Monday, September 26, 2016

Tackling “Triggers” in the Blogosphere

October 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Body Image, Self Esteem

The toughest part about blogging here on a body image advocacy blog is actually what makes this blog so unique and exciting: we have a broad, diverse audience.

Which means a lot of opinions, and opportunity for a lot of exciting dialogue.

Our audience ranges from women with eating disorders, women who are in recovery, women who are dieting, women who are athletes/fitness buffs, women who subscribe to the Healthy At Any Size movement, women who struggle with body image, overweight women who believe in the Fat Acceptance movement, and women who fit none–or many–of these descriptions.

Noting that we can’t please everyone, we’ve tried really hard here to be open-minded and proactive, following certain posts and the commentary that ensued. Listening to your feedback, we’ve tried to be more inclusive, and add a broader range of voices to the blog.

But one area that we keep coming back to is the notion of triggers: what is a trigger to one woman isn’t necessarily a trigger to someone else.

And how sensitive should we, as bloggers, be about triggers, recognizing how diverse our audience is?

For example, we’ve posted a couple emaciated models here in certain relevant posts. Some women might be instantly repulsed and feel sorry for the model, but aren’t triggered by it to engage in any destructive behaviors.

But equally important, someone else might see that and suddenly they start over-exercising or purging to attain some impossible “ideal.”

MamaV, for example, believes life is a trigger and has made it clear that on her blog, MamaVision, she doesn’t shy away from pro-ana images or videos.

After all, as she notes, these things exist and while they might be “triggering” to someone with an eating disorder–or someone predisposed to one –stuffing these images under the proverbial carpet and pretending they don’t exist solves nothing. Because triggers are everywhere.

On the other hand, I experienced this week another aspect of triggering: unintentional comparisons.

In “Dressing for Me” I talked openly about my “happy size,” my current size, and the size up from that I bought when my current size wasn’t available in the pants I wanted.

I talked about, in the end, accepting the pants and loving how they fit my body, long and flowy … but that comparison of my three “selves” was upsetting/triggering to some — making them feel inadequate or as though I’d look down on them for their size (not true, of course).

I gave a lot of thoughts to the comments, and decided that although posting sizes is triggering to many on this blog, I wasn’t going to delete them from the post because then I wouldn’t be authentically me; the sizes were relevant to the experience.

On the flip side, I decided that going forward, I’d be more sensitive to sharing numbers — using them sparingly, if at all.

But even if none of us ever describe ourselves using numbers or sizes … the truth is, triggers are everywhere (turn on the TV, visit a Web site, walk into a mall, sit at a bar, attend book club, go to the beach, look at a billboard), and it’s not easy to ignore them.

And triggers are not easy to qualify, since one person’s trigger could be another person’s inspiration, depending on their frame of reference.

An anonymous poster over at my blog, Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater, had this to say in the comments following my post “Being Mindful of Size Sensitivities”:

“GIANT DE-LURK. I know you wanted input from your long-time readers on this but I wanted to give the perspective of someone who has lurked but never commented. I have been a big lurker over at WATRD since pretty much the beginning. I read your post and was going to de-lurk there.

But when I read the comments that had already been posted I decided not to. What I hoped was going to be a discussion about our different self-judgements centered around sizes/shopping and learning to overcome them had turned into yet another episode of The Trigger Police.

Look, we all have triggers. If we’re reading WATRD most of them probably have something to do with weight/body image issues. I’m trying to recognize and work toward removing my triggers. There seem to be a lot of commenters who are doing nothing but reading postings looking for things that pull their triggers. And then they hi-hjack the discussion turn it into a whole my trigger-trumps-yours thing.

I’m trying to NOT live my life based on triggers. I’m looking for people who are trying to find common ground in an amazingly diverse world. I don’t need yet another place where it’s all about someone telling me that if I do not think/feel/act exactly as they do I am ‘less than.’ I’m trying to get away from protecting my triggers.

Because the more I respond to them, the more I talk to others about them, accuse them of pulling my triggers, the more powerful my triggers become.

Although I enjoy the posts at WATRD I may have to stop reading the comments because the trigger-trump environment is really unhealthy for me.”

What do you think about Anonymous’s comments? What do you think about “triggers?” And do you find our posts triggering, the comments that ensue, both, or neither? Are there blogs you’ve stopped reading because you found them to “triggering”?

