First Person: '​WAGs are just fodder for tabloid slurs'

Posted by ap507 at Jun 07, 2016 12:32 PM |
Dr Melanie Kennedy discusses how footballer Jamie Vardy's wife Becky Nicholson has been described in the media recently and why this is an issue
First Person: '​WAGs are just fodder for tabloid slurs'

Source: Leicester Mercury

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk 

Jamie Vardy has rightly featured heavily in the news  following Leicester City's odds-defying winning of the Premier League earlier this month.

Therefore an article  in the Daily Mail last week caught my attention with a focus not on Vardy, but his now wife Becky Nicholson.

Rather than exploring Nicholson's support of the Player of the Season or covering the family's plans leading up to Euro 2016, this article instead examined Nicholson as "the most brazen WAG of all" ahead of the couple's wedding on May 25.

There are many things I could pick apart in this Daily Mail article as being a problem, but the biggest issue for me is the relentless use of the classic fairytale to measure Nicholson as a woman, and ultimately to prove to readers that she is an improper celebrity and therefore not suitable wife material for the "hero" Vardy.

Nicholson is defined as the evil stepmother based on three factors: her appearance, her class, and importantly, her sexuality.
The article reveals very little about Nicholson's past, instead focusing on her sexuality as one of the defining aspects of who she is.

A previous brief marriage, "a fling" with Peter Andre, and two children from previous relationships seemingly provide evidence of her brazenness – the authors even have the audacity to suggest Nicholson shouldn't be wearing a white wedding gown to walk down the aisle.

No similar judgement is made of Vardy's previous relationships, out of which he has his own child, and significantly there is no acknowledgement that a third of marriages in the UK involve at least one partner who has previously been married, and 14 per cent of two-parent families are made up of children together and from previous relationships, according to the 2013 Aviva Family Finances Report.

The Vardys then are hardly a shocking break from the fairytale marriage, but instead representative of the modern family in the UK today.
Nicholson is just the latest female celebrity to become fodder for the tabloids. Being labelled a WAG allows her to be defined in relation to the man to whom she is a Mrs, and more importantly to be defined by her sexuality.

Fairytales are children's bedtime stories, which mean they are seen as harmless fantasies. Using fairytales to judge celebrities like Nicholson makes it acceptable to measure these women against quiet, virginal and demure fictional female characters from centuries ago – like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty – and allows the private sex lives and relationships of female celebrities to become public property for discussion.

Dr Melanie Kennedy is lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester

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