Toronto model tackles cyberbullying head-on
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This week, a Toronto model contacted CityNews to speak out about cyberbullying after becoming a target.
“I was called trash, fake mannequin, sausage face and a whole list of other horrible things,” said Laura Makaltses.
Her social media feed was bombarded with comments like these shortly after she qualified for the semifinals of an online competition for Toronto models.
“The idea behind it was to celebrate all of the beautiful people in Toronto. It was a really positive thing at the start and it turned very negative quite quickly, ”Makaltses said. “On social media, when a person does something hateful, it can spread and that’s what happened here.”
Makaltses is one of the latest and certainly won’t be the latest victim of cyberbullying. Although there is no concrete evidence yet, experts believe the pandemic has made the problem worse.
“Research is still ongoing, but I think the evidence seems to be that this has become a bigger problem during this pandemic,” said Professor Faye Mishna of the Factor-Interwash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. .
So what makes a bully and why has the problem become so prevalent?
“I still think we really don’t know the answer,” Mishnah said. “Initially, it was assumed that people who bully had low self-esteem, but the researchers later showed that this was not always the case. As we know, some of them are very successful and are doing very well. I think it’s a combination. But I think there is something in the power of being able to hurt.
“It can affect people physically, emotionally, psychologically,” Mishna said.
Makaltses said she spent days battling depression, but turned that into action by launching a new Instagram campaign called #FakeModel, sharing it with her more than 30,000 followers.
“The fake model is something that I was told a lot about in the post,” she said. “Basically I read all the reviews and found keywords that were used a lot and the garbage was important. So I decided to dress in a garbage bag; I literally wrote the word trash on my leg. I was sent a photo with an X in my eyes, so I used it as a makeup inspiration and did a photoshoot.
She received a lot of positive feedback and is now ordering t-shirts and tote bags with the #FakeModel logo on them.
“I plan to sell them and donate all the proceeds to a charity that helps fight cyberbullying,” Makaltses said.
It was a start to tackling a growing and seemingly endless problem.
Professor Mishna says that others – especially adults – can change the tone as well.
“We watch what adults do to each other, we can’t then tell the kids, don’t do it. So I think it’s really important.
What if you see someone being targeted online? Offer your support!
“Just sending them a direct message does a lot of good. It’s not enough. It is not the end, but it is something, ”Mishnah said.
Makaltses now hopes others will think before commenting.
“These very beautiful things came from social networks. It is in my opinion the greatest and worst invention in human history and I would love to see it rotate and be used only for positivity. “
If you want to know more about the Makaltses campaign, click here.
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