Invasion of Privacy and the Public Figure

by admin on May 19, 2011

Yes, I can hear some of you groaning even as I type. Not *that* topic again! But we are about to explore more in-depth several themes of body image, privacy and gracious living.

It was amazing how many commenters to yesterday’s post felt that Megan Gale has a right to avoid criticism of the very thing she uses to make a living, i.e. her public image. But let’s take a look at an interview she gave with Andrew Denton about her image:

“The thing is well you know what I think because modeling is very much so much is concentrated on the exterior and the outside part of yourself that I’ve really, you know acknowledged that is just such a small facet of it and you can’t take it too seriously, and you can’t because every time is always especially in the beginning whenever you didn’t I or I didn’t get a modeling job, it was because something about me physically wasn’t right, whether it was I too tall, too short, wrong hair color, wrong eye color, not thin enough. What ever it was. I knew that I wasn’t the prettiest girl, I knew I wasn’t the skinniest girl and I was aware of that but I thought no I’ve got a lot more to offer as a person and with how professional I am and I just wanted someone else to see that and give me a go.”

Gale choose a modeling career in which critiques of her appearance are an integral part of the job.   She has been criticized and alternately accepted and rejected by an industry that thrives on measuring physical attractiveness.   Gale’s face can sell magazines or not sell magazines or clothing lines or TV ad space depending on consumer preferences.  When you put out any product for consumer consumption, be it your body, your face, your artwork, your opinions, your political position, your services, your integrity/character, you lose all rights to be exempt from criticism of the product you are trying to convince others to either like or buy.   This is not an issue of invasion of privacy when the thing being critiqued is the very thing *you* put out into the public domain.    It only becomes an invasion of privacy when private areas not offered for public consumption become public information through no fault of the original owner of that information.    A good example of this are the miscreants who expose the children of public figures to derision or harassment merely for being the offspring of someone they dislike.

Although I am no celebrity, I am, in legal terms, a “public figure” and with that comes a whole different set of criteria governing how I can react to disparaging statements about myself.    Assuming the statements in question are damaging and untrue, a public figure must prove there was actual malice (an intent to harm) when legally addressing the falsity.    The attorney who advises me on the legalities of this site  has commented often that some people who are routine submitters to the site can be viewed as “limited purpose public figures” — someone who has intentionally placed themselves into prominence, such as a vocal activist on a given issue–and therefore in limited cases, held to a higher standard of response to any criticism they may receive.

The point is that given the greater legal burden on public figures to prove malice when addressing slander or libel, they also have a greater burden to accept the slings and arrows of poor opinions others may hold of them as part of the responsibility of being a public figure.   Public figures, especially those in higher positions, are role models, that is they have a profound influence on the behavior, lifestyles and culture of the general population and therefore cannot be immune from criticism.    Megan Gale wasn’t slandered.  Two teenaged girls were overheard expressing their opinion of the product Megan Gale put forth for public consumption in a magazine.   Gale feels she should be exempt from the burdens of public life while apparently enjoying the many benefits.    Perhaps it’s time for Gale to step away from the public limelight.

Years ago, a wedding photographer posted the link to his professional site asking for input.  I accepted the invitation and told him his web page background (garish Pepto Bismol pink and candy apple green) clashed with the “art” he was displaying and that passing off poorly focused photos as “art” was deceptive marketing.   He threw an epic tantrum because I did not validate his product.   If you put a product on the market for consumer consumption (and that includes your face/body), you cannot expect only sweet validations of your perhaps overly inflated opinion of your product.

For those who thought the girls were speaking so loudly to be overheard in a restaurant or that they knew Gale was there, read Gale’s own account here.   Gale was less than a “meter” from them and when confronted, by Gale’s own testimony, they reacted in shock and surprise, obviously not realizing she was sitting right behind them.    Given that Gale has been a model and in the public eye for over a decade, she is quite used to negative critiques of her looks so why should she now care what two teenagers have to say about a magazine photo.   Regardless of the reason,  Gale’s recent action contradicts her statements to Andrew Denton that one really can’t take outward appearance that seriously and her desire to be judged on her professionalism and “herself” was wounded by her own overreaction to hearing two teens say she’s unattractive.

