Aug. 22, 2011— -- "Jen Mcken, you are fat. Very very fat. And you're ugly. Go away."
Call it ironic, call it predictable: Jennifer McKendrick, the Pennsylvania photographer who refused to photograph four girls for high-school graduation photos because they leveled nasty insults at peers on Facebook, has received nasty insults on Facebook.
The quote above is one young man's comment on the Facebook page for McKendrick's photography business. Another young man, after "liking" the first quote, added: "u are fat a cyber snitch(another form of being a bully."
This additional countercharge of being a bully herself echoes criticisms others have made on McKendrick's blog that when she titled her post "I won't photograph ugly people," it was the same name-calling as the high school bullies she refused to photograph.
She reiterated that "ugly" in the title referred to the bullying behavior, not the girls' appearances.
McKendrick, 29, said she expected criticism, adding: "I don't take it to heart. … I can take it, I'm an adult."
What surprised her was how her decision became news, the latest chapter in the country's debate about bullying. "All I said was, "You were mean -- I don't want to have my business associated with you.' It wasn't some anti-bullying rally," she said.
McKendrick said she wasn't bullied badly as a girl. "People want me to say, I was a victim of this awful bullying when I was young. It's high school; it happens."
She did say this episode has given her pause as a parent of a daughter herself. She also has a younger brother and sister.
"I love Facebook. It's just that some kids think what you write is temporary. It's not," she said.
She has kept many criticisms on her blog, respecting people's right to an opinion and their refusal to hide behind anonymity. Another criticism of her has been that she deprived the four girls of having photos in their yearbook. McKendrick said this was a misunderstanding; she is not an official photographer contracted by the schools. The photos were to be simply photos that a graduating senior shares with friends and family, a common practice in the area.
The vast majority of comments on McKendrick's blog and her business Facebook page have been expressions of praise, encouragement and gratitude.
McKendrick, who lives in Indiana County, in southwestern Pennsylvania, refused to name the four girls she declined to photograph. "We live in such small towns," she said.