On Saturday February 15th, 2020, television presenter Caroline Flack made the decision to take her own life, aged 40. She was a woman who at times appeared to have it all, but as the familiar story goes, what is presented to the world isn’t always a mirror image of the reality.
We as a public that so adores the realm of ‘celebrity’ are guilty of holding those who achieve fame to a higher standard than we would ever expect of our loved ones, or of ourselves. Those people that we watch on screen must be perfect in every way, not only in their careers but in their personal lives, and for every small mistake which is played out in the spotlight, we tear our pound of flesh with cruel and cutting comments, as though we’re blind to the suffering that we can cause. This has to be a turning point. We must do better.
Paying tribute to her late friend, Love Island host and radio presenter Laura Whitmore made the brave decision to return to work on Sunday, February 16th, and started her show with an emotional and poignant monologue, which you can listen to below:
Listen to Whitmore’s words, and then listen again. Take note of the anger and upset that she feels, following the passing of her colleague; heed her comments and turn them into action.
It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to deal with mental health struggles, and that is why so many people end up keeping it to themselves. Not only are we ridiculed by millionaire media personalities, who use our illness to earn a pretty penny without any care as to what harm it may be doing; but we have to try and explain the reality of this invisible villain to those who find it tough to empathise with something that they cannot physically see. Many will feel more sympathetic towards somebody with a broken toe than towards a person who opens up to them about their struggles with their mental health, and whilst it’s something we’re constantly fighting to change, it will take time, and there will always be detractors.
We have tried the heavy-handed approach, of hitting back viciously against those we deem are deserving of our vitriol. They threw the first stone, so we should retaliate, right? It’s not working. Our only choice now is to stop stroking the egos of those who are so calculating, and to instead simply ignore them
As for the tabloids who create those click-bait titles that Whitmore spoke so passionately about: we must demand reform. It’s hard to imagine anything changing in the current political climate, but as a force we must remain strong and never allow our voice to falter. If Flack's passing proves anything, it's that regulations are entirely necessary when it comes to the reporting of those in the public eye.
From I and my Female First colleagues, a pledge that we will continue to hold our values and morals close when reporting on those who find themselves in the spotlight. Our collective goal here is to empower, inspire and entertain. We can and will do all of that without feeding into the trend of online abuse that has become so prevalent.
Be kind to one another.