Monday, December 7, 2009

The Whales Are Out Tonight! (No Shade)

Saturday night, I was hanging out on Facebook and a party promoter wrote this on his status,
"The Philly whales are out in full force"  
Keep in mind that he was referring to his own event.  Our subsequent conversation went something like this:
Me:  This is a great way to promote openness at your events.

Promoter:  The events are open to all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, etc.  Green is green.

Me:  That wasn't the impression given by your status.

Promoter:  Life is too short to get mad about a joke.  That is the problem with society.  Some people take things too seriously.

Me:  If you don't think anything is wrong with insulting the very people who made it out to your event, then there is nothing else that I can say.  Have a good evening.
That post pissed me off.  It wasn't because I took it personally, but because he was content to take money from the "whales" and then talk like that about them.  I wanted to make a point and let him and others know that this was not ok to do, as an entrepreneur especially.  However, in the back of my mind, I was thinking about how I didn't want to make waves.  That old nagging feeling implored me to shrug it off and keep what I really thought to myself. 

Nonsense!!  I am not the same person that I was years ago.  I'm not one to go along to get along anymore.  I don't tip waitresses for poor service.  I don't return to patronize venues where I've been disrespected or wronged in some way.  With that thought in mind, I wrote:
  "I will not be attending any parties thrown by company name, because there seems to be a problem with big girls in attendance.  My money and I will party where we're both truly welcomed."  
I paused for a minute after typing it.  That nagging feeling was strong.  But you know what?  I was stronger.  I pushed the send button and posted it to the status of BOTH of my FB pages, (roughly 600 friends, 40 of whom are mutual), my FB fan page for my blog, (now at almost 200 people), and BOTH of my Twitter accounts.  Talk about empowered!

I discussed it with my mom and she told me about how in the 70s when she was one of very few black people in administration for a big oil company, some of her coworkers would make negative comments about black people in her presence.  When she spoke up, they told her that it was just jokes and that she was being overly sensitive.  She said that she had no intention of remaining quiet just because they tried to make her feel guilty by their claims.

The next evening, I received a personal apology from the promoter through my inbox.  He said that he didn't mean to disrespect anyone by the comment and that he hoped that we could remain FB "friends".  I haven't responded yet, but by the time this goes up, I will have.  A la Carrie Bradshaw speak, (for all you SATC fans), I couldn't help but wonder, "was his apology even genuine?"  If he thought that I was being sensitive, then why apologize?  Also, why wouldn't he post an apology in his status to all of the big girls in his 5000 "friends" roster?  I'm sure that I wasn't the only big girl that didn't get the "joke".

Think about it for a second.  All of those big girls went out in cold and icy conditions to a party that they learned about through a promoter they happen to be "friends" with on FB.  The promoter may have greeted some of them at the door, thanking them for coming out.  They probably had a great time at the event only to come across a post in which the promoter called them "whales".  How do you think they felt?    I pose the question to you guys.  How would you feel if that happened to you?  Am I off here?

I decided to check his page to see if I might have missed a posted apology.  I noticed that the comment had been deleted.  Also, instead of an apology, he posted a comment about his amazement at how one of his real friends defriended him after his "whale" comment.  Actually, he said he was defriended after a joke he made about "big beautiful women."  He mentioned again that some people take FB too seriously.  Am I alone in thinking that this post makes his apology seem moreso like damage control now?

Of the 17 responses to this comment, including those from a few big girls, most were in agreement with him.  One big girl in particular said something along the lines of: 
I'm a big girl and and I took no offense.  It's your page and you can say whatever you want.  If the "whales" don't like it, f*** them and they can bounce.  
She has a valid point, except that his page is used partly for business.  If this were solely a personal page, we wouldn't be having this conversation.  Also, I wonder how all of them would feel if this were a matter of race and it was a white promoter who posted disparaging remarks about black people in attendance at his event, (like calling them the "N" word).  Would they agree that anyone who took offense was being sensitive?  Would they be insulted by the promoter's comment?

The other thing to mention is that the commenter knows him personally.  I, on the other hand, do not.  I don't know anything about his personality, nor can I tell when he is joking or not.  Simply putting "lol" after a statement only means that you laughed, not that you're kidding.  Of the almost 5000 "friends", I am sure that I am not the only who doesn't know him enough to be able to tell.  As a result, do we really know how many big girls amongst his FB "friends" were offended, especially if they chose not to say anything?  Do we really know how many decided never to attend his parties again?  Do we know how many people they complained to about the comment who also decided never to attend his parties?  No, we don't, but best believe that the bug is out there whether the comment is still on the page or not.

