Lunchtime Live presenter Andrea Gilligan has revealed that she regularly receives ‘really nasty messages’ about her body and her appearance online – and they’re not all from men.
She was speaking after British actor Emily Atack revealed that strangers send her so-called ‘dick pics’ on a daily basis – alongside vile messages and sexual threats.
Opening her new BBC documentary ‘Emily Atack: Asking for It’, the former Inbetweeners star says: “Every morning I see a man’s penis I haven’t asked to see.”
Andrea said the programme made her wonder whether online sexual harassment has become so normalised that all women experience it.
The Lunchtime Live presenter said she has received all sorts of abusive messages both private and public down through the years.
“I actually usually never look at them but a friend flagged it with me one day just to say, have you spotted this? Like have you read the comments?” she said.
“When I did and I looked and I saw the extent of it, they were just … they are horrible.
“Really nasty comments talking about me, my body, my appearance. Like, everything you could possibly imagine when I looked at them.
“‘Has she put on weight,’ asks one commenter, which then of course, naturally, everybody has to chime in and give their opinion on that.
“That then, of course, attracts a huge onslaught of further comments that come with it – all public there that you can see.”
"It has definitely gotten worse'
Andrea said the situation has “definitely gotten worse over the last few years”.
“There’s no point in saying otherwise - it has, absolutely - and I know I am not the only one who receives this; my colleagues in other stations and friends that I talk to certainly get it as well.
“I do wonder though, do my male colleagues receive it in such a personal way? Is it as personal?
“I have no issue with people telling me they dislike me, they dislike the show, my style, my opinion – whatever that’s all fair game.
“But I think, when it comes to your appearance and your body shape, how you wear your hair, what clothes I choose to wear - whatever it is - it takes a very, very different turn and it becomes exceptionally nasty.”
"Not all from men"
Andrea said it is important to note that it is not only men that send abusive messages.
“I do want to say this because I know how this will be perceived today – it is not all from men,” she said.
“The comments I get, typically on Twitter and public threads, probably nine times out of ten they are from men, but it’s the messages I receive privately; the private messages I open on Instagram or Facebook Messenger, from people that I don’t know, that I’m not friends with, that I don’t follow – 95% of the time, they’re from women.
“So, this is not an attack on men – not at all.
“Certainly, the bitchy messages that I receive, I would say the majority of them are from women.”
She said it is “pretty incredible” to read some of the messages and then see the sender’s social media profile, complete with pictures of them with their children and their families on holidays.
Andrea said the Emily Atack documentary shows that it is not just people in the public eye who get the abuse.
She is urging listers to get in touch with their own stories and experiences.
“If you have received unwanted messages, comments, explicit photographs – whatever nature or form they take, from men or women, I want to chat to you on the programme,” she said.
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