Creepy comments and favourites on Flickr photos

Sharing photos of our creations on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts is almost second nature to most of us now.

From outfit posts to in-progress shots, our photographs add to the conversation and create inspiration for other members in the community. But the Internet’s not so clear-cut and, well, nice as that. Take the Reddit storm which erupted recently, regarding the unmasking of a user who championed the “creepshot” – posting compromising pictures of women taken unawares.

Obviously in our little community it’s a completely different kettle of fish. We willingly share images of ourselves and our projects. There’s nothing sexual about what we do, right? Well, as some of us taking part in Me Made May ’12 found, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

A couple of months ago, I logged onto my Flickr to find someone had added quite a few of my photographs to their favourites. For those not on Flickr, you’re able to add pics to your favourites or cultivate your own galleries dedicated to certain themes. In this case, my pictures showed up in a gallery cultivated by someone with a clear fetish for scarves.

Clicking through to their profile, I saw they had added any and all photos of me wearing a scarf to a favourites filled with clothed and half-naked women draped in the seemingly innocuous accessory.

I didn’t really know what to make of it. A huge part of me obviously felt creeped out. These pictures weren’t taken for that purpose, after all. Another part of me felt like I shouldn’t be judging someone else for whatever rocked their boat – but then, I didn’t particularly want to be involved in it. So, I blocked the user, which prevents my pictures from appearing in their feed.

Feeling “creeped out”

I’m not the only whose photos have ended up in unexpected Flickr galleries. Roisin of Dolly Clackett noticed it when she started submitting photos to the Wardrobe Remix Flickr pool.

She said: “I think the worst one was someone called TIGHTSFACE, whose profile had lots of photos of naked men with tights on their heads. None of the comments have been aggressive or anything but it does creep me out when someone comments to say ‘I’d like to smell your feet’!”

Then there were the knitwear fans. “I did get a number of knitwear fetishists favouriting my photos and adding me to their galleries – the strangest one being someone who favourited a load of totally innocent photos of me wearing cardigans and added them to a gallery that included drawings and photos of naked girls wearing cardigans, and people having sex in knitted gimp suits,” she said.

There’s a whole thread on the Me Made May ’12 group on this subject, started by Gillian, who wanted to know if this sort of thing was happening to other people too. As a teacher, Gillian is at pains not to post anything she wouldn’t be comfortable with her students seeing.

I contacted her for more information, specifically, how did these “off” comments make her feel?  “It’s very insulting, demeaning, and hurtful,” she said.

“The sewing community is generally so kind and positive that it’s a real shock to realise that lurkers and creeps are out there! Luckily, I feel relatively in control with Flickr – It’s easy to block someone, and I can delete comments as well.

“Once it’s dealt with, I forget all about it. It doesn’t affect what pictures I post.”

It seems almost harmless, really. Especially when you think that some people are posting demeaning upskirt pictures of women taken when they weren’t looking or  wishing death on each other via anonymous comments. Except I can’t help but think sexual comments and Internet catcalling is the next step – in fact, I’ve seen a comment here and there which definitely weren’t about how well the drape of the fabric works.

I think there’s a mentality on the Internet that if you post pictures of yourself dressed to the nines and in some nice make up, as many of us did during any of the numerous sewing challenges, then you “deserve” this kind of unwanted attention. But people say the same thing when I dress up in real life and get catcalls and unwanted comments. Not to mention, the reality is, the most successful blogs have this personable element to them which is difficult to achieve if you’re hiding behind your mannequin.

Gillian agrees with on this one. She said: “Sure, I could make all of my pictures “private”, but that defeats the point of social blogging. I could change what pictures I put up (no head, for example, or low res crappy pics), but again, why should I have to?

“Unfortunately, there is no clear solution to harassment and sexism in either the real world or the blogosphere… so until then, I appreciate the support and commiseration of the sewing community!”

I expect to be able to walk down the street in garments I’ve made without being called sugartits – so why is the Internet any different? It all comes back to this notion of the online world being beyond any sort of social conventions we expect in day-to-day life.

Also, as Roisin points out, there is a worry that by taking offence to our pictures being added to fetish-themed gallery, we’re being judgemental of someone else’s sexual preferences. She said: “I’m trying not to be too judgemental about the creepy things people comment about. I choose to share the photos in a public space and I don’t want to be judgy about people’s sexual practices, but it definitely does make me feel uncomfortable to know that there are people out there getting kicks out of a picture of me in a cardigan.”

I’m sure there are a few people out there who sew and maybe even read some of our blogs on a regular basis but don’t want to put themselves out there for fear of this kind of reaction. As much as I love the diversity of Flickr’s community, this mixture of the innocent and the more suggestive can be hard to deal with when the two collide.

Two sides

One of my Cardiff Twitter contacts Martyn Kelly, who’d also experienced some of this on his own Flickr page, probably put it best. He said: “Flickr is one of the few communities where it embraces the dualist nature of the web in terms of filth/underbelly and friendly/safe/social, and does so with grading/rating photo streams, mature audience flags, logged in only content, etc. and advice on how to manage that.

“But things break when: 1) Someone comments something a bit creepy… or 2) The Flickr-specific problem – if a creeper favourites a photo. Because a user’s favourites are public, you find your image has been curated by a man in a mac, erection wavering outside your digital window. It all gets a bit weird.”

I emailed Flickr months ago to ask what they’d advise users do if they’re uncomfortable with a comment, but they haven’t answered. But here’s what it says in their community guidelines:

Don’t be creepy.
You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.

Your thoughts, as always, are much appreciated.

Instagramming my way through Sew Colette

A month into my job meant two things. One: my first payslip. Two: the end of my 24-month contract on my despised Blackberry.

