My photo has been misused on Reddit it three times now. Its been dissected, discriminated against and threatened. This post isn’t about giving the cruel Redditors attention, me seeking attention or whoring myself to the media as some have suggested. It’s not about ignoring it or pretending it isn’t happening – because it is. It is about me taking back the power.
The first time I was discussed on Reddit, it made the international news, after I responded gracefully.
The second time was in a subforum titled I am going to hell for this, the the post was called ‘A sophisticated lobster’. There were nasty comments saying I should be killed with fire. It was removed after I reported it to the general manager, and he said “sorry that happened to you”.
The third time was in this same subforum, titled “guys, you’ve angered the lobster again’. I reported this to the admins but haven’t responded directly. Someone linked to my blog and so traffic is being directed here, educating Redditors about my condition. I’m not responding directly because I am not going to add fuel to the fire.
See, I have ichthyosis, a severe, rare and lifelong skin condition. It’s medically challenging but the social challenges like this can be worse. Every day I am judged on the way I look, before opening my mouth. I was alerted to the discussion about my photo on Reddit through my blog comments. These people were sitting behind their screens discussing me – and discussing others’ lives in the most hurtful way.
And sure I put myself out there on the internet, my photo is splashed all over. But I do it on my own terms. I started blogging so I could educate people and have a sense of control of how my condition is being portrayed.
I stood up for myself on Reddit because I had the confidence to do so after blogging about my appearance for so many years. I thought I was brave enough to take it on (again), but I’m not. I can’t stop this cruelty.
The founders and administrators of Reddit have a duty of care for people’s emotional and physical safety. Right now I’m not feeling safe.
I feel pretty confident about my appearance. Words on a screen are not enough to make me hate or feel disgusted about myself. But they scare me. They make me realise that it’s going to take a long time for diversity to be accepted.
Above my safety, I worry about the people who cannot defend themselves – those who aren’t strong enough to do so, those who might take their lives over comments like the ones I’ve received. And they do.
Reddit should not perpetuate this. I hope they reconsider their policies and police their forums better so this does not happen.
Enough. Stop this disability hate, this body and appearance shaming and ridicule.
And yes it’s better to stop reading the nasty comments, walk away from the internet, but I will not let my picture be used like it has been. Ever.
I’ve seen the worst in people through this Reddit drama, but my gosh I’ve seen the best. The lovely people have outweighed the haters. I have that in good perspective, and do feel so loved. A sincere thank you for all of your support.
I’m switching off the Internet today and going to live my life.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Not good enough.