Monday, 13 July 2015
Peter Lloyd of The Daily Mail wrote this today. Here's my response.
I hope you're well. I'm fine. Thank you.
Just a few teeny weeny notes on that there article you wrote in response to my blog:
1) Michelle Thomas was hailed a feminist hero for criticising a Tinder date who rejected her because of her size.
The thing is, I didn't. I criticised him for sending me a 400 word text after one date, detailing, in forensic detail, that he didn't fine me sexually attractive because of my figure (I'm a size 14). As I write in the blog, it's fine to have a physical preference. That's biology. What's not fine is to make your physical preference someone else's problem. Sending that meticulously crafted, 400 word message (read here) which twisted and turned between condescending tenderness (“baby....honey...I adore you”) and breathtaking brutality (“my mind gets turned on my someone slimmer....I'd marry you like a shot if you were a slip of a girl”) is an act of cruelty. It's an assertion of power. It says “I could love you thiiiiiiiiiiiis much...if only you were different”.
I wrote the blog to redress that imbalance of power which he asserted by imposing his views about my body upon me uninvited. To let him and readers know that I know that the language he used - of manipulation, of control – was transparent in its intention to wound. And to let them all know, while it worked briefly, it never will again.
2) ...her response reinforced the odd, unwritten rule that women can say whatever they want about sexual desire and attraction, but men can't.
Pretty sure that men have had quite a large say in shaping the rules of sexual desire and attraction over the last 1000 years or so, Pete mate. You know? Artists. Filmmakers. CEOs for multi-national companies that profit from constantly, covertly and overtly telling women that they are physically inadequate. I don't want to patronise you, but you might want to Google that one.
3)….she claimed his behaviour was somehow 'body shaming' and 'objectifying' the female form, but, sorry sisters, I disagree...
You disagree? Really? Because I think that sketching out a detailed hypothetical situation where I'm lying naked in bed next to him, pleading with him to make love to me, it pretty objectifying.
4) In fact, the only thing he's truly guilty of is having an honest opinion about women - one that isn't deemed 'on message' by the sisterhood - and actually voicing it. Something women have long done to modern men.
5) It's hypocritical. You know, like when we're told strip clubs are harmful and degrading - by women thumbing a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey while in the cinema queue for Magic Mike XXL.
Peter. I can't wait to see Magic Mike XXL. I haven't seen the first one, but someone posted a trailer on my social media page and OH. EM. G-STRING. It was as sexy as a sexy number of sexy things having a sex-off is Sexville, Sexylvania. And yes, in the trailer I saw, you could argue that the two gentlemen performers are being objectified. That their bodies (their beautiful, beautiful bodies) are being used as a commodity, with no consideration for their personalities, their strengths, their weaknesses, their hopes, dreams and aspirations. BUT. The difference, Peter love. THE MASSIVE GLARING, DIFFERENCE. THE DIFFERENCE BIGGER THAN CHANNING TATUM'S GLORIOUSLY BITEABLE BICEPS – is that men who DON'T look like Channing Tatum have been and are fairly widely represented in the fields of politics, medicine, science, culture, sports, arts and literature. Men who don't look like Channing Tatum haven't had to endure watching teen movies about boys their age who don't look like Channing Tatum, taking off their glasses, getting a haircut, miraculously BECOMING Channing Tatum, then landing a rich girlfriend, rending any academic or social qualifications superfluous. Men who look like Channing Tatum are not the most widely-documented definition of male power and male success that young boys have as a role models. Men who don't look like Channing Tatum – as well as men who do in fact - aren't paid £100 per week less than women, irrespective of whether they look like Charlize Theron (God I love that woman).
Do you understand that now, Peter? Do you?
Now the thing is, I know that you think you've got something in your artillery (or at least you would have if you'd read the blog, something I can't see much evidence of.)
“P.P.S. You're not 5”11”.
BODYSHAMING. HEIGHTSHAMING. MANSHAMING.
This comment was made to highlight to this chap that while he was happy to criticise my body (which, by the way, I had been upfront and honest about on my dating profile with full body pictures), he had fibbed about his own. His profile said he was 5”11. He wasn't. I even (very gently) broached this with him on the date. He needn't have lied because I didn't agree to go on a date with him because of his height (in fact, most of my boyfriends have been 5”9 or shorter). However, without that background information, I can understand how that comment could be misinterpreted. Please forgive me, Peter. I've never gone viral before. If I'd known the blog was going to be read over 170,000 times all over the world, I would have made that bit extra clear.
If you'd like to read the blog, thar she blows:
If you'd like to know more my campaign against bodyshaming and bullying please visit my website for Healthy. Happy. Hot.
Friday, 3 July 2015
On Monday I went on a first date with a man I met on Tinder. We met in a pub. After a couple of drinks we moved on to a restaurant. He bought me dinner. We strolled arm in arm on the South Bank. He walked me to the train station, where we kissed. It wasn't earth-shattering, but all in all it was a fairly standard Pleasant Evening.
