Everybody on Imgur thinks I’m Taylor Swift

Today I found out one of my family members has cancer, and then I got stuck in traffic for an hour while I really needed to pee.

All things considered, a little copyright infringement and mean-spirited impersonation is just a bit of vomit icing on the cake of shit that was my day. So when I got a facebook message from a friend who had seen my photo posted on imgur as part of a fat joke I was upset for a bit, and then my capacity for distress overflowed and it just became…funny.

I’m not going to do the imgur troll the compliment of linking to their spectacularly unoriginal attempt at humour (a rehash of a joke that was tired and pathetic the first time it was made at the expense of another anonymous woman on the internet), but they stole this photo and attached it to a fake facebook post that said “tired of not being able to go to the mall because everybody thinks I’m Taylor Swift.”

Me (a fat, blonde white woman) doing a selfie with a big smile on my face.  I'm wearing neon yellow eyeshadow and a necklace of neon yellow and gold skulls.  A little of my white short-sleeved jacket and black scoop neck dress can also be seen.  There is a camellia bush in the background.

Me (a fat, blonde white woman) doing a selfie with a big smile on my face. I’m wearing neon yellow eyeshadow and a necklace of neon yellow and gold skulls. A little of my white short-sleeved jacket and black scoop neck dress can also be seen. There is a camellia bush in the background.

If you’re confused, the joke is that a hideous fat lady who thinks she looks like thin, attractive Taylor Swift is obviously deluded. Hur hur self-confident fat people exist, what’s up with that? Except…I’m not hideous. And, hilariously, several people in the comments of the image said they thought I really do look a bit like a fat Taylor Swift.

Did the person who posted this expect to deflate my self-confidence by encouraging people to mock me? Sorry dude, I look fucking awesome in that photo. That’s one of the reasons I put it on the internet.

Several of the commenters disdained the joke – the fact it was a fake post, the fact it was a tired old fat joke, the fact I was a human being who maybe deserved a little respect – but not all of them were so kind. There were a few cheeseburger jokes (seriously, the nineties called, they want their fat joke back) and so many variations on “you mean you ate Taylor Swift, hyuck” that my eyes just about rolled out of my head. The people who commented to say I looked like Richard Griffiths obviously haven’t read my post about selfies, in which I offered up several awkward photos of myself, or the facebook post I made recently in which I compared a recent passport photo to the demon Balthazar from Buffy. Photos can be hilariously unflattering, and I’m happy enough about who I am that I’m cool with that. Plus, Richard Griffiths was awesome! It doesn’t bother me to be compared to him because, unlike the ones making the comparison, I don’t think being fat is bad.  But also that photo isn’t unflattering. I look better in that photo than I do in real life! Is “look, you’re a fat person!” really supposed to be an insult to a fat activist who writes a blog all about being fat? Shockingly, I know that photo makes me look fat. Because I am fat. I’ve been aware of that fact for some time now.

In all seriousness, though, this is the kind of abuse most fat women receive when they dare to have a presence online. It happens all the time: we are taunted, our photographs are stolen, and many of us receive far worse harassment than I have experienced today, including stalking and death threats. Websites like imgur offer very little protection for people who are targeted with this kind of abuse, and trying to get stolen images taken down is an exercise in futility more often than not. When a troll used this same photo of me as a userpic on a fake Twitter account and I requested they remove the image and suspend the user, I was told that using my photo without my permission and pretending it was theirs did not constitute impersonation and they were not going to do anything. Luckily a friend of mine had already asked the user to stop using my photo and they had, although they were rude about it, so the problem was solved (no thanks to Twitter). When I asked friends for advice about the imgur incident today, several people said they had never had success getting stolen images taken down from other sites. I’ve sent imgur a notice of copyright infringement, but I don’t know if it will result in anything.

As attempts to deflate my self confidence go, this one was laughably pathetic, but others are not, and the lack of seriousness with which host sites approach this kind of thing is very disturbing. These websites are willing to enforce their own Terms of Service only when it suits them, or when big media corporations with well paid lawyers are breathing down their necks. Ordinary people trying to protect their own image are offered no recourse.

So what’s the solution? Plenty of people would say that by putting photos of myself on the internet I am relinquishing my ability – if not actually my right – to control what happens to them. It’s certainly true that once something is online it is, to some extent, out of your hands. You never know who has saved or screencapped something, and the internet has a long collective memory. And yes, the internet is full of horrible people who either care more about their cheap laugh than your dignity, or are actively trying to hurt and undermine you and people like you. But host sites could do more to respond to issues like this. In Twitter’s case it wasn’t that they didn’t have time to investigate my complaint – indeed they did investigate it – or that it wasn’t clear the photo originally belonged to me and is associated with me as a person – I sent them links to my blog where the photo was originally posted and other parts of my online presence, including my own Twitter account. They just didn’t care. And they knew I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

Maybe I should take down all the photos on my blog and never post any new ones. That won’t take this photo off the internet – it has thousands of likes on imgur and it’s on Reddit now too, so who knows how many people have saved it, reposted it elsewhere, emailed it to their friends, whatever. It’s a bit nauseating to think about, but I don’t want to let it change my behaviour either. I’m not ashamed of that photo, and I refuse to be made ashamed. I will feel easier if imgur upholds my copyright claim and takes the image down, though.

The one thing about all this that is funny, though, is that before today nobody had ever said I looked like Taylor Swift, and today multiple people have. I don’t see it myself, but I think that means the joke backfired.

