Comments targeted charity founder Rochelle Courtenay (centre) over her body. (Facebook: Share the Dignity)
The woman behind a charity providing sanitary products to homeless women and victims of domestic violence has been targeted by Facebook trolls over her body after posing for a photoshoot in activewear.
Share the Dignity founder and managing director Rochelle Courtenay was subjected to dozens of abusive comments on Facebook, mostly from women, about her body size and shape this past week.
The comments were made on a short video promoting an upcoming charity event involving activewear brand Active Truth, along with their founders Nadia Tucker and Stevie Angel.
Active Truth brands itself as “activewear for every body, with sizes up to 3XL including maternity”.
Speaking to ABC News, Ms Courtenay said the comments were “enough to hurt your feelings”.
“Saying things like, ‘I don’t think you should be the person with those thighs promoting activewear’, and ‘you’ve had too many good feeds, love’,” Ms Courtenay said.
“I didn’t want to individually call them out, and to be honest I was dented for a couple of days. I wanted to scream FU, but I didn’t.”
Ms Courtenay said the trolls were eventually banned.
“I don’t know that anyone has the rights to judge anyone on the size of their thighs or bum no matter what size … I’m a healthy woman who plays netball every week, and you’re judging me?”
Ms Courtney’s message for those trolls — “it’s time to be kind”.
“I feel really sorry for them,” she said.
“They were women. We’re all about women supporting women, and how hard is to be a woman and a wife, a mother, a worker, a friend, let alone having complete strangers pulling you down. It’s not okay. It’s so not okay.
“It’s time we stood up and said, ‘You know what? I love you, [and] I hope you get the help you need’.
“It must be really sad to be them, to be the person that’s got nothing nice to say, or can pull someone you don’t know down.
“It’s your body, it’s your choice. If you want to be size 26 or a size 8, it’s your body. Does it affect Suzie in WA? I don’t think so, it’s got nothing to do with you. The size of my bum has nothing to do with you.”
‘These are people who need help’
Queensland University of Technology media and communication lecturer Jason Sternberg said it was “incredibly ironic and really sad that type of bullying would take place on a page like Share the Dignity”.
“It’s such a strange one. It astounds me in many ways,” Dr Sternberg said.
“It’s very sad we’ve seen women condemning other women in this way.
“These are people who need help. I think a lot of social media posts — whether it’s the extreme end in terms of trolling, bullying, or kind of other sorts of posts — you can actually interpret them as cries for help.”
Dr Sternberg said anyone finding themselves the target of trolls could report it to Facebook, but whether they would take action or not was another question.
“There are dozens of stories about people making these sorts of complaints to Facebook, Twitter and nothing being done about them,” he said.
Dr Sternberg said it was important for individuals to educate themselves on social media privacy.
“You can make your profiles restricted, you can block people, in the same way if you had an argument with a friend you’d stop calling them, or if someone abused you in the street you’d turn away and not interact with them,” he said.
“I think that’s an education issue that people really need to make an effort, I think more so than a lot of people do, to understand that social media doesn’t need to be a free-for-all if you don’t want to attract crazies.”