On the weekend I was catching up with a close friend who is recovering from severe body image issues.
As we spoke, she mentioned how seeing pictures of famous women looking “normal” helped her feel better about herself in her battle for self-acceptance. She couldn’t quite put her finger on why. But it just, sort of… helped. Plain and simple.
The very next day, paparazzi shots of Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage were splashed on the Daily Mail shaming her “granny panties”.
I clicked. A lot of people clicked. A heck of a lot. And I can almost guarantee that every single woman who did would have felt a complex mixture of emotions. Guilt for supporting a business that bullies and embarrasses women... but also on the flip side, a feeling of 'that's me'.
"That's me on a Sunday, doing my weekly shop in a throw-on cotton dress, wearing my trustiest pair of underpants," I thought.
This broader feeling was evidenced by women from all walks of life posting in solidarity with 40-year-old Armytage and her comfy undies.
The response was incredible. Unprecedented, even. Tabloid articles hooked off grimy paparazzi shots are being produced every damn minute, and they don't normally spark a national debate. (Post continues after gallery.)
Most of the time these articles are read in secret, because they immediately make you feel sick for partaking in the gawking. They belong to the domain of guilty pleasures no one ever wants to admit to, like watching trashy TV or pinching hotel towels.
And so while we are all quietly clicking away, supporting an industry that feeds on shaming others, it goes unspoken.
But I'm ready to admit publicly that I click. I hate that I do it, but I do. And I'm betting you have too.
It's not because we are horrible people. We don't set out to read these articles to leer at another person. My belief is we are driven by selfish reasons.
I find myself constantly scrambling to feel like my body is "normal". I want to believe I fit some kind of abstract "mould" society dictates exists. And looking at paparazzi photos of celebrity women is, depressingly, a standard way of working out how I stack up.