Dani Mathers. Let me start by saying, what on earth were you thinking?
Just in case you aren’t up to speed with this story, or are thinking ‘who the devil is Dani Mathers’, allow me to give you a quick synopsis. Be prepared, the following info is more than a tad appalling, on every level…
Playboy’s 2015 ‘Playmate of the Year’ Dani Mathers took it upon herself last week to body-shame a woman. Via Snapchat. In the dressing room of her gym in LA. Why? Because Dani Mathers found the woman’s naked body offensive.
Yep. That’s right. She TOOK A PICTURE of an unsuspecting woman, naked, getting changed in the gym (possibly after her work out, more power to her), on Snapchat, with the caption:
‘If I can’t see unsee this then you can’t either.’
Forgive me. Even typing this and laying that phrase down, in words, makes me feel a little uncomfortable - and, I apologise if I happen to go off on tangents during this article only, I’m a bit livid. Livid that this could happen, and absolutely baffled that as a woman, Dani Mathers felt this was in any way acceptable.
@DaniMathers that poor lady, goes to the gym and ends up all over the net. That beautiful woman is probably someones mum or/and wife :(— Glenn Rowswell (@glenn_rowswell) 14 July 2016
Of course, these events unfolded last week, and there has been an aftermath so to speak. A riotous backlash spread across the internet following the post. Mathers quickly apologised and then deleted all of her social media accounts, not before issuing a heartfelt (and in fairness, genuine) message via Snapchat explaining her actions:
'I just want to acknowledge a photo that I accidentally posted.'
'It was absolutely wrong and not what I meant to do.'
I chose to do what I do for a living because I love the female body and I know body shaming is wrong, that's not what I'm about and this is not the type of person I am.'
'The photo was taken as part of a personal conversation with a girlfriend and because I am new to Snapchat I didn't realise I had posted it, and that was a huge mistake.'
'I know I have upset a lot of people out there but please believe me this is not the type of person that I am. I have never done this before and I will never do this again, you have my word.'
But the damage had already been done. Why? Well, it seems that even though Dani Mathers has suffered a very public vilifying (plus, she has been indefinitely suspended from the radio show she presents in LA), she may now have to be legally held accountable for her actions.
The picture was taken in Mathers’ local branch of LA Fitness (oh, she’s been banned from ever using one of their 800+ gyms btw), who enforce a strict privacy rule about taking pictures in their communal locker rooms.
Her behavior is appalling & puts members @ risk. We ended membership & she can't use any club. It’s not just our rule, it's common decency.— LA Fitness (@LAFitness) 15 July 2016
‘Our written rules are very clear: Cellphone usage and photography are prohibited in the locker rooms,’ said Jill Greuling, the company’s executive vice president of operations. ‘This is not only our rule, but common decency.’
Los Angeles Police Capt. Andrew Neiman said they received a report of ‘illegal distribution’ of the image from the international gym chain. LAPD Detectives are apparently now investigating.
It transpires that Mathers’ actions may have violated a section of California’s Penal Code concerning a person’s personal privacy. Under this law, it’s illegal generally to distribute an image of the ‘intimate body part or parts’ of another person ‘without the consent of or knowledge of that other person.’
So, if Dani Mathers has broken the law, she may find herself in court. Which I'm sure, when she took that reckless snap (possibly without thinking), was the last thing she ever thought would happen.
I don’t believe in scapegoats. I don’t believe in examples being made out of people, however, what Dani Mathers did was so inherently wrong on SO many levels (and I appreciate that she's probably very sorry now, especially if it was a 'mistake'), that I honestly believe that she needs to take responsibility for her foolish actions.
I think what worries me more is that for a split second, Dani Mathers thought that taking a picture of a naked woman, without her knowing, and posting it on the Internet for all and sundry to see was a good idea. How? How anyone could come to that forgone conclusion says more about our society than how you (or I ) may feel about Mathers' very public downfall.
I'm not sure whether or not Dani Mathers deserves to go to jail over a rogue Snapchat, but her potential legal trial does raise some questions about our lackadaisical approach to privacy and what happens to content once we let it loose on social media.
Is this a cautionary tale? Let team InStyle know your thoughts...
*For the record, if you haven’t seen the Snapchat in question (and feel you need to), then I’m afraid you’ll have to try and look for it outside of this article. On a personal level, I don't feel the need to insert it into my copy*