Obviously, the first thing I did was jump headfirst into another 2-year contract… except this time with a half-decent iPhone. So far, I’m very happy, because at least now my phone has an alright camera – being cameraless doesn’t make blogging about sewing any easier.

Naturally, I’ve jumped on the Instagram bandwagon and while I’ve managed to restrain myself from snapping vintage-themed shots of my food to show off to the world, I’ve started documenting my Peony step-by-step. As per, I’m taking my sweet time. I’m just about finishing up the muslin, only to notice I may have forgotten to buy a zipper. Oops!

This week is all about Fabulous Fit – which is the very bit I haven’t really got to, not having a zipper and all. But I have a hunch this won’t be too difficult a project to nail the fit, unlike last time around when I was slashing and adjusting like there was no tomorrow. Gathers on the skirt are just a bit more forgiving when it comes to my signature slapdash sewing.

I’m using some fabric from my stash, but being as fabric week isn’t until next week, I’ll keep that under wraps. What I will say is I’m thinking of experimenting a little with either dyeing or embellishments once more with this project. Check out Sarah’s post this week with her very royal Peony inspiration – wish I’d thought to nab some lace for this one!

If you want to follow my progress (or lack of if last week was anything to go by!) then check me out on Instagram under the oh-so original handle elenacresci. For non-Instagrammers, would you be interested in some sort of weekly sewing roundup either on the blog or via Flickr?

ALSO: keep your eyes peeled for something exciting this month because both the blog and the Seamless Pledge are turning the grand old age of ONE. I won’t lie, I haven’t quite decided what this exciting something will be, but I’m sure it’ll be grand. (suggestions on a postcard please…)

Me Made May ’12 – Super casual

Compared to the hoo-ha of Varsity yesterday, the third day of Me Made May has been super-chilled and relaxed.

Save for a quick visit to the polling station, today’s been about the structure of the European Parliament and the Department for Working Pensions. I bet you’re jealous.

To rock out with my, er, books, I grabbed the comfiest clothes I could find. Namely, my ridiculous ‘jeggings’, a black vest top with my me-made Port Elizabeth top thrown over it for good measure. It’s not actually a top I wear very often anymore, so it was good to wear it again after so long.

In fact, I’d recommend you check out the Port Elizabeth top pattern, if you haven’t already. It’s very, very simple to throw together and great if you need a quick sewing project to satisfy your stitching cravings.

My version hails from when I got involved with Ali’s Summer Essentials challenge from just under two years ago. It’s finished with serged edges and some black bias tape around the neckline and sleeves and was super easy to sew.

Nevertheless, I had to fix it a little today – while it lay neglected in my wardrobe, one side had begun to come apart! I do worry sometimes my early stitchings will come to this, because my skills weren’t as good.

Has anyone else discovered some forgotten gems in their wardrobe through this challenge?

Do make sure you check out the Me Made May Flickr group! There are some really lovely outfits on there, like this one from Marie Murasaki. Lovely!

Pledge Progress Report – The beginning!

As more people sign up to the Seamless pledge (big thanks to Zoe for the shoutout!), I wanted to give you guys a few details on documenting your own pledge progress and to post the first of my progress reports!

Here’s the little video I made for the Seamless Pledge in case you missed it!

New pledgers!

Those of you starting out on the pledge – hello! Nice to see you and lovely to have you on board! A fair few new blogs have been added to my RSS feed today and I’m really looking forward to seeing how you all get along!

A lot of you will be documenting the pledge through your blogs, but it’d be great if you could join me in documenting it via Flickr and Facebook as well!

flickr group seamless screenshot

Hopefully you’re members of the Flickr group and like the Facebook page – the reason I set these up was so we could have places to bring our content together and encourage each other during the pledge.

The Flickr group was one of the aspects I really enjoyed about Zoe’s Self Stitched and Me Made Challenges, so I’ve followed in her suit. I discovered so many new blogs through those groups during the challenges so it’d be lovely if the same happened during the Seamless pledge!

While I may be a bit lonely on the Flickr group pool at the moment, I hope you’ll be joining me on there soon enough! At present, there’s no Seamless Twitter, but I am using the #seamlesspledge hashtag quite a bit.

Pledge Progress Report – The first refashion!

Officially, I began the Seamless pledge about three weeks ago.

Do I miss buying new clothes? Well, a day in the life of a trainee journalist doesn’t leave much time for shopping.  In between shorthand, a visit to court and wandering around my news patch, new clothes have been the last thing on my mind.  I predict it’ll really start to kick in at Christmas, when you’re expected to buy a new party dress for your Christmas ‘do.

When I wasn’t furiously shorthanding away or editing audio interviews last week, I managed to set aside some time for some refashioning!

vintage floral pleated skirt from oxfam boutique

Meet this pleated number courtesy of Cardiff’s Oxfam Boutique. The Oxfam Boutique isn’t my usual haunt for refashioning possibilities mostly because the price range is a little bit higher than regular Oxfam shops. If I’m just going to chop something up, I’m not going to spend more than £10 on it.

At £6.99, this floral wonder in the vintage section of the shop was right up my street. Though the label says it’s a size 14 from St Michael, as vintage sizes run smaller than their modern equivalents, there was no need to resize the waist. Excellent!

refashion pleated skirt after

Some snips, ironing and a baby hem later and tah-dah! One happy Elena! I know longer skirts are a la mode right now and some ladies pull them off fabulously, but alas, I am just too short.

For those new to refashioning and sewing, I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to hem a pleated skirt in a couple of days – but I wondered if any of the more experienced refashioners out there have any tips for pleated hems? Comment away, and I’ll add them to the post!