On Tuesday, 23-year-old Jade Jillings joined 100,000 others at Flemington Race Course for the 156th Melbourne Cup.
When she awoke on Wednesday morning, she was notified that a friend had tagged her in something on Facebook.
It would be the first of many, many notifications that day.
Jillings knew she had been photographed lying down in some bushes with her roommate.
What she didn’t know, was that multiple images of her, which she was not aware were being taken, would come to represent the “decadent” and “depraved” 2016 Melbourne Cup. And they would be published worldwide.
It’s likely that throughout the course of the week, you’ve seen the image of Jillings “riding” a wheelie bin as though it was a horse. The photograph was published by News.com, The Daily Mail, The Australian Women’s Weekly and Yahoo to name a few, as well as US sports website Deadspin where it was shared over 350, 000 times.
We have decided not to post the images.
Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and I discuss drunk women at the races on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
When I spoke to Jillings over the phone, I was reminded (and I think we all need reminding) that behind these ‘funny’ photographs is a vulnerable human being who has spent most of this week trying to process her unprecedented virality.
“I was quite embarrassed…” she told Mamamia. “I was like…my family’s going to see this, and there was just nothing I could do about it.”
At first, Jillings chose to remain nameless as the tabloids plastered her image across their homepages, referring to her mostly as “the woman in the blue dress,” with some claiming she was “humping” the wheelie bin.
The comment sections, particularly on The Daily Mail, became increasingly vile.
To reiterate – Jillings never posed for a photograph. She had not sought any exposure, and these are some of the comments she’s been subjected to:
“Aussie girls are the roughest in the world. Horrible.”
“Calling her a lady is quite a stretch of the imagination.”
“Australia, do something. This is unbelievably vulgar.”
“Wow the cattle grow big in Australia what do you feed them. [sic]“
“Just another excuse for the brain dead morons to dress like tarts and fill themselves up with booze and bad manners.”
“Her mum must be so proud right about now.”