On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed how women are turning to TikTok to share they everyday horrors they face-- while just, you know, existing. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!
So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Buzzfeed’s Alexa Lisitza about how difficult it is to be a woman in the digital age. Here's some of what we learned:
BuzzFeed Daily: You write a lot of stories for Buzzfeed about the internet, technology, and the impact they have on women. We’re gonna talk about a few of these stories, but first what is about this subject matter that makes you want to report on it?
Alexa Lisitza: In all these stories, and just generally, like, in the world, you see women are judged for their bodies. They're targeted for their bodies--and made to feel generally unsafe. These stories are something that all women can really relate to. And hopefully by sharing them, we can all just become more aware of everything going on and also hopefully something can happen about it.
BuzzFeed Daily: The first story is about a female high school student who was being physically compared to former porn actor Mia Khalifa by her male classmates. Can you go into a little more detail about what happened here?
Alexa Lisitza: The trend was to the song "Cigarette Daydreams" [by Cage The Elephant] that was going around on TikTok. Young people were singing to the lyrics "You were only 17," and they were telling stories about times in their lives where they either had to grow up too quickly or just kind of felt like they had to deal with things that were too much. And so the girl who this particular video is about was saying that because her features are similar to Mia Khalifa's--and she wears glasses that were similar to Mia Khalifa's--boys at her school were comparing the two and it just made her feel over-sexualized, even though she was still a teenager at the time.
BuzzFeed Daily: Mia Khalifa actually responded to this girl and apologized for the treatment that she's been receiving. It was a very nice gesture. But, like, this isn't Mia's fault. So why do you think she felt the need to take responsibility for what happened?
Alexa Lisitza: Knowing her presence online--she speaks out a lot about how the porn industry shaped her. And she regrets a lot of her time in it. And she speaks to other women who are in the porn industry and tells them how she felt taken advantage of. She doesn't really like the experience she had there and kind of warns them about it. So I think it's a mixture of that kind of regret that she has. And then seeing on top of that how it could have negatively impacted a young girl. I think she just feels really guilty. But for no means should she. It was not her fault at all.
BuzzFeed Daily: Your second story is about a woman in Miami who was turned away from boarding a party bus because of her weight. TikTok user Fallon Mellilo, a 27 year-old body positivity advocate, posted a video explaining how she was denied entry to the party bus, whose Eventbrite page said “Sorry, no big girls for this party!” This is absolutely wild to me. We all know fat-shaming and weight discrimination exists, but to put it in writing like this is very shocking to read. Is this even legal?
Alexa Lisitza: It is legal, which is something that the owners of the party bus kept harping on. They commented on Fallon's post and at first they apologized-- saying 'oh, sorry this happened to you.' But then they immediately commented after it--but we didn't do anything illegal. Adding...maybe you shouldn't be trying to come to parties that, you know, you don't fit in at. So unfortunately, you can't do anything about it. If you don't want to allow someone in--then then you can't force them. But it doesn't make it any less of a shitty move.
BuzzFeed Daily: To her credit, Fallon has been extremely open regarding what happened. After she posted a viral TikTok detailing her experience, the party bus company received a ton of backlash online and they took down their event page. Of course they replaced it with something just less blatantly fat-phobic, saying, “A model look is encouraged.” Which is still gross and terrible. You know, a lot of people complain about ‘cancel culture’, but in cases like this I feel like we don’t see any progress until there is mass response. Where do you come down on this?
Alexa Lisitza: This was one of those situations where I was actually happy at the end of the day, because obviously--forget that bus company. But on the other side, Fallon got a call from the party that the party bus [took people to]. The two were not affiliated. It just was a party bus that brought them to the location.
But the club that hosts the party itself reached out to her, asked her how they could help spread her message, and how they could do better themselves. And she had a sit down call with them where she told them, 'I want to see more plus- sized people on your website. I want to see more plus-size people in the advertisements that you put out on social media. And they completely listened and said they were going to use her notes. And I've actually been seeing better things on their social media. So she actually got a win this time.
Listen to the rest of the podcast to hear about another TikToker's story of being stalked via a mysterious Apple Air Tag that showed up on her license plate.