These questions aren’t being asked to necessarily change our comments policy, but rather because we are curious to know what you think about triggers.

We’re open to evolutions here, and your feedback is important to us. We recognize we can’t be everything to  everyone, but we can be something to someone.

And we’d like that someone to be you

WATRD

Comments

65 Responses to “Tackling “Triggers” in the Blogosphere”
  1. Nikki says:

    Sorry if I come across as a person who searches for “triggers” … if I see a post I like, I’ll usually think, “Good post” and then move on, whereas if I see something I disagree with, I will usually stop and leave a comment explaining why.

    I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate to leave this comment here or on the “Why do we even care?” post, but my basic point was there’s no need to comment negatively about women’s bodies, whether it’s your body or someone else’s. It just doesn’t do anyone any good.

    Lissa, your response was basically, this is something we all relate to, and we’re all allowed to have a day when we feel bad, and what good does it do to ignore those feelings.

    My responses to those points would be #1. Just because we all relate to feeling badly about our bodies, does it do any good to continue to negatively comment on our bodies? #2. Yes we’re all ALLOWED to feel any way we want, but shouldn’t a body image site be about encouraging good days rather than dwelling on the bad? and #3. I’m just plain going to disagree and say sometimes it’s a good thing to TOTALLY IGNORE negative feelings about your body. There are times when I start to think something negative about my body, and then instead I tell myself to shut up, I think sometime positive about myself instead, and I move on.

    • lissa10279 says:

      I think it’s great you can do that (tell yourself to think of something positive) but that doesn’t always work and sometimes hashing out our feelings is the best solution for an individual.

  2. Kate says:

    The only way to completely avoid “triggers” is to live in a plastic bubble in the dark somewhere.

    I also believe that there’s a fine line between “triggers” and excuses. The fact of the matter is, we’re tying to overcome certain behaviors, not lead a totally insulated life.

    This isn’t just about disagreement, or negative comments. Some people will find triggers everywhere.

    The ideal is to get to the point where we have a realistic view of our bodies that isn’t threatened by the perceptions of others, and that based on that view we can chose to change (if we’re unhealthy) or not change (if we’re healthy) and be comfortable and happy with whatever optimal shape or size our bodies are.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Beautifully said, Kate. “the ideal is to get to the point where we have a realistic view of our bodies that isn’t threatened by the perceptions of others, and that based on that view we can chose to change (if we’re unhealthy) or not change (if we’re healthy) and be comfortable and happy with whatever optimal shape or size our bodies are.”

  3. Joy Manning says:

    When I first read the Dressing for Me post, I will admit that my first reaction was to feel bad. Why? Because I am most definitely size 10. It’s a size I have been struggling mightily to accept myself at. And, for me, reading about that size being unacceptable or difficult to accept is tough.

    On the other hand, I keep a blog whose entire purpose is to post my weight every day. When I started it last December, my thinking was that my weight spirals upward when I avoid the scale and I thought a blog would make me feel accountable in a weight-watchers sort of way. It has helped me in that way, for sure.

    But over the past 10 months I have had friends and readers tell me that reading my weight every day makes them feel anxious about their own weight. That was the absolute last thing I ever intended. Recently I’ve become so concerned about it that I decided to launch another blog that doesn’t deal with weight issues. I am currently on the fence as to whether to stop logging my weight online. On the one hand, I know it helps me manage my weight and my emotions about weight, but on the other hand, I can’t stand the idea that my blog might make another woman feel bad.

    So, I understand your dilemma because it’s my dilemma too. As a reader, though, I kind of wish the sizes would have been omitted if only because I would not have felt that pang of inadequacy.

    • lissa10279 says:

      I’m glad you can see the dilemma, Joy.

      And what it added to the post was comparing me to me to me. Perhaps it wouldn’t have lost anything had I not put the numbers in there, but in the end it got a good dialogue going about triggers, size acceptance, etc.

      • mamaV says:

        Hi Lissa: I think it would have been a mistake not to use sizes, please see my response to Joy below.

        Also — just curious, did you state your height? Did any readers ask how tall you are? Reason being, a size 10 for a person 5 foot is different than a size 10 for a person 5’10. Different, not bad or good, just different relative to weight.

