Saturday Musings: #sewingshame

Recently, a new hashtag appeared on Instagram: #sewingshame. I was tagged, and shared mine, and tagged others, but the word ‘shame’ got under my skin, and got me thinking.

In the time between now, when the plus size self-acceptance movement has finally found its legs, and before, when obesity was not A Thing, fat shaming ruled the land. In a way it had always been there, policing people to eat and exercise to avoid being fat. But if you got fat, you weren’t shamed; you might be teased or made the butt of jokes, but it was never anything malicious — until it was.

It suddenly became okay to comment on what someone was eating, wearing, or doing, as long as they were fat. You were ‘concerned for their health’. As a fattie, I had many embarrassing encounters with fat shaming that only reinforced that yes, people were judging me and criticizing me and looking down on me. I dieted here and there, exercised compulsively here and there, and fasted/starved myself here and there, and my weight went up and down accordingly.

But is #sewingshame the same thing as fat shaming, just because they share that same trigger word?

I think not. This #sewingshame post by marjoriesews illustrates what the hashtag is really about! She photographed her sewing space in its real condition and wrote, “…I hope this mess helps all other sewing and fabric stash addicts know that you are not alone.” Sewing is a solitary activity nowadays, and most of us who sew have few or no sewing friends, and so lack the concept of what is ‘normal’ as far as sewing goes. It’s human nature to want to blend in with a group, but without a sense of what the group is doing, how can we?

Well, we can join sewalongs, contests, challenges (ooh, a tie in to my next post!); we can post on social media and use hashtags; we can go to conferences (Mimi G) and destination meetups (Patterm Review); throw parties (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic); and invite people over for sewing play dates (I’m looking at you Allspice Abounds!). But those are special occasions. What about the every day? How neat should our cutting tables be? How should we store pins? How bad is it that we don’t put our patterns away after pulling them out? Or finish our WIPs in a timely fashion? Sharing our #sewingshame allows us to get feedback on these and other questions, and bond through our imperfections. #sewingshame is nothing like fat shaming, because it brings openness, sharing, and creates discussion, and enables the sewing community to bond in yet another way.

And for the record, I bought envelopes and I’m putting all those patterns into them. :-p

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  1. Haha, what a great topic! I think the plethora of blogs with professional photography and sponsorships feeds into the idea that many sewists are perfect all the time, which I’m sure they’re not. We’re all human! :)

    As for fat shaming, UGH. I try really hard not to judge anyone for any aspect of their lives, body size/shape included, because you really have no idea what’s going on in that person’s life, and who am I to judge anyway?? I’m glad society is moving very actively toward a larger circle of acceptance.

    1. Oh yes, those realllly perfect photos are a bit intimidating! I try to take the best photos, but sometimes it’s just easier to set up my tripod in the hallway and take a some quick shots, you know?

      Fat shaming really is terrible! You’re preaching to the choir. :) I’m glad more and more people are realizing it — not only is it mean, but it puts everyone of every size in a box, stripping all of us of our individuality and personality, in a way. Or forcing us to prove who we are, instead of just accepting us as we are.

  2. I despise body shaming. People need to worry more about what THEY are doing (or not doing) and stop trying to “improve” other people! Especially since I think most of them are well aware of their size and shape. I can see a close friend/family member/doctor being genuinely concerned about someone’s health, but a random stranger? Sorry, not buying it. With the rise of social media I think we’ve had a recent cultural shift where people feel entitled/empowered to blurt out whatever is on their mind. They’re so focused on “being heard” that they completely disregard whether what they are saying actually adds value to the conversation.

    BTW here’s another great article I saw posted on FB. Can you believe how socially inept someone must be to say something like this??

    1. YIKES!!! What a terrible experience for this woman. Ironically, it reminded me that I used to love yoga, and should probably get back into it. *so there*

      You’re absolutely right though, I do think that social media has made everyone an armchair expert, full of inappropriate criticisms. Ugh.

  3. I think the beauty of having a sewing room is that that door can close and no one sees the piles, the flung pieces, the carpet full of pins and oh, the amount of fusible interfacing stuck to the ironing board cover!
    Honestly, when I exit the sewingroom, I unplug bathe iron, sheath the scissors, pause the movie on play and put up the baby gate. I can pick right up where I left off quickly that way. Shamefully messy.

  4. Ah. I think it ties in with the whole ‘selfish sewing’…I can see how someone could take that as more women are “supposed to be _________ ”

    I simultaneously want to stop myself from reading internet commentary but force myself to. It really shows you how people think. I wouldn’t have fully understood fat shaming if not for having the displeasure of reading the comments following an article or blog post (not in the sewing world, just in general). It’s awful.

    1. The comments in some parts of the internet can be vicious, and it’s a little heartbreaking. As are all the shoulds in a woman’s life! Even in 2015. But I like to think things are getting better, bit by bit.

    1. Y’ know, it very well could be tongue in cheek! I’ve never been good at picking up on that sort of thing … alas. Thanks for the link, I’m going to check it out now.

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