Meghan Markle, social media & everyday life: Why we need more kindness

“Women make up more than half of the world’s population and potential, so it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making. The way that we change that, in my opinion, is to mobilize girls and women to see their value as leaders, and to support them in these efforts.”- Meghan Markle

Today is international women’s day, a day to celebrate women and the achievements we have made. It is a day to explore and discuss the needs, rights and the future ahead for women! We women are amazing (we know this), but we also have a long road ahead and more to overcome. No matter how you choose to celebrate today, I definitely think we should all mark the occasion in some small way. Tell your girlfriends what they mean to you, give a compliment to a kick ass woman you pass in the street, tell your daughter, niece, mother, auntie, cousin or grandmother they are amazing! Mark this day in any small gesture you can, because too often we women forget to stop and say ‘look how far we have come’, ‘look how amazing we are’ and of course ‘what’s next?’.

One way I plan to help celebrate today and mark the occasion, is to hopefully watch a panel discussion taking place that has been organised by the Queen’s commonwealth trust, which the Duchess of Sussex will be a part of. This panel is to be a discussion of the importance of International Women’s Day and to bring further awareness to the obstacles which still affect women across the world. This will include the discussion of access to education and limitations within employment for women. The panel will also include; Annie LennoxAdwoa Aboah, Julia Gillard,  Chrisann Jarrett and Angeline Murimirwa.

I am excited to see all of these amazing women speak on the panel, but after the announcement of this panel taking place, my excitement to see the Duchess of Sussex involved in this wonderful panel, was not all that I felt. It also reinforced the sadness and sometimes the anger I feel, for how Meghan has been treated by many, since her relationship with the Duke of Sussex began. I’ve made no secret that I am a fan of Meghan. I have been a fan of hers for a number of years and this has only increased as the years go by. As previously discussed in another post here, what really made me love Meghan, was her attitude to life and the amazing inspiration she brought to me through her site The Tig. From being an avid reader of her blog, I felt as though I got to know Meghan. Her likes, food obsessions, her passions and some of her favourite ways to make the most of life and most importantly, to enjoy it! I could sing the praises of Meghan and the The Tig all day. However, this post isn’t about why I am a fan of the Duchess, but rather about the way she has been treated and the unfortunate things I’ve seen written and commented about her. Whilst we are celebrating a day of women and the achievements of women, it’s sad that yet again she will be faced with criticism and every movement she makes will be analysed and judged to an alarming extent. This post goes beyond just the treatment of the Duchess and explores how the media and social media in particular needs to change for the benefit of us all.

A favourite picture of mine of The Duke and Duchess. Photograph is not my own: Photo courtesy of: https://www.instagram.com/kensingtonroyal/

We can’t seem to go a day without seeing a new article or magazine cover with Meghan as a headline or featured. I understand why. There are a lot of people interested in Meghan since she became a member of the royal family. However, the problem with this interest, is that the media will do almost anything to write a story. Even if there has been no public engagement or appearances by Meghan, they create stories in order to keep interest going and of course to sell their papers and generate views. Even as a fan, I can see the media and coverage of Meghan is too much. Unfortunately, some papers use misleading headlines in order to get us to click on the story and comment. I have seen every type of story you can imagine; numerous articles stating how much an item of clothing Meghan has worn costs (sometimes leaving out the fact it’s an old item), too many stories to count from Samantha Markle slating her sister and countless other articles written, just to seemingly get people to stay annoyed at Meghan for simply falling in love. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that as a taxpayer, you don’t want to see people apparently spending your tax payments on fancy dresses and expensive heels. But something people seem to forget is that Meghan was successful prior to meeting Prince Harry and earned plenty of her own money. Articles discuss how much a lot of the clothing items cost for Meghan, as well as the Duchess of Cambridge and yet there are never any similar articles regarding the clothing costs of the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, only when it is the women of the royal family it seems. Though these articles alone may seem insignificant, each one that follows will continually add more ‘fuel to the fire’ that the Duchesses are spending money on clothes and doing nothing else with their time, which in turn, creates a negative feeling towards them.

Sadly the media love to tear people down in order to keep public interest going and they will do this by any means necessary. As the media try to find any reason to post about Meghan (which they have done since the first public outing of Harry and Meghan) inevitably the public start to get tired and this sometimes leads to negative feelings and comments towards Meghan too. I personally think she has done a wonderful job of adapting into the Royal family, and has done a lot of good already. One of the biggest achievements being her involvement in helping the Hubb Community kitchen release a book, in order to help fund the kitchen and allow it to run 7 days a week.