As one reader noted so well, the classy and professional way of handling overhearing criticism was to have left quietly and then arranged to have their bills paid for “courtesy of Megan Gale”.   And then not twittered to the world about it.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth May 19, 2011 at 9:53 am

I quite agree with the Administrator today and find Ms. Gale misunderstands the industry in which she works. Modeling is ENTIRELY concentrated on the exterior. What she is selling, or offering, is subject to criticism no different than my opinion on a specific restaurant’s Pasta Alfredo.

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Mulewagon May 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

Well, I’m not sure if being a public person is even part of the issue. People do gossip about each other – they do it all the time, about everybody!

As I understand, gossip is rude when you get caught. So you don’t gossip where the subject can hear, or to someone who’s likely to tell them. You don’t gossip where their friends or family can hear. And you don’t say anything that would be unforgivable if it should happen to get round to the subject.

And it’s also true that people tweet about everything these days. It’s electronic gossip! So two girls gossiped about Megan, not knowing she was there, she tweeted about them – seems all even to me!

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Ruth May 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

If they’d been trying to take pictures of her or do something invasive to her evening, then that’d be crossing the line. But I agree, talking about a public figure and particularly about the part of the public figure that said figure is marketing is not against etiquette. It’s free publicity.

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springishere May 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

I have no problem with people critiqueing public figures; however, to say that they are up for any kind of slander and malice because they “sell” themselves to the public is doing a disservice to many people. Lots of people , through jealously, anger, or a hidden agenda will portray public figures as evil/bad/ugly/uncreative/unprofessional/etc., when in fact, they are not. To say that a model, for example, MUST look a certain way, and if she does not, then she is a bad model just plays into the whole image idea that we have for what WE think people should look like, act like, behave, etc. and maybe that’s not up to us to determine?

I don’t think anyone should have to sit in a restaurant, where we go to relax, destress, and have a nice meal with family and friends and listen to criticisms about ourselves. And to then say it’s classy and professional to arrange to pay their bill is ludicrous. Even you, dear Amin., don’t always react well when criticized.

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admin May 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Springhere,

I did not say public figures deserve slander and libel merely because they are in the public eye. I wrote that legally they are under a completely different legal criteria if they choose to refute what they believe to be damaging commentary about themselves. As such they are viewed as needing to have thicker skins or to be role models of graciousness.

I delete comments that are manipulative, nasty, ugly and/or threatening regardless of whether they are targeted at me or another poster. I have no interest in giving other people a free public platform to exercise their own rudeness. It’s a kindness in a way to keep them from advertising exactly how rude they are. Megan Gale could have mentally “deleted” the comments she heard as nothing more than useless chatter from people who have no bearing on her personal happiness whatsoever.

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Edhla May 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

While I can see what you are getting at, the fact is that none of us know what the girls actually, literally said. And I don’t think “being famous” means you are forced to smile and silently accept downright rudeness.

There is a difference between, say, critiquing a writer’s novel and discussing someone you think is ugly or whatever. A novelist overhearing how much their book “sucks” would react differently to a model overhearing people insult their appearance.

I don’t understand why Gale is the “bad guy” in this. Surely having a loud and rude conversation in an indiscreet fashion is an etiquette faux pas. The way Gale alerted the girls to her presence was not (if that’s what happened) in my opinion forceful, abusive, etc. As for twittering it- like others have said, names were not used, privacy was not breached. Gale has a right to tweet, blog or whatever about her day in this way, IMHO.

And I have to say, I don’t understand the harsh and almost malicious tone toward Gale. Throughout this post and the last, I’m hearing “well it’s her own fault for being a model, how utterly vain of her, serves her right to have to overhear people calling her ugly, she deserved it, I hope that teaches her a lesson about daring to be on magazine covers for her looks.”

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ellesee May 19, 2011 at 11:42 am

It seems like you are objectifying Megan. She is still human and can respond as such. A close friend once had the occupation in the adult industry (I guess that is in the public sphere?), but it doesn’t give anybody any right to “try out the product” either.

For some reason I can’t view the video, but from her tweets and the article-
“And they are being a little kind. But mostly nasty.”
” Wow. They’re really dissecting my looks!”
“I still don’t see the need for people to be hateful and negative”

It is one thing to give negative reviews, it’s another when it’s a tournament of hurtful remarks.

We will agree to disagree.

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Lola May 19, 2011 at 11:45 am

Off topic completely, but I just have to say that Megan’s legs are in their own category of awesome!

