The power of Zara McDermott's revenge porn documentary

Ruby Story Dartford shares her view on whether Zara McDemott's revenge porn documentary should be shown in schools.

Ruby Story Dartford
12th March 2021

How many more teens be will exploited by the failure in the education system before change arrives?

"As I sat in my Geography lesson, Zara’s pictures had travelled around my year group, from WhatsApp to Snapchat, twitter to tabloids."

At the time when Zara had applied to Love Island, I was a student at the sixth form that had controversially excluded her for sending nude photos. As I sat in my Geography lesson, Zara’s pictures had travelled around my year group, from WhatsApp to Snapchat, twitter to tabloids. As Zara shot to fame, so did intimate moments of her life. It has been almost ten years since Zara was excluded from school after being pressured for personal photos, and in that time, how much has changed? 

McDermott details the aftermath of the photos that went viral, the suicidal thoughts that surfaced and damaged relationships that have troubled her past over the last decade. The documentary follows the emotional rollercoaster that is Zara’s life as she discusses the highs and lows of revenge porn, and the consequences that come with the actions of her school days. If students were required to watch a real-life scenario such as Zara’s story, would they think twice before doing the same?

"Zara’s documentary tells of a similar story that only so many victims know too well."

The influencer found revenge porn activist tells of the trauma of the taboo topic and is determined to put her platform to use to discuss the reality of revenge porn. In a time where intimate pictures are more accessible than ever before, Zara’s documentary tells of a similar story that only so many victims know too well. An intimate photo taken in a second, a life ruined forever. With social media more interconnected than ever before, and as revenge porn prosecutions remain low, how else can we prevent today’s teens making the same mistakes? 

Many have argued that these hard-hitting topics should be further discussed amongst the school curriculum in order to educate a generation engulfed in an ever-emerging media world. If further awareness of topics such as revenge porn, peer pressure and online trolling were taught, would we be raising a better and more informed generation? With teenagers more exposed to the adult world than ever before, more must be done to protect the children of today. If more education had been put in place, had Zara been able to watch documentaries like hers, how different would her story be? 

There are calls for other documentaries such as Jesy Nelson’s ‘Odd One Out’ to be shown throughout schools to further educate upon issues such as online trolling. Documentaries like these should be shown across all schools to clamp down on worldwide issues driven by the power of social media. If teens were further educated on taboo topics such as revenge porn, how many would think before sending or sharing photos, or trolling others?

With an ever-changing society, the curriculum too must change to provide the teens of today with the education that textbooks and exams cannot teach. How many stories like Zara’s will re-occur before a change is made? How many girls will be exploited before schools step up?

Featured image: @ZaraMcDermott on Instagram.

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AUTHOR: Ruby Story Dartford
Journalist Student studying at Newcastle University.

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