Viral tweet by Limerick broadcaster shines light on 'dangerous' message

Muireann O'Connell's tweet slams marketing of 'curvy' jeans

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery


Viral tweet by Limerick broadcaster shines light on 'dangerous' message

Muireann O'Connell, a presenter on Today FM, 98FM and TV3, below, her tweet

A VIRAL tweet by Limerick broadcaster Muireann O’Connell, which criticised a marketing campaign by high-street store Zara, has reached far-flung corners of the globe and was even picked up by Time Magazine, the Huffington Post and Perez Hilton.

The tweet reproduced an image of a poster from the store, depicting two slim models with the slogan ‘love your curves’, and Muireann’s comment, ‘You have got to be s****ing me Zara’. It received 29,000 likes and over 16,000 retweets.

“It blew up for a reason,” said Dooradoyle woman Muireann, who works for Today FM, 98FM and TV3.

“I really didn’t expect it to happen, it was just a visceral reaction I had to seeing a picture, and it wasn’t about the women in the picture at all, they’re lovely, they’re doing their job, they look fantastic.

“I wasn’t the first person to tweet about this at all. I don’t know why it hit a nerve the day that I tweeted it out but it did, and I think people are starting to realise that it is the marketing companies that are pushing this at us,” she added.

The reaction to the tweet has been mostly positive, but some people have criticised her for shaming slim bodies. However, Ms O’Connell was eager to point out that “this is not about naturally thin women”.

“You can’t sit there and blame these models who have been booked for these jobs. It’s the psychology of the marketing behind it, I just think it’s dangerous,” she said.

The message behind the ‘curvy’ campaign, Muireann says, could have a huge impact on younger girls.

“It’s a curvy jean, and of course being curvy and being thin are not mutually exclusive at all, but we all know in the lexicon of what we use when it comes to ‘curves’, you really don’t think of pre-pubescent bodies, and that feels like what it was being sold to us as,” she said.

“I do worry about younger people. I remember watching things like Dawson’s Creek and thinking, I don’t look like that. It gets to you at that age.”

The broadcaster said she has experienced sexism over being opinionated.

“I’ve seen a side of Twitter that I hadn’t seen before but that you’d kind of read about, that comes out when a woman says something, and if a man doesn’t agree with her - or, if a man sees a woman saying anything and they don’t like it - they take issue just for the sake of it.

“There was a father on Twitter of a 15-year-old girl who said that she gets called ‘ironing board’ - and one of my very good friends is just naturally thin, and she gets stuff like that as well - and he was incredibly patronising to me about ‘speaking before you think’.

“I went into the issues and I told him what the statistics are in Ireland when it comes to eating disorders and what’s affecting it, and he just treated me like I was a stupid little girl. I thought it was ironic because he was trying to stand up for his little girl,” she said.

It is understood that Zara  has not responded to queries about the campaign since the story went viral.