The cancellation of The Jeremy Kyle Show: Can we end poverty porn for good?

The cancellation of The Jeremy Kyle Show: Can we end poverty porn for good?

This week saw the daytime TV talk show ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ cancelled permanently by ITV after a guest committed suicide just one week after being publicly humiliated over a lie detector test whilst filming the show. A father, grandfather and an individual suffering from mental health, Steven Dymond’s death has garnered the attention of MP’s, psychiatrists and experts who are all calling for urgent action to be taken by production companies to provide up-to-par aftercare for their guests, with Downing Street adding that the case was ‘deeply disturbing’.

And that it is, but what is perhaps more deeply disturbing is how it has taken fourteen years of degradation of their participants- many vulnerable individuals- across three thousand, three hundred and twenty episodes for the show to be cancelled. Or how 1.5 million people regularly tuned in to watch what a district judge once described as ‘human bear-baiting’ unfold on prime-time tv with their cup of tea and toast as part of their morning routine. Or perhaps how anyone expected nearly twenty-odd-thousand guests, most seeking help with sex, alcohol and drug related problems, to be provided with top-level aftercare by a production company profiting off their pain. And maybe the most deeply disturbing of them all, is the hypocrisy of the MP’s claiming a tv entertainment show, for right or wrong, need to take responsibility for the care of their vulnerable participants, whilst child poverty figures sit above 50% in some of the most deprived parts of Britain.

Reality-tv has provided a platform to spread hate and propaganda towards our societies poorest and defenseless. From shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show who entice guests in with the promise of first-class therapists, a posh hotel and a cigarette allowance before Kyle screams judgements at them in front of a baying audience, pointing our their dowdy appearance whilst they sit in the tracksuit they’ve been encouraged to wear. To documentaries’ such as ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!’ which follows enforcement officers as they repossess the homes of those too poor to pay their bills; and ‘Rich House, Poor House‘ which sees families from opposite ends of the financial and class spectrum swap houses and budgets for a week, providing a cruel insight into the lives of their rich counterparts who take pity upon their debts and less-than appealing lifestyles, some of whom take it upon themselves to be their knight in shining armour and buy the poor family a new carpet, before slipping quickly back into their comfortable life in their sought after postcode. And let’s not forget reality shows aimed at a younger audience such as Geordie Shore, who handpicked young adults from working-class backgrounds and struck them off the dole and into the limelight; ploughing them with free alcohol and a new found infamy in the World of television. All of these shows garner Nationwide attention and aim to highlight the worst qualities of the lower-classes in order to humiliate and ridicule for the gain and entertainment of others, all the while whilst pushing an ideal supported by decades of austerity that these individuals are a nuisance to our society. And we the public buy into it every single time.

Reflecting our ancestors medieval traditions, we throw insult and judgement’s at those airing their dirty laundry on our screens, one rotten tomato after another whilst cackling at the despair of others like the sadist’s we so desperately claim not to be; Unfortunately social media only acts as an enabler to these views. I recently watched an episode of Blind Date which portrayed a lady as being a little ungrateful at being picked and who giggled along with the crowd at the appearance of her date. Twitter lit up with negative comments about this woman’s looks, her attitude, how she ‘wasn’t a looker herself’. Tweet after tweet nitpicked away at this woman’s body image whilst she desperately tried to personally reply to all the criticism coming her way by sharing how nervous and awkward the heckling audience made her feel, and that she wasn’t used to being on television. I felt extremely uncomfortable watching all of this unfold, it was as if she had been thrown to the lions and was furiously trying to crawl away, with I imagine very little aftercare on how to deal with such a scrutiny from the Blind Date team. This raised the question Why we as a society use TV as our output in taking so much pleasure from another’s pain? Watching someone else’s misery is a leisurely activity for us, our Friday night wind-down. Our Saturday’s are spent finding their social channels to tell them how we feel about their performance. And as Sunday comes around, we prepare for our own battles we’ll face in the week ahead that are, thankfully, not played out in the public eye, whilst our ‘willing’ participants (a term many like to use to support this theatre of cruelty) deal with the aftermath of their lives changing forever. Chris Lyons, a previous guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show has claimed the show “Ruined my life. All of a sudden, I wasn’t Chris Lyons any more. I was just that guy off The Jeremy Kyle Show”.