        I found it interesting that readers started comparing themselves to you, not knowing your height in relation to weight, instead triggering on the size alone.

        mV

      • lissa10279 says:

        Good point! I don’t know if I mentioned my height …. maybe I should have?

  4. Joy Manning says:

    One more thing. I guess what I’m wondering, Lissa (having just re-read the Dressing for Me post and read the Being Mindful post at your personal blog) is what does mentioning the specific sizes add to the post? What would the post have lost if you had not mentioned them specifically, and refereed to size X and Y?

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Joy: Interesting feedback about your weight being front and center causing others to be anxious about their own. Hmmm… I need to think about that one.

      On your question above about the need to state size, I thought about this right after Lissa had some objections to this in the post Dressing for Me. I went back and tried to imagine the post with no reference to size, and it just seemed silly.

      What I mean by this is it seemed like we would be asking Lissa cut up the flow of her entire post in an effort to appease people, AND most importantly this appeasement is really not doing anyone any good.

      Why? This would only allow us to avoid our own internal feelings on this issue, and I don’t think that is healthy.

      Isn’t it better for us to recognize the feelings, attempt to deal with them, and start working on self acceptance?

      mV

  5. Kate says:

    Wow. um… too much to add here, so I blogged it:

    It’s just Roy Roger’s Horse

    I feel pretty strongly about this discussion.

  6. Just_Kelly says:

    This is so interesting because I’ve recently tried to “de-trigger” my Google Reader. My personal trigger I found after following a multitude of healthy living/weight loss blogs for months on end? Food porn. You know, where people make delicious meals and post pictures in the blog. Every. Single. Day. Stuff I can’t recreate, stuff that made me crave sweet and salty, pictures that made me feel like I needed to eat even when I wasn’t hungry.

    It was sad removing the subscriptions to some of these blogs as I’ve followed them for so long and am rooting for them. But I found I needed to put my self-preservation before cursory reading of a blog that makes me overeat.

    Another trigger I realized recently: Weight Watchers. Something about it, thinking about it, reading it, tracking in it, etc… makes my anxiety go through the roof. I’m still trying to figure out why but, until then, I’m tracking on SparkPeople.

    I don’t think WATRD should allow anonymous comments. Anonymous commenting tends to turn really mean and unconstructive really quick. I honestly avoid most the comments at WATRD as they tend to make me anxious and doubtful of what I’m trying to do: get healthier. That being said I think allowing readers to have dialogue is important and necessary; I just choose to refrain from reading it.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Just_Kelly…WW is actually what created my DE issues in the first place. I don’t blame the program for my obsession with food/exercise but considering I never had a problem with it til WW … I put two and two together.

      On the flip side, though, WW got me where I felt my best so … it’s a double-edged sword. I had to step away from the message boards.

      We don’t allow anonymous comments–this was a comment on my personal blog. And it’s not “really” anonymous–I’m just respecting the reader since she didn’t post the comment here. If she chooses to speak out (I got permission to use her quote) then awesome 🙂

  7. Holly says:

    Triggers are everywhere, depending on the person. For me, it can be a comment made my a co-worker (negative or even positive), a comment made on Facebook (love the “Just ran 20 miles and am going to eat a huge brownie sundae!”), or, of course, the media.

    More and more I’m realizing that, because I’m so sensitive to triggers, I have two choices: I can learn to get over them, or remove myself from a particular environment/situation. For example, I had a “friend” on Facebook (though we were never close) who is training for a marathon. She had an ED in the past and still has issues, I believe. She’d post things like, “Training for a marathon and gained 6 pounds WTF?,” “Done with vacation and need to get my fat ass back into healthy eating mode.” This girl is very slim, and so this was extremely triggering for me. So I de-friended her.

    I think those of us who are prone to triggers need to figure out if we want to remove ourselves from the situation, or learn to deal with it. Those are the only 2 choices, but realistically we are NEVER going to remove all triggers from this world! We either have to become stronger people, or choose to ignore/avoid those people or situations.

    P.S. Personally, I’ve never found the posts at WATRD to be triggering. The blogs that ARE triggering to me are the ones in which I don’t believe the blogger is eating healthy (or enough), or over-exercising.

  8. Shhhh says:

    As a rule, I don’t read comments. I’m totally with Anonymous here.

