You are sitting in a restaurant when you suddenly you hear your name being discussed by diners at a nearby table and the topical content isn’t exactly flattering. What do you do?
If you are Australian supermodel and TV host Megan Gale you listen in and then tweet to all your “tweeps” to, “Stand by tweeps for what happens next!”, and then you confront the miscreants with a chastisement of their alleged etiquette blunder.
“I just kind of lifted my head and made eye contact and said ‘Hi girls, you should be a little bit more careful.’ I laughed and I could tell they were shocked, poor things,” she said.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/people/gossip-girls-hit-back-at-gales-gotcha-20110421-1dpvn.html#ixzz1Mi1fSRqm
Megan, Megan, Megan. Didn’t anyone warn you about the cost of fame and being a public figure? Miss Manners has something to say on that….
“An individual who has marketed normally private aspects of his or her life for financial or psychological profit is not, in Miss Manners’ opinion, entitled to run around grousing about how rude people are being curious to know more…. Miss Manners does not presume to judge people who chose to expose themselves; she merely refuses to allow them to condemn others who point, stare or request details.”
Megan, you market your appearance for financial profit and are therefore not entitled to grouse when others critique the very product you are marketing.
“I don’t think me choosing a public job means that I should be up for criticism more than anyone or have to learn to deal with it. We’re raised, if we’ve got good parents, [to not] say nasty things about people and I’m still a person regardless of my job, so I don’t think that I should be more susceptible to being picked on than anyone else.”
Obviously your good parents neglected to tell you that while accidentally overhearing others’ private conversations about you may not be avoidable, letting it be known that you have eavesdropped on their conversation was quite rude. Taking their private discussion beyond the realm of their tiny, two person conversation and publicizing it over Twitter to thousands of total strangers was beyond rude. How do you like that critique?
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Does this also apply when people dramatically alter their physical appearance? E.g. if you dye your hair blue, should you not expect people to say, “Look, that lady has blue hair!” I only mean in situatinos where it is clear that the dramatic alteration was intentional, and I do not mean that you disparrage them — only that you acknowledge or notice the alteration in a neautral or positive fasion.
At some point I realised that I need to stop caring about what people think. What I wear, my lack of make up, my fashion sense, etc. Stop caring so much about what other people think! I have recently dyed my hair blue. I knew it would attract criticism, but a number of my friends and colleagues love it! I listen to those people and ignore the rest (no one’s saying it to my face at least). I’m not in the public sphere so there are no headlines about me (yay!) offering everyone else to have an opinion and voice it. If other colleagues were having a private conversation about how much they think my blue hair is unprofessional and I walk into the room, I’m going to play ignorant. That’s their opinion and they’re allowed to have it! Once they find out it’s me, I’d hope they’d quickly change the subject and play nice till I’ve gone.
Choosing a public job absolutely offers someone up to more criticism. She’s probably just not used to it because she’s typically very stunning.
On a tangent, one woman in the comments on the original article suggested that the reason the girls were mean to Megan Gale was because they don’t look as good. Which is a thing that really bothers me about the internet. I don’t play guitar, drums, violin, piano or write music, but I know what I like. I am not the trendiest dresser, but I can appreciate good looking and flattering clothes. I don’t write novels, but I can appreciate good writing. I don’t need to write a novel to qualify me to offer my opinion on it. Since when has this become a fall back retort?? If I don’t like something, it’s clearly because I’m jealous and unqualified to make an opinion??
Okay, I don’t necessarily disagree with Miss Manners on many things, but the fact that she writes about her opinions in the third person leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It feels very affected, and gives an impression of sovereignty to what is, in the end, simply another person’s opinion. A learned and reasoned opinion, but opinion nonetheless.
Personally I respectfully disagree that people lose their right to privacy because they are boors. While respect is earned, common courtesy should still be expected for all people. It is better to demand common courtesy from the boor rather than strip them of their own. Otherwise, it is a slippery slope down into a spiral of being able to say and do whatever we want because of other people’s transgressions and mistakes.
Some friends of mine were discussing a famous lady who happened to be in their town. Then they realised that she was walking past and had heard every word they said. Trust me, she had.
The lady smiled and said “Good afternoon ladies” before walking on.
She probably shouldn’t have tweeted the whole exchange, but that’s just the nature of today’s oversharing culture.
