A former cheerleader for the Green Bay Packers says she is tackling cyberbullying as she fights back against Chicago Bears fans who got personal in expressing their antipathy for the Packers on Facebook.
Kaitlyn Collins learned last week about a photo of her posted on an unofficial Bears Facebook fan page with the caption: “Like if you agree the Packers have the worst cheerleaders in the NFL!”
The photo elicited thousands of “likes” and numerous vulgar comments about Collins’ appearance. Among the tamer remarks: “Doesn’t get any uglier.” “Truly an eyesore.” “Packers fans don’t eat, they graze.”
Collins said the comments stung.
“We all struggle with body images and especially in today’s society, for somebody to go online and type those kinds of things, out of a picture of mine out for everybody to see, it was very hurtful,” she told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on Monday.
Collins fought back, first approaching Facebook to take the post down. The company declined, saying it failed to qualify as bullying or harassment according to their community standards.
She then decided to respond directly to the remarks by posting a YouTube video. In it, she doesn’t say a word but instead holds up handwritten signs scribbled with samples of the cruel messages written about her photo.
“They put their names out there and they were claiming that I put myself out there to be ridiculed like that,” she said.
The video has received nearly 850,000 views.
“I am extremely surprised. When I uploaded the video, it was completely just in thanks to everybody that did stand up for me,” Collins said. “I (was) honestly overwhelmed with all the wonderful support that I’ve gotten.”
The administrator of the Facebook fan page eventually took down the post and offered an apology late last week.
Both the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers offered statements of support for Collins, who said she hopes the experience will draw attention to harassment over the Internet.
In her YouTube video, she discusses her support system of friends and family but notes that not everyone is so lucky.
"What about the people who don't have that at home? What will happen when, something like this happens to them? Stop cyber-bullying and bullying in any form!”