Kelly Martin Broderick, who is majoring in gender and women's studies, had a photo taken of herself for her university feminist group’s “This is what a feminist looks like” campaign. The picture, which was meant to be empowering and educational, was taken by someone online and turned into a fat-shaming, anti-feminist meme.
The cruel meme quickly went viral. Kelly tried to get it taken down, but Facebook wasn't being responsive. She was angry about what had happened, but she decided she could use this as an opportunity to do something positive. That’s why Kelly started her own Tumblr, We Are What Feminists Look Like. Men and women have submitted more than a thousand pics already, and this is def a campaign you can take part in! MTV Act spoke to Kelly about her awesome activism, stereotypes about feminism, and how you can stand up for women’s rights.
Photo: (Kelly Martin Broderick)
ACT: What inspired you to start your own Tumblr, We Are What Feminists Look Like, in response the meme?
KELLY: After finding out about my picture and what had been done with it, I knew I had to do something. I'm not a person who lets things go very easily or backs down. I've always stood up for myself, and I thought starting the blog and coming public with my own story was one way to do that. I especially wanted to work to dispel the stereotypes and misconceptions of who are feminists.
The Tumblr has been an awesome piece of activism itself. Yes, it's passive, but all ideas start out that way. I've received messages from people saying that after reading about what happened to me and my response, they realized they were also feminists. That is an awesome reaction, to have people own the label and defend our right be who we are and what we believe in. I hope that this project will work in the way that conscious raising was so important in the 1970s, to remind everyone that feminism still has so much to fight for. That all people are not treated equally and that we need to recognize how our different identities intersect to create different oppressions.
ACT: What has the response been to the Tumblr? How can people send in their pictures?
KELLY: The response has been fantastic! So far I've received about 1,300 pictures and it's averaging about 1,500 visitors a day with about 6,000 people following on Tumblr. You can submit pictures here or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
I've seen every single picture that's been sent in, and people aren't just sending in pictures; they are also sending in notes and messages to me. So many people have been kind and supportive; it's been really awesome.
ACT: What are some negative stereotypes about feminism that have to go?
KELLY: I wish people realized that "feminism is for everybody," to quote bell hooks. I strongly believe in the definition of a feminist as someone who advocates or supports the rights and equality of women and to quote hooks again, feminism is "a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression." This isn't about women being superior to men; that is the most harmful negative stereotype about feminism out there. Feminism is about allowing fair opportunities for everyone.
ACT: Along with sending a picture to your Tumblr, how else can readers stand up for women’s rights? Also, how can people take a stand against judging people by their weight?
KELLY: There are tons of groups out there doing awesome work for women's rights -- one of my favorite groups is one in Baltimore called FORCE. They are working to upset rape culture and last year they got a ton of press when they created a prank website called Pink Loves Consent and parodied Victoria's Secret. There are groups like FORCE in every city. You can also pay attention to what is happening in our Congress and our local legislatures. The Violence Against Women Act almost wasn't renewed last year and that's horrifying! It's our responsibility to pay attention and call attention to things that are unfair or wrong.
With regard to fat-shaming and taking a stand against judging people based on their weight, I think we all need to be a little kinder to each other. How a person looks isn't anybody's business but their own. If people are curious about Fat Activism, they should look up people like Lesley Kinzel and Marianne Kirby. They are both awesome Fat Activists who I've followed for years. Body shaming isn't cool, regardless of whether you're making fun of a fat person or a skinny person.