But I do think this critique is a bit harsh. She had no obligation to sit there and take it while these two ladies talked about her (and it’s only eavesdropping if you can avoid listening to the conversation); she did the right thing by drawing her presence to their attention. The faux pas was in embarrassing them publicly.
If you are a public figure who puts one’s life out in a public forum (anyone from a supermodel to a politician), I agree, you have no room to chastise someone for gossiping about you, as it was your choice to pursue that particular occupation. However, I do think that you have room to correct someone, firmly albeit politely, if you happen to be an average Joe/Sally who overhears strangers speculating about you.
E.g. I have very thick, very curly, very red hair, and I frequently overhear strangers speculating about whether my hair color or texture is “real”, in line at the grocery store, coffee shop, movie theater, etc. I have no qualms about turning around and saying, “yes, it is, not that it’s any of your business”, or saying “can I help you” if I catch someone staring pointedly at my head (or any aspect of my appearance). I happen to particularly enjoy when I overhear people saying something about my appearance (negative or positive) in my native language and shocking them with responding with a “Thank you”, or “I can hear you” in my native language when I do. Generally, people’s hair color, bosom size, tattoos or any other aspect of their appearance is not something that one should comment on, so I don’t blame people for reacting when strangers do so inappropriately. This happens frequently a dear friend of mine as well, and he happens to have a proshetic limb (young veteran who lost his arm in combat), and it troubles him when people say asinine things like, “Look, that guy has a fake arm” or make Captain Hook references or other distasteful comments (particularly towards a young brave Marine who risked his life for our freedom).
I don’t think the model was out of line. Tweeting about the incident is not such a big deal, as the two girls remain anonymous and unharmed. And yes, public figures are people too, with feelings and all.
Actually, I have no problem with what Megan did at all. This all happened weeks ago, and I remember hearing her on the radio (the same interview playing during the article that is linked to here) and thinking, ‘Good on her!’ I don’t believe that just because someone’s in the public eye that means that they’re less human and can therefore be spoken of in a nasty fashion with total disregard for their feelings. Megan was just having a quiet coffee – it’s not like she was scouting around looking for people who were criticising her. And the girls were so loud that they could clearly be heard at the next table, without even the grace to glance around and see who was there. Isn’t having a very loud discussion in a public place without any consideration of others an etiquette breach in itself?
I admit that every now and then might have a bitch about someone, but it’s always someone I know that has actually affected my life. And quite frankly, I’m ashamed enough to be being catty that I’m paranoid and glance around first! I can’t imagine just sitting down and criticising a ‘celebrity’s’ looks for ages, and following her tweets they’d clearly been going for a while before she interrupted them. How much worse would she have felt about herself if she’d just slunk out like she’d done something wrong? If they’ve been nasty enough that they were ashamed when she let them know she could hear them, perhaps they should rethink what they say about people.
I do not understand why people who CHOOSE to be public figures ( movie/tv stars, models, musicians, etc.) get upset when people make comments or discuss their choices and lives. If you CHOOOSE to be a public figure then you know you will be watched, photographed and reported on. Also, if you “tweet” or facebook everything you do, there is bound to be some negative comments.
I think public figures/celebrities should have some expectation of privacy but with all the ways you can send/get information these days, that is virtually impossible. Especially when you CHOOSE to share it with the world via twitter and facebook.
It’s a double-egded sword- you need to media to make you famous but then you want them to leave you alone once you are.
Maybe if you’re trashing a public figure loud enough for nearby diners to hear you, you shouldn’t be surprised to see it on Twitter.
Letting her presence be known in a polite yet unapologetic way would have stopped the conversation in it’s tracks. Embarassing the two gossipers by publicising their conversation was vindictive and rude.
I would agree, except that I think what she said wasn’t rude at all. Was she supposed to just not say anything, sit there and let them keep on talking about her while she was right there? If she’d said something like “You can’t say that!” or “That’s SOOO mean!” or something insulting to those women, I’d agree that as a public figure, that is not the right way to react. But as I see it, she was clueing them in on the fact that she was **right there**, without insulting them back.
The tweeting thing is another story, but as someone with little patience for Twitter…meh. Different debate. Take twitter out of it and what she said was fine.
