A blogger who said her swimwear picture received more than 900 hurtful comments has filmed an emotional video in which she pleads for a change in the way society tackles online abuse.
Callie Thorpe was subjected to “violent, abusive” comments after being featured in a Vogue article about swimwear, and later interviewed by Yahoo about it.
In a tearful video, shared on her YouTube channel, the blogger called for a shift in attitudes towards ‘trolls’.
Rather than ignoring them and pretending they don’t exist, we need to deal with the problem head-on, she said.
Earlier in the month, a photo of Thorpe in a bikini was featured on Vogue’s site alongside supermodels Karlie Kloss, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Ashley Graham.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen Vogue feature any diversity really - especially in regards to size,” the blogger, who is a UK size 24, said. “I was really proud of it and I still am really proud.”
At the time, Vogue tweeted a link to the article and Thorpe shared it, adding: “To all the people that called me fat, ugly and treated me like trash because of my weight growing up, catch me on Vogue with your Woman Crush Wednesday.”
The tweet gained a lot of attention which led to Yahoo asking to interview the blogger. Sadly, when she read the piece back online, she scrolled down to the comments section and was horrified by what she saw.
“I scrolled onto some really nasty comments about me that... They were just so awful that I couldn’t even get them out of my mind,” Thorpe said in a YouTube video titled ‘Dealing with online abuse’.
“There were 900 comments and pretty much all of them were vile - they were violent, abusive comments and it was the worst thing I’ve ever read in the whole five years I’ve been blogging.”
According to her video, one of the horrendous comments said: “Realistically models are meant to be appealing not to make me puke.”
Yahoo has since removed the option to comment on the article she was featured in, as well as the comments section.
Fighting back the tears, she continued: “I couldn’t get it out of my brain. I couldn’t sleep because of some of the things I read about myself.
“I can’t understand how people can be so hateful. I’m very sad at the prospect that people are going through this alone.”
The blogger acknowledged that everyone has to deal with body-shaming and trolling at some point, but added that if you want to see the worst end of the spectrum, “take a look at how fat women are treated, especially fat women of colour”.
Thorpe said the general advice around trolling is to just ignore it and forget about it, but this needs to change as it sends the wrong message, implying the victims of abuse should just filter the negativity out, while the perpetrators can get away with it.
“It’s insane to me, we just think that if we call someone a ‘troll’ it makes it okay. Some of the stuff these people write is illegal, it’s not even opinion. It’s just violent, nasty shit that no one should ever have to see,” she added.
Thorpe also noted that the media has a responsibility to moderate such negativity in the comments section of articles.
“We can’t just keep pretending that it’s not happening,” she added. “Please use your voice, please use your report button, please email people in charge and tell them that it’s not acceptable to have comments in a section like that.”
Writing on Instagram after her video had gone live, she said: “I want you all to know I won’t be silenced by people like this, it won’t stop me helping women feel good about themselves and it won’t stop me speaking out.
“I hope you join me in speaking out against this problem too.”