Meghan with the women of the Hubb Community kitchen. Photograph is not my own: Photo courtesy of: https://www.instagram.com/kensingtonroyal/

Somehow people still found issues with this supportive endeavour of the Duchess. Criticising her for not helping a different community more in need, accusing her of wanting the attention on her and not the women of the Hubb, the list goes on and on, and it’s sad to see that even with something like this, people actively look to see faults, something we seem to look for in everyone and everything they do.

What we also have seen, is of course the comparison between Meghan and Catherine (The Duchess of Cambridge) and rumours of a feud. This type of story is beyond unoriginal, two women not getting along is a media favourite for news stories, because of course they want us to believe that women are always in competition and dislike one another. That is not to say I believe Catherine and Meghan are best friends either, because the truth is we don’t know, nor should we know what happens in private between them. If a colleague at work or one of your friends mentioned they didn’t consider their sister-in-law a friend, or didn’t really hang out with her, no one would care. Yet because they are in the public eye, the fact that Catherine and Meghan may not be close (in a relatively short time) is seen as something terrible and is a story that has dominated our headlines in the UK for weeks.

I hate that the media and society always have to put women in this place of negativity and create stories about rivalry or bitchiness. Yes, that can happen. But more often than not, we women are the biggest cheerleaders for each other and support each other, because the reality is, we need to! Women have come a long way in this world and as day’s like today prove, we still have a long way to go. Before she became the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle was a strong, intelligent, talented, beautiful and compassionate woman. Yet, since she fell in love with Prince Harry, she has been given this persona in the media as ‘Bossy’, ‘Controlling’, ‘Over confident’ and ‘Pushy’. How is it, that simply because of who Meghan married, those qualities she has, is somehow turned against her and made into a negative thing? Whether you like her or not, I think we can agree that this persona Meghan has been branded with, is something that many other women often face each and every day, simply because of their gender. Confidence in yourself is wonderful; intelligence is a gift, as well as something we often work hard to achieve, it is something to be proud of and knowing who you are and what you want is not something that should ever be viewed as bad.

“It is said that girls with dreams become women with vision. May we empower each other to carry out such vision – because it isn’t enough to simply talk about equality. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to simply believe in it. One must work at it. Let us work at it. Together. Starting now.”- Meghan Markle

This issue however, goes beyond Meghan, as social media has for a long time been a place were people are able to hide behind a screen and say the most disgusting things. I have seen comments on the posts of celebrities, bloggers, even those not in the spotlight with so much hatred behind the comments, it still shocks me. Ariana grande was inundated with comments telling her it was her fault Mac Miller died, countless actors and actresses are told to shut up about political issues and just act, as if they are puppets and not actually people; I have seen people comment on posts with children in the picture telling the parent their child is ugly,I have seen racist comments, homophobic insults and I’ve seen others be told, they should just go and kill themselves. Imagine feeling so superior and untouchable, that you would actually tell another human being to end their life! The sad thing is, this behaviour has almost become normal. We are numb to thinking this isn’t wrong, and somehow the people behind these computers and mobiles, seem to believe they have a right to judge others so harshly. I worry for the younger generation of children growing up in this word, where there seems to be no end to the cruelty online.

I don’t know what the solution is, perhaps we need to get rid of the likes button and comments section all together. I know there can be amazing comments to be found online and amazing people. But we have become a society that chase likes and obsess over comments left on our posts and there needs to be a solution. These comments have become vastly important to people. Many of us suffer with depression or anxiety these days and yet we are also addicted to the smart phones that may be linked to causing these feelings.

People have the right to their opinions of course and freedom of speech, but there is a difference to disliking someone’s singing for example versus telling that person they are awful and deserve to die. We have a responsibility to protect people from abuse and this includes online abuse. Before a bigger solution is found, I just wish we could all remember to be kind. You may ‘hate’ someone for whatever reason, but do you really need to comment about their looks, clothes, or a million other things people find to criticise . Leaving such vile remarks really does not add to your life, but if the person targeted were to read those comments, it would certainly impact theirs. Even the strongest person in the world would struggle to not read into the cruelty and the criticisms and sadly for others not so strong, this type of online bullying can lead to them hurting themselves.

I don’t want to live in a world, were it becomes normal to hear about another teenager committing suicide due to bullies. I don’t want to see a lovely picture on Instagram inundated with hateful and offensive comments. So many of us have become so wrapped up in our own lives, and yes our own social media, that we are numb to the feelings of others and what our words can do. Next time you see a hateful or abusive comment, report it. If you see a headline about someone in the spotlight, maybe don’t be so quick to believe that it’s true and most of all, try and use each day as chance to spread kindness and not negativity.

Why not choose today, to not only help celebrate International women’s day, but to spread a little extra kindness going forward, because it is an amazing thing to brighten someone’s day with a compliment, a smile or a kind gesture. If we all could do that a little more often, I have no doubt this world would be a much better place.

“Kindness is just love with its work boots on.”

 

Love

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