While I certainly understand that etiquette dictates that Megan should have grinned and bared it, I wonder how many of us could actually following that rule? Regardless of job title (public or private) if you are present when someone is talking about you (and yes if you hear your name in a conversation you are going to listen) wouldnt you feel compelled to defend your self if necessary? I personally do not think I could “suck it up”.
I read the comments from other on the story link and several said thats the price you pay for being in the public eye. Here is my thing, why do those of US not Famous (or infamous) care so much about those that are??? Why do we care that Lindsay & Paris keep getting arrested? I only care if Lindsay is making a movie I want to go see and when was the last time that she was even in a movie? I do not care who Cameron Diaz is hanging out with, I do not care that Leo broke up with whats her name?, I only care when the next album, movie, or concert is going to be. Maybe if we left these people alone once in a while they wouldnt act out so much.
I’m Australian so I read about this when it first happened and I was really shocked! What an awful way for Megan Gale to have behaved! If you choose to be a model/radio host/designer/TV host and put yourself in the public eye like that you must realise that occasionally, some people might say “hm, I’m not really a fan, she doesn’t look that great to me” and you have to deal with it. Saying a model does not deserve to be criticised for her looks is like saying chefs should not be criticised on their cooking, or authors on their writing, or secretaries on their typing for that matter.
I read that the ladies had a fairly harmless conversation about whether or not Megan was attractive (one thought yes, one thought no), so while it’s not the nicest thing to hear it isn’t exactly horrible. I read an article about watching movies on iPods a few years ago, and the comedian writing said the screens were so small you wouldn’t know whether you were watching Megan Gale or a rerun of Mr Ed! I don’t see why Megan felt no need to respond to that hurtful public comment yet was compelled to publicly humiliate two people who were having a private conversation that was never intended to hurt anyone.
Anyway, didn’t anyone ever tell her that eavesdropping is bad manners too?
I don’t know about Megan, but I like that critique very much. Basically, what she overheard was a negative review. All products for public consumption — art, plays, books, movies, restaurants and yes, TV personalities — sometime get negative reviews. If she can’t deal with it — and it can hurt a lot — she needs to be in a different profession, out of the spotlight.
I think her comment was more than fair. Yes, public figures should be expected to be the target of criticism, but that doesn’t mean they should have to overhear it in a restaurant. I don’t much care for certain politicians or celebrities, but I’d still be polite if I found myself in the same room as them. Ms Gale’s comment seems fairly mild – ‘Hi, I’m here, and I can hear you.’ She’s not saying they don’t have a right to their opinion, just letting the girls know the target of their criticism is within earshot.
The tweeting was definitely too far, though.
I respectfully disagree with the Admin. I don’t think what she did was rude. She didn’t chastise them nor was she complaining, she merely confronted them in good humor and left it at that. She brings up a good question: what would you do if you overheard someone talking horribly of you, regardless of your occupation? And what if the girls were being loud? There is a difference between critique and bashing (the girls were doing the latter). Yes our parents taught us not to eavesdrop, but our parents also taught us to stand up for ourselves.
Modelling is something I would not consider as “marketing normally private aspect of her lives” and I’m sure she’s aware of the cost of being famous. However, it doesn’t give her any less rights and there is no financial or psychological profit in tweets either. Putting out a sex tape would be considered marketing normally private aspect.
Megan did not publicize what the girls were saying. Her tweets were about the situation, which I believe is information for her to share since it didn’t impose on anybody’s privacy but her own (that’s a given). I don’t find use in twitter, but the information she shared was harmless . She did not disclose any information about the girls or any details about what they were saying. It is like posting in a forum about anonymous people to an anonymous audience.
These girls were just upset that their hands were caught in the cookie jar…. and they went public about it on a larger scale than Megan (and even made up lies ie Megan storming in and being rude). They could have also just kept mum and laugh about it….nobody would even know it was them. I say good for Megan for taking control of the blown-up situation.
Sorry, I’m with Megan on this one. Having a public job does not entitle you to criticisms or constant comments about your life.
“Was she supposed to just not say anything, sit there and let them keep on talking about her while she was right there? ”
Technically, by the rules of etiquette, yes. You are not supposed to correct strangers on their manners, even when they are unintentionally insulting you. Difficult to do in practice, but if it weren’t, there would be no credit for behaving graciously.