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Louise May 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I honestly don’t understand why you think it was rude for her to tweet about her experience. I couldn’t to find her Twitter account, but she didn’t identify the girls, right? She didn’t say, “Two idiots/jerks/rhymes-with-witches/whatever insult are criticizing my looks,” did she? I listened to the interview with her in yesterday’s link and she sounded bemused, like it was a surreal, awkward moment for her, not something she felt malicious or especially indignant about. So why is she rude to tweet that she can overhear people talking about her and she finds it kind of weird?

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admin May 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Louise,

Tweeting about it merely multiplies the very problem she had with the girls in the first place. What started as a private conversation between two teenagers, who, btw, should have an expectation of privacy because they are not public figures, and Gale escalates it to national news by broadcasting it via Twitter. And there is a legal concept known as “self libeling”, i.e. if someone says something unflattering about you, it is really beyond stupid to repeat it or to continue to talk about what they said because you become the vehicle of further propagation of untruths or disparaging comments. Do you really think Gale came out of this incident on the plus side? I don’t.

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Marina May 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm

So the better solution in your eyes is for her to be passive-agressive? Ok…

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Enna May 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

It depends on what is said: if it is something if the critic is being childish or OTT ignore it. If they are being rude, nasty, or untrue then that’s different. If someone says something they shouldn’t normally they just show themselves up as being silly, ignorant or mean.

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Enna May 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I think she handled it well – it wasn’t like she had a cat fight with them or yelled at them etc. If they had said something just as nasty about a teacher and the teacher overheard they might end up with detention if they were at school. I don’t think Hale minds “constructive critisim” of her looks that would be different. Saying “I don’t like her make-up I think she looks better with ABC rather than XYZ”.

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Snowy May 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Your friend might have taken your criticism better if it had been more tactful. There is a middle ground between sugar coating and bluntness that still lets you get your point across.

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ashley May 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

This post kind of makes me think of the issue differently than before, good points admin I agree with you here.

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Chicken May 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I think Megan should have stayed off twitter, but she had every right to say something to the girls if she chose to. If it were me I would have gone over and talked to them so they knew I was there and thanked them for buying my product, then left. It didn’t need to be a bigger scene than that. I think everyone has overheard someone talking about them at one time or another, sometimes it’s hurtful and sometimes it’s not. Granted people are more likely to really rip into someone they don’t know than a friend or family member, so the comments are likely to be more hurtful.

I really don’t believe this is the first time she’s had her feelings hurt by something some one has said, and I think she overreacted. And personally I don’t care if her feelings are hurt because of her use of twitter. It would be one thing if she had a private page and another for “work” (yeah, I said work) and she accidentally posted her tweets to the “work” page. She clearly enjoys the attention and used twitter to “whip up the crowd” before confronting two girls for discussing a magazine.

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Louise May 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

But Gale didn’t violate anyone’s privacy by tweeting what she overheard because she didn’t identify anyone. If the girls’ privacy has somehow been violated, it’s because they have responded and outed themselves and accused Gale of using Twitter to seek publicity. And Gale has responded to that. I don’t think that makes her “beyond stupid,” I think it’s quite reasonable and justifiable for a celebrity to give her own point of view and try to set the record straight. It’s a catch-22 for her: Either she keeps quiet and lets the accusation she’s just an attention grubber stand, or she refutes it and earns a different crop of criticism.

I don’t have a problem with the girls criticizing Gale’s looks. She’s a public figure, she’s a model, she’s going to get criticism. But from a “technoquette” point of view, I don’t see how it’s wrong, rude or unreasonable for her to tweet that two people are criticizing her. Which is really all she said. No insults, no meanness (as far as I can tell), no identification. Yes, had she stayed off Twitter, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But had the girls not accused her later, we probably wouldn’t be either. I think it’s unfair to say Gale alone has elevated this to the national level; there’s been some back-and-forth and it’s just exploded.

As for whether or not she came out on the plus side … *shrug.* I hadn’t heard of the woman before yesterday and I probably won’t remember her name this time next week. I think she should have either ignored the girls or bought their drinks or something if she felt compelled to let them know she could hear them. But I don’t think it was wrong of her to tweet about her experiences, especially when she did it, as far as I can tell, in a fairly good-natured way.