The next day, I received the following message from him (be warned, it gets pretty nasty).
Hey Michelle, sorry been super busy at work today hun.
Thanks for a wonderful evening last night. I really enjoyed your company and actually adore you. You're cheeky and funny and just the sort of girl I would love to go out with if only my body and mind would let me. But I fear it won't.
I'm not going to bull***t you... I f***ing adore you Michelle and I think you're the prettiest looking girl I've ever met. But my mind gets turned on my someone slimmer.
Shallow? It's not meant to be. It's the same reaction you get when you read a great author or see an amazing image, or listen to a piece of music you love, it has that instant reaction in you that makes you crave more.
So whilst I am hugely turned on by your mind, your face, your personality (and God...I really, really am), I can't say the same about your figure. So I can sit there and flirt and have the most incredibly fun evening, but I have this awful feeling that when we got undressed my body would let me down. I don't want that to happen baby. I don't want to be lying there next to you, and you asking me why I'm not hard.
There are certain triggers that fire my imagination into life and your wit and intelligence are the beginning of that process which would inevitably end up in the bedroom. With just one result....
I'm so disappointed in myself Michelle because I've genuinely not felt this way about anyone in ages, but I'm trying to be honest with you without sounding like a total knobhead.
We could be amazing friends, we could flirt and joke and adore each other and.... f*** me... I would marry you like a shot if you were a slip of a girl because what you have in that mind of yours is utterly unique, and I really really love it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm trying to avoid bigger pain in the future by telling you now so we don't have to go through that embarrassment. I'm a man... With all the red hot lusts of a man and all the failings of a man and I'm sure of my own body and its needs.
Please try and forgive me. I adore you xx
It's taken me a few days to sit down and respond. I've been busy.
Dear Man I Met On Tinder.
I was on another date when I received your message. He returned from the loo to find me in a flood of tears. He was lovely, but baffled, and hasn't been in touch since, funnily enough.
You don't have to fancy me. We all have a good friend who we look at ruefully and think “you're lovely, but you just don't tickle my pickle”. We wish we were attracted to them, but our bodies and our brains don't work like that. And that's fine.
What isn't fine is the fact that, after a few hours in my company, you took the time to write this utterly uncalled-for message. It's nothing short of sadistic. Your tone is saccharine and condescending, but the forensic detail in which you express your disgust at my body is truly grotesque. The only possible objective for writing it is to wound me.
And I'm ashamed to say, for a few moments, it worked. You stirred a dormant fear that every woman who was ever a teenage girl has – that it doesn't matter how funny you are, how clever, how kind, how passionate, how loyal, how determined or adventurous or vibrant – if you're a stone overweight, no one will ever find you desirable.
I like the way I look. I don't look like Charlize Theron, and that's fine - I look like me, and I like myself (I'm sure I'd like Charlize Theron, too if I ever met her. I hear good things).
You may think are all my profile pictures are "FGASs" (That's Fat Girl Angle Shots – pictures from angles that slim and flatter the girl. Because men only ever use candid, brutally-lit, unfiltered pics). But I think they're a fair representation. And I'm pretty upfront about who I am: I describe myself as a woman who loves pizza, and include links to myInstagram page, where I have the #everybodysready bikini shots I took on my 30th birthday. I like to think I come across as a confident, happy woman. But could this be the very reason you have targeted me? Did you see me and think “She has far too high an opinion of herself, she needs bringing down a peg or two”? I have to ask - we all know the internet is a dangerous place to be a woman with opinions (I discovered this first hand when I ventured a response to those obnoxious bloody adverts).
I showed your message to friends who expressed shock, horror, embarrassment on your behalf, and a desire to cause you actual physical harm. One male friend told me I have a lovely bottom “if unmarriageable”. I laughed with them. Then I cried in my Slimming World group. That's right! Slimming World! You see, I already KNOW that I'm overweight. I can tell you exactly how overweight I am – 20 pounds. I've already lost 15, and I've a stone and a half to go. I'm happy with that. I will get rid of it, safely and healthily. Does that mean that I can't love and enjoy my body now? F*** no.
I'll never see or hear from you again (you may feel the need to respond to this blog. Please don't. There's nothing you can say that will make me think that you're not a disgrace to your gender).
What truly concerns me, the real reason I'm responding so publicly, is the fact that you have a 13 year old daughter. A talented illustrator, who collects Manga comics and wants to visit Japan as soon as possible.
I want you to encourage your daughter to love, enjoy, and care for her body. It belongs to her and only her. Praise her intellect, and her creativity. Push her to push herself and to be fearless. Give her the tools to develop a bomb-proof sense of self-esteem so that if (I'll be kind. I'll say “if”.) the time comes that a small, unhappy man attempts to corrode it, she can respond as I do now.
P.S. “Slip of a girl”? CHRIST ALIVE, that's creepy.
P.P.S. You're not 5'11