  9. Meems says:

    I don’t consider myself to be some one who is easily triggered, but I am a very opinionated person, so there are posts that might get my hackles up without me becoming self destructive. I think there’s a distinction between the two.

    Also, while Kate’s post makes some good points, I genuinely wonder about the value of talking concrete number on a blog that is supposed to be about body image – which should really have nothing to do with numbers in my mind. Sure, numbers can evaluate our health when we’re talking about cholesterol or blood sugar or things along that line, but clothing size and weight (with the exception of drastic/sudden changes in either direction) do not fall into the same category.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Meems, but the sizes do paint a picture, for better or worse. Whereas a 6 to me was me “thin” and an 8 is me “ok” (and a 10 would be “heavy” … that’s still only comparing me to me.

      • Meems says:

        Oh, I understand that, Lissa, but my point is more that if we want to improve our body image, I think it would be best to try to get past the number on the scale or clothing tag or whatever. I realize that it’s probably much harder for some people than for others, but really, the tag on a piece of clothing is pretty arbitrary. I have clothing in my closet in a range of about six sizes, and all of it fits me. The smallest numbers are definitely “thin” sizes (and were probably mismarked), while the largest size is borderline plus size.

        To clarify, though, I wasn’t actually bothered by your mention of sizes in that post. Honestly, though I’m a little bigger than you are, my thin/ok/heavy sizes aren’t even that different from what you described. The thing is, I’ve been working really hard to break that way of thinking, because it keeps me from being happy in the moment.

      • lissa10279 says:

        Meems, I see what you mean … and I love to hear you’ve been able to break the negative thinking … kudos!!

  10. Synna says:

    If you want this place to be inclusive then you have to acknowledge and be respectful of people and their triggers. It doesn’t mean bubble wrapping the world, but it does mean accepting when someone comments that a particular item is triggering for them. By dismissing the notion of triggers as valid you (generic) are (perhaps inadvertently) dismissing the lived experience of many many people.

    The task is difficult precisely because of the wide audience this blog aims to have. Which means to truely be inclusive you need to be perhaps more careful with potentially triggering language/images.

    You can’t please all of the people all the time, but it also doesn’t mean you should throw the idea out the window.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Synna: Thanks for the feedback, I wanted to comment specifically on

      You can’t please all of the people all the time, but it also doesn’t mean you should throw the idea out the window.

      If I have learned anything so far, we have to a draw line in the sand at times, and this is one of them. Please do no interpret this as a careless, thoughtless disregard of feelings. A great deal of thought goes into these decisions, and at anytime we reserve the right to change our mind! 🙂

      I think we strike a solid in-between mode, where we show compassion and understanding, while also stating it like it is (in each of our personal experience and opinion).

      After all, if I take freedom of speech away from the contributors, we don’t have a blog anymore do we?
      mV

      • lissa10279 says:

        Ditto MamaV … I think I made it clear that going forward, I’ll give thought to including size in future posts; we all heard the feedback. In this case, I stand by my decision … I was comparing me to me to me. I hope to keep a healthy dialogue going.

  11. Forestroad says:

    I’m not saying this is the case, I just want to throw out there that you might inadvertently be restricting dialogue when you post sizes; I can imagine feeling uncomfortable commenting if my sizes differed greatly from yours. Not that that would even be your fault if it were true, but it might be an unintended consequence. A lot of the readership here seems to be “inbetweenie”, (maybe that’s just who’s commenting, or maybe I’m just wrong) and I wonder if that’s because there is still an impression that this blog is “thin women complaining about their weight” (not a sentiment I share, just one I remember being voiced during Jellygate). In that way, dwelling on sizes might be narrowing. Maybe not. Just something to consider.

    More on the topic of triggers, I have pretty much been recovered for 10 years and if I were in any imminent danger of relapsing, it would probably be more my responsibility not to expose myself to things that could endanger my health. I just commented on the triggering issue because I thought it might be useful for you to know what your readers are feeling whether it’s valid or not. Sorry if it was a discussion hijack.

  12. cggirl says:

    I gotta say, I’m definitely on the side of just being real and writing what you want. Because as you say, you can’t be all things to all people.

