Infectious diseases expert Siouxsie Wiles has spoken out about the appalling online abuse she has suffered in her work.
The prominent science communicator, who answered the nation’s COVID-19 questions during lockdown, has revealed dozens of ugly insults and threats she has received on social media aimed at her bright pink hair and her weight.
Some of the more repeatable ones include; “Pink could lose a few pounds just saying”, “I’m guessing around 100lbs at least to be out of her current obese state .. what do you think @SiouxsieW ?” and “Bloomfield got the Bus. This one is going to need something a bit bigger” with an image of a train.
Wiles features in a short documentary released today on nzherald.co.nz called Siouxsie and the Virus about her public education role in the early days of the pandemic and her behind-the-scenes fears of what might happen.
In a separate interview with the Weekend Herald, she says she is speaking up about the online abuse to make New Zealanders aware of the problem.
“I don’t want sympathy,” she tells Canvas writer Greg Bruce. “I want people to see it. I want people to see what happens when we are vocal, when we speak out about our areas of expertise.”
The article includes many other examples of hurtful comments about her weight (“Maybe you need to try the Pasta diet ‘Suzy’? Go pasta fridge, pasta shop, pasta Macca’s…”), her credentials (“Sixiouse Willis is a moron.” [sic]) and her personality (“This bitch is evil”).
Wiles says the steady build-up of comments has affected her.
“It’s just made it completely anxiety-inducing, when everything is just horrible, horrible messages from awful people. Yeah, it just makes me sad and a bit anxious.
“I’m getting loads of people that are quite happy to tell me how much of a satanic witch I am. I know that the people on the other side vastly outweigh them but that’s not what you see so I have to remind myself of that. It’s hard when you kind of swim in this toxic thing.”
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