If you spend time sifting through the hundreds of shitposting meme pages that have monopolized Facebook content, you may be able to find the occasional gem. Facebook groups have established online communities that often foster emotional support, validation, and advice from online strangers and internet friends. Many of these groups have “secret” security settings, meaning the group can only be accessed if one is personally invited, allowing for a sense of trust and community among its members. These groups exist in many different forms that fulfill a variety of purposes, one group being a place for members to share photos and stories that all pertain to their bodies.
In order to protect the privacy of the group, I will refer to the page as “Facebook Body Club,” despite this not being the actual name of the group. When visiting the page, one of the primary admins greets members with the following:
“Hello all new members! Please read the rules in the description!
TLDR [too long, didn’t read];
-18+ ONLY. If you are underage you will be permanently blocked from the group with no chance of being able to rejoin!
-No trigger warnings or content warnings. We don’t want people’s bodies to be seen as triggers here!
-DO NOT report anything to facebook! If you see a post you don’t think should be here, please report it to me!
-Posting pics of recovering self harm is okay. Posting images with captions posting about desire to self harm or suicidal ideation will be deleted.
-DO NOT ask about people’s weight unless they have expressed being comfortable with discussing it
-DO NOT LEAVE SEXUAL COMMENTS ON PHOTOS. DO NOT HIT ON OTHER MEMBERS.”
The content shared in the Facebook Body Club varies from photos of scars, scratches and bruises to photos of stick-n-poke tattoos, lingerie, and empowerment. Membership has reached 500+ members, many of whom are minorities, such as trans individuals and people of color, fighting standards that marginalize their bodies by unapologetically showing them to the world. Others post natural and “grotesque” photos of their bodies’ manifestations to normalize the acne, pubes, and menstrual blood that are too often swept under the rug. The description reads:
“share what is yours and what you have. your hair, your scars, the marks on your skin, the fluids from your body, or the imprints and shadows your body makes on your surroundings.”
Facebook is an interesting venue for this group, as photos of (feminine) nipples and genitalia are frequently and automatically removed through image detection algorithms. Despite this, members post whatever they please and hope for the best.
I see the Facebook Body Club as a strong community of emotional support and an active effort in denying harmful standards of the body; however, I do have questions.
Why the “no trigger warning and no content warning” policy? When so many progressive Facebook groups have made an effort to implement active tw/cw policies, why does this one reject them? What do trigger warnings and content warnings imply about the body?
What can we do combat social media policies that scrutinize nudity? Do these serve a beneficial outcome? Who do they marginalize?
What other Facebook support groups have you seen and what would you like to see?