The Social Media Fat-Face application – a real cultural low point

fat-booth

So, yet again I find myself in a personal battle to abstain from the technological dictation of communication. Caught in a dilemma, knowing full-well that abstaining from the social networking sites will sever many social contacts but also never ever forgetting the miserable state of mind I sink into whilst scrolling up and down my profile page (although this blog title is assertive the real me sways like a Silver Birch in a strong wind). However, a recent Facebook FAD has reviled me to the extent where I simply didn’t want to have any presence on the site full stop. To many this revulsion may offend, as it is all too clear that most see this application as nothing but harmless fun, but I sense a massive underlying sinisterism.
I am talking about the ‘Fat-Face’ application which allows Facebook members to manipulate photographic images of their faces to see what they would look like if they were considerably more overweight than they actually are. Thus, people post these pictures on their walls, for digi-friends to hoot and howl at how they’d look if they were 7-8 stone heavier. What nobody seems to mention is that, because the program’s manipulations are convincing, it actually makes the enlarged faces look like real people in existence – you know, people who may actually be on facebook, like? friends of yours, like? On Facebook to try to make a better social life for themselves, like?
As a former anorexic I take a severe dislike to this new FAD. Anorexia, you see, is a fear of being fat, in fact it’s more than that – its a terror of being fat. And this kick-starts an obbsessive disorder in a drive to become what society informs us is perfect; ultra-skinny. I wasn’t born seeing fatness as the worst thing possible, it was learnt behaviour which I became fully concious of in my teenage years. To be fat, although it is never stated in such a clear-cut way, is the worst thing to be in this advanced consumer society (the explosion of eating disorders no doubt runs side by side with the beginnings of Neoliberal Capitalism in the early 1980’s).
I never knew until recently that the anorexia-causation-model-Barr-none Kate Moss actually once said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. If one couples this quote with lyrics from pop-culture’s polar-opposite, The Manic Street Preachers “I am Twiggy and I can’t see the horror that surrounds me” (late lyricist Richie Edwards suffered from anorexia) you can easily see how when one is really skinny in a mass consumer society, it basically lets you off the hook – “you’ve no need to feel guilt, shame etc”. To be fat in a mass consumer society is to expected to feel like a nobody, a dis-likable blot on the landscape of desirable’s (even now, when I wake up feeling fat, I feel irredeemably depressed for most of the day).
So, if you then go back and observe the jokes and hoots at the fat versions of people, you can see that it speaks as a mass denunciation and humiliation of overweight people. And I know that most people who have made a fat-face picture of themselves will be offended by this, but I’m not here saying that you intended for it to be an attack on the very overweight. Nevertheless, this is what your collective fat-faced images convey. I’m sorry, but when you’ve studied the societal hounding of physical imperfection for years due to the very fear of being hunted down, this is the conclusion that one arrives at.
During my flitting on a off Facebook during that past 4 years it has, at times, appeared to be more of a Facebully. Its programs, add-ons often encourage users to attack those who society sees as the undesirables, those too ‘ugly’, too unpopular to be able post pictures of themselves on the site – an older application named ‘Compare your friends’ was equally as bad, as visuals appeared documenting the disparity between those who nobody cares for and those who everybody adores.
Obesity is as much a symptom of late-capitalism as anorexia is; the incidences of each rising simultaneously almost in a sadistic compliment of each other as the system’s jaws open wider to unveil the dystopic beast. One of my favorite ever sayings is “it is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” and when the desirables who light up the aspirations of the population include people like Kate Moss and Pete Doherty this saying becomes ever-more pressing.
If anybody with a Fat-Face App image of themselves on their Facebook account is reading this, try not to dismiss this post as an overblown reaction (I am in fact calmer than usual as I write this). Likewise, don’t dismiss it as an attack on you personally for your decision to use this application. All I’m saying is that the bigger picture of all the Facebook Fat-Faces, amongst the even bigger picture of society’s denunciation of all people without the perfect face and body (and personality, if you want to complete this picture) is one of a mass undetected discrimination. Thus, all I’m asking is for you to find fun and humour amongst yourselves without using this program, as it is a signifier of downward discrimination, which, because it has become a normal thing to do in society, few realise they are partaking in.

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About John Ledger

A visual Artist, eternal meanderer and obsessive self-reflector by nature, who can’t help but try to interpret everything from within the tide of society. His works predominantly take the form of large scale ballpoint pen landscape drawings and map-making as social/psychological note-making. They are slowly-accumulating responses to crises inflicted upon the self in the perplexing, fearful, empty, and often personality-erasing human world.

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