When I first started on in TV [on The Real Housewives of Melbourne in 2014], I had some anxiety about what people would say about me on social media. I remember my husband, Ben [Gillies, of Silverchair], sat me down and told me, “You’re going to have people who love you and people who hate you. Some people are absolute garbage on Twitter and you need to be prepared for them to write shit about you. Do not read it. Do not take it on.”
Ben was right. When The Real Housewives started airing, I had people say, “You’re so ugly and disgusting, you shouldn’t be on television,” and, “I don’t even know why you’re alive.” I’ve been fat-shamed, accused of being a crazy alcoholic and called an Aussie bogan and a filthy animal. The worst thing is when they’ve said, “Go die”, and, “I hope your family dies.” It was pretty horrendous. If I didn’t have the support of my loved ones and Ben’s advice, I honestly don’t know how I would have acted.
I feel like women are quick to put each other down on social media; they can be very judgemental creatures. I know that, because I used to be one. In the first chapter of my new book, Shine It Up, I talk about a period in my life when I was in a toxic relationship and depressed. I was angry at the world and quick to point out the negatives. It’s only when I took responsibility for my life and rid myself of that toxicity that I discovered my own self-worth.
As women, we need to raise each other up, not tear each other down. I think it’s so important to be authentic. I do not alter the way I look in my photos, because I’m proud of who I am. I don’t use Photoshop, face filters or suck in my gut in selfies. I want my followers to know nobody’s perfect.
I think we all have a duty to try to inspire one another on social media. I’ve had parents come in [for a psychic reading] saying their child doesn’t even want to go out – they feel ugly because they don’t look like the models on Instagram. We have a responsibility to teach girls that social media isn’t real. The only reason an influencer looks so good in a bikini is because she has a personal trainer, make- up artist, daily spray tan, professional photographer and great lighting. I want to teach young girls that true happiness comes from having a purpose – not [through] a massive Facebook following.
Because I’m confident in who I am, I don’t compare myself to others and I don’t allow the hateful comments I receive to get the best of me. I don’t react, because I know that person sitting behind their keyboard is so incredibly unhappy with their own life they’re trying to bring others down with them.
People are becoming addicted to their phones and I think it’s so important to take time out from our screens and social media. My most joyous memories are those where I’ve been able to appreciate the stillness – without my phone.
This article originally appeared in the June issue of marie claire Australia.