Not-so-pretty Pony.

I am going to let you in on something that might come as a shock. I need you to just have faith that we can handle this together.

I am a human woman. I know that this is a bombshell. Here you all believed me to be a pony this entire time. Deep breath, because I am not even close to finished yet. I am not always as attractive in real life as I am in my profile pictures. I use the best pictures I can to represent my brand on this page and my site. I then use filters, and crop the images further, to make these best likenesses of myself into something even better. Deep down I suppose I want you to all like me, and think I am pretty. I am sorry I have been so dishonest with you. As you can see, I look different in different pictures. Sometimes I look attractive and sometimes a picture isn’t actually about simply documenting my loveliness for future generations:

Of course you expect nothing but the very highest standard of evidence from a site called “Science Pony” but the reality is that some angles are not as flattering as others, and I have bad hair days, and – this one seems to be really confusing people – I am not a size zero when I am pregnant. I was 109 pounds when I conceived, and so far in the first 3 months of this pregnancy I have gained 21 pounds. I am fine with it, and I expect that, with enough time to process, you all can be fine with it too.

This picture is a pretty LIE!

I am speaking to this because a recent post on my wall pointed out that the day after the fire I looked particularly not attractive in an interview that I gave and accused me of using a 10 year old picture (shown left) on my wall to “get compliments” – the picture is from this summer, the fact that I am wearing  shirt that has “Science Pony!” on it seems like a dead give-away.  The meme compares a (poorly timed, to be clear) still shot from the interview juxtaposed with my profile picture. I am apparently a fraud because the two likenesses are not the same. My motivations for taking the interview were clear-cut – I wanted to get donations for the organization that came to my rescue when I had no shoes, no jacket, no bra and my poor son has nothing but a t-shirt and pair of underwear to his name. Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society saved us that day and they did so while treating us with dignity and respect. I was willing to do anything to help them, even though I had no make-up, no shampoo or conditioner and had not even been able to shower since the fire. When Global News Edmonton rocked up five minutes after the call requesting the interview, leaving me no time to try to plead with my hair to do, fuck, something, or try to beg, borrow or steal some make-up from a neighbour, I just sucked it up and did the interview anyway. 

Pregnancy makes women`s bodies change. This is evidence-based.

Here is the saddest part of this aspect of this tragedy for me personally – that I knew that my appearance would invariably be made fun of even though I was using my voice to try to benefit an incredibly noble and worthy charity. I knew that it would distract from the victims and their plight, and I knew that there was no way to speak to it without in turn drawing attention from where it needs to be. In light of the fact that my neighbour, Mr. Gregory Fenton, was  murdered in this fire, I would hope that the good people of my city of champions, Edmonton, would come together to give the help that is so desperately needed to my neighbours and friends from the building, most of whom, like me, are facing homelessness this Christmas. I would hope that my science family, and my peers who advocate for consensus and common sense, would likewise focus on what actually matters – finding solutions for those in need, and justice for Mr. Fenton, so that his last acts on this earth will not have been for nothing.

Greg cared enough about his neighbours to trade his life for my children’s and in doing so he sent a message – that these were lives that mattered, that every life matters, even in the ghetto. This should be a given but the past three weeks has taught me that it absolutely isn’t one. It wasn’t a given to the arsonist that doused the stairwell beside my unit in kerosene and casually lit a match while my babies slept, and it wasn’t a given to my landlord who never bothered to ensure that the basic fire safety requirements of the building were met – we had no fire extinguishers on our floor, nor fire alarm, and the fire door directly next to our unit was broken proved utterly useless to Mr. Fenton. He died because there are some who saw little value in my neighbours,  our children, and our lives but there is value here. This is a point that needs to be made, loudly and repeatedly, until it becomes normative and thereby our reality. Supporting this message is how we should be choosing to focus our time an energy, not on creating childish memes in the attempts to embarrass a victim over her physical appearance. I am in awe that I am having to explain this. Priorities, they are things that exist.

News flash – I am well aware that I don’t wake up looking amazing, I have to do things to my hair, wear make-up, choose clothing that flatters my body and the like to get the best results, and even with all of the normal effort I exert to beat back the hands of time and cheat the appearance of my own mortality, I still will choose the best angles and the best resulting images that can be gleaned from this illusion of beauty that I have constructed. I don’t need help comprehending that “profile picture” Penny is not “first-thing-in- the-morning-with-sleep-in-her-eyes” Penny, it is evidence-based. The part of this situation that has me absolutely *stumped*, however, is why any of this fucking matters in a discussion about the desperate need of  my poverty and now tragedy stricken neighbours.

To the troll who posted the image today on my wall (for the second time this week):

  • You assume that my followers only support me because of the most superficial of reasons: my physical appearance.
  • You base your belief that portraying me as unattractive – as a human being, not glamour model, will negate said support on this flawed logic.
  • You are wrong. You are an idiot. You are completely missing the point.

I have enough faith in the quality of my followers, as both science advocates and human being, that I am not, at all, concerned that they will bolt at the first wart or wrinkle. But if they do, then they are not the type of follower I want anyway. As my Mother would say, if they don’t like you for you really are then they aren’t real friends. To be clear, I consider my Science Pony fans, all 8000 plus of them, real friends. Don’t be a hater because I am so blessed to have found them. Work on being a decent human being and maybe you will attract a few of your own. And to those of you who claim that I somehow damage the goals of feminism with my very existence, please stop a moment and consider the real world harm you are doing to women in STEM everywhere by making my appearance the topic of discussion. I am so much more than a pretty picture.

