Most people in 2015 realise social media is both a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, the wife of NBA star Stephen Curry experienced what happens when you wind up in the internet's bad books. Until the very unexpected social media storm occurred, Ayesha Curry was best known as Stephen's other half and the mother of their two children, Riley and Ryan. However with one swift tweet, she dominated headlines but not for the right reasons.
The furore began when the professional chef innocently shared her thoughts on the latest fashion trends and her disdain for revealing clothing. She tweeted on 5 December: "Everyone's into barely wearing clothes these days huh? Not my style. I like to keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters. Just looking at the latest fashion trends. I'll take classy over trendy any day of the week. #saturdaynightinsight."
Curry's tweet, which did not mention any names specifically, was not aggressive but sadly the same can not be said for the backlash she received. One Twitter user criticised Curry for turning her nose up at the fashion tastes of other women, writing: "I think @AyeshaCurry's fashion tweets would've went down smoother if she didn't put down other women and their choices in the process." Another said: "This post is so wrong. Slut-shaming is wrong. Being sexist is wrong. As a human I expected you wouldn't be or do any of these."
Playing devil's advocate, one other user was able to identify with both sides of the argument, stating: "Ayesha Curry dresses classy & she is married. Kim Kardashian likes to reveal her body & she is married; different strokes for different folks."
Realising the negative response, Curry later felt compelled to attempt to settle the heated debate, telling her Twitter followers: "And all I'm doing is sitting here reading a style weekly. You guys definitely entertain me that's for sure. Regardless of if you like my 'style of clothes' or not (which I don't care) please do not tear women down and degrade them... Not cool peeps."
Although Curry by no means deserved such a reaction, one positive to come out of the furore is it has opened up the argument about young women and the overtly sexual manner in which many of them exert themselves on social media.
A large number of those who were seriously angry about Curry's tweets seemed keen to embrace the "slut" label which, quite frankly, is truly shocking. Whereas traditional feminists fight to alleviate the sexualisation and objectification of females, the emergence of social media has encouraged a new wave of women whose lives are validated by the amount of people that "like" or "retweet" their seductive pictures.
Most people have seen those types of Instagram accounts. Duck pout firmly in place, Bambi eyes looking directly up at the camera and her body positioned in a way that accentuates her assets – while clad in barely any clothing – these are the kind of selfies that have flooded the social media site in recent years and are finished off with a filter that neatly conceals what may be perceived to be a flaw.
However outside of the social media bubble where everything is perfect and pristine, if the glossy filter and sexualised poses and clothing are taken away, the woman simply turns into every other regular being you pass on the street. Most are wise to the fact that the photos shared on social media are not real but young or impressionable women are often easily influenced by what they see, thus creating a cycle of females portraying themselves in a certain light to receive what they consider to be acceptance by society.
Adding her perspective to this issue, body language and behaviour expert Judi James told IBTimes UK: "One of the problems with social media and young girls is that vanity seems to be the only achievement that it understands. The deception can affect everyone playing the game. If you duck out and watch, you might feel the rest of the world looks like Barbie dolls. If you join in and post your own enhanced images, the reality gap between how you present yourself and how you really look can lead to you body-shaming yourself in real life."
Interestingly, James notes the social media game has become more about a competition between women as opposed to being viewed as attractive by the opposite sex or potential partners. She explained: "When girls get involved in a large-group competition like this, the sexual aspect often has very little to do with actual sex and more to do with power and status among their own social media audiences. But for a generation growing up with role models that are based on unrealistic aesthetic achievement, the effects are still to be seen."
Australian model Rosie Nelson launched a petition to encourage the modelling industry to enforce stricter health requirements on companies and agencies after one told her to slim "down to the bone". Although she believes it is down to the individual and the way they perceive certain images, Nelson does place some responsibility on social media for contributing to the low self-esteem some of the younger generation may feel. She said: "It's really just down to how people perceive things and certain images they see."
Celebrities react to Ayesha Curry's social media controversy
Nelson added: "I do think [social media] plays some role in affecting young girls because we're in the age of social media constantly where young girls are watching what everyone's up to. But at some point you need to distance yourself from social media a bit because it's not really real life. It's just some pictures on a page. That's not portraying someone's real life for the most part, at least."
The reaction Curry received for putting out a positive message signals a huge step backwards in an era where women should be emancipated from degrading labels such as "slut", but for some unfathomable reason, they embrace it and social media only encourages this notion. As James analysed: "Once girls start to see these faked images as normal, the way they look themselves can be seen by them as abnormal, meaning body confidence and overall self-esteem can be eroded when they make comparisons with these fantasy ideals that are presented as real."
One can only hope those who share the same "classy" viewpoints as Curry will not be deterred from expressing their thoughts in the future.