    It’s funny, I never really used this terminology of “triggers”. I first encountered it on blogs. But I just always felt I was sensitive about certain things. Weight Watchers is a bit sensitive for me even though I’ve never actually been ON the program, haha. But not just WW, anything like it, they just make me anxious. Hearing people talk about their diets can upset me. But the thing is, certain discussions are helpful to me too. So in the end you just have to decide what style of blog you have (and Lissa your posting style so far seems great to me) and know that it won’t be for EVERYbody, but it will be for some, as you say.

    For me, even though I’m super sensitive about these things, I actually don’t find your posts so “triggering” because you’re coming at it from a pretty open, non-judgemental point of view that’s about each of us finding our own positive solutions and our own comfort zone. And also because you’re not promoting dieting as some sort of solution to body image worries (even the ever popular WW), so I don’t feel like I have to be on the defensive all the time to justify my personal belief that dieting is NOT a good idea or solution for the vast majority of people. (and in my personal opinion – no offense to anyone – WW is indeed exactly a diet, just one that admits that you have to be on it FOREVER.)

    I mean, maybe you do still diet on some level or maybe you don’t, but in these posts, you haven’t been writing about dieting or controlling your weight. THAT would’ve probably bummed me out but that wouldn’t mean you shouldn’t write that either, it would just make me less interested in reading, and I am just one reader…

    • lissa10279 says:

      cggirl, thanks. I’ve never left WW since 2004 … always been “on” but now it’s seriously just how I live and I’m religiously going over my Points each week but I don’t talk about that here really. WW can be very triggering … it’s hard. And since this isn’t a “diet blog” I don’t talk much about it.

  13. tom brokaw says:

    lol I never heard this limp wristed term “triggers” before I happened upon the fatosphere.

    Get over it. Get tough, because the world is just waiting to trample all over you. Especially if you’re the type of person who is worried about “triggers.”

  14. Rachel_in_WY says:

    I guess I’m not sure why this issue is portrayed as such an extreme either/or situation. It seems to me like we have more choices than either completely censoring anything that could be a trigger to anyone or putting it all out there and letting the chips fall where they may. I don’t agree with mamaV on this – the world is full of triggers, just like it’s full of sexist and racist and ableist bullshit. But I don’t think that sexist and racist and ableist bullshit has a place on my blog, or in any progressive space. The simple fact that it’s out there isn’t a reason not to be sensitive about it in our spaces. And I don’t want to be responsible for triggering someone who has had a rough time with an issue that’s pretty easy for me. But I also think you have to talk about this stuff sometimes. I mean, we’re all working through our issues, some of which may be triggering, right? So I don’t see why there’s resistance to handling potential triggers the way other blogs do. Post a trigger warning at the beginning of the post, and then put the potentially triggering content after the jump. That way readers can choose whether or not to expose themselves to it.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Rachel: Good advice, here’s the problem — how do we distinguish between a triggering post and a non-triggering post? The content you may feel is triggering, I may not. If we applied your theory, I feel I would be posting a trigger warning on nearly every entry.

      I suppose we could consider posting a general message “Site contains potentially triggering content.” Do you think this would solve the issue?

      Truth be told, even the idea of a blanket “warning” rubs me wrong (but I am still listening and open to this idea). As I have held firm on through mamaVISION, I have refused to take responsibility for anyone’s issues (that audience is teenage-twenty somethings and it has worked). My theory is we can’t try to protect people from themselves because in the end I believe we are doing them more harm than good.

      Can you see my perspective on this or am I once again off my rocker? 🙂
      mV

      The overarching issue I have with this is

      • lissa10279 says:

        I think many of the posts we do could be considered “triggering” but don’t want a blanket statement over the blog saying it’s all potentially triggering …

        I guess if there is a seriously disturbing image maybe add a warning but one person’s trigger is another person’s inspiration (hence, the pro ana movement …), er, “thinspiration.” Sad, but true.

        We’re listening, Rachel …

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        Yeah, I do think you guys have a harder time with this because you’re so often dealing with body issues that apply to some of your readers that may at the same time be triggering to others. And it is often more clearcut in other spaces because we’re dealing with issues like sexual assault or harassment, which would clearly be triggering to many readers.