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admin May 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Louise,

You make a good point that the girls then further outed themselves with their public statement after the fact. Pretty stupid, too, imo. The whole situation was a mountain out of a mole hill. If her appearance really isn’t that important to Gale, then someone talking about her appearance in a magazine just isn’t worth the time she took to even think about it. Honestly, hasn’t everyone had someone comment cattily within your earshot? If they are not a part of your life, if they have no bearing on your happiness, if you know you are loved and appreciated by those who love you, who freaking cares what two blathering teenagers say?

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Louise May 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm

OK, so these are the tweets Megan Gale issued on April 19:

“Sitting in a cafe listening to 2 girls reading out loud article in paper re:Who Mag’s Most Beautiful Issue. They are commenting on me…..”

“… They don’t know that I can hear them.. And they are being a little kind.. But mostly nasty.. What would you do in this situation?? M xx”

“Wow.. They’re really dissecting my looks! This is quite remarkable to hear… I’m literally less than a metre away from them..”

“Alright, I’m going to say something… I think I have to no? Stand by tweeps for what happens next!! …”

“God I wish I could have filmed that whole entire scene!! Ok so while they were in the midst if picking me to bits, I lifted my head”

“..which was down, tweeting &obscured by baseball cap,smiled & sweetly said “hi”.One clutched her heart,closed eyes &said Oh my God!”

“The other, most venomous of the two smiled at me &had the audacity to say hi oh my god how are you?!…”

“Still smiling, I said ‘You should be careful what you say guys, you never know who might be listening”…”

“The back pedalling was quite interesting but their extremely chatty table became dead silent in a matter of seconds. They just left… M xx”

And then on April 20, she issued these:
“Ok so this cafe thing with the two ladies has needless to say been blown WAY out of proportion. About to clear things up…”

“Going to have a quick phone chat with the gals on The Circle on Ch 10 to set things straight.. M xx”

This tweet on April 21 is so far the last from Megan:
“@MiYeyes with due respect I don’t control the press, they think it’s news worthy.. I thought it was odd and funny! Have a happy easter M xx”

I actually feel more sympathetic to Megan Gale now! I don’t think it was a how-dare-you-criticize-my-looks situation, I think it was a you-never-know-who-might-be-listening moment. And I think it’s a bit off for the girls to spread the story within 24 hours yet claim Gale is “craving publicity.”

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Ange May 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

“Regardless of the reason, Gale’s recent action contradicts her statements to Andrew Denton that one really can’t take outward appearance that seriously and her desire to be judged on her professionalism and “herself” was wounded by her own overreaction to hearing two teens say she’s unattractive.”

Reading the actual tweet I don’t see where she is reacting to what is actually said. She reacts to what is happening, cq. overhearing people that talk about her. Which she says is a curious thing, remarkable.
The only way she might come out on the negative side on this, is because of overreaction of other people/ the press, not because of her own reaction.

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Ashley May 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Wait.. I don’t get the end of this.. what she should have done is PAY for the two girls that were saying nasty insulting things to her?

What?

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Jane May 19, 2011 at 11:46 pm

I have to disagree. While you are selling your image as a model, you are not selling your image 24/7. She had every right to stand up for herself and protect her image, or be angry about someone saying nasty things about her.

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Yertle Turtle May 20, 2011 at 4:05 am

I’m amazed at the storm in a teacup that has arisen over this. I heard Megan Gale on the radio and she tweeted when she heard the girls talking because she found the situation odd and kind of funny. To her, it was an amusing anecdote that she shared with her followers – and which has since been picked up by the media. For the girls to claim she must have been craving publicity seems to me to be sheepishness on their part, and a desperate scramble to make themselves look better. I don’t have a problem with what they did but I also have no problem with Megan Gale’s response.

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Sarah May 20, 2011 at 4:50 am

@Ashley: in the comments on yesterday’s post it was suggested that Megan Gale should have sent drinks over to the girls, alerting them to her presence. I don’t think anyone’s saying that the polite thing to do when someone badmouths you is to buy them food, just that this would have been a better approach than the one she chose.

I don’t know exactly what the girls said, and maybe it was really mean. But I doubt Megan Gale has never looked at a “Most Beautiful People” type list and voiced an opinion on someone who was included (or excluded). I do believe celebrities deserve respect and privacy just like everybody else, but if you constantly put yourself in the public eye outside of your actual work – and MG seems to do this a fair bit (e.g. her frequent Tweeting) – then I think you’re inviting people to comment more, and you have to accept that it won’t all be positive.

