I was trolled for the first time the other day and I’m not going to take it.
I always knew as my Instagram numbers grew I’d suddenly be in more of a public eye, and therefore be open to more people commenting on my photos, and in particular, my body. I do my best to block users who comment inappropriately, I think my number of blocked users is in the 500s.
As models, we put our bodies out there to inspire women to love their own- flaws and all, but to also fight for greater representation of all bodies in the media.
We don’t put our bodies out there to be trolled. Ever. But especially not from men. I’ve received countless messages from men who’d like to f*ck me, say I’m a fat whore, show me a good time, or show me their dicks. I’m not taking it anymore.
Imagine if someone was to say that to you in the street. You’d have them charged for sexual harassment or indecent exposure. What makes men think that because they’re saying or doing it online make it any less of a crime?
It’s not just me either. Plus size model and total babe Jess King has also had enough.
“It’s mainly comments of a sexual nature, that I believe are taken too far. Men suggesting that they want to engage in sexual acts with me or speaking about aspects of my body in an overly sexualised manner”, she tells me.
“You’d think they would be embarrassed for strangers to see that they want to ‘hump me!’ I’m often taken aback that these men can be so openly brazen. Anything to do with my weight or shape has always been left as a public comment. It really baffles me that people can be so harsh to a stranger”.
But just like harassment and bullying IRL, online harassment and bullying often slides by unnoticed. There are laws in Australia that apply to serious online harassment and online bullying, but who decides what is and isn’t classified as serious? In a submission to the Australian Government’s inquiry into free speech, The Australian Online Hate Prevention Institute said online abuse had reached a new low, and had become worse.
Jess also thinks we shouldn’t be accepting that this behaviour is ok just because it’s online. “If a stranger said some of the things I get told online to my face, there would be a lot more of an uproar and action taken”, she said.
Women already get attention they don’t want, simply for just existing. Just because we put our bodies out there, doesn’t mean a man is entitled to it. Just because we are women, doesn’t mean a man owns our bodies.
The point of this article isn’t to hate on men though- let me just make that clear. Since my trolling incident, that I took the time to call out on social media, so many men have actually taken the time to DM me to tell me that kind of behaviour is not ok, and I shouldn’t have to deal with it. To that, I say thank you.
The point I want to communicate is that certain comments are not wanted, and really anger me. I want to educate Instagram users that we are human too, and we have emotions too.
Remember Charlotte Dawson? Remember what happened to her as a result of online trolls? Many women in the body positive community on Instagram suffer from insecurities and come to the seemingly safe space in an attempt to grow to overcome them. Once that happens, they eventually learn to love their bodies and support others in doing so.
While I know that I can shake off these comments, a lot of these women take them to heart, and that’s what’s concerning.
The issue isn’t limited to curvy women either. Yes, we tend to get a lot more comments of a sexual nature, but the truth is all women experience it. Women are being shamed for celebrating their natural bodies, and it’s not okay.
Women are being shamed by other women; that’s repulsive.
Perhaps still, the issue at large is the continued lack of size diversity and people not thinking women are beautiful at any size.
Jess hopes that one day the word ‘brave’ will stop being used to describe curvier women who put their bodies out there. “The only way we are going to normalise bigger bodies in the media is by accepting that they are just as normal as a size 6-8 and by not bringing attention to that”.
“My advice would be to “do you” – keep campaigning for diversity in the media and don’t let the odd comment from someone who clearly has their own problems get you down”.
Even the basic form of trolling, someone commenting that you’re fat, ugly, or disgusting, really hurts. It’s still harassment, and we shouldn’t be subjected to it.