        So I would say that your policy when it comes to triggers could be a work in progress. No doubt it didn’t even occur to lissa that discussing clothing sizes that make you feel bad about yourself would be a trigger for some readers. So in that case, you learn from experience and try to be sensitive to that issue next time. I don’t think a trigger warning would be out of line or disruptive at the beginning of a post like this, and you could also phrase it like “this may be triggering to some…” or “this post contains discussions of clothing size as it relates to body acceptance, so it may be triggering for some readers…”

        On the topic of a blanket statement… it might be something you could add to the “about” page. I know my cousin who is a recovered DE feels triggered if she reads too much stuff that discusses calories and fat grams, since she can sort of feel herself redeveloping an unhealthy obsession even as she’s reading it. And quite honestly, it would never occur to me that this would be a trigger, if she didn’t tell me. So I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect you guys to anticipate every potential trigger. But I do think it’s good to try to be sensitive to those issues that plague others.

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        And, as we speak I’ve just received 4 emails today about the trigger warning I had put on my post about the fashion industry and its body image issues. Sometimes it is awfully hard to get it right.

  15. Yum says:

    This is one case where I agree with MamaV. Anything can be a trigger. That’s not an excuse for censorship.

    If a person knows they have triggers, they are making a choice to read triggering material. If they’re reading a blog about weight issues, then they should expect there might be triggering material there.

    I think it’s probably healthy to expose yourself to triggers so you can learn how NOT to react to them. Life isn’t always going to be nice to you, and you might come across triggering things by accident. You have to learn how to deal with them.

  16. Hil says:

    Yes, anything can be a trigger. Yes, some ideas are touchy enough that they can’t be discussed without the risk of hurting or offending someone. That isn’t a license to stop thinking about how your words affect others.

    I am really troubled by how defensive this blog, as a whole, seems to be. The stated purpose of this blog is to encourage body acceptance among all women. If that is your stated purpose, then you should care how your words affect others.

    I have a pretty thick skin. I am law student and I am all for no-holds-barred debate in the proper context. I am also significantly smaller than a size ten, so Lissa’s original post didn’t hit any of my personal buttons. But I don’t see the environment here becoming more positive and productive if some bloggers stick to the idea that other people’s feelings and experiences aren’t their problem.

    • Meems says:

      Yes, some ideas are touchy enough that they can’t be discussed without the risk of hurting or offending someone. That isn’t a license to stop thinking about how your words affect others.

      This is worth repeating. It’s not that touchy subjects shouldn’t be discussed, but rather that they should be recognized and acknowledged for what they are.

  17. FatNSassy says:

    “Overweight?” Over what weight????? Many of us in the size acceptance movement really hate that term because it implies there is one correct weight for everyone. I am 220lbs but would never call myself overweight because I am at the weight Mother Nature intended me to be. There is no one acceptable weight and if there was, the CDC who is in the back pocket of pharma would be the last to find it!

    • Meems says:

      Good point. At 175 lbs I’m borderline obese, but I’m active, eat well, and my doctor has no issues with my weight. I’m only overweight if you accept that all bodies should be subject to one very narrow range of “healthy” weights, and human bodies just don’t work that way.

  18. Somebody's Mother says:

    For what it’s worth, I’m the person who posted the comment on Lissa’s other blog that was quoted in this post. First, I have to say I really enjoyed reading the comments to this post. Most are well thought out, offering varying points of view in a respectful, positive manner that addressed the topic at hand. My body image issues (and I have a bunch of them) have kept me isolated and ‘apart from’ for most of my life. When I stumbled upon this blog, I hoped I had found a place that was moving past identifying all of our body image issues to beginning to overcome them. We need to be very compassionate toward one another. We need to be aware that by simply addressing many of the issues talked about here, we are being brave and confronting our own inner demons. WATRD (I hope) is a place to come together and learn to say I AM ENOUGH! And to be able to believe it. Part of the process, for all of us means talking about things, seeing things, hearing things that make us uncomfortable. When we are each confronted with those things that set us off individually, we have a safe place here to take a small step forward and say, “I am afraid/anxious/nervous/hurt by what we are talking about” and, hopefully, when we do someone else will step forward and say “me too”. It is at that point, together, we can take steps toward becoming people whose self worth is not dictated by a number on a tag. A frank yet compassionate discussion of the issues (not telling each other what words we can use, what topics we can broach) is what is going to change things.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Hi Somebody’s Mother–thank you for your words–“A frank yet compassionate discussion of the issues (not telling each other what words we can use, what topics we can broach) is what is going to change things.”–that is exactly spot-on!

