It’s a given that being a woman on the internet means you will experience some form of harassment the more public and open you are with your comments, content, opinions and just general presence. And this is not an epidemic that is just reserved for women. Basically anyone who dares to venture online could potentially be the target of some vitriol or hatred. In a nutshell, it is called bullying.
A Pew Research Center study on online harassment found that 40% of all adult internet users have personally experienced bullying online and 73% have seen others experience. An interesting portion of the study outlined how women and men experience different forms of harassment, and that young women 18-24 experience certain severe types of harassment at disproportionately high levels: 26% of these young women have been stalked online, and 25% were the target of online sexual harassment.
In terms of specific experiences, men are more likely than women to encounter name-calling, embarrassment, and physical threats.
All you have to do is Google “cyber bullying news stories” and you will be bombarded with horrific news stories about high school students or LGBT folk who were bullied to the point of committing suicide. There are many people in the world who feel alone and scared and don’t know how to stand up to such vicious attacks. This is why those who do have an elevated public platform and a large following online must use their voices to speak against this disgusting trait that is a stain on humankind.
Many bloggers, vloggers and content creators often experience an increased amount of harassment due to the fact they are so vocal and are quite popular. In some realm that is seen as threatening and a ripe ground for some good ol’ anonymous cyber bulling or trolling. We recently saw how fitness blogger Cassey Ho turned the tables on her bullied by making a video including all the vicious comments directed at her in a message that basically said “you will not break me down!”.
Well another prominent Youtuber, UK-based beauty vlogger Em Ford has come forward and made a powerful video, taking a break from her usual brand of awesome makeup tutorials to address the type of hate she receives for her content. Her blog is called My Pale Skin and she has amassed quite the following. With 4000+ following her on Bloglovin, over 220,000 subscribers on Youtube, and 12,000 followers on Twitter, it’s pretty safe to say this ex-model turned professional filmmaker has some fans!
Early July she posted a decidedly different video on her channel called ‘You Look Disgusting’ where she says she wanted to share the type of negativity she started receiving after posting make-up free pictures of herself roughly 3 months ago.
“Over the past few months, I’ve received thousands of messages from people all over the world who suffer or have suffered from acne, an insecurity or self confidence issues,” she writes in a description of the video.
“I wanted to create a film that showed how social media can set unrealistic expectations on both women and men. One challenge many face today, is that as a society, we’re so used to seeing false images of perfection, and comparing ourselves to unrealistic beauty standards that It can be hard to remember the most important thing – You ARE beautiful.”
In the video we see Em both with and without makeup, and alongside her face there are super-imposed words which show the difference in the type of comments she gets when posting both images.
“You’re so pretty,” and “You look amazing” were the comments made when she posted a face full of makeup.
“Seriously… has she ever washed her face?”, “Ugly as f*ck”, “This is why I have trust issues,” and, “Imagine waking up next to her in the morning” were the comments written when she posted a makeup free image.
But even more telling are the comments she received from other victims of bullying due to acne which gives you a bit of a glimpse as to why she continues to do what she does: knowing that her message is inspiring so many out there not to feel ashamed of who they are.
“I wanted to kill myself,” said one comment. It makes you stop for a second and really think hard about what we do and say online. Back in March, Monica Lewinsky gave a badass TED Talk about cyber bullying and the crux of the message, centered around her experience with online shaming, was this: do you choose to use your time online for attention or intention?
Essentially, we believe Em Ford is doing it for intention because the types of comments she gets could easily be an excuse to stop. But kudos to her for recognizing that the power of inspiring even a few people by sharing her story is worth putting up with a bunch of idiots who don’t have anything better to do with their time.
“You are beautiful – no matter how flawed you feel, no matter how upset you may about the way you look or how hard you find it to make friends, or be confident. Believe in yourself, and never let anyone tell you’re not beautiful – not even yourself,” she said about her video. Watch below for yourself and let it be a reminder to all of us today that we have a responsibility with our words and actions online.