Being critiqued, shamed or bullied online can burden us all. Brands and individuals, adults and children, celebrities and influencers; the fear of facing negativity and judgement on social media is collective. Alongside immeasurable levels of anxiety, it's something that’s led to 115 million images being deleted each year, proving that expression repression is real thanks to cyberbullying.
This societal issue has led to Rimmel launching 'I Will Not Be Deleted', a long-term campaign with the Cyber Smile Foundation, aiming to raise awareness of the issue, provide practical support for victims and defeat discrimination standing in the way of self-expression.
Included in the campaign cast of individuals are Rimmel ambassadors and close friends (not to mention global icons) Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora. Known for presenting their authentic selves on social media, but sadly not without judgement, the unapologetic personalities told Bazaar about their damaging experiences of cyber bullying and the tools they use for finding confidence to celebrate their beauty and individuality.
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What have you learnt about the complex subject of cyber bulling from personal experience?
Cara: 'I see so many negative comments on my own stuff, because you look for it. I spent a lot of time looking through stuff at the beginning of my career, looking for people to hate me because I probably didn’t like myself at the same time. But the worst thing is, is that you kind of get used to it. I’m used to seeing it, and now I laugh it off. I think, of course there’s going to be people that think that, but you know what, I don’t. So that’s the most important thing; if you don’t think it that’s what matters. Now, when I post things that I really care about, like politics I really believe in and I think need to change, it’s the comments that come off that which really scare me. Often people are so extreme in their beliefs which can really freak me out. If you don’t believe in what I believe in, then why are you following me?'
" I WAS LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO HATE ME BECAUSE I PROBABLY DIDN’T LIKE MYSELF" – CARA DELEVINGNE
Rita: 'I went through a phase where at the time I put out a song and people responded with ‘what is this?’ – it caused a lot of controversy and it made me question the power of the internet. Before that I only ever experienced one-off haters on pictures and things, but it never got under my skin. When it started to involve my music–which is my baby–I started to feel really insecure. It got me really down. So I’m doing this campaign because that experience for me was super hard and I can only imagine what people feel like who are bullied. They can’t change their face, or their body, or how they speak, or where they’re from.'
Are you glad you didn’t have Instagram when you were at school?
Cara: 'I’m really glad I didn’t have it at school, I don’t know how kids deal with it now. Obviously we had things like MySpace, MSN and Facebook but that was all about connecting and staying in touch. It’s definitely given kids a lot more in terms of connection but those things come with massive amounts of danger. I think kids now are a lot quicker to grow up and have a lot more to deal with. The pressure is really hard. I think while everyone’s adapting to it, it’s about listening to each other, understanding how sensitive people are and knowing what’s acceptable.'
What would you tell your teenage self, if she had social media in the mix?
Rita: 'I would probably tell myself to be true to who I am. I had a bit of an insecure moment when I was starting out and I felt like I couldn’t be myself, and that has now put a burden on me for the future, because if I was myself then I probably would have been different now. But I’m very grateful for the experience that I had.'
Cara: 'For me I’d say, if it takes longer than 10 seconds to decide whether you’re going to post something on social media, forget it – when I see people fretting about ‘should I post this or not’ I think, if you’re going to do it, do it; if you’re not, don’t. There’s so much ‘what should I say?’, but while it’s obviously good not to say stupid things, people overthink it. It’s good to be yourself and just go with the flow – express yourself freely. Or try to.'
How do you feel you can make selfies for social media empowering, and inspire confidence over anxiety?
Rita: 'Anxiety is a real thing. I suffer with it, and everyone does in some way – in the sense of worry, frustration, stress…
'With selfies, as long as I like my picture I don’t really care. It’s all about lighting! It makes me feel like I’m alive and awake. I know I sometimes post crazy naked pictures on my social media, but for me it’s not crazy because it’s my body. Recently I did a Clash cover and it was basically naked except for a pair of gloves, and it was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done.'
Cara: 'I text you after that. How many people must have text you empowering things?'
Rita: 'But you have to remember, these conversations–when people text you who you respect–makes you feel confident. Like, "you know what, I have support from people I really respect and love". That for me makes it way easier to post.'
Cara: 'That’s the thing, it could be in real life when you walk down the street, or when you see a picture of a friend on Instagram, and you think "God they look gorgeous," but you don’t do anything about it, you just think it. People make nasty judgements about other people all the time and do say it, so why can’t you say the nice things as well instead of just thinking it? If you think something nice say it to that person – you know how much it will mean to them. Everybody needs validation. Everybody wants to feel heard and supported.'
"IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS. JUST DO YOU." – CARA DELEVINGNE
What’s your philosophy when it comes to beauty?
Cara: 'My beauty philosophy is to stay true to who you are, and also don’t be afraid to express yourself. Go crazy, have fun, be wild, but also go bare and be naked. There’s so much you can do with beauty, so many different ways to be individual – and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Just do you.'
Rita: 'For me, it’s about representing where you come from, whether you are a beautiful English rose, or like myself who grew up in a different country. I came here and felt really accepted, and it gives you that confidence. When we were growing up Cara always told me to be myself and that always stuck with me.'
Cara: 'She did the same thing for me as well.'
GETTY IMAGESRACHEL MURRAY
Make-up has always been a means for women and men to express themselves. How do you use it?
Rita: 'I use fashion and make-up as something to express myself with, but also something to hide with. That’s what makes it interesting for me.'
Cara: 'When I started my career I felt that I was wearing so much make-up at work so I didn’t want to personally express myself by wearing make-up – because I just wanted to wear none when I could. But now I have more freedom with it, it’s fun to experiment with beauty. Especially with my short hair I might go more dramatic with the eyes, or put on a red lip, or I go neutral and masculine – it’s cool to play with it.'
What advice would you give to those who don’t have the confidence to celebrate their own beauty and individuality?
Cara: 'My advice would be that it doesn’t help your self-confidence by not being yourself. It’s really important to not surround yourself with people who are going to take you down. The most important thing I’ve learnt in life is to be around people that inspire you and lift you up – and tell you the truth! You know like when you’ve been out to a club and you’ve got make-up down your face, or you’ve got something in your teeth, your friends should tell you, but in a nice way. It’s not about tearing each other down.'
What else have you learnt about confidence throughout your careers?
Cara: 'For me, confidence is a daily thing. It’s not about being a confident person or an insecure person – I’m quite extrovert but I’m super insecure. People deal with insecurity and shyness differently. So don’t ever judge anyone for the way they are, because it doesn’t necessarily match how they are inside. Give everyone a break and treat everyone with the same amount of respect that you would hopefully give yourself.'
Rita: 'First impressions for me are not as important as other people may think they are. I like to meet someone and give them time to warm up. Sometimes it’s hard in our industry when you have a one-second window to meet someone and leave an impression.'
Who, or what, inspires you to express yourself?
Cara: 'Generally, women inspire me no matter what. The more you get to know every women, their story, strength and inspiration. Now more and more women are finding a voice to stand up for what they believe in – the more vulnerability that is spoken about, the better.'