MAFS’ Cheryl has become the tabloids’ new punching bag. And it needs to stop.

Video by Mamamia

There was Sam Armytage’s granny panties, The Block‘s Suzie Taylor dancing topless on a boat, Georgia Love’s “thunder thighs”.

Now, another famous woman is being hauled across the headlines in an attempt to shame and degrade her while satisfying our voyeuristic pleasure and a news site’s need for clicks.

Cheryl Maitland, a 25-year-old contestant on experimental matchmaking show Married at First Sight has only been on our screens a few weeks, but already she’s become one of the tabloids’ favourite targets.

They’ve dug and turned this fresh earth, looking to see what she may have buried. This is what they’ve managed come up with:

“Who would have recognised her at first sight? Pictures of MAFS Cheryl Maitland show how she looked VERY different even a couple of years ago.” (Yes, that’s a story about how her face has changed.)

“MAFS’s most shocking scandal: The explosive video Cheryl didn’t want the world to see.” (A story about how once, “several years ago”, she seemingly took drugs.)

Earlier this month another news outlet ‘outed’ the Scottish-born woman as a former topless waitress.

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“Reality TV contestant’s raunchy past”, the headline read.

“Seriously where do these casting agents go scouting? Kittens?” the writer asked.

There was a not-so-subtle suggestion that there’s something fundamentally wrong, even immoral, about her previous choice of work. That it’s something for which she should feel embarrassed.

Cheryl. Image: Channel 9.

Of course, she doesn't. In response to the story, Maitland confirmed the accusation, saying part of her life is now "well and truly in my past".

"My focus now is maintaining a loving and healthy relationship and my career in the beauty industry," she said.

But still the 'gotcha' theme continues, because surely she must be mortified that the nation knows her dirty little secret, right?

As the story says, 'topless waitress' is a little "at odds" with the profession Maitland gave both Channel 9 producers and her new on-screen husband. She gave them the impression she was 'a hair salon manager'. You know, because she is. She works for her sister's salon on the Gold Coast.

Do we expect the show to include her entire resume every time her name appears at the bottom of the screen? I means, perhaps she did some babysitting as a teenager that we don't know about?

Of course, the fact a male contestant on the same show is a male stripper doesn't warrant a single comment. Because why would it? Let's focus on what's important - humiliating the ladies - please.

For a culture as obsessed with and invested in famous women as ours, you'd think we'd treat them a little differently.

Shannon Dooley and Jessica Marais. Image: Instagram.

Just last month I spoke to Shannon Dooley, a businesswoman who happens to be friends with actress Jessica Marais (both pictured above). A woman whose attempt to shield her famous friend from a paparazzi photographer was twisted as sexual intimacy and splashed across Mail Online as proof of their relationship.

"Wearing a floral string bikini, The Wrong Girl actress showcased her svelte limbs as she was seen hugging and nestling into Shannon's chest," the article read.

For Shannon, the media attention was a perfect example of the tabloid media's disregard for privacy, or for the feelings of the people that drive their profits.

"Hypothetically, had Jess and I been in a lesbian relationship and had been outed - had it been the truth - the carry on effect also to our family, our friends..." she said. "It's just so wrong."

Listen: Rebecca Judd on what it's like to be the target of tabloid speculation. (Post continues after audio.)

Yet people will continue to argue that by choosing to step into the spotlight, famous women waive their right to privacy; that their shameful secrets somehow automatically enter the public domain.

Not only is this problematic, it's just plain wrong.

By stepping into the spotlight these women waive the right to anonymity - and that's entirely different.

It means they accept people will recognise their faces on the street, know the names of their children, where they get their hair done or what kind of dog they have.

It does not mean they have to accept that strangers will dissect their decisions and leaf through their lives, as if we're entitled do so simply because we buy their albums, watch their TV shows or see their films.

Privacy is about expressing yourself selectively. We can honour this by selecting not to click.

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