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Madison Beer celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) by letting go of seven years worth of “fear and shame.”
On Mar. 8, the singer took to social media to share her personal experience with revenge porn and cyber-harassment that began when she was just 14 years old. Beer, who celebrated her 21st birthday on Mar. 5, revealed that nude photos taken when she was a teen have resurfaced online, causing her to relive the shame and anxiety once again.
The star prefaced her statement by noting that it was not intended to “distract” from current and “frightening” events, but meant to address the common practice of shaming women. Beer wrote that when she was 14 years old, she began “exploring her body and sexuality” and sent private images of herself to a boy via Snapchat.
“I sent these at 14, thinking I could trust the boy as we had known each other for years and shared feelings for one another, but of course, he shared it with all of his friends,” she wrote to her more than 20 million followers combined on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
happy international women’s day. this feels really good. pic.twitter.com/FsBz4mQIbm
— Madison Beer (@madisonbeer) March 8, 2020
Beer said the videos were shared with her family and friends, some of whom turned against her.
“I’d walk into restaurants and be stared at and whispered about,” she continued. “I was told people were ashamed to be working, or even friends, with me, these videos were even shown to my parents, grandparents and significant people, executives and artists in the music business. It eventually surfaced online.”
According to Statistics Canada, extortion reports increased by approximately 170 per cent between 2012 and 2108. Experts point to “sextortion” or threats of “revenge porn,” where one party threatens to release sexually explicit images or videos of a partner unless they provide money or adhere to specific demands as the cause of the spike.
In 2017, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended under section 162.1 to include the distribution of “intimate images” of a person without consent as an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of no more than five years
Beer revealed she is still working through the trauma of the experience and has developed “intense trust issues” because of it. She relived the trauma once again when she was notified ahead of her birthday that another video (sent to the same boy originally) was being shared online. Beer said she has been in constant fear that the video would be released and damage her career, keeping her in “perpetual anxiety.”
“So today, on IWD I am going to free myself of this weight I carry,” Beer wrote. “I am going to tell my 14-year-old self the following, which I hope may help some of you to be kinder to yourselves as young women. ‘You should not feel shame. You were exploring your sexuality, you were learning. You should not feel like you did something wrong. Shame on those who betrayed your trust and shame on those who shamed you.’”
By addressing the issue head on, Beer said she can finally move closer towards “being the young woman I want to be.”
“Own your mistakes as a young woman learning about the world,” she cautioned fans. “Don’t let them define you. Don’t let them keep you in fear. Stay safe.”
Beer received support from fans and celebrities like Demi Lovato, who thanked her for her bravery and vulnerability.
“Proud of you and this,” Lovato wrote on Instagram. “I relate. You’re so strong and thank you for this.”
“I’m so happy you’re confident enough to talk about this so that it shows young girls and guys who feel the need to send these kinds of videos to their crushes that it’s dangerous and harmful...,” one fan wrote. “The internet is a scary place and [I’m] proud of you for sharing your story and opening your heart to us.”
“Incredibly proud of you for being brave enough to share your experience with us,” another added. “There are a lot of women who have gone through the same thing you had to go through and I’m sure it’s going to help them.”