit, and possibly re-title it. While I believe most of them are solid tips for avoiding overeating or curbing cravings, I do see some of them that, upon further reflection, I can no longer support.
  • I am adding language to our community registration terms that explicitly prohibits the glorification or promotion of self-harm. While it has been unofficial policy from the beginning, it will now be officially stated. This will not just be window dressing; it will be enforced. We do not want to cut off support to those most in need, but we will warn – and then ban – members who violate these terms, and when doing so we will direct them to reputable sources of assistance.
  • Within the next few days, I am adding a section to the community with resources and paths to assistance for issues including depression, eating disorders, and self-injury.
  • I am making some changes to the VIP areas of the community to better reflect this philosophy and ensure that each member clearly understands the goal and intent of the community.

Over the past few days, I have heard from hundreds of people. Most of you tried to out-hate me – including several death and rape threats – but a few of you sent messages that were fair, well-thought-out, and in some cases even kind. Those who sent the former are part of the problem; those who sent the latter deserve some of the credit for these changes.

In closing, there’s nothing wrong with saying skinny is beautiful, just like there’s nothing wrong with saying curvy is beautiful, or red hair is beautiful, or anything else someone happens to find appealing. It’s an opinion, and we’re all entitled to them.

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[Comments and discussion are welcome in the forums.]