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It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind
(“I Know It’s Over”, Morrissey/Marr)
…thou shalt love one another
(Matthew 22:39, King James Bible)
“The fat one is repulsive”
“Go kill yourself”
“Fat singing whale”
Let’s start with this; the world is full of ugly people.
Not the perceived, superficial, transient notion of being physically unattractive but something deeper, darker, more disturbing and infinitely more damaging.
An ugliness within.
Hearts and minds that are as black, and as hard, as coal.
Thoughts that never stray further than hateful.
Bones that are filled with the marrow of contempt.
Eyes that can see only the worst.
Bile in their veins.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that such people are products of “broken” homes or that they are lashing out because of their own insecurities.
They do not and they are not.
They are just ugly.
Sneering from the safety of their vulgar life.
Possessed of a twisted superpower that allows them to see something beautiful and immediately corrode it, ruin it, smash it.
Don’t believe that they are only to be found in the playground or that it is only you who has felt the full force of their awful wrath.
They are not and it is not.
Jesy is a happy girl.
She lives in a home with a mum who loves her and siblings who adore her.
She knows what it feels like to be poor.
Life hasn’t been easy.
But Jesy is driven, she can sing and dance and make people laugh and she knows that she could be…someone. She knows that she can drag herself out of the life that she has been told is the only available to someone like her.
And she does.
She becomes part of a girl group on a television talent show and wins.
She has made it.
She is a pop star.
She is happier than she has ever been or ever allowed herself to dream of.
For about five minutes.
Then, backstage, she checks social media and the bright lights, the warm glow inside, the adoring roar of the crowd, the endless possibilities of her new life…are erased, stolen from her by hateful, spiteful, miserable, wicked, evil beasts posing as humans.
First come the tears and then comes the slow, but impossible to arrest, decline into full blown depression.
Every television appearance.
Every magazine article.
All are followed by a relentless tirade of abuse.
Like a rock in the desert under the full force of the winds and constantly being battered by sand she begins to find her own physical, mental and emotional form changed, eroded, until she doesn’t recognise herself anymore.
There is that Jesy and there is this Jesy.
Fame, fame, fatal fame…
But it isn’t the fame that is playing hideous tricks on her brain.
It is the trolls…the bullies…the ugly shells without souls.
As she starves herself to try and stop the taunts, to repel the waves of abuse…they grow fat on her pain, feasting on her trauma, finding strength in the weakness they have caused.
At one point in this harrowing film Jesy is sitting beside her sister, she is describing the way the abuse made her feel and a look passes over her sister’s face that takes the tears I have been holding back and pulls them from me…I have to press pause, I can’t stop crying. Then the crying is replaced by weeping. Then sobbing. I am thinking of my daughter, of the prospect of someone making her feel the way that Jesy feels, of having the look on her sister’s face sweep across my own. I can’t bear it. I can’t bear it. I can’t bear it.
As I write this my little girl is in school.
She is happy.
She is playing with her friends.
What happens when she meets someone ugly and they call her fat, or stupid, or ugly, or tell her nobody likes her?
Hold her close.
Tell her I love her.
Eventually Jesy reaches the point Kenneth Williams reached…”What’s the fucking point?” she asks herself in bed one night and, when she finds no satisfactory answer to be forthcoming, she takes an overdose.
An overdose of the very pills that were meant to make her feel better.
But a pill can’t protect you from the hate of the hateful.
Along the path from hopeless to hope Jesy meets others who have suffered as she has and they are able to draw strength from their stories of survival, from the knowledge that they are not alone.
But the healing really lies in love.
And then…from herself.
Love is the key.
Love is the key.
The loathing, the violent loathing, from others is given fertile soil only when we are incapable of loving ourselves…but how do we do that? How do we love ourselves if we are facing relentless messages from the media, social media, society that, in some way, we are unworthy of love, incapable of being loved, not good enough?
I don’t think there is a glib, easy, simple answer to that.
All I know is this; there are people who love you and they must have a reason.
If others can love us then we can learn to love ourselves.
I am going to tell my friends I love them today and I’m going to tell them why too.
Why don’t you do the same thing?
What a world that could be.