No one can prepare you for the mass judgement of others, whether you’re semi-aware of the publicity the show brings i.e: being a contestant on Love Island, to filming a one-off tv appearance you thought would be ‘a bit of fun’. The cancelling of The Jeremy Kyle Show is a step in the right direction toward ending poverty porn and the glee in which others find in it, but whilst production companies have a duty of care to their participants, we have a responsibility as humans to be a little nicer to each other; And to recognise that we are contributing to a class-divide problem which stretches much wider than the channels encased in our small screens. Would Steve Dymond have felt the immense pressure and humiliation which led to him taking his own life from just Kyle’s comments alone? Maybe. But a heckling audience and the thought of the widespread embarrassment and judgement from failing a lie detector test in front of 1 million viewers to come might have just been his tip of the iceberg.


If you are struggling with your mental health and would like someone to talk to, please contact mind.org.uk or call 0300 123 3393.

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I am not a body, I am somebody.

I am not a body, I am somebody.

Staring into the mirror I prepare myself for another pep talk as the overwhelminginly familiar curtain of doubt and fear of pre-judgement draws down upon me once again; “You are more than just a pair of tits”.

This might sound like a crazy ritual but being able to distance yourself as a person, from your job, is an art in which I find difficulty in mastering; Not for reasonings on my own part, I possess full self-belief in my abilities and who I am as an individual (Well if you can’t love yourself n’ all that….). But once people learn of my job as a Glamour Model, it’s difficult for them to see anything else. Unlike many jobs where you get to clock out at 5pm and go back to being “Just John” who lives at Number 12, I don’t have a job- I am my job. Or so people think.

As a naive 18 year old to the big wide world of the internet, the thought of thousands of images of my boobs being available at a click of a button was not exactly something I gave much thought too. And it’s definitely not something you give a lot of thought too when you don’t see anything wrong with your job in the first place. “What name do you want to go by?” My agent asked as I enthusiastically signed my first modelling contract. “Erm, just my own?” I answered innocently, not foreshadowing the collective of cold-shoulders which awaited me in my years to come. Fast forward eight years and the realisation that people can judge me by one google search is a terror which haunts me every time I meet someone new. “What’s your name?” Are three words which send a shiver down my spine. My heart drops into my stomach every time I’m asked to note down my social media handles at an interview. Most people with hundreds of thousands of followers (barf- subtle brag) would be eager to boast to potential clients about their following, riding the wave of influence and outreach, but for me it’s just another hump in the road. Another chance for someone to see my body and link it to the idea that I must be a terrible person and incompetent at succeeding. I jump at the chance of meeting people in the flesh, where they get to encounter the real me, rather than the image they’ve curated in their head from a posed picture online. All of this has led to me having a love – hate relationship with my bosom; Thankful for the opportunities that have risen from being #blessed, but bitter at the stereotype they’ve forced upon me. So much so, that when I started the transition to working more behind the scenes in the industry, I decided to change my name. I set up a fake email address and a new Instagram account, full of crippling dread that a client I email could see my lady lumps online and never want to work with me, or the brand, again. I began to live a lie, pretending to be someone I was not all because the fear of rejection for being who I really was. I felt like a fraud. Being ashamed of my job, of my body, was not what I stood for and yet I was feeding into it out of terror of being criticised by the World.

I’ve recently started watching The Secret Diaries Of A Call Girl (I know I’m ten years behind but stick with me here) And something resonated with me in the way that Hannah is forced to live a double life. She’s petrified her family may find out about her job, unable to share her career with her friends and feels shame and unworthiness when it comes to finding a real partner to date, and yet she feels all of this whilst loving the job she does. Now perhaps comparing myself to a prostitute is not exactly the angle I’m going for, but the stigma which surrounds females who make a living out of their body- be it glamour models, escorts or webcam girls, is outdated and does not represent the woman behind the role. What the show did so well was expose us to the other side of Belle- the motherly, caring and witty friend, daughter and mentor. She was so much more than just a call girl.

And I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve put yourself out there; You must expect people to judge you for posing for topless pictures” But expect and accept are two very different things. I’ve unfortunately come to expect the judgement, but I don’t accept the stigma given to me because of it. Where my torment lies is in the rationale that I don’t see anything god-awfully wrong with making money from shedding my clothes. I chose to become a glamour model because I find empowerment in the human form in it’s natural state- my human form. The same way many other women do; The same expression which sees many other women applauded for their ‘body positivity’. The shame in which I feel has been involuntarily placed alongside me, like a ball and chain constantly dragging me down whenever I attempt to break free and fly. But after compromising my character for long enough I decided I was done with the pretending, the fake name’s and the hiding. If I am going to make it as someone, something, I want to do so as me, and not someone everyone deems as more acceptable to be. And if I’m going to fail, then I sure as hell am not going to go down quietly. Or fully clothed for that matter.

