By Anna-Marie Solowij
I was bullied at school. Back then, it felt like just another rite of passage, but as I can remember every single detail of what happened, perhaps I never got over it and certainly, when I think about it now, over 40 years later, I still feel frustrated and angry. That I kept it to myself says everything about bullies: their threats make you feel powerless and alone.
But now, with the spotlight on every type of unwanted attention or coercion, from sexual harassment to online abuse where social media trolls wage their particularly cowardly war, the backlash against bullying is growing and is the focus of this week’s UK anti-bullying campaign.
With a specific stance against cyber beauty bullying, Rimmel London has launched a global #Iwillnotbedeleted campaign in response to some disturbing numbers: of 11,000 women surveyed across 10 countries, 1 in 4 have experienced cyber bullying about their looks with hurtful, negative comments posted on their social media accounts. 115 million images on social media are deleted each year as a reaction against pressure from cyber bullies. This goes against everything our inclusive society is supposed to stand for: freedom of self-expression, to be who you are: an individual with a voice, with a particular point-of-view.
This is why Rimmel’s #iwillnotbedeleted campaign is important and supported by beauty influencers, models, celebrities and social media users because fame is no safeguard against this pervasive form of abuse. Social media is an easy mask to hide behind for cyber bullies, allowing them to sit as judge and jury against anyone who uses online platforms to express their individuality.
Rimmel Brand Ambassadors Rita Ora and i need help writing my personal statement for law school among others, have put their support behind the campaign. “It’s terrifying to see what words can do to someone,” says Cara, while Rita comments: “We really just want to shine a light on the fact that cyber bullying is not okay.”
To reinforce the message, Rimmel is partnering with the creative writing on secret garden, a nonprofit organisation committed to tackling digital abuse and online bullying. Next year, ‘Cybersmile Assistant’, a supportive AI tool will direct those who have been bullied towards support organisations so that they need not feel alone, unheard, unhelped.