Tweeting it simply makes your own faux pas world-wide.
She should have sent the waiter over with a drink, with her compliments. Specifically, she should have complimented their appearance. Whatever they were insulting her about, turn it around on them, and compliment them on the same subject.
They’ll *know* she heard them, and feel well and truly chastised, but no one else will know.
Playing the guilt game can be fun!
I have to admit that if I were Megan, and in the same situation, I probably would have done one of two things, and relished it:
1) move to sit much closer within their field of vision and simply wait for them to notice I was there and let them embarrass themselves;
2) walked up to them and asked to sit down with them, or perhaps had the waiter send them two cups of coffee “courtesy of Ms. Chocobo”.
All in my dreams of course, but darnit if that wouldn’t be satisfying. Kill them with kindness, as they say!
Reminds me of my kids at school. When I teach they often say very stupid and mean things about two feet away from where I am standing. When I first started teaching I would enter the conversation and lightly say like, “No, actually this is all my real hair,” or “Well I’m sorry you think I’m unfair, but the grade stands Rob.” It always blew them away that I could hear what they were saying. Hahaha.
I don’t like the way she said, “You should be a bit more careful,” because the girls shouldn’t have to be. I agree that Megan Gale should expect more criticism because of the public nature of her job, and that criticism naturally will be of her face/figure. I do like the idea of sending them two drinks, compliments of her as a, “Yoohoo, I can hear you!”
I really don’t have a problem with her tweeting about her experience either. She didn’t identify the girls, right? So what’s the problem?
There are politicians who use their family to further their political ambitions. “Look, Voters, I am such a great guy. I have a lovely wife, great kids, so vote for me.”
Then, later when the child conceived in an extra-marital affair is discovered, all of a sudden they want their privacy.
I certainly have no interest in making things tough for the poor innocent child. However, I can’t see extending extraordinary privacy to the pubic figure who brought this on himself.
Not to say that I feel sorry for those poor, unfortunate, wealthy celebrities, but I would have to disagree with you on this one. I also will not say that I have not done it in the past, falling prey to the celeb gossip a time or two, but these people are hounded and their life’s details stolen from them at times.
I think few realize the full extent of what they sign up for when they do, even local celebrities, and if they live in an area, no matter how famous they are, they should have the right to basic manners. She wasn’t rude to the girls. They were having a conversation, a negative one, about another human being, loud enough for others to hear at the next table, and her tiny nudge to give them the cue to stop was within her rights. She is a person. She models clothes, yes, but if they were talking about her personal life, something she didn’t display for the world to see (granted she wasn’t a reality tv blob) then she is still entitled to basic human courtesies.
She was at a public place, trying to enjoy herself. Should she have left of sat down and allow these girls mindless jabs to ruin her day. No. I think her actions were perfectly acceptible and manners should not go to the wayside when we deem it convenient or deem someone undeserving of them
I’m in the middle.
As a person who is not famous, if a stranger made a comment about my appearance, blatantly in earshot, I would have to assume it was meant to be heard. As adults, you understand the volume of your own voice, and if I’m able to hear it, that makes it ‘public’ in a sense, and I feel free to respond. I would take it as the start of a conversation, as wouldn’t talking about someone as they can hear it be that? I’d call this a “public vs. private” situation.
However, when the situation is “public/public,” as in, discussing a public person in public, very few holds are barred. It’s a different thing to put yourself in the public realm and not expect to be publicly criticized. Every time that model is in a magazine, that picture is being talked about. And considering she is successful, I think she’d be happy she’s being talked about at all. Remember, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” And she got even more by being rude herself! The cycle continues.
Maybe I’m just getting the wrong impression from this post, but it feels like it’s saying it’s not ok to talk nasty and gossip about an average person but it’s perfectly ok to talk bad about someone because they happen to be in the public spotlight? Can’t say I agree with that, probably missing the point entirely, but oh well just my opinion xD
Actually, I also disagree with Admin. Isn’t there a famous scene in a Jane Austen novel when our heroine overhears something unpleasant?
I strenuously agree with Mechtilde who wrote it was classy to announce yourself and indicate their bitchy comments had been overheard.
