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Laura Whitmore’s baby name retaliation is about so much more than double standards


By Amanda Cassidy
02nd May 2021
Laura Whitmore’s baby name retaliation is about so much more than double standards

The Love Island presenter has divided social media after she singled out a journalist trying to confirm the name of the baby daughter she shares with Iain Sterling.

Celebrities occupy a different universe. We know this yet we try to judge them on day-to-day things and react in horror when they spin off the course we’ve set for them.

Can you imagine someone trying to infiltrate your life to the extent that they try to prise your brand new baby’s name from you against your wishes? Imagine your mother-in-law being hounded into revealing the gender or name of your baby without your consent.

Yet, when it comes to those in the spotlight, our expectations have warped.

Distorted

This week, Irish presenter Laura Whitmore tweeted angrily in response to an agent-request for her and her husband to confirm their daughter’s name. The reaction to the tweet, which called out the journalist by name, was mixed.

“Vile.” Whitmore tweeted. “My agent received the below email…Niamh Walsh, I’m sure you have better and more pressing things to write about than guessing a child’s name and pressuring someone to talk about it either way! I’ll talk about my child on my terms when I choose.”

The email from the journalist itself was pretty straightforward.

“Hi Alex,

Niamh Walsh here..by way of introduction I’m the Group Entertainment Editor with the Irish Mail on Sunday/Daily Mail Newspapers. I hope you are keeping well in these crazy times we are living.

I am dropping you a mail regarding Laura Whitmore. We have been told by a number of sources that Laura and Iain have named their daughter Stevie Stirling (a nod to Stevie Nicks..It’s a lovely name and very fitting)

We are planning to publish this tomorrow and we would love to include a few lines from Laura and Iain as to how they settled on the name Stevie for their baby girl.”

Divided

Instantly the backlash turned nasty, with many pointing out that as a champion of the #BeKind movement, Laura shouldn’t have singled out the journalist by name.

“She was just doing her job,” wrote one commenter. “I’m sure the journalist in question would have preferred to be doing something else. She was in a position where she had to do what she was told by employers, take it up with the publication.”

“Laura Whitmore is a hypocrite,” wrote another anonymous poster on Twitter. “Didn’t you make your name on MTV News, which was mostly celebrity gossip about their personal lives? What’s the difference here?”

“It’s a bit harsh publicly calling someone out and using the word vile considering it’s just her job and she doesn’t come across malicious in any way. Now she’s getting abuse. So much for #BeKind and all that”

Blurred lines

Perhaps we are so accustomed to a world where some celebrities get paid millions to “reveal” their child’s name in a magazine that we’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.

However, not everyone was as critical.

Some described it as “strong-arming a mother into revealing her infant’s name” What kind of journalism is this?”

“Keep standing up to these people. Your privacy and that of your family is no one elses’ business and should be told to the world by you and Iain only” wrote another.

We know that drama sells, and courting it is part of what comes with being famous. However, being a celebrity doesn’t mean someone, and someone’s child is automatically tabloid fodder. The clap-back smacks of a mama bear protecting her cub.

Clearly some people in Laura’s life leaked the baby’s name and she may be targetting her disappointment and anger at the wrong person. That doesn’t make the journalist vile, by the way.

But it raises some bigger questions. What personal details are mainstream social media users prepared to consume? Why do we expect all celebrities to forgo their privacy?  Why are some others in the spotlight prepared to sell anything at all?

Bigger picture

The lines have blurred between reality stars and those famous for doing their job. Consumers are confused about what they want to know about famous people. Laura Whitmore has never been afraid to say what she thinks about the media intrusion into her life. The Daily Mail journalist is just doing her job.

Both things can be true at once. The way it was handled is unfortunate. Laura knows how this works but those goalposts change when there’s a child in the mix. Mama bear comes out with claws.

That frustration when it comes to protecting something as precious as a few weeks old baby is however, understandable.

It’s highlighted the fact that this particular debate needs to change, to evolve. We need the find the line in the sand about how much is too much when it comes to celebrity privacy.

Time to take a long hard look at what really matters to us, and why.