Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Photo By: Douchebag

After a two-month Facebook break, I re-activated my account because I missed keeping up with friends I don’t see often. However, this time, things have changed a bit. I only log-in twice a day and I haven’t downloaded the app on my phone. I ultimately decided to cut down on FB because the plethora of “People of Walmart” posts made me feel gross.

I’m not disgusted by bold fashion choices, but by the hourly reminder that society can be so cruel. At some point, people have lost their sense of integrity and consider it acceptable behavior to snap photos of strangers just to humiliate them. We tell our children to be decent people, but even as adults who should know better, we’re bullies.

For the people who think, “well, they shouldn’t have dressed that way” or “they should get to a gym”, think about this: do you always look your best? We’ve all had those days where it was just too much to snap on a bra or run a brush through our hair. Are we exempt from being posted on websites like this because we look like shit at Target instead of Walmart?

I’ll admit that I don’t like these websites because people have snapped photos of me without my permission many times. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, I’ve been the focal point of many camera phones because I’m a Little Person. To some people, I’m weird looking and they just can’t control the urge to share this sighting with someone else. These amateur photographers think they are privileged to having a personal photo of me. It doesn’t matter where I shop, people will still dehumanize me for being me.

In 2009, I went to the Little People of America convention in New York City. It was my first time in New York and I visited all sorts of monuments and had the most amazing pizza in Little Italy. My girlfriend (also a Little Person) and I stopped by the Guggenheim museum and had lunch at its café after viewing the exhibits.

While we were eating our sandwiches, my friend noticed that someone was taking photos of us. At the time, I was stuffing my face with a delicious Panini and without thought, turned around to face the perpetrators in time for them to take another photo. I was disgruntled and my mouth was full of food. Great.

If I had been there alone, I would’ve let it go. People have been rude to me my whole life and it doesn’t really faze me enough to exert energy on ignorant people. However, this time, it was different because someone I cared about was also part of this nonsense. We were both quite upset and I decided to say something.

Most people do shitty things like this because they don’t think they’ll have to face any sort of consequence. Unfortunately for these two people, I just wasn’t in the mood to overlook blatant rudeness while I ate my $18 sandwich.

I walked over to their table and told them that they were rude for taking photos without our permission. They had a few lame excuses and somewhere in the conversation I threatened to take this up with security. Other people in the café were starring and the couple seemed to be quite embarrassed. They eventually agreed to erase the photo. Instead of taking their word for it, I treated them like criminals and forced them to erase them all in my presence. I watched as they deleted each unflattering candid photo. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this moment. I did.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time and energy to personally confront all of these people. All I can do at my end is come to terms that some people just don’t get why this is mean. It just is. However, I try to do my part and choose not to “like” or share these photos on FB. I also limit my interaction with people who find this deplorable behavior acceptable. It’s just not a decent thing to do.


  1. Great blog post! I am so glad you confronted the people who photographed you. I recently had a blowout with a friend who snaps photos of homeless people.

    That said, I am no saint. I have visited that "People of Walmart" photo website because it goes so, so far beyond the bad hair days everyone has had. It is shopping as performance art or a cry for help or maybe extreme comfort in one's own skin. I cannot decide.

  2. I think you're so right. "People of Walmart" -- and every site or endeavor devoted to the ongoing effort to Other people as much as possible -- is classist, racist, sexist, sizeist, every -ist nad -ism ever conceived. It represents a complete devoid of human empathy and respect. It's disgusting and shameful.

    That goes for the people who make you feel uncomfortable just for existing. You're clearly a beautiful, intelligent woman and you deserve the respect and consideration of the people around you.

    Much love from a stranger! :)

  3. "If I had been there alone, I would’ve let it go. People have been rude to me my whole life and it doesn’t really faze me enough to exert energy on ignorant people."

    I know exactly what you mean.