WWE star Paige blasts body shamers as she posts stunning Instagram selfie
On the internet, women are routinely subject to body-shaming, and even celebrities can't seem to escape this sexist culture of objectification. For example, this week WWE star Paige (also known as Saraya Bevis) was forced to respond to cruel trolls on her Instagram account with an empowering selfie and personal rebuttal.
Paige - who suffered from a career-ending injury back in December 2017, which effectively ended her pro wrestling career - posted an image of herself reclining in bed, wearing Calvin Klein underwear, and looking fabulous as she did so.
Taking to Instagram, she captioned the selfie: "Because of the business I’m in we have an enormous spotlight on us. Which along with it comes wonderfully incredible things, but also some bad.
"One thing is weight. For the past 8 years I've struggled with how I’ve wanted my body ... You should NEVER go out of your way to make someone feel bad about themselves. Even if they are in the 'spotlight'"
She continued: "I’ve hit my lowest weight and hit my biggest weight in just the space of 2 years. But I stopped caring what people said a while ago. Helps when you surround yourself with positive people and positive influencers."
"I know you hear it from me about my bf but he's a real driving force behind my healthier and happier lifestyle. Along with the best friends and family I could ever imagine. Long story short. F*ck what people think and you'll be a lot happier."
However, like so many people who live their lives in the public eye, especially women, this is far from the first time that the 26-year-old has hit back at trolls.
Just take the case of Carrie Underwood back in October of 2018, when she was trolled by a vocal minority of internet users after she posted an image of her scars. It's clear that we, as a society, need to do more to prevent the victimization of women on the internet.
While Paige might have become a star in her own right, she's grown up knowing what it's like to be watched as both of her parents were pro wrestlers too.
Ian Bevis and Julia Hamer-Bevis eventually influenced their daughter to start attending amateur wrestling boot camps as a teen, but she wasn't always willing to give the sport a go.
Despite rising to become one of WWE's biggest female stars, as a child, she wasn't a fan of wrestling because, to her then child eyes, she thought her parents fought for a living.
However, as she grew up, Paige soon learned that it is a sport like any other, and understandably, wanted to see if a talent for wrestling had been passed onto the next generation.
After honing her craft in amateur boot camps, Paige eventually signed to WWE in 2011. But she had her first taste of proper fame before this, having appeared in the documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family at the age of just 13.
And while we might know the 26-year-old as Paige, this is actually a stage name she adopted in 2012. She was born Saraya-Jade Bevis.
Three years after signing with WWE, Paige earned the biggest accolade of her career when she became one of the company's main roster of wrestlers and broke a record.
This happened when she became the youngest person ever to win the women's professional wrestling tournament, the WWE Divas Championship.
As if this wasn't impressive enough, the young wrestler once again proved she'd more talent for most in 2014 when she simultaneously won another accolade.
She also became the only female wrestler to simultaneously possess the Divas and NXT Women's Championships.
In an interview with The Independent at the time, she said: "I've been working my whole career to get to this point, it’s been nearly nine years now, and it was just incredible.
"I couldn't stop crying, I haven’t stopped talking to my family about it, it's overwhelming especially getting so much support from the fans and backstage. It's been magical."
But the singer's life took a turn for the worse, two years ago, when a tape of her performing sexual acts was released online in an act of revenge porn.
The 26-year-old, whose life is the subject of an upcoming film starring Game of Thrones actress, Lena Headey, found herself at the centre of an online scandal after someone hacked her phone and leaked multiple private photos and videos.
"I made a big mistake. Huge. I put trust in the hands of someone that took advantage of a young girl years ago. It was my mistake and I'll always take responsibility," she said after the incident in a statement on Twitter.
Following the leak, the WWE star had to take a break from wrestling. She had already been suspended at the time the video was shared, but the added stress became so much for her that she developed anorexia, sunk into a deep depression, and even lost her hair.
No one wants footage of themselves engaging in intimate acts to be broadcast to the world without their consent and things were so bad that Paige considered taking her own life.
