Online bullies target best-dressed winner with vile abuse - but Lisa won't let cowards have the last word
The winner of Best Dressed Lady at this year's Galway Races, Lisa McGowan, is determined not to let hate-filled comments from faceless cyber trolls get her down.
The trolling on her fashion blog, Lisa's Lust List, on Facebook, has turned her world upside down since she won Best Dressed Lady at Ballybrit. And now McGowan, from Tullamore Co Offaly, has decided to speak out about her experience of cyber bullying.
The comments have been intensely personal, with remarks about her 'tangoed' skin, a reference to the deep hue of her tan after holidaying in Boston, and her smile. The trolls also criticised the colour of her teeth and her bustline.
"It won't end unless you do something about it," she told the Irish Independent last night.
"I've had so many messages from victims, I'd had enough, and decided to speak out," she added.
The insurance broker spoke about the comments when she appeared on 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' yesterday morning.
"I feel I need to say this, please anybody out there whether male or female, if you've nothing good to say about anybody, don't say it," she said.
"That's why we have anorexia, depression and self harm out there."
I was also appearing on the radio programme and sat beside Lisa in the radio booth as she spoke honestly about her experience.
Sean O'Rourke looked visibly surprised across the studio. He wasn't expecting a discussion on the business opportunities on the Ladies Day circuit to throw this curve ball.
Lisa's shaken demeanour was all the more shocking because of the image (left) we took home of her in the winner's enclosure at Ballybrit last Thursday.
Interviewed on the teatime news, she posed confidently for the photographers, and was eloquent as she told her tale of how her one-shouldered leather and crepe dress was from Strawberry & Lime, a brand new collection she has launched with Belfast designer Shauna Fay.
Four days later, her tale is all so different.
Yesterday she fought successfully to regain her composure in the studio, and denounced the bullies, telling them to zip it if they don't have anything good to say.
"Well said," said Sean, his eyes smiling in support.
Lisa explains how she named her winning dress 'Chrissy' after her late brother who died in a car crash. Three hours after we walked out of the studio together, I call Lisa. She has pulled in on the way to Belfast. She is still a little emotional, she confesses, but buoyed by the private messages of support pouring in from people who have been thanking her for being strong and speaking out.
Her response to the trolls through her Facebook page has so far received more than a quarter of a million views.
Having galvanised herself against the trolls' comments, Lisa is now focusing on the job at hand. She is about to launch her Strawberry & Lime collection and line up the collection shot in Galway in the autumn.
Being happy, and making her fashion line successful will be Lisa McGowan's response to those anonymous keyboard cowards.