“You look beautiful.”
“You look great”
“You are so very beautiful”
These are a handful of responses from men to my new photos and my body-positive post. I do want to be fair and say that I got some generic “You’re pretty!” from women too, but there were more substantial comments about the idea of body shaming and body positivity. Which was–spoiler alert–what the post was about.
I’m not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth. I recognize that I took new photos, and by taking those photos, I am inviting critique and commentary on my physical appearance. I appreciate everyone who left kind words and love each and every one of you. This isn’t necessarily directed at anyone in particular.
I didn’t write the post and I didn’t take the photos so that you could all shower me in how “pretty” I am. I don’t base my self-worth on my physical appearance.
I base it on how many book sales I have like any normal author.
“Ugh, fine. What do you want me to say about your head shots then?” you say with a chip on your shoulder that I would dare tell you not to compliment me.
You could comment on any number of non-sexually-attractive aspects of a shot. The staging for example, the lighting, the coloring, the way the shot is framed. You could comment that I seem to be having a good time in the photos and you’d like to have a beer with me and talk about why Lyssa is a moron. You could say that my face doesn’t look like I’m about to shart, and I looked relaxed and happy. You could compliment the talented Ashley Victoria on how freaking amazing she is with focus and detail. You could say that water looks warm as hell (it was) and that you’re so jelly that I live there now.
Or you could say nothing at all, which might be preferable for some of you who have already crossed a line into my discomfort zone. You know who you are, “I’d like to find out how different you and Lyssa are” and “Hey beautiful.”
I want to be clear: the body-positive post yesterday wasn’t a fishing expedition. What I was doing, as I always do here on the blog, is communicate a thought that was swimming in my head and explore a behavior that I had towards myself. For that particular post, it’s about how my nagging perfectionism was impeding my ability to self-love.
The post was not an invitation for you to “make it better.”
The new head shots, as well, aren’t about me being sexy or “pretty.” My photos are the first thing people see when they “meet” me virtually, and I wanted them to be more reflective of my personality. I wanted photos that communicated a vision for what S. Usher Evans stands for and how it makes people feel. And if you’re feeling something in your pants, well…then you have a problem.
Unless you’re reading the end of Conviction, in which case I don’t blame you.
“But S”, you ask, slightly less annoyed with me now. “Why the high horse and the snark?”
Because I’ve written a version of this blog fifteen times over the past four months when dudes have creeped me out and I was afraid to post because someone might call me “bitchy” or “shrill” or say I’m “overreacting.”
Because every time I get a creepy message, I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “I don’t want your D, I want your $30 and a review of my books.”
Because I can’t even advertise my Instagram feed without someone saying, “More selfies!” when my Instagram is about posting photos of my perspective of the world, not about making duck-faces.
Because I get a small panic attack when I see one of the Four Creeper Dudes of the Weird-o-calypse comment on Facebook.
Because dude authors don’t have this problem.
As a woman in this business, I’m constantly judged for the way that I look. There’s tons of articles about how women don’t get awards or reviews and yadda yadda yadda. I can’t change the world, but I can demand better treatment when I see things that tweak my sexism-radar.
To close, if you’re unsure of how to talk to a female author, there’s a really nice measuring stick that I use. Would you tell a male author something that you’re about to tell me?
So like, if GRRM was in the ocean spinning around and stuff, would you comment, “You’re so beautiful.”
Probably not. But I’ll leave you with that mental image.