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Aje May 20, 2011 at 5:31 am

Admin is completely right about this one, but it’s still a hard gamble. I don’t care who they are or what they do for a living, when someone judges you without getting to know you… and if they say things about you a meter away that you know they would never say to your face… it hurts. We’re human, of course it does. No one wants to be treated that way, whether they are the person in the magazine, and especially not if they’re the person reading it.

Yes, Megan should have handled it differently, but it’s a learning experience. Maybe she’s reading this blog and knows how to do it correctly next time! :)

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karma May 20, 2011 at 5:32 am

Just because they weren’t speaking overly loud, stage-whisper style, doesn’t mean they didn’t intend for her to hear. Their surprise/shock is the normal response from stupid teen girls who are overheard.

To make more of an argument for it, if they knew her on sight in a mag and were sitting less than a meter away…..well….I doubt they didn’t notice her. Let’s see: They just happened to be in the same room with a celebrity, happened to be discussing her that day, and happened to be sitting that close? Really? And they didn’t notice or know? Nope. I don’t buy that.

Privacy is different than mean girl behavior.

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Yertle Turtle May 20, 2011 at 8:13 am

@karma, I can easily believe they didn’t recognise her. If she was wearing a baseball cap and sitting with her back or side towards them, she could quite easily be overlooked. Besides, an off-duty model is likely to look pretty different to the fully made-up, lit and airbrushed version most people know! Maybe they knew she was there, but it seems harsh to draw that conclusion when we don’t know for sure.

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RP May 20, 2011 at 10:04 am

who, btw, should have an expectation of privacy because they are not public figures

There is no expectation of privacy in public, period. Not being famous does not make public behavior off limits. How many websites, including this one, are almost entirely made up of people’s accounts of things that have either happened to them or things they’ve seen happen to others in public?

If I have a notable experience with a company I can submit it to Consumerist. If I have a notable experience with a customer I can submit it to Customers Suck or Not Always Right. If I have family drama I can take it to Dear Abby and if I happen to catch something interesting on camera I can upload it to YouTube. If I’d been in that restaurant and heard those girls I could have tweeted about it too.

It may or may not have been a bad idea for Gale to tweet about it due to how the public would react to it but the two girls in question were not wronged because she chose to share what happened.

And that’s the other thing: Gale never said that the girls were wrong for saying anything about her. She told the girls to be careful about what they say when others can overhear them. There’s a difference between complaining about being critiqued and pointing out someone was trash talking someone else while the person being trashed was within earshot.

I actually agree that if you are a public figure and you’ve chosen a career that’s based partly on looks then you can’t expect to be exempt from criticism on your appearance. (I think there are limits on that but I mainly agree.) However, critics are not free from criticism either. Public figures defend themselves against criticism all of the time. I can’t agree that accepting criticism as part of the job means never responding to it or talking about it.

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Louise May 20, 2011 at 10:42 am

“If her appearance really isn’t that important to Gale, then someone talking about her appearance in a magazine just isn’t worth the time she took to even think about it. If they are not a part of your life, if they have no bearing on your happiness, if you know you are loved and appreciated by those who love you, who freaking cares what two blathering teenagers say?”

I agree with Ange that this isn’t about the criticism, it’s about the overhearing. Gale’s tweets don’t say, “How can they think I’m ugly? I’m beautiful!” or “I can’t believe someone would say this about me!” They track how progressively more awkward she feels because she can overhear them. And when she finally approached the table, she didn’t give the girls grief for criticizing her, she pointed out that you never know who might be listening. I think to her it was just a funny, awkward moment.

I think the reason Gale didn’t shrug and say, “Meh, what’s a little criticism from the common person? I’m at the top of the chain, and anyway, as a model, I should expect my looks to come under fire” is because the whole incident wasn’t about her looks, it was about the overhearing. I am sure Gale a) knows there are people out there who don’t think she’s gorgeous and b) doesn’t lose any sleep over it. But when she happened to overhear it at the right (wrong?) place at the right time, she felt awkward — which I think is a very natural response, public figure or no. And she decided to alert the girls to her presence — a bit clumsily, I agree with that, but I don’t think it was an unreasonable reaction.

