For the second unit of my Art of Rhetoric course, the project as action was to create an appeal and measure its effectiveness. In the past few months I’ve noticed how frequently people criticize the way others look, even for the most trivial things. Once I started paying attention to the comments I saw how they kept building up and making everyone worried about whether the negativity would be directed at them. It made more sense why none of my female friends feel totally good about their appearances– in fact, a lot of them are very unhappy with how they look. Yet even they make the same sort of comments on how other people look, deciding what is right or wrong or ugly or beautiful. I realized I do too. So, for my appeal, I called for everyone–but teenage girls in particular–to notice the ways we try to control other people’s appearances, and to stop doing so. I have always admired artists and feminists who create zines, or self-published mini-magazines, so I decided to write my own as the format for my appeal. Below you can read a digital copy of my zine, A Practical Guide to Not Telling People How to Look:
To measure the response to my zine, I imagined I would have to post it on many sites, and that even then only a handful of people would want it. However, as soon as I posted a picture of the cover on tumblr, requests started flowing in. In the two days after posting it, about 35 people wanted copies. I excitedly began mailing them out, figuring the buzz would soon die down. I was wrong. It seems my appeal was a bit too effective, because the next day I came home to find two hundred people had asked me for copies. About a hundred more requests came in the next day. In under a week the original post advertising my zine has been liked or shared over 800 times. Obviously there was no way I could send free copies to everyone, so I made an online version available for free and put print copies up for sale. After the first day, 15 people ordered print copies and the online version was read over one hundred times. I was blown away by the response to my zine. People all over the United States and the world have been so enthusiastic about reading it and sharing it with friends and family. It has been amazing to have so many people tell me they’ve been inspired, or are trying to not criticize other people’s appearances, or just really like what I’ve created. It’s also exciting to be a part of a movement I really admire. I’ve had to learn fast about distributing my zine, whether it be figuring out the best ways to share it with as many people as possible, working quickly to mail out copies, or musing about why on earth so many people wanting copies live in Norwich. (I still don’t know why.) Outside Norwich, the locations of people interested in my zine spanned five continents. The map below shows the cities of some, but not all, of the people who have requested copies in the past few days. Zoom in for a better look at the more crowded areas.
View Zine Buzz by AW in a larger map