One thing I've told people when they ask me about social media is that they really need to be aware of what they are saying, because it gets out there.  You never know who is reading your posts.  This is especially important if you are using your page to network for jobs or gain business.  Personal posts and bad jokes could offend someone whom you want to work for or someone of your targeted demographicA large percent of marketing comes from word of mouth and social media intensifies its power.  Just by pressing the "like" button or commenting on a message on FB, all of your friends can read it.  On Twitter, the same thing happens with a "retweet".  It appears on the timeline of all of your followers whether your followers follow the original poster or not.

The point of this post is to let all of you big girls and non-big girls know that no matter what anyone says about you, you have power!  Regardless of who they are: family, friends, neighbors, people at school or work, strangers, the media, whoever, you have the power to shut them down and keep them from negatively affecting you.  I know it's hard, but it's a MUST for self-preservation!  You have the power to ignore them or speak up and walk away.  You have the power to distance yourself or totally cut them off.  You have the power to let their negativity fuel your successYOU DECIDE!!  If this is an entrepreneur or a company that employs said offender, you have BUYING POWER and the power of your voice, solo or as a community!  That, my friends, is some serious leverageUse it!

As for the promoter, I have no hard feelings at all.  I'll be honest, I've never been to any of his events, but it has not been for lack of interest. I had planned to attend with friends once my schedule permitted it.  After this, I can't say that I ever will, but I do accept his apology.  I truly believe that he wasn't trying to be malicious. 

Let this be a lesson to watch what you say about a group of people, especially if you want their business.  You could be joking, but part of communication isn't what you say, but how it is interpretted by your audience.  Source:  Marketing 101  *wink* 

My loyal readers and friends know that I am all about gratitude and the silver lining, (shout out to my tweep, @FreeYourHeart for the reminder), so I must THANK the promoter for providing me with the opportunity to stand up for my beliefs.  And thank you for inspiring a new lesson to share about the power of our voices... and our dollars.  lol  I sincerely wish you peace, wisdom, and blessings.  Now THAT is empowering!  *smile*

I love each and every one of you!  Thank you so much for reading, commenting, sharing, friending me, following, retweeting, subscribing, pressing the "Like" button, and giving me feedback!  Be blessed and be a blessing today and every day!

Ms. Pillowz


  1. i'm glad you fought the urge to just ignore it and not address the issue.
    in your small act,
    you made others aware of the situation,
    and from there,
    they can form their own opinions.
    i love that.
    we're so quick to see an injustice and just turn a blind eye that it's refreshing to see someone actually do something.
    not talk about it but be about it,
    in a classy way.

    as for the big chick that takes no offense at being called a whale,
    it reminded me of what chris rock said about most women that listen to rap.
    they have the ideology that the lewd, vulgar language used against them is in no way reference to them.
    but as you said,
    she has a right to her opinion.

    just like your mama,
    i'm proud of you!

  2. Christopher WeaverDecember 7, 2009 at 2:17 PM

    I am totally flabbergasted..I am empowered by your actions to boycott this foolishness..As a big man, I appreciate full figured women, and I love all of God's creatures because we were made in HIS image..not a f''in whale! I am afraid to ask who said this, for fear I know this person, but if it means the end of a be it..Discrimination of any sort should be abolished and hated! Remember the bigger they are, they harder they fall..and I don't have a problem fallin on dumb

  3. Thank you so much! Your words were so thoughtful! Almost brought a tear to my eyes. :-)

  4. LOL!!! Thanks for your comments, Christopher! You are too funny!

  5. Taking a bow. Thank you!!

  6. Well I can say that I am proud that you stood up to something that was very wrong. He is a business owner and the people he is selling his products to are his consumers. So the lady who didn't take offense to it, I am sorry because he is probably talking about her behind her back. He fails to realize that they are people watching and he may have disgusted a plus size person who would be willing to "invest" in his company. So I say congrats and don't feel like you have to bite your tongue. Bravo my dear, Bravo!

  7. Thank you, Bella Fierce! I appreciate your kind words and your continued support. :-)

  8. Social comments and analytics for this post...

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mspillowz: Guess what? It's now up! The Whales Are Out Tonight! (No Shade) View it at Please RT, and comment!...

  9. You cannot hear the voices that never speak. It is a hard thing to overcome sometimes, the silence that holds so many back for whatever reason. Its exciting to know that one can transform them self to the eloquent voice of reason, which so many people tell to shhhhh. It only takes one person to remind the rest of us, not only thinking from a business stand point, but from a personal one, that our intended words are not always heard the way they sound to us in our head. More importantly to stand up to others if they offend but especially to what we say to one self. But that's another discussion altogether....

  10. Thank you for your beautiful and thoughtful response. You have a wonderful way with words. I definintely hope to see more of your comments here.

  11. Awesome response! You handled this like a truely Divine woman with class. As A Big Girl myself and owner of a Plus size Boutique; I am all for the empowerment of OUR voice to be heard and undeniable.

  12. Thank you for your comments, CoCo! Peace and many blessings!