‘How can she claim to be ageless, when her face is filled with more plastic than the sea’?
That was the comment I saw on Facebook that really set my fury off.
I’ve also seen comments from women on other women's makeup (too much, too little, too old/young/bright).
On what they wear: ‘Sorry, no, I wouldn’t at your age’. And on weight: ‘Eurgh, how can she let herself get that way.
It’s a choice and it shouldn’t be celebrated’.
Frankly, I’m furious.
Furious that as myself and others strive to make society more accepting of our right to look and live how we want, another contingent is hell-bent on keeping us all down by perpetuating the stereotype that women are awful to one another.
I wonder if women who feel it necessary to be so callous with their remarks online would have the same gumption in person?
They might be, often claiming that they’re just ‘being honest’. In my experience though, these remarks are usually delivered in a less direct manner; delivered behind the back, muttered at the school gates, or in WhatsApp chats that can’t be proven.
The only place that I see such brutality delivered openly is on social media. Find me any female-fronted content and I’ll show you the bitter judgement we’re slinging at one another, usually justified with ‘I’m allowed my opinion’.
I’d ask, ‘when did we get so cruel'? But, seeing the sheer prevalence of such remarks, I think the question has to be ‘how do we stop this now’?
It's nothing less than bullying and we must look at why it is so rife, after all, social media is only a reflection of the society it serves.
Sexism is part of it. For hundreds of years, our only true worth was measured by our looks, childbearing ability and class. Being prettier or more accepted meant less prospect of experiencing poverty, so a culture of women-against-women competition made sense.
But for the last fifty years, we’ve made huge strides into freedom. We work, manage our own money, buy our own homes and make our choice of spouse based on who we love, not whom our fathers manage to barter us for.
So why are we still so itchingly keen to suppress each other so cruelly?
The most popular media outlet in the world is the Daily Mail.
A cursory glance at their ‘sidebar of shame’ (the most clicked area of the site) shows multiple digs at women’s weight, their outfits and their life choices.
Hang out on Mumsnet for an hour and you’ll read women tearing into each other for every aspect of their lives. Both traffic giants are female-led in the main.
The truth is these posts happen because we want them to, flocking to them in our droves.
Please don’t get me wrong. I'm not talking about shutting down free speech. I love discussion. Honest communication between us is vital to challenge the stereotypes that keep us all down.
The whole of the PRO-AGE tour was about promoting 'inclusive ageing'. Living the idea that we should be allowed to make our own choices about how we get older without anyone suggesting we’re doing it ‘wrong’.
We’ve had some amazing conversations with women who deeply disagree with one another, but disagreeing doesn’t mean hurting. ‘I don’t agree with how you’re choosing to look’ is very different to ‘I think you look hideous and you’re disgusting to choose to look that way’.
There’s no excuse for it.
We must remember that at the end of our nasty comments are real women, with real insecurities, who experience real hurt at our words.
Look at Sophie Gradon, the young woman from Love Island, who killed herself reportedly after struggling with trolls being cruel about her.
When we get it right and treat each other with decency, it’s a thing to behold (check out Facebook group ‘Mrs Gloss and the Goss’ if you need evidence – it’s the most uplifting group I’ve ever been part of).
But when we insist on being cruel, instead of compassionate we not only let ourselves down, we hold back progress for everyone.
From this point on, I'm urging these women to think before they post. Before you share a nasty comment, ask yourself how you’d feel if it were delivered to you, or your daughter or your mum?
If I see posts that step over the line from discussion to personal attacks on any of our adverts, or posts, I’ll be removing them on the spot and banning the perpetrators.
Want to put other women down based on their looks? Do it elsewhere. My brand, my business and my world will always be better than that. I hope you decide to do the same.
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