  19. Autumn says:

    Yes, the world is a trigger, and everything can be a player. But it’s not unreasonable to expect that in a body-positive space, I’m not going to be confronted with something that tells me that a certain size is something that is a blow to somebody’s ego. The post itself was fine and didn’t need the exact numbers AT ALL to make its point. All it did was inadvertently distance the author from many readers, creating divisions where there need not be any.

    Numbers are beside the point when talking body image. They add nothing and make it dangerous to some. Why insist upon putting in numbers? It’s not difficult to work around those numbers and then your true point will come across more clearly.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Autumn, I didn’t take numbers out of THAT post, since it sparked the discussion … but did agree that going forward, I’ll be more thoughtful in deciding when to use/not use them. On my personal recovery blog, absolutely. Here .. perhaps not.

    • Somebody's Mother says:

      Autumn, I would respectfully disagree that numbers are beside the point when discussing body image. I am sure that sounds inflammatory to many, but please, hear me out. In the original post, Lissa talked about how going to buy a pair of pants turned into a personal body image battle. It all had to do with the number on the tag. I expected to find a conversation about these often arbitrary, unrelated numbers have come to influence our personal body image, and what we can do to remove the power they have over us. Instead the conversation is about ‘she said specifically what size she is.’ Those numbers have become so important that some of us cannot even hear what someone else’s number is without feeling horrible about ourselves. At times, they influence our personal body image to the point where they determine our entire self-worth as human beings. This scares me. This breaks my heart. This is, in my opinion, the heart of the body image battle. There are all of these things that have contributed to the negative image we have of ourselves. Most of them are going to continue to exist in the world, even though we continue the battle to eliminate them.
      The conversation sparked by the original post really brought to the forefront just how much so many of us are influenced by these numbers. And that, I think, is a helpful thing. If Lissa hadn’t posted the numbers, this conversation might not have happened. I’m hoping the conversation will continue to where we are talking about things people have done to help lessen the power these numbers have in determining our self-worth. That would be the most helpful thing of all.

  20. wriggles says:

    It’s funny, but the triggering issue is one of the reasons I decided to drop off the fatosphere feeds, I just found it was inhibiting me a bit too much.

    I have to say I dislike healthist/weight loss dieting propaganda, intensely, similar to how people feel if they’ve been brought up having been forced to listen to tedious uninspired sermons in church. For a lot of people, it creates a lifelong aversion, that’s how I feel. Having said that, I do think triggers are to be overcome, as far as possible, often the root isn’t the actual trigger itself, but indirect.

    When we feel that other people’s mere expression of their size upsets us, then it is because we are still wounded by internalised fat hatred (whether we are fat or thin), or the idea that we have to be beautiful.

    As long as you have that trigger, the internalised hatred is still there, when it goes below a certain level, things like this tend not to bother.

    I also agree with the use of the term ‘overweight’, I describe myself positively, by what I am, not by what I am not, that’s one of the ways to avoid eccessive triggering, taking care in how you describe yourself.

  21. Liz says:

    As a non-blogger, I don’t really know the solution to trigger warnings but as someone who is in recovery from bulimia and has dealt with many triggers and tried to overcome them, I have a few opinions.

    I think there are two types of triggers, triggers that are common in every day life and ones that are not. A trigger for me is going to the grocery store and seeing my binge food. I can’t avoid grocery stores my whole life so I’ve accepted that it is something that I need to deal with. But I believe that there are triggers that can be avoided. Reading books that are very specific about eating disorder behaviors or watching documentaries about eating disorders can be very triggering for me. These are not common because I have interject myself into the situation (reading the book or watching the movie or looking at a certain website) in order to be triggered. Since I know this, I avoid them and I think this is healthy for me.

    I think it is important for people who blog to consider using trigger warnings because I might not know that your blog is triggering and I may be looking for information about body image, not what size people wear. Even though it might not have been triggering to some, it was triggering to others and this requires some consideration for the audience that you are trying to reach. Since I don’t blog, I don’t think I have any authority to say what bloggers should or should not do, but if you are opening yourself to other people as a place for information, I believe it is important to think of their health and well being as well.

    Anyways, not sure how much this makes sense outside of my head, but it’s just my two cents on the subject.

