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Op-Ed: Woman’s response to body-shaming Tinder suitor goes viral

All in all, Thomas thought it was a “pleasant evening.”

That changed sharply the following night when she received a 400-word text message from Simon, her date. He couched the message in body-shaming remarks coupled with what looks very much like false sincerity, Mashable notes.

He adored her, he said, and added he’d marry her if she were a “slip of a girl.” He took a few more steps up the condescension ladder, Thomas recounts on her blog, according to Fusion.

“Thanks for a wonderful evening last night,” our hero writes. “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.”

He continues:

“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 [sic] someone slimmer.”

In writing the article for Fusion, Taryn Hillin puts the situation in it’s proper perspective:

“Excuse me, what? I mean, sure, people have a right to be attracted to certain aesthetic qualities, but it’s not like civilized humans go around breaking up with people by saying ‘your hairy feet are disgusting, I never want to see you again,’ or ‘You know they do sell acne cream at CVS.’ That would just be mean.”

Under the guise of kindness he’s being cruel.

“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,” says Simon. “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.”

However, with Thomas, I think this fellow barked up the wrong tree. It’s obvious she knows quite well how to put this dude in his place and she did just that.

“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.”

It hurt her for a few moments, she wrote.

“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.”

Her blog rang a bell with lots of people, drawing at least 130,000 views. I’m guessing most of the views were from women, but men get body-shamed as well.

“That’s a really clear indicator,” Thomas told Mashable. “That really demonstrates that we need to have this conversation about the power of shame and how many people feel so ashamed of their bodies.”

Since her blog went viral, she has received “thousands upon thousands” of messages from women who have dealt with body-shaming, either through online dating, or even just in everyday life. Thomas wants the conversation to continue, so she’s posted a picture to Instagram that included an email address where people could contact her. And they did, so much so that it shut the generic email down.

So she replaced it with this address.

Knowing that Simon has a 13-year-old daughter is what stirred her, in part, to write the letter. Hopefully, he is the kind of person who would do things to help his daughter maintain a healthy lifestyle. Just to make sure, Thomas offers a verbal smack down.

“I want you to encourage your daughter to love, enjoy and care for her body. It belongs to her and only her … Give her the tools to develop a bomb-proof sense of self-esteem so that if … the time comes that a small, unhappy man attempts to corrode it, she can respond as I do now.”

She’d promised Simon that she wouldn’t reveal his full name, and she kept her promise.

But as I mentioned earlier, men get body-shamed as well, and author Peter Lloyd offers another side of the story in this MailOnline article.

“Even on a day-to-day basis I hear women say how they’ve dumped their latest man because he wasn’t tall, handsome or fit enough,” Lloyd writes. “The same women who, while asserting that a woman’s size and shape doesn’t matter, judge their boyfriends on the bulge in both their wallet and trousers.”

“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.”

I think it’s fair to mention that men also have to deal with this. After all, they are the other half of the equation.

I also think the takeaway from this is: If you’re on a date and the two of you just don’t sync and the chemistry isn’t good, there’s no reason to verbally bludgeon someone with what you perceive are their shortcomings in a “Dear John” or “Dear Jane” letter. Certainly a simple, “I’m sorry, we just didn’t hit it off” will do.

After all, what we may consider to be someone’s shortcomings may be a blessing to someone else.

What do you think about this?

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