“Mechtilde May 18, 2011 at 9:04 am
Some friends of mine were discussing a famous lady who happened to be in their town. Then they realised that she was walking past and had heard every word they said. Trust me, she had.
The lady smiled and said “Good afternoon ladies” before walking on.
Firstly I am a little bemused as to why this is noteworthy at all! Two women get into a personal conversation about the merits of a third womans nose/hair/bum/thighs *ad infinitum* third woman overhears and relays the event to her ‘friends’ via a web based networking site – and?!
Secondly I would say that she wasn’t eavesdropping – she merely ‘overheard’ their conversation and there is a clear difference. Eavesdropping is what I do when I am watching a couple in a restaurant four tables away having a row and I am trying to work out what exactly they are arguing over (we all do it no one is perfect!). If they happened to be sitting next to me and I have to make no effort to hear what they are saying then I am not actively ‘eavesdropping’.
Thirdly the British rules on eavesdropping must be different because I was always taught ‘Young Ladies that listen at keyholes can expect to hear no good of themselves!’ it was never suggested that letting it be known that you eavesdropped was ‘rude’ probably because….well no…..definitely because in the British understanding of eavesdropping it is something that is supposed to be ‘covert’ so mentioning you had done it would defeat the point somewhat.
Making it known that she had heard their critique of her – down to personal preference and confidence I would say, many mybe would have tip toed away mortified others would have done as Megan did and others still may have gone on the defensive and stepped in. Reporting what was said on Twitter? Some would argue that if you are happy to gossip then you should be happy to hear your words repeated! My good parents always advised me that ‘If there is something you do not want to hear repeated you should keep it to yourself.’ Served me well over the years that little pearl.
There is one last point however on an etiquette point I would make – (and this does rather remove the function of this blog and that is certainly not my intention) It is poor etiquette to highlight and draw attention to the poor etiquette of others. Food for thought.
This incident reminds me of one of my favorite stories of my late father:
During WWII, he was stationed in the San Francisco area. One day he had leave and went to explore the city. He was riding on a city bus when he heard what he called two “biddies” gossiping about someone in Finnish, not a common language in San Francisco.
As it happens, my dad grew up in Michigan’s UP and knew Finnish fluently — including the naughty words the ladies were using. His stop came before theirs and as he passed them to exit the bus, he smiled, tipped his cap to them and said, “Good day, ladies” in perfect Finnish and continued on his way.
He always said the look on their faces was a sight to behold.
Is it just me, or did anyone else infer that conversation was pitched to be overheard? Of course they knew she was there. They meant for her to hear, and it was probably just to get a rise out of her. Shame she played into their hands.
I have never believed that because someone’s work is in the public realm their personal life is up for grabs. And while, yes, it is acceptable to critique their work, I consider it to be the height of mean-spirited rudeness to render to the world at large pejorative opinions about aspects of the celebrity that have nothing to do with their job. There is a particular actress whom I find to be so unattractive that it physically pains me to look at her, but no one other than my husband knows who this is, and no one ever shall.
“Actually, I also disagree with Admin. Isn’t there a famous scene in a Jane Austen novel when our heroine overhears something unpleasant?”
Yes, it’s Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, who overhears Mr Darcy say that she isn’t handsome enough for him to want to dance with her.
She walks off and makes fun of it to her friends, showing Mr Darcy he has been overheard. Nice one, Lizzy!
Wow. I agree that she should expect some criticism as a result of being a public figure based on her looks, but I don’t blame her for wanting to say something to the girls gossiping about her within earshot. Celebrities should have a thicker skin, but are entitled to hurt feelings as much as any of us are. If I was paid to look glamorous in photographs, I wouldn’t be any less hurt by hearing strangers make fun of my looks. I think the girls should be ashamed. Gossiping, even about celebrities, is mean spirited, and this story just proves that you never know who is listening. I think that Megan’s response was light hearted and well handled. I don’t see anything wrong with gently pointing out the girls’ rudeness.
Gale was thick skinned enough to laugh it off and politely comfront them. Yes she is a public figure whose imiage is in the public spot light and at times “getting over” or “ignoring” the silly comment is the best cause of action. If they were more along the lines of “I don’t think that make-up suits her, I think ABC is better then XYZ ” than Gale might have said “thanks girls, that’s helpful.”
