There are two kinds of regret: regrets of omission (things not done) and regrets of commission (things done). I bet Rachel Moss is really kicking herself over the latter.
Quick summary: Moss, a young college student, attended the feminist sci-fi convention WisCon, where she photographed fat, disabled and trans people (including children) without their permission and then poorly edited out their faces (but not their name badges) and posted to a high-traffic site with scathing editorials on each and their bodies. Read more about the details here, here and here.
Moss has since posted an apology on her LiveJournal blog and successfully lobbied the site she posted on to remove her comments. But as with most things on the internet, the first half of what Rachel wrote has been archived here and here. (Warning: Don’t visit those links if fat hatred bothers you – I post it only to show the depths of hatred for those whose bodies are classified as deviant.)
Another blogger, Badgerbag, did some googling and found that Moss suffers from an eating disorder. Read more about this here. Last July, Moss posted about her struggles on the Something Fishy message board. Perhaps Moss has made significant gains in the past year with her psychiatrist, but it appears unlikely. Even Moss admitted at the time that she felt she is in denial about her disorder. (I ask that readers please respect this site as a place of recovery and do not post malicious comments to Moss on her thread there).
I do not condone Moss’ actions, but as a fellow eating disorder sufferer, I sympathize with her. I can only hypothesize that her actions were borne of her own innate and intense fear of fat, and/or perhaps an unconscious envy of those fat people she feels do not struggle with the issues of control and deprivation she battles on a daily basis. And if Moss is unwilling or unable to deal with or manage her disorder, images of fat women — for whom thinness and restriction Moss assumes to be unimportant or irrelevant goals — might appear downright threatening on an existentialist level. In the midst of my eating disorder, I remember feeling envious of anyone who appeared to enjoy food without restraint, especially if that person were thin. Their disregard invalidated all the restriction, deprivation, starvation and self-harming “sacrifices” I felt I was making in that almighty quest for thinness. Eating disorders are a Faustian bargain in which you sacrifice your health, sanity and wellbeing for a tediously monotonous life of restraint, emotional volatility, magical and disoriented thinking, low self-esteem and the pervasive pursuit of slimness. The bargain is so much easier to keep in a culture that vilifies fat and stringently reinforces otherwise disordered behaviors as necessary and admirable than in a culture that embraces and respects body-size diversity.
But I also do not want to dismiss Moss’ actions and culpability beneath the rug of mental illness. Her actions posed irreparable and significant harm for many people – for both those whose photos were posted and culture at large – and mental illness should never be used as a justification to harm others. I really do hope Moss seeks recovery and is eventually able to come to a place in which she does not judge the self-worth of either herself or others on the basis of physical appearance.
This is all really a sad situation and I feel bad for Moss, but I feel worse for all the people she hurt.