Beauty, Culture, Fashion

The Sidebar of SHAME

You all know what I’m talking about (and if you don’t, the bloody great picture above this sentence should clue you in!).

The Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame…

Hi, my name’s Betsy, and I’m an addict. And I’ve been clean for three months now. Three. Whole. Months. It feels like a lifetime.

I’d love to tell you that I abhor gossip and those who spread it, but I love it, I really do. Not the really nasty malicious stuff, but the ‘harmless’ posts about so-and-so’s dress at such-and-such award. But then is there such a thing as ‘harmless’ gossip? I began to feel that maybe, no, there isn’t, and that’s why I stopped reading.

If you look at today’s sidebar, for example (and no, checking it today is purely for research purposes and therefore doesn’t count. Ok?). Just to de-code the ‘journalists” (lol) secret language that they think we can’t see through, essentially today they’re talking about Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Abbey Clancy and Lily Allen not wearing many clothes; James Corden’s pregnant wife, who looks (shockingly!) pregnant; and four sex ‘scandals’, among other things.

They describe Beyonce’s legs as ‘amazing’, which, to be fair, they are; Abbey Clancy’s swimsuit is ‘daring’ (code for slutty?…There are also 17 photos of her in said swimsuit); Lily Allen is ‘leggy’ (also slutty?…); J-Lo ‘doesn’t leave much to the imagination’ (slutty…?); and the sex secrets of Wayne Rooney’s former prostitute lover (definitely slutty).

It’s a running joke that women ‘pour their curves’ into dresses on The Daily Mail, and they also ‘flaunt their flesh’, ‘bare their cleavages’, have ‘busty assets’ and ‘toned pins’, and wear ‘vertiginous heels’. It would appear that there is a list of approved adjectives and phrases to trot out on a daily basis. Their wording definitely troubles me, as does their insistence on focusing on women’s bodies and sex lives. Some of the celebrity ‘victims’ clearly love the attention (any cast member from TOWIE for example), but others seem as pissed off as I would be. Just further down the page, Rachel Stevens is papped without make-up (what woman would welcome that?).

But I know it’s not just me who enjoys/enjoyed the daily delights of the sidebar; as a ‘guilty pleasure’ it’s been cropping up all over the place, and can call intelligent feminism-driven women as fans. Should we really be inviting this kind of misogynist comment? Because, really, that’s what it boils down to, and sadly, most of it seems written by women in a haze of schadenfreude-ian frenzy.

I think I’ve found my alternative ‘guilty pleasure’, and that is Pinterest; in its way, it’s just as pernicious (encouraging people to live in a fantasy world of 3-carat engagement rings and White Company homes), but at least it doesn’t openly batter women to the ground.

So, yes; my name is Betsy, I’m an addict, and I plan on staying clean for as long as I can!

I’d love to know what you guys think of the Sidebar of Shame. Is it harmless gossip? Or something more dangerous?



7 thoughts on “The Sidebar of SHAME

  1. Hi! I would say that women have more than their bodies to talk about. I don’t really like that woman’s body gets exploited. Society thing, though, it isn’t easy to change the society. I like your blog, thank you for sharing!


  2. I am equally addicted, horrible an admission as that is. I’ve cut a lot of other celebrity gossip sites out of my life purely because I felt that were inviting unnecessary cruelty (the DM is actually tamer than a lot of other sites, if you can credit that), but I find this one hard to jettison, for some reason.

    I enjoy celebrity gossip, and so long as it isn’t long-lens, in-your-face, or upskirt shots that give a creepy stalker vibe, I don’t see the harm in it. What I don’t like, though, is where photos have been taken of people where they were obviously unaware or not consenting, and I also have big a problem with the journalistic tone that is subtly slut-shaming, as you describe above.

    There’s almost a sort of insinuation that the mere act of Being In Public While Female automatically invites physical critique, which to me is kind of a dangerous precedent to set. Then there’s the frankly heinous level of cruelty you see in the comments which I find a bit upsetting when I think about it for too long. Anyone is, of course, entitled to think so-and-so looks like a dog’s dinner, but do you REALLY have to call them “a fat ugly c*nt” where they might be likely to see it? When this is a person you’ve never met, who’ll never do anything to you? I just don’t see the point.

    I know the papers aren’t responsible for the comments of their readers, but the attitude they take by constantly critiquing people’s bodies definitely invites the commenter to go what is really only one step further in their own assessment.

    …So it’s not harmless fun, really, when you think about it. I should probably stop reading them, then, shouldn’t I?


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