However I think these two young girls have learnt a lesson and Gale has done them a favour about heighlighiting the dangers of gossiping. Hopefully those girls will grow up being a bit more considerate about HOW they say things in public as much as what. If they were gossiping about an employer in such away it could cost them their job a promotion etc.
Evesdropping is only eavesdropping if someone deliberatly hears something not accidentaly.
I’m torn on this one. I agree with admin that a public figure promoting products should expect to be criticized, and she shouldn’t have twittered about it. Her reaction at first was fine; politely let them know they’re being overheard. There are some who are so rude however, that wouldn’t stop them.
I also agree that no one should speak hatefully about anyone’s appearance in public. As someone who’s always struggled with her weight, I resent comments about it and frown on tabloids who ridicule celebrities’ weight gain.
Public figures choose to be in front of a camera, be it actors or models.
But they weren’t describing her “private life” they were talking about how they thought she looked in a recent magazine article. Even Megan tweeted that they didn’t know she was there. If I go to a movie I feel I am entitled to talk about if I liked it, was it well done, the actors. If one of the people involved in the movie happens to hear my conversation, I don’t think they have a right to get mad if I didn’t love every second of it. If I see a magazine cover and I point out to my friend that “I’ve never found this actress pretty” or “I don’t think he’s as handsome as everyone says” I don’t think I’m being rude, I’m commenting on their “product” in the same way I will be honest when I’m asked in a follow-up survey how a portrait studio sitting went or if I enjoyed my meal at whatever restaurant.
I’m in Camp Megan Wasn’t Rude.
The girls weren’t doing anything that most of us wouldn’t do when discussing a person we didn’t realize was in earshot — whether or not the person was famous, and whether the comment was negative or positive.
With a friend, I’d feel free to say, “OMG, Hugh Laurie is SOOOO hot!” or “I don’t get why everyone thinks Julia Roberts is such a great beauty — her mouth is too big.” If I met Hugh in the flesh, I’d be far more restrained. If I met Julia, my opinion of her looks wouldn’t even come up. If I made those over-the-top comments and then discovered I’d been overheard by Hugh or Julia … I’d turn several shades of red, fall all over myself apologizing, and have a great story to tell my friends.
Megan didn’t say anything rude when she made herself known to the girls, and she didn’t express any indignation or nastiness toward them on Twitter. She was simply doing the high-tech version of sharing a funny story with her friends.
I realize that celebs invite criticism and critique, but most celebs have steeled themselves for the sort of criticism that’s likely to come their way. Bad review of Singer X’s performance in the morning paper? Indignation over Judge Y’s caustic comments on “Idol”? Expected. Overhearing oneself being dissed at the mall? That’s where I’d give the celeb a pass and expect him/her to react like an ordinary person to hearing him/herself being dissed.
Off topic, yes, but @Baglady– I agree with your assessment of Hugh Laurie. The man has definitely aged well!
Dear Lord, he’s attractive.
The first comments reminded me of a personal anecdote. I work at a popular arts and crafts store, and our customer base typically consists of older ladies, moms with young kids and the occasional DIY bride to be. I dyed my hair blue (with cautious permission from my manager.) 80% of the time it was great, and I got a kick out of the many kids gasping “Mommy, she has boo hair!” and pointing at me… it got old when old ladies thought a deadpan “Your hair is blue.” is a reply to “Hi, how are you today?”. However, I only felt like they crossed the line when (multiple times) a older woman customer reached out and tugged my hair (part of my bangs.) It still gives me the heebie jeebies
This reminds me of an experience at an art/film festival several years ago. My date and I had sat through most of an independent film, until it became so annoying we couldn’t stand it anymore. We unobtrusively left the screening and walked through the art exhibit. Bear in mind, this was a large public venue. We began discussing the film, which naturally brought out our many criticisms. We were in a completely different section of the museum, using the same quiet tones as other patrons, etc. Suddenly a woman who had lingered behind us (we thought she was looking at the same sculpture) turned on us in fury, declaring that she was the filmmaker and raged at us along the lines of “how dare you say such things?”
We saw your work. We didn’t like it. You put it out there.
Sure, she’s a public figure, but the conversation she overheard was also public. They were in a public place, speaking loudly enough to be overheard. Shouldn’t the “rules” about public figures apply to public speech?