Rimmel vs. cyberbullies

Back in October Rimmel announced that they’d be partnering with The Cybersmile Foundation in a campaign to combat beauty cyberbullying, employing the hashtag #IWILLNOTBEDELETED. Unfortunately, this announcement was overshadowed by one of Rimmel’s sister brands, CoverGirl, announcing that they’re now certified as cruelty-free. The news has been on my radar for a while but because I’m a generally terrible blogger, I’m only now investigating and thinking about it.

There’s some stuff to unpack here.

The Cybersmile Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on stopping cyberbullying. From their About page: “Committed to tackling all forms of digital abuse, harassment and bullying online, we work to promote diversity and inclusion by building a safer, more positive digital community.” I think that this is a fantastic goal. I’m a fat woman who’s approaching middle age, and since my teenage years, I’ve basically lived on the internet. From making friends and meeting potential partners in my 20s to now, when my livelihood depends wholly on the internet and the connections I make here. I’ve been harassed, stalked, bullied, you name it, but until very recently it wasn’t a thing anyone thought or cared about. It wasn’t “real life”.

Then came the Millennials, and like they ruin everything else, they ruined cyberbullying (for the bullies, not the rest of us). It’s because of them that the practice got a name and people, meaning adults and the powers that be, started talking about it. When kids started hurting themselves over things that happen online, lawmakers started paying attention, and now in a lot of places cyberbullying comes with legal ramifications just like offline harassment. I know some people are like “Oh everyone is bullied, get thicker skin”, but that’s a completely inappropriate bullshit response. These kids are in enough pain that they’re taking their own lives. That’s not ok, and it needs to stop.

What I’ve never heard anyone talk about until recently is beauty cyberbullying, basically the practice of targeting people who post selfies and trolling them about their looks, makeup, whatever. It’s so sad; it didn’t occur to me that this was a problem because it’s such a normal thing. If I post a photo of myself on the internet, I expect to be trolled. Someone is going to have something to say about my looks, hair, skin, weight, something. Or they’re going to make some kind of disgusting comment about being sexy or whatever. More than once I’ve thought about deleting photos of myself, and now I rarely even post selfies. I get all glammed up and think “Oh, I look awesome today, I should post something on Instagram.” Then I don’t, because I don’t want to deal with the bullshit.

It’s easy for me because I’m an adult and mostly secure in who I am as a human, and social media isn’t something that’s so ingrained in me that I think about it all the time. Even MySpace wasn’t around until I was in my 20s, so I’ve never lived my life online. I know that’s not the case for younger people, like my niece. Everything she does ends up on Instagram or Snapchat, and I know that if she started being targeted because of the way she looks she’d be devastated. And then I’d have to commit a murder, and that just gets messy.

So Rimmel, in conjunction with various celebrities and influencers like Cara Delvigne, are encouraging people to use their hashtag, #IWILLNOTBEDELETED, to celebrate beauty in all forms. They’re also developing an AI ‘Cybersmile Assistant’ that can help people being affected by beauty cyberbullying access resources in their areas, and it’s supposed to launch this month (January 2019). In the meantime, they have a help center for digital abuse and cyberbullying.

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