But in this case, my colleage, whose post came up on my work-facebook timeline, was sharing his disgust at a picture of a young woman from the LAD Bible facebook page. She was in her late teens, most likely, maybe early twenties, and she was plump-ish. I wouldn't go much further than that. She had long, thick, brown hair, a nice face, if wearing a slightly aggressive expression, and she was wearing a Wonder Woman leotard that was a bit too tight for her. She had one foot on a coffee table, and was leaning forward slightly, I think, in a vaguely aggressive pose. The leotard was wedgie-ing her, and one of her ass cheeks was hanging out. It wasn't massively flattering, but then it wasn't the worst thing in the world either.
My colleague was full of disgust for this woman. He and his friends were revolted. Appalled. Angry that this photo was there for them to look at. How dare she. They were full of ire and outrage and revulsion, oh yes. It was great fun for them.
I felt shit. On various levels. Because it was sexist. Because it was mean. Because it was so 'the Internet'. Because it was so body-negative. So unevolved. Such misdirected rage. And because I'm so fat, too. I'd love to look like that girl. Ok, I might not be tempted to put myself about in a too-tight leotard even if I did... but who knows what I might play around with in the privacy of my own home? It made me feel horrible.
The next time I saw said colleague, I brought it up, in the staffroom. At first he thought I was joining in, and warmed to the discussion of how disgusting it was. Said colleague is a shortish, plumpish guy. Young still, kind of cute in a boyish way. Not bursting with self confidence - wears jumpers in all weather, for example.
Then he realised I was saying it was awful how nasty he and his friends had been. He protested that she'd submitted it - forced it on him for his comment, I guess. I thought that was possible but not necessarily true, it being where it was. I wondered when he was going to post his leotard pic. As I popped out of the room to get something next door I said something I shouldn't have - I said 'You're not as nice as I thought you were.' I only meant it a little bit jokily, but the more I think about it, the more I think it's true. When I came back in, he said to me quite defensively that the topic 'wasn't relevant to anything' and I realised I shouldn't have brought it up in the staffroom with others around. I'm a little surprised by that, to be honest, but I get this social stuff wrong so often - so I apologised for that. Later I went to fb and sent him a message apologising again and explaining that his post had made me feel really bad and I was going to unfollow so as to avoid seeing others like it, and also so I wouldn't intrude on it in that way. I also said I'd rather save my disgust for worthier subjects like war, or racism, or sexism, etc.
He's blanked me since, today he was in to cover the class I share and barely talked to me when I said something about it. This guy is training to be a primary school teacher.
Here's the thing. I'm sensitive about this because I spend my life in fear that I'll disgust someone. I listen to my fit, handsome, sweet colleague talking about how fat girls in leggings are disgusting, how they shouldn't wear them. How hard it is to look at women who look like that. And I sit there terrified of the space I'm taking up, whether my ass is adequately camouflaged, mortified that people are looking at my fat fingers as I hand them something. I'm terrified of revolting people. I'm ashamed I haven't fixed myself. At the same time my shame is challenged by the idea of body positivity, and of not being defined by what you look like. The Internet, despite trolling and Photoshop and all, has been helpful. Showing larger, older bodies that are beautiful, because of, not despite. People who love themselves and are loved despite looking 'normal' instead of modelesque. Other people cheering that on. People calling others out, supporting each other. This!
But this normal little Irish guy, who's going to be teaching chubby pre-pubescent girls, maybe, is out there with his attitude. It scares me. It shames him, I think, in my eyes at least, but it still manages to shame me too.
Someone posted a search term to their blog they'd read today about removing socks seductively - a niche fetish, I thought. Socks... just not so sexy. I was going to say something in return about whether the original searcher would find the pressure rings around my ankles sexy. But then I looked at them and was confronted with such an unappealing sight, red grooves cut into my water-retaining legs that look more in need of support tights than socks at all... and I felt full of shame and revulsion and realised that it wouldn't even be funny, just gross, to make that comment. Fat isn't sexy. Sometimes it really isn't, despite all the body-positivity the Internet has to offer. It's ageing, it's defeminising, oh, how could anyone love a cankle? Not me, in truth.
And seeing yer man and his attitude today makes me feel shit all over again. For his judgement. For my own self-hatred. For all of it. Oh, it's not right yet.