  22. Candice says:

    Hm, the idea of your post being a trigger never even occurred to me. When I read it, I just thought, “Hm, she might want to be more careful with her choice of words so it’s not offensive” – i.e. someone who’s larger than a 10 might think you were judging them. That was it. It wasn’t a moment of “I now feel bad b/c she’s judging me.”

    I haven’t been a big fan of the whole trigger thing just because I think we all come across a hundred plus triggers a day – and I never understood what the big deal was. Someone walking behind me laughs – I automatically assume it’s about my size and then think about what I ate. It’s like breathing (and a constant source of work for myself to overcome this). But I think my reaction to triggers is such because my responses aren’t extreme. I see now how other people may engage in harmful activities based on things that trigger them.

    I suppose it’s the age old question of how much can we accommodate people. You can’t make all of the people happy all of the time… but everyone does deserve a safe space. I don’t have an answer for this, but I’m glad it’s a discussion.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Hi Candice, it comes down to that I’m happiest in a different size than someone else …and that is ok. But I am glad you see I wasn’t juding anyone else. I thought I made it quite clear that it was a me to me tome comparison but I guess it didn’t come off that way.

  23. Marlie says:

    I don’t think that the blog posters should censor themselves, but I think that they should be aware of the possible triggers to others in what they say, and be prepared for it.

    In the same way you(Lissa) can talk about your shopping experience, others should be given the room to talk about their response to that. Even if they are upset by what you said there’s no need for you to take it personally. We can not unpack issues that different people face in a safe zone.

    Before I was unclear about that, and felt like this should be a safe place, but there are so many other blogs for that, catering to all different viewpoints, that there is no point in WATRD just being another one. In that vein, I personally think that a general disclaimer on the homepage is a great idea. I’m not even sure disclaimer is the correct word, more of an introduction. Something that clarifies or qualifies that the posters are talking about their own experiences, and if that triggers a negative response for you, than the comments is a great place to unravel that. That’s what we’re here for. But those comments should not include blame or recrimination to the poster, that is not helping anyone get over any internal issues, and triggers are, very much, personal issues.

    The number one thing many of us should learn is not to use another person’s opinion of themselves to judge ourselves. If you recognize that you are different people, with different experiences, than you can make the leap and see that different criteria apply.

    • Marlie says:

      Sorry, I commented without reading some of the other posts. I didn’t mean to be repetitive.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Exactly, that is the difference between this blog and other blogs–it’s not necessarily designed to be a “safe place” but rather a real place, with real dialogue. I didn’t take things personally … but I have to say when I wrote that Dressing for Me post I had no clue it’d spiral this way — but I’m glad it has. I think it gets us talking, and I think in the end, that is worth it.

  24. Sayhealth says:

    Yes. Life can be a trigger. There is no control over that. I know that I am triggered in my daily life on a daily basis. AND, I go out of my way to avoid things that I know will trigger me – fashion and celebrity magazines, for example. But, yes, triggers are all over, and in general they are inadvertent. A skinny woman walking down the street not only does not mean to trigger me, she doesn’t know she’s doing it. How could she?

    And THAT is what makes life different than this blog. Unlike the skinny woman on the street, writers of blogs having to do with body image, eating disorders, etc. (myself included) KNOW that we have people who can be triggered reading our blogs. And I think we can be real and safe at the same time. What if, for example, before mentioning a size or showing a picture, there was a trigger warning? Or what if sizes were whited out so that people had to highlight them to read them? Or what if pictures of emaciated models were linked rather than put directly in the post? That way, people can choose to include them and people can choose to read them There is no censoring AND people who might be triggered can choose to avoid them rather than being ambushed by them.

  25. Lori says:

    “overweight women who believe in the Fat Acceptance movement”
    I hate to sound nitpicky, but I am neither Fat not Overweight, and I am a great believer in the FA movement. There are many, many slim or in-between women who are tired of feeling like they have to make a second job of living up to some cultural standard of beauty. Fat Acceptance is for us, too.

  26. Irvin Siert says:

    Great article! fmskdjfsd

  27. Yum says:

    You even have Pro-Ana readers, believe it or not.

    I completely agree with Anonymous. To a disordered thinker, ANYTHING can be a trigger. When I’m really sick, cracks in the sidewalk can be deeply “inspirational”.

    Censorship is the wrong way to go about helping people.

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