There are many reasons to hate Facebook (and many reasons to like it, to be sure, but I’m not going to address them here. Incidentally, if you are reading this on Facebook, it’s because I have my personal blog feed into Facebook so I can contribute there without actually going there). But I hate Facebook primarily for one reason: Facebook always tells me I’m fat.
I do my best to keep updated with AdBlock and Greasemonkey scripts and other things that make the web a prettier place to be, but it doesn’t seem to matter: invariably, when I log in, there’s an ad there telling me I need to get rid of my muffin top, or that I can get a flat belly if I just click on this link. What truly astounds me — and frightens me — is not only that Facebook thinks I’m fat, but also that it manages to focus on exactly the parts of my body I feel least secure about.
Mind you, I don’t think I’m fat. At least mostly I don’t think I’m fat. It helps that I can remind myself that I once weighed a lot more than I do now, and I tried very hard not to think I was fat when I weighed thirty to forty pounds more than I do these days.
And most of the time, I’m fairly successful in this mode of thinking. I have some advantages. I was raised to believe weight was irrelevant when judging character. I have never had a doctor tell me I need to lose weight. I was fairly well shielded from popular culture for most of my childhood. I spent summers for over a decade at an all girls’ summer camp where they focused a lot on acquiring skills and had very few mirrors.
But it doesn’t seem to matter: there is something so insidious about the idea of being fat that it seems it’s impossible to escape. Girls at camp spent a lot of time in front of those small mirrors, and some years there were girls who were sent from camp to the hospital to be treated for anorexia.
And I don’t think it will ever matter what I weight, or how my clothes fit, or how I actually look to the rest of the world: every time Facebook tells me I’m fat, I’ll think I am. And that’s why I hate Facebook.