I used to attend a particular conference on an annual basis, and so I got to (casually) know the other "regulars" who also used to be there. Every year, more or less, I'd see the same group of people at the speakers' dinner, and we could catch up on the usual "what are you up to these days?" kind of stuff. One of the guys I used to see fairly often was a tall heavy-set fellow (some might call him "fat" or "obese") he'd always been tall, bearded, and big, to me. But one year, he showed up and he had lost a lot of weight. It took me a second to recognize him, and I said, "Hey, Rich! You look great! You've lost a lot of weight!" and he looked at me and deadpanned, "Yeah, pancreatic cancer will do that."
Do I need to belabor the point? I will. First off, I set myself up for a massive head-fuck, by making assumptions about what was going on in someone else's life, and - even though I was being friendly about it - I was horribly wrong. He later mentioned that he wouldn't have replied the way he did if there had been anyone else standing around, because then it would have been potentially publicly embarrassing for me. He'd known me for years and knew I had a pretty "take no prisoners" attitude, and thought he'd reply the way he did, just to see how I reacted.
In fact, I responded, "I'm sorry; that was terribly rude of me, wasn't it?"
I mention all of this because I recently posted a few shots which (predictably) garnered a few comments about the model's weight and appearance.
And, as usual, I had to issue a few gentle slappings.
Here's another photo of mine:
Someone who reads the caption under the photo might make the mistake of thinking I was referring to the model's weight. Actually, it's got nothing to do with that - it has to do with some other things the model told me about her health and some other body-related stuff. I was impressed by her even coming out to pose for me, all things considered.
I'm constantly fascinated by how the internet era has encouraged people to leap to all kinds of assumptions about other people, and to jam their feet into their own mouths on a regular basis. Sometimes when they're called on it, they apologize, but often they retreat into postmodernism by claiming it's "merely" a matter of opinion. I've said all I need to say about that, here:
It seems to me that secular humanist notions of "morality" rely on positive arguments for why people should do the "right" thing but ignore far too much the social value of retaliation. The internet, in a sense, is a great big experiment in what kind of society you wind up with when there is virtually no chance that someone you annoy can bring that annoyance back home to you. That, by the way, is one of the reasons I am pretty careful to always "internet" in my true name, and publish my home address and GPS coordinates - for those who have JDAMs - so that I cannot be accused of running away from my own words. If I ever offend someone so much that they want to show up on my doorstep, I'll deal with the consequences at that time. I used to wonder if the people who made derisive or rude comments about some of the models in my photos would deal with it if the model's husband/boyfriend/girlfriend were to call them to account for their words. I admit there are times I think "I'd pay for tickets to see that."
I don't like to lie to make someone feel bad. (Usually the truth serves better!) But I wonder what kind of reactions I'd have gotten on some of the comments about Jenna's body if I had replied, "she looks that way because she's undergoing chemotherapy and wanted to do one final photo-shoot before she dies!" After my gaffe with Rich I'm a lot more careful and tend to stick to "what's up with you?"