Everybody loves a good meme. At least, everybody under a certain age loves a good meme. I enjoy all the good ones--Socially Awesome/Awkward Penguin (the one with which I identify the most), Bad Luck Brian, Scumbag Steve, Overly Attached Girlfriend. In fact, I assembled several memes into a PowerPoint that I plan to use on the first day of classes to explain my expectations (memes always work in class). But one thing lovers of memes rarely, if ever, think about is the person behind the meme. The girl behind Overly Attached Girlfriend has embraced her meme-ification, but sometimes I wonder if Steve is really a scumbag or how Brian is doing and if his luck has changed.
There is the fun side of memes, and then there is the darker side. Unfortunately, this diary is about the latter and how being made into an Internet meme can affect a person.
It started when Kelly Broderick took a picture of herself holding a sign that said "This is What a Feminist Looks Like" for a campaign her university feminist group did last semester. The picture was lifted by an Internet dick, turned into a mean-spirited meme, and plastered all over the Internet. But thankfully, the story doesn't end there, but rather on a more positive, uplifting note. Follow me below the fold...
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Broderick became aware of her meme-ification on, of all places, OKCupid. She received a random message alerting her to the fact that her picture was being used as a meme. She didn't know whether to believe him at first, but he then sent a link to the picture, which was posted on the very popular Facebook page No Hope For the Human Race (ironic, because that's what this entire story immediately makes me think). Here's a screenshot Broderick herself took. Note the top comment.
Also note how many shares there are: 2,208, along with 12,513 "likes."
I can't even imagine what it would feel like to find myself the subject of a fat-shaming, anti-feminist meme that has gone viral on the Internet. I'd probably curl up into a ball for a few days. Which is just the opposite of what Broderick did. From her blog:
At first, I was in shock. I was upset. I posted it in a closed Facebook group and asked folks to help me report it. About a dozen or so folks reported it, I reported it and waited for Facebook to take it away. When I finally got a response, they told me it didn’t violate their Community Standards. I requested another review and received this reply:Ain't that some shit?
We remove content if it’s required by relevant privacy laws in the country you’re writing from. Since you’re an adult writing in the US, we won’t be able to remove this content for violating your privacy.
Broderick, angrier than ever, then posted the meme to her own Facebook page, along with this response:
But Broderick decided to take it a step further and actually make some good come out of the whole, awful experience.
Once I had “exposed” what happened, I started working on my actual response. The biggest miss the creator of my meme made was not realizing the point of the This is What a Feminist Looks Like campaigns; the point is to draw attention to the fact that feminists are not all the same. We are all different.And so she started her own Tumblr, called We Are What Feminists Look Like, to highlight the diversity of the feminist community. Several of her friends submitted photos, and many others followed--you can even submit your own if you feel so inclined. If you scroll through the pictures, you will see the beauty of that diversity in full display.
Broderick ends her blog on the experience with some fighting words:
And they picked the wrong feminist fatty to mess with.I, for one, am pretty proud of this lady. It takes a special kind of resiliance to bounce back from Internet shaming and turn it into something positive. And as a feminist fatty myself, I couldn't be happier to be in the same community as Kelly.