The deceiving story we're told about celebrity breakups.

After months of speculation and half-truths from ‘close’ sources, 42-year-old TODAY Show host Karl Stefanovic and his new partner, 33-year-old shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough, have made their first public appearances as a couple. And a lot of people have a lot to say about it.

Like anyone with an iPhone and a half decent WiFi connection, I feel I have a fairly solid grasp on the couple’s past week. On Monday, they put on an “amorous” front row display at Mercedes Benz Australian Fashion Week – their official debut as a couple and a subsequent feeding frenzy for paparazzi.

On Wednesday night they appeared “happy and relaxed” on a romantic solo date in Mosman. Come Thursday, Jasmine took herself to the hairdressers and “smitten” Karl dutifully followed – the most concrete confirmation to date that things must be serious.

Image: Getty.

To round out the week, the pair enjoyed a “lavish” champagne-filled lunch in Barangaroo. And how did they get to said lunch, you ask? They don’t catch Ubers like the rest of us, they travel exclusively via “romantic stroll”.

On the whole, it was a glamorous, carefree week. From what I can tell, marriage break-ups seem like a piece of cake!

On the flipside, we’ve seen Karl’s ex-wife of 21-years, Cassandra Thorburn, 44, perpetually snapped bare-faced in exercise gear either getting their children to school, at the supermarket or directing removalist trucks as she packs up the family home. In stark contrast to Karl’s glittering bounce-back, Cass is framed as the downtrodden ex-wife, the mother-of-three children anchored to the home, keeping up with the daily grind while her ex pivots effortlessly into post-married life. There are no pictures of carefree Cass or fabulous Cass. At best, we’ve seen her share a dart with a friend on the beach looking ”stressed out” – and it wasn’t flattering.

As Meshel Laurie put it on Friday – all we’ve seen is Cass “doing the life”.


And therein lies the problem with the way the media frames high-profile break-ups. After a separation, the man’s currency is upgraded to eligible bachelor status and the woman gets to play ‘the one who had him for a while’. In some cases, this woman is seen ‘shocking onlookers with her slender frame’ or ‘flaunting her new curves’. Which is code for getting fat after binge eating her feelings. She spends most days “stepping out” in various states of distress. ‘Close sources’ say she’s ‘devastated’ by the split and ‘didn’t see it coming’.

Image via Getty.

In reality, separations are never this black and white. But every time a media outlet chooses to run the split-second frame of “stressed” Cass standing alongside the removalist truck against pictures of carefree Karl at A-list events, it’s contributing to the narrative that when one person is thriving, the other is automatically ‘losing’ the post-break-up competition. You know, the one we all secretly play in our heads? And too often, through the tabloid lens, it’s the woman filling the role of the sinking ship.

While Laurie says Karl is inappropriately “flaunting” his new relationship – my point is not about either party’s conduct. In fact, it isn’t about Karl and Cass specifically. I’m simply a voracious consumer of media who is fed up with this tired win-lose narrative. The juxtaposition of the renewed man with a new lease on life and the broken woman picking up the pieces. It’s too easy and it lacks imagination – and in most cases, truth.

Unfortunately this has been going on for years. After Brad Pitt split from Jennifer Anniston, Brad became one half of Hollywood’s most powerful couple and the media would have had you believe ‘Poor Jen’ spent two years hysterically throwing chocolates at the television, a la Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. At the same time, George Clooney had been single on and off for decades – but was he considered desperate and unlucky in love? Of course not. He was People's Most Eligible Bachelor 27 years in a row.


The Mamamia OutLoud team discuss Australia's obsession with Karl's new relationship.

Let’s not kid ourselves – Karl’s new relationship generates a lot of clicks and rightly or wrongly the media can’t ignore that. But they can change the win-lose narrative.

The win-lose narrative is particularly sucky because it sends a message to women that we too will attain ‘loser’ status if things go belly-up in our relationships. This is simply fake news. Women can be at their most powerful after a break-up (just ask Zoe Foster-Blake, she’s been banging on about this for yonks – she even developed an app about it). Statistics show 170 per cent of the time women get a fabulous new haircut post break-up. We invest more time in ourselves and our wellbeing, we socialise more and we thrive in our careers. We take up new hobbies and explore the world.

Where is this in the win-lose narrative? Am I missing something? Is it hidden beneath the folds in our post-break-up curves?

Break-ups are awful. While we shouldn’t kid ourselves that the people involved are going through one of the shittiest times in their lives, let’s not revert to this predictable storyline that when one person is flourishing the other is, by default, in a rut. A snapshot can be deceiving and does neither party justice - and it’s not helping anyone.