Arguments that as a model, she should expect negative comments on her looks and pulling up past interviews in which she says you shouldn’t take the exterior too seriously don’t jive with me in this case. For one, I don’t think she took the incident at the cafe seriously at all, I think it was just a funny, odd moment in her life. Looks to me like it was a bigger deal to the girls than to her. And I’m sure she knows there are people out there who don’t think she’s all that, but that doesn’t mean she can’t feel awkward about overhearing it from Joe Public, and as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t mean she can’t say, “By the way, I can hear you.”

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Jillybean May 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

I just want to say I disagree with the concept that the girls had the expectation of privacy because they are not public figures. Nope. If you want privacy, you have a conversation in private. If you have a conversation in public, at a volume where those around you can hear you, you have surrendered your right to privacy.

As for Megan – as Oscar Wilde said: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

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Enna May 20, 2011 at 11:57 am

I think Gale could handle “catty” but there is a difference between catty remarks and nasty ones. It may have been a private conversation but Gale’s point was be careful what you say and how you say it as it could lead to an embrassing result. She doesn’t know the girls but if they had been unpleasent about a fellow schoolmate and a teacher overheard the girls could get into trouble. Maybe they have learnt their lesson so will be more careful in the WAY they say things and don’t hurt someone who could be more senstive and have low self-esteem like a girl they know at school.

Gale didn’t start a cat fight or cause a scene, neither did she behave like a premadonna or try taking them to court for slander. She addresses an issue that could happen to anyone of us: what to do if you overhear someone being negative to you. She’s entittled to stand up for herself but she doesn’t do it in an aggressive or passive aggressive way demarnding an apology and following the girls until they giver her one. Restuants are public places – there are other people around so someone overhearing something unintentionally is going to happen. I bet if the girls had paid more attention to their surroundings then they wouldn’t have said what they did or at least not in the way that they did. Would they have rather known she was there or not?

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--E May 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Edhla siad: “There is a difference between, say, critiquing a writer’s novel and discussing someone you think is ugly or whatever. A novelist overhearing how much their book “sucks” would react differently to a model overhearing people insult their appearance.”

–>What is the difference?

A novelist sells her writing. A model sells her appearance. Both work very hard at creating the product they’re selling. Both put their product into the public eye. Both are open to criticism of whether their product is appealing to a particular consumer.

Furthermore, as Anne Rice, Jacqueline Howett, and many other writer writers have demonstrated, writers don’t always react in any better fashion than Ms. Gale did.

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karma May 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Yertle, that’s a mighty big coincidence: the one famous person on the planet they happen to decide to talk about happens to be sitting in the same restaurant, in the same city, same area of the room, at the same moment they go off on her? Right…I’ve got some dry land in Atlantis I’d like to sell…

Harsh conclusions? The only harshness in the whole affair were the girls’ comments.

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AS May 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Ok… this is a late comment… but though I’d add my 2cents to the discussion.

I am not a public figure in any way (except submitting comments every so often here :) ). I don’t make a living by modeling. But there are people who know me, and obviously there are people who don’t like my appearance or looks. I make money being a research student. I am also sure there are people who don’t like my work, or don’t think what I do is of significant importance (and I am not even going to go into the Biotechnology debate!). Now, if I overhear someone in a restaurant either criticizing my looks OR criticizing my work, I am probably not going to get back at them, much less publicize their comment in a vicious way. I don’t think I’d even put it up for facebook saying “friend A and friend B were being bitchy and gossiping about my looks in XYZ café’.”. If the comment hurts me a lot, I might ask some close friends for support. But for most part, people like you and me would just ignore it. How I look or dress up is my private world, because I am not a model. I am not answerable about how I work to anyone except my boss and myself. Gale makes a living by selling her looks; and hence it is no longer her private world. But she is not answerable to anyone except her sponsors and herself.

I agree with the people saying that Gale was not graceful about the way she dealt with criticism. It seems that she is quite conceited, and cannot take criticism. When she overheard candid criticism from two girls (who knew enough not to tell something hurtful about a person in front of them, and seemed shocked when Gale confronted them), her ego burst. She needed validation, which is what she got by tweeting on her site, which presumably is followed mostly by her fans. That is outright mean, and way more b****y than what the girls did. Does she really believe that no one on this earth has some criticism for her?

