Strictly’s Shirley Ballas has been a victim of such intense trolling this year – including claims that she “looks like she has a glass eye” – that she’s sought help from Strictly bosses. She also revealed that the backlash has had such a negative effect that she’s had to consult a doctor for the sake of her mental health.
Millions tune in to watch the Strictly results shows each week – and some followers get so infuriated when they don’t agree with Shirley’s decisions that they rush onto social media to accuse her of favouritism.
Yet the insults can get much nastier than that, as almost every part of her body has been criticised in detail.
“[People have said] I look like I have a glass eye. That’s because I wear one lens and the other eye rolls a little bit,” she explained to OK!
Meanwhile, other trolls said she had huge ears, leading Shirley to get out a “tape measure” to check.
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Shirley says she has been left so sensitive and self-conscious of her body that she now even wonders whether to wear a sleeveless dress in case she is exposing her “bingo arms” or looks “too heavy”.
The head judge blasted: “Why do we have such a suicide rate? Because people are so mean to each other online.”
Elaborating that the BBC has offered her counselling to help deal with some of the aggression against her, she described the channel as “phenomenal”.
“They’ve been there for me all the time. They chat to me every week. You couldn’t get more support than they give,” she declared in a new interview with the aforementioned publication.
Despite a showbiz career spanning five decades, during which she has won multiple awards, she says she has never before received as much hate as has been aimed at her this series.
Her much-loved son Mark, who has excelled on the USA version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars, has also had criticism aimed at him after his performances onstage.
The champ, who sailed to victory on the show this year alongside TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, has had “cruel” comments about his hair and overall look, which prompted Shirley to make an emotional response.
“I said to the person, ‘I don’t mind you critiquing dancing, you can disagree all you want, it’s fine’ – but don’t go into how people’s physical appearance is,” she recalled.
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She added that hair, body shape and facial wrinkles are all irrelevant when it comes to the show.
“The names I’ve been called!”, she shuddered, adding: “I couldn’t even repeat them to you.”
The 62-year-old has now decided she will be taking a much-needed break when this series of Strictly draws to a close.
She is expecting to take some time off to be with her son, and avoid the Christmas panto season altogether.
Shirley has compared herself to gentle, animal-loving Hamza Yassin saying that she just wants the world to be a “better place”.
The star judge will be withdrawing from the public eye after the final show the weekend before Christmas Day, and will not consider returning until after January 4.
Though she’ll also be pulling the plug on her social media accounts over that period, she has explained that she has received plenty of supportive messages too, for which she is very grateful.
Strictly Come Dancing airs at 8pm on BBC One.