So, you may have heard the Outrage of the Day, about a Weight Watchers success story, Brooke Birmingham, who, when taking part in Shape Magazine‘s success stories about weight loss successes was dismayed when they rejected her bikini photograph – requiring that for publication she put on a shirt. It was, she was told, a new editorial policy for Shape. Yeah. So very new it didn’t exist. What happened next is that Shape was backhanded by the internet as Lottie, Dottie and EVERYBODY called them out for being sizeist. Suddenly, on a Good Morning, America segment, the editor in chief is eagerly nodding as the host asks if there was just a “big miscommunication,” she’s claiming that the freelance writer they used – “who is no longer associated with Shape Magazine” – was at fault, and they’re announcing that they’re taking Brooke Birmingham and five other women on, to do a photo shoot and talk about what bodies look like after a “significant weight loss.” So, call in the unicorns and the rainbows, and we’ll all live happily ever after.
If you’re not on the bus with the rainbows, that’s okay. I’m cynical, too. I think Shape just threw a freelance writer under the bus and hurried away from the scene of the accident, as if they’d had nothing to do with it. I think this is an example of “legal” truth, not ACTUAL truth; the editor-in-chief said, said that the writer had referenced an editorial policy that “simply does not exist.” I have no doubt that the alleged editorial policy doesn’t exist. I equally don’t doubt that the freelance writer was told to step up and get a “better” picture of the weight loss success story in question… and now she’s been fired for it.
Also, I’m a grump. If I were Brooke, I’d have been knocking at the door of SELF or Women’s Fitness the next day. I would not have gone back to Shape, even if they’d given me gingerbread and new shoes. But, that’s just me: grumpy, cynical me.
That Outrage reminded me a lot of the ReedPOP/BookCon story – which was Outrage of Last Week, and which you’d no doubt heard about. To recap, the BookExpo folks this year managed to organize a panel on the alleged world’s brightest stars in kidlit, and they all managed to be Caucasian and male. Efforts to diversify were to add… John Green? (Also white and male, last we checked) and then made the statement that they were “curating the content that fans wanted to see.” Meanwhile, the internets checked through the rest of the line-up for BookExpo, realized they were ALL CAUCASIAN PEOPLE, AND A CAT, and revved up their Outrage machine. Since then, the convention has added a single, hour-long panel on children’s lit, featuring seven young adult authors of color, the DiversifYA founder, and a moderator, who will be a debut novelist in 2015.
Success, right? An hour-long panel on diverse books, put together by people of color! Yay!
Remember me? Grumpy and cynical? Yeah. Still here. And, while I feel like this is part of what one needs to do, to start the conversation, part of me is gruuuummmmmmpy and wants to take my toys and go home. It’s tempting to think, “Yeah, they should ALL boycott BookExpo!” No. This – what they’re doing by convening a panel – is right. It’s just really, really, really, really, REALLY, REALLY tiresome… that it seems that progress in parity is only gained after screeching and pushing. Nobody wants to be seen as a screecher and a pusher. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could think, instead, of themselves as observers and listeners, so no one would have to scream at them and push them?? Sigh. Moot point.
Keep the discussion going, even if you’re a cynical, cranky nerd like me. Save the date, October 10-11, Sacramento.