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Edhla May 22, 2011 at 12:43 am

– E, the difference is that a novelist’s writing is something they do. Someone’s appearance, model or not, is something that they are. If a novelist overhears someone criticising a book, they can always buck up and write a better book. If someone hears someone insult their skin colour or nose or ears or whatever, don’t you think it makes it a bit more personal?

Also, Anne Rice is all sorts of crazy :)

I really am baffled and appalled that so many people think the most appropriate response Gale could have made would be to PAY for the rude little beasts at the next table’s drinks or meals. What? Seriously? Models should pay to be insulted?

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Typo Tat May 22, 2011 at 4:17 am

I completely agree with springishere and Edhla, they expressed very well how I feel about this matter too.

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phoenix May 24, 2011 at 7:40 am

Okay, as someone who is further into the entertainment industries, I want to clear something up:

A model is not selling her appearance the way a novelist sells their novel. Their novel is a product, as separate inanimate creation that they own rights to and are putting out to the public for consumption on their own terms. You have to accept reviews if something is available for public consumption as a point of good business practice. But if you want to make yourself look bad by overreacting it’s not RUDE, just stupid. A person is not a product no matter how they “sell it.”

A model is NOT DOING THAT. A model offers her image, for hire, to specific clients. Her image is her “product” in a sense, but it is not available for public purchase. It is as highly changeable appearance, based upon the needs of the shoot and the client. She herself is NOT for sale. That would make her a member of the oldest profession. Who, by the way, to be crude, are not obligated to let others “test the merchandise” and are also not obliged to accept rude behavior because of what they sell. Even if your body is literally “on the market” you are not a person. You sell what you want to sell when you want to sell it.

A model is much like an actor. They are capable of portraying certain versions of themselves to the public for clients. Their image is part of what they do, but not inseparable from who they are. How people “review” their image, performance etc is important, and it is good to protect your reputation lest your employers decide you aren’t best to represent them, but you yourself are still a private person.

A model is not somehow less of a person and rude for reacting calmly to a surreal situation. She did not publicly out the girls, she commented on how uncouth the situation is. What you are saying is that, basically, because she sells her image she has no right to have the same sense of right and wrong that everyone else does. Just because she says her looks don’t matter does not mean she can’t find these girls rude.

Is what she did smart, business wise? Maybe not, different issue. There is nothing rude about a celebrity commenting on what happens in their lives. It is actually what we want them to do, usually. We will judge them for how they react, so they should be wary, but what she did was by no means rude.

You, admin, are a public figure because you offer YOUR OPINION as a product. So of course, it’s important you be careful of how you portray your opinion. You might want to step back from the legal definitions here- establishing malice is for if you want to sue, not for what is reasonable human behavior. What you are able to do in a courtroom has no bearing on and makes no sense to mingle with what is “rude.” If you are using legal definitions to justify that someone should accept others being rude, you’ve missed the point. Because there’s no legal reason that you or Megan cannot be rude to others as long as you don’t slander back. It’s not necessarily smart, but not a legal issue. So why are you bringing law into it?

Telling people that something happened to you while keeping it anonymous is not rude. Pointing out to rude people in a restaurant that you can hear them? Separate issue, but don’t see how that is rude. Declaring that because someone is a model they are somehow legally or etiquette obligated to alter how they react? Rude, actually, as you are declaring that they are a person and not a product. They are not. They must protect their reputation as it is part of what they are selling, but that is a business decision and up to them. It is judged separately from being rude, as you can be rude in many situations and not hurt your image in most people’s eyes.

TL:DR version: being rude is separate from protecting your saleable image, which is different again from legal restrictions on what you can formally bar people from saying about you. They all must be judged separately. An a novel is not the same as the pose, makeup, clothes and photoshop image of yourself you sell to a client to use in a magazine or to promote yourself. It is not a separate public consumption item. But a novel or a model is not RUDE for reacting to a “review” unless they react rudely. Pointing out you an hear someone alone is not somehow rude. The issue with your wedding photographer story is that he reacted RUDELY, not that he reacted. Megan reacting is not inherently rude, perhaps just not advisable. You keep acting as if the very act of responding is rude.

To truly take what you are saying and applying it to novels, it is somehow RUDE of a novelist to look up and say “I can hear you, silly” to a couple of teenagers talking about how stupid his book is, based on the fact that it is up for sale. No, it’s only rude if he is rude WHILE reacting. Reaction itself is rude.

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bunnyface May 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

Why is meter in quotation marks? Was it not a real meter?

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