HANDS up who’s ever felt victimised by This Morning’s ‘social commentator’, Katie Hopkins?
Cue hands from stay-at-home-mums, anyone who is overweight, Kelly Brook, journalist Sonia Poulton (who she called a “zebra in a wig”), tattooed people and every person with a child named Tyler.
We have all, in one way or another, been in the uncomfortable position of not being able to reveal a difficult truth to somebody who really needs to hear it.
The former Apprentice contestant is making a name for herself alright. For the most part as a self-righteous, acid-tongued, classist, bigoted and horse-faced snob – that’s not just my own opinions, but a growing common consensus.
Most of the British public is united in their dislike of her and would happily box Katie Hopkins in with the same people that leave long winded ‘troll’ comments at the bottom of Daily Mail articles.
Freedom of speech does, however, give Katie Hopkins a right and a platform to voice her opinions, no matter how much it makes you want to punch the TV or, if you’re more passive aggressive, send her a little parcel with various unpleasant surprises in it.
Her views are largely based around her own cut-throat and myopic ideologies towards success, raising successful children and not wasting tax-payers’ money - they’re harsh and leave no room for emotional, empathetic and politically correct over-sensitivity. She says it, how she believes it is. Katie’s opinions often leave the usually pleasant Holly Willoughby clinging to the This Morning sofa trying to suppress her growing rage.
Last week, however, when she addressed Britain’s problem with overweight children, there was a feeling that, this time, she may have a point.
In her usual direct way she said, “Today’s society likes to wrap people in cotton wool.
“For me, every fat child lives in the shadow of a fat parent. And I think parents that say we have to protect their feelings, we have to look after them, we have to soften the blow [are wrong].
“It’s really important that parents get a grip, tell their children they’re fat, get together and sit down and do something about it.”
Softening the blow on sensitive issues can seem a little counter-productive if we want to help a person who has become victim to their own bad habits. We’ve become incredibly fearful of hurting people’s feelings, even if the intention is to help and not explicitly hurt them.
Hopkins, I say with a grimace, may be right in that sense.
A reluctance to hurt people’s feelings may avoid uncomfortable silences, heated confrontations and broken relationships, but in reality, how much is pussy-footing around touchy subjects helping others and, in this instance, helping children?
In one way, as a result of society’s nanny culture, that has also seen the banning of handing out birthday invitations in class to not hurt an uninvited child’s feelings, we’ve created a society full of molly-coddled, over-sensitive adults unable to deal with some of life’s harsher realities.
We have all, in one way or another, been in the uncomfortable position of not being able to reveal a difficult truth to somebody who really needs to hear it. Friends in poisonous relationships, partners who have let themselves go, ideas from colleagues that are just too bad to stand by. Sometimes, the truth listens like a smack to the face.
With that being said, I’d assume a good proportion of us are happy with the tactful approach. I’d also assume that in this day and age it’s better (and safer) to stay on the PC side of honesty (and of jokes). Yet should we always be afraid to air our unpopular opinions?
Katie Hopkins seems to believe in the same brand of ‘hard-hitting’ honesty as Jeremy Kyle. For Kyle, when listening and providing a comforting helping hand doesn’t work, there’s always the confrontational spitting in your face way of solving issues on alcohol dependency and cheating spouses. Although, I’m unsure whether bellowing “you’re a ‘waste of space” on national television may or not provide people with their much needed wake-up call.
Words can hurt and leave a lasting impression. Calling someone ‘fat’ for instance, albeit a child or adult, could add more pain and suffering and prolong the issue rather than solving it. Verbal abuse is seen just as mentally scarring as physical bullying and it’s a problem that is seen from the playground to the workplace.
It’s clear that it’s necessary to distinguish between verbal bullying and direct talk. In Hopkins’ case, there also needs to be a differentiation between fair opinions and vitriolic prejudices.
Unfortunately when Katie opened a can of worms and out escaped all her ‘fattist’ and class related prejudices, she revealed an even sadder truth that she’s not the only person who will think like she does.
Hopkins isn’t the only one who judges people by their name; the truth is studies have shown that some employers judge candidates by the name on CVs – opting not to choose foreign applicants. And, Hopkins isn’t the only one who is openly ‘fattist’; overweight people, according to a study, are ‘27per cent less likely to score a job offer than their trimmer competition’. This is the ugly reality we’d rather not claim.
Frankly, the world still has its racists, sexists, homophobes, fattists, classists and every other ‘ist’ but most offenders have learned to keep it to themselves.
Is that progress? We’ve swept the urchins of society under the carpet without really dealing with their problematic views. Facing facts, means accepting and acknowledging these people are still there and tackling it head on. We should never be hidden from Katie’s ugly ‘realist’ view of the world.
I personally feel very comfortable with openly disliking Katie Hopkins. I would not like a world full of Katies. I would take Holly Willoughby and her pretty-faced optimism any day. Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t need them - the blunt, ‘tell ‘em how it is’, straight-talkers. Give me the honest truth so I can deal with it accordingly. Just, please, don’t be a dick about it, a la Katie.
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