The following was written by a prominent Australian celebrity. She is a household name but has chosen to remain anonymous here for reasons which will become apparent when you read what she has to say. Minor identifying details have been changed.
The first time it happened, I didn’t even realise. It was a few years ago now. I was sitting in a nail salon flicking through one of those gossip mags and suddenly I saw photos of myself. I felt immediately sick.
I wasn’t doing anything particularly secretive or newsworthy in the photos, just walking down the street with a friend but the shots had been taken from across the street without me realising it about three weeks earlier. The headline made some snide comment about my weight or how tired I looked, I can’t remember. It’s happened so many times since, it tends to blur.
But the way it works – I have since learned – is like this: papparazzi photographers stalk famous women, literally stalk us, hiding behind trees, waiting outside our house, following us in their cars and on foot as we try to take our kids to school and go about our lives. Literally nothing is sacred.
I’ve been following when I’ve gone to doctor’s appointments or medical procedures with sick, distressed kids. Then they approach the magazines and websites and newspapers who pay for these photos. And the media organisation will then just make up a story to go with the photos. Literally make it up.
Stories about our weight or photos of us without make-up or with our children sell for more money. If we’re someone else that they can speculate about, those photos are extra valuable and god help you if you’re pregnant. You notice a massive increase in the number of days you’re followed when you’re pregnant – and at a time when you’re feeling particularly vulnerable and at times unwell.
I know now how it works because when it started happening regularly, I reached out to a couple of mates I have who also have public profiles and asked for their advice.
The blokes I know who are famous were just baffled about it. They’re never followed. Nobody cares about them. They can’t get clicks or sell magazines and nobody can make money out of their photos so they get to have a private life with their families. Nobody follows them to the park or the beach or the shops or to their child’s soccer game.