If you get one take home from this post, let it be this:

You can insult my appearance, but do not attempt to diminish the importance of my message. My neighbours are hurting and you are distracting me in my mission to help them, and for that you are the lowest of trolls and human beings. You deserve every misfortune that your future has in store for you because of this. I hope when your time of reckoning comes, you have managed to bank enough goodwill to get the assistance you need from your own friends and neighbours, because I mean it when I say that all lives matter.
Even the lives of sad little trolls like you.

Your Faithful Science Cheerleader,





404458_1662160169268_316931707_nTo help my neighbours please donate to the GoFundMe which was set up by my dear friends Destroyed by Science, The Mad Virologist, and The Technical Skeptic. It was altered when the goal was met and the extra $600 raised went to recouping some of the costs of storage rental and uhaul hire from the furniture and clothing drive I did for my neighbours. I was able to get clothes for both women and children (both sexes), toys, some furniture and some other incidentals.  All items are being donated to the Edmonton Emergency Relief Society.

If you are in the Edmonton area and have a basement where we could store things, or a truck you could use to collect bigger items, or if you want to donate used goods, please email me at [email protected]

To all that previously donated, you have no idea how much this has helped during this ordeal. My children will have a Christmas because of you. Words fail to convey the depth of my gratitude.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
– Albert Schweitzer


11 thoughts on “Not-so-pretty Pony.

  • December 22, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    stumbled across your FB… Thought it was cute and “Funny” then saw this… Wow. I’m not in any position to help financially, but for for what its worth… Wow. Inspirational. You got this. FTW.


  • December 22, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Best always, to you.. You are beautiful and magnificent! And such cute babies, too. I am in your corner always.

  • December 22, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    If you don’t mind me being a tad superficial.

    You looked like a SuperPony on that interview talking about the entire building and not just you!

    I see you have those long thinner bones & body type until the horrormoaning starts! Yer right though, we (royal prerogative), your fans, really could care less about your body. To us, you really ARE a pony!!

  • December 22, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Let me clarify one thing: you look beautiful in that interview. Are you made up, dressed to impress, perfectly posed? No. And there’s no reason why you should be, given the circumstances. It’s not like you were on your way to a wedding: you, like your neighbors, were displaced and probably devastated.
    I still call beautiful. What I saw was someone who could have cried ‘poor me’, worrying instead about your many newly homeless neighbors, and of course grieving Gregory Fenton. You were serious, compassionate and concerned for others. When others might give in, you stood up to ask your community to help each other.
    That, in my view, defines beauty.

    • December 23, 2015 at 1:03 am

      Thanks, I am so saddened that there are people who would use my appearance on a local television station because of a horrific incident like this to try to get attention for themselves – it really speaks to the fact that there are different types of pain – the types with clear causes and clear expressions thereof, like the fire and the death that resulted, and types that whose genesis is undefined that are expressed with acts of aggression towards unlikely targets. I hope this person gets the help they so desperately need. No one should hurt as badly as they clearly do.

  • December 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    People who are intelligent, rational, caring of others, and good parents are beautiful – in every way that word can be meant. It is your visibility as ‘Science Pony’ which has an effect in society beyond science education. You are helping to change how intelligent women are perceived and treated. No man can, by pleading against misogyny, provide the same influence. When you are observed, you demonstrate that it is normal and appropriate for a woman to function in what some would call a ‘man’s role’. It cannot be too soon, when the development of women and men’s equitable roles in society has become unremarkable.

    • December 23, 2015 at 1:06 am

      Thank you. This means a lot. I have been accused of doing a disservice to women in STEM, because of my lack of formal science education and my tendency to, on occasion, tell people to eat a bag of dicks. I am glad that some people understand that I am not trying to be anything remarkable or out of the ordinary, I am just trying to be. This should be enough to show that there is a place for everyone who loves science in the field of science advocacy.
      I hope.

  • December 23, 2015 at 3:37 am

    I was pointed to like your page by one of my favourite skeptic pages, and I’m completely psyched to see there’s feminism in your science-ism.
    I’m only a new follower, but I’m moved by your story, and heartbroken to hear of your loss.
    I’m putting in what I can, from across the world, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t partially in response to the fuckwitt who went on about your appearance.

    • December 23, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Ha so that jerk just got me a great new follower and friend? Um, hey good to see he is totally hitting all his troll targets. LOLOL

  • December 23, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Don’t worry so much what people on the internet say. The internet consists in large part of either mentally ill people, or 5 year olds pretending to be adults. I like what you do, and like to see female internet celebrities, who care about science deeply, and inspire young girls. Intelligent ladies are always beautiful! Sorry about the fire, thats horrible. You should definitely seek justice.

  • January 22, 2016 at 12:03 am

    So I just found out about your existence twenty minutes ago, from something reposted on Facebook. Please take this as one additional data point to subtract from your detractors. You are beautiful because of the thoughts you express and the actions you take. Judging from a glance at the pictures you posted above you are also quite gorgeous. In every single one of them. It makes me so happy to see smart, well-spoken women in the sciences, AND you’re a feminist AND you’re campaigning against folks who would take us back to the “science” of the Middle Ages. My four year old niece wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. And a firefighter. And a mommy, in that order. People like you, and her, give me hope for the future.


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