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18 thoughts on “Everybody on Imgur thinks I’m Taylor Swift

  1. Never mind that you may look like a fat Taylor Swift (not a fan of hers so I’d not use that comparison), you’re rocking a great smile and that necklace! Instead of shaming you, everyone should be clamoring to know about that necklace and complimenting you on your joyous smile. Just sayin’.

    Oh, and the bit about “look, you’re a fat person!” makes me giggle, because when someone gives me the “you’re fat” spiel, I like to put on the surprised face and act like it must have just happened followed by the “oh puh-leeze” face. We don’t need someone to tell us that. We know.

    • Sarah says:

      Ooh, thanks! The necklace is from Diva (several seasons ago now) and it is pretty awesome!

      I like to do the pretend look of shock too. Like OMG, when did this happen and why did nobody tell me?! Thank you, kind citizen, I’ll get on it right away!

  2. Marije says:

    Well… I got here through imgur and I think your blog is pretty interesting so that’s another win 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Haha, welcome! It’s a bit bizarre, my blog has thousands of hits today thanks to this. So I guess new readers are the silver lining 🙂

  3. Cizzubelle says:

    Hi! I’m an imgurian, and saw the post on Imgur (and found the blog in the comment field). I didn’t read all of your post, I just wanted to tell you this:
    It’s a screencap from Twitter, so it’s someone on Twitter who originally made this.

    I don’t know if the person who uploaded this on Imgur even know this is from your blog and that the Twitter person just is making a joke. There’s also a lot of the imgurians out there who probably think this is from Twitter, and they probably don’t know that the picture is stolen from your blog.

    – So don’t blame all the people on Imgur for this.

    I’m not saying this is ok, that making jokes of people, for whatever reason, but I just wanted to tell you this. 🙂

    • Cizzubelle says:

      And when I took a better look; It seems like it’s originally from Reddit.
      I see your commentfield has moderation, you don’t want to make this public. I just want you to know. If you want to contact me: (email edited out in case you don’t want it public)

      • Sarah says:

        Actually, I’ve already seen the Reddit thread (I mentioned it in my post). It’s just a link to the Imgur post. Your comment was pending moderation because I’ve been asleep for the last 7 hours, not because I didn’t want to post it!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi there. I’m not sure it *is* a screencap from Twitter, although the text part certainly came from there. The userpic that’s visible in the Twitter post part of the image is not of me, and that text is usually associated with a different photo of a different person. I haven’t been able to find the post on Twitter so it might be duplicated there but it might have been made just for Imgur too. I’m not sure it matters, though; the people who laughed and made rude comments about me are still jerks. I was impressed by how many comments there were in my defense, though, so good on the Imgur community for not all being jerks I guess?

      • Milly says:

        I think it *was* on twitter, but the account has already been banned by twitter for other offensive posts made, unrelated to the one with your photo.

        Don’t quote me on that though, I’m not 100% certain, but that’s what I’ve gathered by looking around this afternoon

  4. Lexi says:

    I admire you so much for standing up to the asses of the internet, and not letting them bring you down.

    • Sarah says:

      Aw, thanks 🙂 I think this one just caught me at the perfect time. After the day I’d had, I had no more fucks to give for assholes on the internet.

  5. karenbrohard says:

    I sadly agree with much of what I read above. Isn’t it great living in a country who is so proud to be free and be who you want but get scrutinized heavily for doing so at times? I also think it’s a beautiful picture! Even though I don’t really know you, you are quite obviously a smart, funny and charming woman. Keep doing you, girl. 🙂

  6. You rock. Let’s just establish that.

    Also, as I mentioned to you last night, I’ve been through the same thing repeatedly and have never been able to get my photo removed from imgur or any other website it has been posted to after being stolen from me. Even when the photos were under strict copyright by a professional photographer on an academic website, we couldn’t get them taken down by the admin of the site they were posted on illegally. There is no protection at all for people when it comes to their images.

    But still I post them. Because if I don’t, I let the douchebags win. And that’s not going to happen. Not to mention that representation of fat women is so important that even shitty hate/joke sites don’t negate how important it is for fat women to be seen.

    If you need to talk hon, you give me a nudge ok?

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Kath, your support is really appreciated! And you’re right about not letting the douchebags win; I wouldn’t judge anyone who decided to withdraw from the internet after something like this, but I also don’t think I could be content with doing so myself. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions in the last 24 hours (compounded by all the other stuff that’s been going on) but righteous anger has been chief among them. How dare they think they can bully me into hiding? I’ll show them.

      It came as a great relief to get an email from Imgur a few minutes ago letting me know the image has been taken down. It’s still out there on other sites, but this small victory is vindicating and I’m pleased Imgur did the right thing. I am, however, outraged they didn’t do the same for you. It should be a given that stolen images will be taken down, not a crap shoot.

  7. Milly says:

    I’m so pleased to see that the post has been removed from imgur! Sarah – 1, Internet trolls – 0

    This is Milly here (Ex MonUCS Milly, I’m not sure if you know lots of Millys or not) 😛 I saw the imgur post this morning, I just happened upon it and gasped, recognising you. You had already seen it though and were taking action to take it down, so I didn’t say anything to you, but I did leave comments there.

    The internet is full of hate and loathing of anyone or anything different. People are even more closed minded and prejudiced on the internet than the “real world” thanks to the anonymity.

    It’s pathetic.

    You do look very pretty in that photo by the way ❤

  8. You do look awesome in that picture. So Fuck them.

  9. You look beautiful for yourself, not Taylor Swift. You are a bright spirit and don’t ever let anyone take that away.

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