Sheridan Smith has been in the news recently after her absence during the run of Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre. The press have had a field day with lines like ‘Concerns raised for fragile Sheridan’, ‘Smith’s worrying behaviour’ or ‘Vulnerable Sheridan pulls out due to poor health’. I have nothing significant to say about Sheridan Smith other than she’s a great actress and I hope she feels better soon. I take issue with articles claiming they are worried about her well being, whilst assassinating her character. It reminds me of magazine covers with images of celebrities, accompanied with captions screaming that Angelina/Kate/Miley/Alexa/Victoria (delete where applicable) are looking ‘worryingly thin’. The faux-concern of trashy magazines bothers me, as it’s a flimsy excuse to pick apart women in the public eye. This brand of hack-journalism is toxic and destructive because it implies that it’s not ok to fail. Women are expected to be perfect – physically, professionally and emotionally. A certain degree of schadenfreude is natural but revelling in the misery of others is damaging because it perpetuates the negative messages that keep us all down. Compassion is one of the keys to emotional wellbeing; when we lack compassion for others, we tend to be even harder on ourselves. Of course, famous people should be held accountable for their actions, and freedom of the press dictates that journalists are entitled to their opinions. However, the feeding frenzy that a ‘public meltdown’ engenders is nauseating. Men are subject to similar scrutiny, but not quite to the same degree as women. I don’t have a solution for the wrongs of tabloid journalism because, sadly, twas ever thus. I suppose we readers can avoid negative articles that pick over someone’s weight or vulnerabilities. As for the people subject to this kind of attention, the important thing to remember is that soon enough, this will pass. The most healthy thing to do is say “fuck ’em”, and move on.

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