I had never really paid Jodie Marsh any attention, to me she was just a more attractive and interesting looking version of Jordan, who seemed to take herself a lot less seriously. As shallow as this makes me sound, I only really started paying her any attention when a: she announced she had a girlfriend, and b: she all of a sudden morphed into a tattooed beauty with a brilliant undercut. I initially just liked her on a very superficial level; I liked how she looked, I liked how she was always smiling, I liked that she seemed to effortlessly piss people off.
But this last point is note-worthy, because it’s not because she’s oozing with confidence, or just famous for being famous, or because of her nose (which seems to anger the Daily Mail readership no end) or because she’s had a lot of bed companions (or so it would seem), I think it’s because she’s all of those things AND A WOMAN. I’m certainly not the first person to point out that the treatment of female celebrities by the media (and the kind of people who post on the Daily Mail comments section) is nothing short of appalling bullying in comparison to their equally over confident, famous for nothing, strange-nosed, sleep-around male contemporaries. Jodie Marsh is painted as a “slut”, while Russell Brand is portrayed with the rather grandiose term “lothario”. I instantly warm to people who are pilloried and bullied, not out of pity, but because such a state of being allows an insight into people’s strength and capacity for overcoming the hatred (and also, as Quentin Crisp once said "if you have love to give you must give it to the unlovable, anything else would be unfair").
Gradually Jodie Marsh has become a voice for the outsiders and the bullied, most notably in her brilliant documentary on the subject on Channel 5, where she was a compassionate and informed listener, and an insightful and powerful speaker. As well as this, she is clearly intelligent, passionate about her vegetarianism and animal rights, is definitely dedicated and hard working (her recent foray into body-building that some dismissed as just “more attention-seeking” proves that quite nicely), she seems to be getting more and more beautiful with age, and the most interesting beauty at that, the kind that isn’t so flawless and polished that it leaves no room for character. Also, I don’t remember where I read this, but she said in an interview when probed about her tattoos that it was her addiction, which is much better than being addicted to smoking or drugs, which, if you ask me, is a pretty brilliant message to young people delivered in the most accessible way possible, and also quite an intelligent statement to make, which acknowledges that people have addictive personalities, and her life recently has perhaps showed how best to channel those addictions into achieving something, be that a super-toned and competition-winning body, or arms full of artwork.
And about the tattoos, recently the Daily Mail had an article about the lead singer from that military wives group apparently being the victim of online bullying about her body art. The reader comments suggested a wave of disgust that people could be so vitriolic towards a woman with such an angelic voice whose husband serves in the military, yet every time an article about Jodie Marsh pops up, the very same readership are quick to point out how “disgusting” her tattoos are, and even worse, talking about her nose, which has been the source of her problems with bullies since she was a child. It’s pure, pure hatred, on a greater scale than any other female celebrity experiences, and I think the way she handles it is brilliant.
This excellent blog post which makes a case for Jodie’s defense much more eloquently than I ever could, describes the bullying program as “feminism and misogyny in microcosym”. I hope one day people come to see Jodie as a positive force, and someone who has the power for real change in terms of how females are treated by the media, and who continues to create awareness about bullying, and inspiring confidence in people who identify as outsiders.
You should all follow her on twitter @JodieMarsh, for a feed that radiates warmth and positivity much like she does.