Sharing Your Makes: How to Create a Safe Space For Yourself on the Internet

July 17, 2017   /   byMary Rockcastle  / Categories :  Feeds

I’ve been putting myself out there on the internet for many years. As a feminist, as a plus size woman, as an artist, and as a seamstress. I’ve written for online publications about my opinion, my body, and the most difficult times of my life. I was prepared as a writer for an online feminist publication that the internet is not always friendly, and I felt brave for sharing these things about myself despite the risk. What I was not prepared for was the backlash I received as a sewing blogger.

Mary’s Ginger Jeans

It is a necessity that I find a lot of people overlook in the sewing community: it is essential in order to participate in the online union of seamstresses we must share our bodies online, sometimes in intimate ways. In order for others to truly appreciate our work and accomplishments they must study the way our clothes fit our bodies and thus our bodies themselves. I can think of no other semblance of women that invite strangers on the internet to look closely at the fit of our clothes, but we seamstresses are daring and brave.

I have received statistically 95% positivity about my ventures into sewing from other seamstresses. I have made friends in our community around the world, received surges of confidence from comments on my blog, gotten plenty of helpful and kind advice from other thoughtful seamstresses who’ve seen the mistakes I’ve made first hand. I am enamored with the online sewing community in ways I never could have imagined. You have to remember: I come from a background of being a plus sized feminist journalist on the internet. I’ve had people threaten me, attack my body with words, and try to tear me down online for years. When I started sharing my garment sewing on the internet I thought I had finally stumbled upon an oasis of kindness in the vast and terrible desert of the internet. I believe in a way I became too comfortable, and thus was so shocked when I first received negativity towards myself as a
seamstress.

Mary’s Leonora Skirt

A month or so ago I wrote a post on my personal sewing blog about how sewing changed my relationship with my body as a plus sized woman. This article garnered a lot of attention, and was reposted to BUST Magazine’s blog, with my permission. The subject of the post was very sensitive to myself, and honestly made me feel bare on the internet. The reception was overwhelmingly positive however, and I felt that a lot of other women and seamstresses saw themselves in my thoughts and feelings.

A few people did not enjoy my writing. Actually, I’m not 100% sure they read what I talked about, because their comments were mostly about my sewing and how my garments made my body look. BUST included some photos from earlier in my blog of some of my sewing projects that were not originally in my post, but someone went through my blog, picked the best photos they felt to fit in the article and inserted them with my permission. The reception I got from fans of the feminist mag was that my clothes were unflattering, my sewing was lackluster, and I had done nothing of consequence to garner attention from the magazine. “If anything, the images they chose for the article make the case against, not for, home sewing. Boxy, ugly, and obviously straight from a cheap a cheap simplicity pattern. Barf.” This is a direct quote from some of the feedback I got from talking intimately about my body and self image on the internet.

Mary’s Gable Dress

I’m not going to pretend that this didn’t hurt me. But after figuring out the proper way to cope, I rose quietly above my feelings and was no longer feeling tethered to opinions of strangers on the internet. So here is my best advice to girls who put their bodies and their craft on the internet and some dingus tries to tell you their unwanted opinion in a not so nice way.

DELETE IT. If you can. If I have learned ANYTHING from growing up on the internet it’s that allowing hate to live on the web will just make you crazy. I was unable to delete my comments as they lived on the page of the magazine that posted my article. If you can’t delete, I beg you: do not respond. Responding is feeding the fire and giving people what they want. They want to know you’re upset, and even if you have the worlds best comeback, don’t respond. There is literally no better vengeance than letting someone sit, unanswered, stewing in their own hate and obsession. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen someone leave hate on the internet, watch it go unanswered, and then tuck their tail between their legs and delete it, I’d have many dollars.

Call someone who really intimately understands what you’re talking about. I anxiously vomited up my feelings to my boyfriend for HOURS before realizing that I wasn’t going to get the comfort I wanted from someone who had never been in this position. I called my good friend and fellow seamstress, and we talked. I cried. She assured me that I was full of worth and talent, and her words will always matter to me more than someone I’ve never met with the gull to be cruel on a sensitive subject.

Take a walk. Get away from the computer. Leave your phone at home.

Mary’s Alder Dress

For body positivity I like to reread the book Shrill, by Lindy West. This is definitely one of my favorite books of all time and she talks not only about her relationship with her body, but also about hate she received on the internet. One time a guy pretended to be her dead dad on twitter to send her insults. Seriously, it could be worse.

Remember why you sew. Remember why you make anything. Remember why you post it on the internet. You are proud of your work, and you should be. You worked hard, and that’s awesome.

I realize by writing this, I am in fact in conflict with my first rule of “Under No Circumstances Show Any Reaction To Hate” but pretending stuff didn’t happen is worse than knowing someone could learn from this experience I had. I’ve had more than my fair share of hate on the internet, so if I can balance that out at all by helping other people deal with it in healthy ways, that’s gotta be worth it.

Remember that if you are a seamstress sharing your work on the internet you are full of bravery and power. You control what people see of you, and by putting yourself out there you fill the web with the love you feel for yourself and your work. Sewing is a superpower, handed down from our mothers and our grandmothers, taught to us late into the night and living in our blood. Far be it for the age of technology to take this away from us now.

This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Curvy Sewing Collective

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