Paige was appearing on the Chasing Glory With Lilian Garcia, where she went on to explain: "When they came out I barricaded myself in the house for a couple of months. I was so sad to the point I was contemplating suicide."
During the conversation surrounding the attention that she now receives, Paige recounted a particularly grim and upsetting encounter: "I was out yesterday with my friend," she said. "We were just sitting there having a Bloody Mary. This guy comes up to my friend and says, "'That's the porn star.'"
She then wept and added: "I cried in the toilet. I find it really hard to be close to anybody."
Now, speaking to the New York Post, Paige revealed how she felt in the weeks and months following the leak.
"To be publicly humiliated like that was terrible, and I don’t wish that for anyone," she said. "I didn’t go to work; I didn’t do anything. I felt so rock bottom."
The one thing that enabled her to get back on her feet, she says, was the support of her fans - in particular, an encounter she had with a young girl, maybe seven years old or so, who approached her in a grocery store to tell her how much she admired her.
"Of course, she didn’t have the internet and thought I was the most beautiful and most successful woman in the world," Paige said.
"It opened my eyes to so many things. I was like, 'I'm gonna let videos get in the way of things?' I thought, 'what am I doing? I need to be successful for her.' My whole journey was supposed to be about inspiring people."
"I was at rock bottom for a year and a half - and the people who got me out of my rut were my fans," she said last year.
"They were just like, 'I know you can get out of this, you're stronger than what you feel right now, I know you can make a comeback.' And it just inspired me, like, 'You're right, why do I feel like I'm giving up right now?’"
Paige not only had her intimate videos stolen, but she also received two suspensions from WWE and underwent serious neck surgery.
During the podcast, the star admitted to violating the competition's "Wellness Policy" by taking illegal drugs. Paige was suspended from WWE for 30 days and then 60 days after the use of illegal drugs, something which she denied at the time, with her claiming that she was actually taking prescription drugs.
While she admits she was "young and dumb" when these incidents happened, she says that she does not want to be condemned due to past mistakes.
Talking about her lowest points during the difficult period, she said: "I was on the floor, I was so low - I got so skinny I ended up collapsing with exhaustion in hospital in England," she recalled.
"They told me at the time it was like stress-induced anorexia. I wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping, I lost all my hair. I have clippings now, but I literally have no hair because my hair fell out. Because I was so stressed.
"It just broke my heart. I was like, 'Why would someone want to do that to someone?"'
Now, though, Paige has made headlines for what she's been getting up to outside of the ring. Taking to the world of Instagram, the British wrestler showed off her latest tattoo and it's unlikely to go down with WWE.
Tattooist Early Funk inked the words "Talk s**t, get bit" onto the sides of Paige's hands.
Despite the fact that it promotes violence, the sexualization of women and patriarchy in all it's glory, the WWE is famously strict when it comes to swearing.
The company calls itself family-friendly, so may take a bit of an issue with the wording on Paige's hands.
Paige returned to the ring, but a later injury saw her retire from the fighting side of things. She went onto work as a SmackDown general manager, but has now taken a step back from WWE and released her own cosmetics line.
She says she feels much happier now, and can show her fans more of Saraya-Jade Bevis - her real identity - than her wrestling persona.
Paige might be just over a quarter of a century old, but she's had an incredible life so far, so it only stands to reason that it would make its way onto the big screen.
The film about her life, named Fighting With My Family, is out in cinemas next week. It follows her journey into WWE, from her father's wrestling business and her accidental participation in the sport, all the way up to where she is today.
Aside from having her own fashion line, Paige has also set herself up for the future with her own cosmetics range. I wonder if she took inspiration from Kylie Jenner?
And despite making her name in the ring, she is committed to the creation of cruelty-free products. Good on her.
But like so many wrestlers who have "retired", rumors have circulated that Paige could make a comeback, but she shut these down on social media, explaining that it simply wasn't possible.
"Nope. I'm not," she wrote. "At all. One more knock to my neck could result in paralysis. Don't read 'facts' on the internet. As much as I want that to be true it's 100% not."