I am not my boobs, I have boobs. I also have arms, and legs, and compassion, and ambition, and over-sensitive tear ducts when it comes to watching something mildly sad on TV (Don’t tell me you’ve never cried at an episode of Jeremy Kyle). I am not my body, I am somebody. I’m a glamour model. But I’m also a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a Bachelor of Science (of course I had to get that in there, it cost me £28k), a writer, a yoga enthusiast (albeit not a great one), and an extremely embarrassing drunk dancer. If you can look passed someone‘s job as an office worker, and see the glorious dishevelled, unique individual which lies behind them, then you can see passed me for “just” being a glamour model. I am so much more than a pair of tits. I am me.

Feature image copyright Anna Bressi https://annabressi.com

It’s been a while. I’m sorry.

Hey there. It’s been a while. I’m sorry. Or am I? I started off this blog page with the intentions of living freely; posting whenever, whatever, because I no longer have to conform to deadlines and “do-good” views (or basically having no views at all) that you’re chained to when writing under a brand. I’ll post one blog a week, I told myself. “But it doesn’t matter if I don’t hit those targets”. So Why am I left wracked with guilt that I’ve been a bit shit and not updated this for 10 days?

I never wanted this to be a chore, something that I do for the sake of it and not because I actually have something to say. And it’s not. This guilt I’m feeling doesn’t stem from my blog. The blog is just a metaphor for the guilt towards my lack of lustre for well, anything lately. Anything productive that is.

The reality is, I’ve been busy. Busy drinking with my friends. Busy on a walking holiday with my family. Busy spending money I really shouldn’t be spending. Busy staring at my phone for 7 (yes, seven 😳) hours a day – thanks Apple Update for the screentime setting, really making me feel better about my life. I’ve been Browsing and Shopping and Posting and Liking and Reading and Sharing and doing anything really, anything but progressive movements towards building my future. This is the guilt. This is the procrastination. This is the blaming having to wait on everyone and anyone else to get back to me, instead of sitting at my desk and writing. Writing emails to potential clients. Writing blogs for potential features. Writing pitches for potential jobs. Writing measurements for potential fashion designs. I know what I need to do, but the last couple weeks I just haven’t been able to grasp it. The road up ahead seems such a long one that I’ve burned myself out by doing nothing at all. The irony of feeling fucking shattered by your lack of work, lack of hope and lack of faith in things finally happening, is exhausting.

Oh, but I have wrote something. I have wrote lists. And plans. Fuck yes, lots of them. I’ve wrote lists of plans and plans of lists. I know what I want, I’m just dumbfounded at how I get there. I’ve read about this “planning procrastination”. Writing lists and pinning endless Pinterest posts to make you think you’re being productive, when you’re in fact avoiding all your tasks with pointless projects which never get you any closer to where you want to be. Apparently this procrastination stems from stress and anxiety. Something I think a lot of young people attempting to uncover their golden gated path in life whilst dealing with social relationships and discovering new truths struggle with. I have so much angst about where I want to be in my life and where I am right now, that tackling the middle ground of actually getting there feels like the impossible task. I came across an article on LAPP the Brand a couple weeks ago where Victoria Secret model and LAPP Founder Leomie Anderson shared her fear of FOMOMGFear of missing out on my goals. And boy I felt that. We spend so much of our time comparing our lives to others. Their paths, their journeys and their destinations. We panic about where we want to be. Where we are not. We work ourselves up about how we are ever going to get there, that we forget to give ourselves a pat on the back for where we are now. Right where we’re supposed to be.

Sometimes I don’t want to write a blog post. Sometimes I don’t want to reply to that email. Sometimes I don’t want to hang out with my friends. Sometimes I don’t want to go to the gym. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Sometimes I want to watch a film with a glass of wine. Sometimes I want to go out and get drunk with my friends instead of put together that pitch for a client. Sometimes I want to eat a pizza instead of a salad. Sometimes I want to go for a walk and sometimes I want to lie in bed all day. And sometimes I want to do absolutely nothing. And that’s ok. Because Self-love doesn’t just consist of meditating and yoga and going to the gym and eating kale when you really want a burger. Self-love is about taking care of your mind. Self-love is being able to sit in your bed all day because you don’t feel like moving and not beat yourself up about it. Self-love is about knowing that you’re doing great, even when you don’t feel like it. Self-love is looking after number one. Whether that’s with an Indian takeaway, a spin class or a walk amongst the fresh air. You don’t owe anything to anyone but yourself. ❤️