Michael O'Doherty: If you can't stand life in the public eye, then don't post pictures online
Published 19/09/2016 | 07:42
At a recent awards ceremony in Dublin, host Amanda Byram began her speech with the traditional name-check of celebrity guests in the audience.
As her first shout-out, she could have picked Hozier, footballer Shay Given, or TV stars Aoibhinn McGinnity, Lisa Cannon or Lorraine Keane.
Instead, however, she first introduced a person as “the king of Snapchat”, before referring to him as “the most influential person in the room”.
This was a clear nod to the importance of that medium, and the way people are making a living without having trained for any specific career, or displaying what most would consider to be a discernible skill.
This comes to mind when dealing with the abuse that Vogue Williams suffered during the week when online trolls criticised her appearance after pictures of her in a bikini appeared online.
It should be said that those who criticised Vogue’s appearance on a beach in Cyprus need their eyes examined.
Their anger is no doubt fuelled by bitterness at the sad, pathetic nature of their own lives compared to the remarkably good time that Vogue seems to be having in hers.
- Read more: 'I do have cellulite and I'm proud of it' - Vogue Williams hits back at 'ridiculous' body shamers over bikini pictures
She was her usual charming self in laughing at the jibes and reminded everyone that while she may not possess stick-like legs that go all the way up to her neck, she works hard to stay healthy and she is happy with the results.
As she correctly points out, that’s far more important than just being skinny.
The wider issue, however, is not Vogue’s disagreement with the negative comments. It’s that she’s denying people’s right to make them in the first place.
In venting her fury, Vogue wrote that “if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all”. One must question the reasonableness of posting pictures of your body on Instagram, yet seeking to restrain anyone from having an opinion of them unless it's positive.
Almost every post from those who make a living from social media is of some commercial benefit to them, even if it is just keeping themselves in the public eye, so they are more likely to be snapped up when companies look for “brand ambassadors”.
Vogue is different from your average operator – she does have a “proper” job as a TV presenter. But there’s a simple reason why models and “influencers” post so many photos and videos – they make money from doing so.
If a TV presenter does a bad job, they’ll be savaged by critics. If a chef opens a sub-standard restaurant, the same. No one considers such criticism unjust.
So if someone’s only claim to fame is photos of themselves, and there is nothing for people to judge them by but their appearance, then there is no justifiable reason why this appearance should only be allowed attract positive reviews. You cannot, in short, have it both ways.
If you can’t stand this criticism, then maybe you’re in the wrong job ...