The Dark Underbelly of Business in the Public Eye
It started as a typical hectic day. Children waking at the crack of dawn, inhaling coffee while ensuring they are fed, asking a million times for pants and shoes to be put on, refereeing the fight over the one particular dinosaur they both want and then like an octopus carrying them plus daycare bags and the kitchen sink into the car, to do the double drop off. When I finally sat down to work, finding my sanity with a peaceful second coffee…my email pings. I had a feeling when I saw the title of the email that it was not going to be pleasant and I should have probably left it unopened, but like a magnet you somehow get drawn in and I opened it. The words have been hard to forget…. “Commercial Whore”….. “You are a Commercial Whore.” I will spare you the subsequent lengthy paragraphs of ranting that were also included in this email to me because…well you get the gist based on those two words alone. This was not an isolated email. This is one of many emails and messages I have received over the last little while. It certainly is one of the worst I have received in terms of the vulgar nature of what was written, made particularly nasty by the fact it was written by another woman, also a mother with a health business focused on helping other mothers. It hurts me to physically write such words; I despise the use of coarse language, but I feel the hideous nature of what another woman, another mother, wrote and called me should not be hidden. Bullying by definition means to use strength or influence to intimidate someone. This is bullying from one adult to another in one of the worst, secretive forms. I refuse to accept it is par for the course. I do understand that when you put yourself into the public realm you open yourself up for judgement and people will have differing views. I also understand that the world of business is highly competitive by nature. But this is ‘back-street stuff’. My actual online community is an incredibly supportive network. There is not the trolling which I know is so apparent for some other online business. However, this is very much behind closed doors. This is not on a public forum. These are words and messages directly aimed at myself and our brand, designed to do just that, intimidate and hurt. It is the very dark underbelly of business in the public eye. If we accept this as adults it means it is ok for children….and there is no way that I think this is ok for them. Does it affect me? Of course. To see those words, to be called this, to have this written to me from someone who I have never met, heard of, or seen…. let alone knows anything about me, my business, my values – yes it hurts, it cuts deep, it does have a very real impact on me and my family. It impacts my husband and it impacts our boys – they know when I am upset. I can only but pray that they are not subject to such behavior or at the very least know that they can talk to us about it, if they are. Aside from the fact that, in this particular case, it could not be further from the truth. I have had hundreds, yes hundreds of companies offer to pay me to endorse, recommend and promote their products. Unless I truly think they align with my values and believe in them I flatly refuse. Some will come back and offer more. I have even been told “if you offer influencers enough money they will promote anything, so what is your price tag?” When you have bills breathing down your neck of course it is hard it but I never do. It took me ten years to earn my Doctor title and I do not use it lightly. This makes it even more hurtful. It also makes me think, if someone has done this to me chances are it is not the first time. Chances are they have done it to someone else. Quite frankly I just do not understand it. I am personally too busy to even try and keep track of what others are doing. I believe the fight should be out there - meaning fighting your own cause. I am fighting the global epidemic of childhood obesity, I am fighting for the wellbeing of mums and families (do not get me started on the irony of this). That is where the fight should be NOT between us. These underground tactics have made me very anxious about when my new book comes out. It makes me wonder what they will do or say next? I know I will be thrown into the limelight – and I am not against that - I want my book to change the face of infant nutrition so I will wear what ever gets thrown my way to do that, but I am still anxious. I have questioned the further impact this could have. As such, I have sought help, professional help from a trusted psychologist to help deal with this backlash – to keep my mind strong. And strong I will be. I will not play these back-street alley games. While I am under no allusion it will stop - I am bringing this front and centre as that is where it should be. Bullying in any form is not ok, and we should be better than this. Our families and children deserve better than this. And I will continue to make a stand against this. xxx Dr Julie Bhosale ————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Disclaimer: If you are concerned about bullying, anxiety or any mental health concerns please contact your GP, Life-Line (0800 543 354) or one of our mental health services.