The artist who publicly shamed a group of men queuing in McDonald’s has written a statement of apology following a huge online backlash.
25-year-old Hetty Douglas posted a picture on her Instagram story without the men’s knowledge or permission, as they ordered food at a London McDonald’s.
The picture was captioned: ‘These guys look like they got one GCSE’.
Her comments led to national media attention and a whole lot of people calling her out for her post.
Hetty has now responded in the form of a statement on her website, in which she both apologises and also explains the level of abuse she’s been receiving in the past week.
I’m Hetty, and my story starts at McDonald’s.
I was on my way to work in central London one morning and ran in to get some breakfast. There was a large group of guys in front of me, and some at the counter, some of who were bantering. No big drama. Quite jarring on an otherwise subdued Monday morning.
I should have just let it go, but it hit a nerve so I took a photo of some of the men and posted to my Instagram account with a dig at their intelligence. Not nice and not clever and I didn’t really think it through. In the age of social media, the gap between having a thought and broadcasting it to thousands can be a few seconds.
— Lizzie Long (@LizLizzieloulou) September 5, 2017
Of course, what I did was wrong, particularly because the guys I captured in the photo weren’t the loud ones. Also they were wearing working clothes – it turned out they were scaffolders – and it looked like I was saying that people who do manual jobs are stupid. That’s not my view and it was me that was stupid for not seeing how it might look.
What happened next was surreal. Some people didn’t like what I’d said and made that clear to me, which was fair enough. But they also shared their disapproval on social media and before long there was a massive backlash which included threats of violence, sexist abuse and thousands of hostile posts on Twitter and other platforms.
Journalists laid siege to my mum’s house and I’ve had to temporarily move out of my houseshare. I became an instant hate figure.
Hetty then gave some examples of the abuse she’d been receiving, including:
#hettydouglas another failed rich kid. For an artist she’s rotten to the core, just another vile excuse of a ‘human’
Now, I don’t for one second condone what Hetty said about the scaffolders, but that is uncalled for. And people attacking her art are being just as bad as her.
Hetty Douglas' skills on the other hand appear to be rather limited. To say a 3 year old could produce similar artwork would malign 3yr olds
— Jill (@JillianPincham) September 10, 2017
@Hetty_Douglas my niece can paint better than you (with her eyes shut). I've seen dog puke looking more artistic ??
— Londoner ?? (@Bradders71) September 10, 2017
Hetty also wanted to clear up the fact tabloids have labelled her as ‘posh’:
The attacks were based on a web of lies. I am not posh. I come from an ordinary family in Nottingham. I went to my local comprehensive with lads like the ones in McDonald’s. I’ve always worked and never had hand-outs from my parents.
Yes, I’m an artist, and yes I live in south London, but I’m a grounded person and was raised to work hard for what I’ve got. I acted irresponsibly. Although I photographed the men from behind, the papers managed to identify one of them who was justifiably upset with me. As was his mum. I’ve written to them to say sorry because I really am.
I’m told that I’ve got no future with my career because no one will touch me. I hope that’s not true because I don’t think any fair person knowing the truth would wish that on me.
For everyone else this is a cautionary tale: don’t make brash judgements on others, and certainly don’t put them on Instagram.
— amanda easmon (@AjEasmon) September 9, 2017
Speaking with The Sun last week, 40-year-old Warren Butt said the artist had ‘no right’ to pass judgement on him and his colleagues:
It’s not very nice. It’s made us look like a load of idiots when we are just trying to crack on and do some work.
I would like an apology. I do not think it’s right she can take a picture of us without us knowing and say that. I’m just working – just earning a living for me and my son.
What gives her the right to look at me or us in that way. She’s no better than me because she can draw.
And GKR Scaffolding also released a statement saying Douglas’ comments reflected a ‘dying perception about qualifications and skills’:
Responding to coverage of Hetty Douglas' Instagram post, our statement confirming they are GKR scaffolders & our view on their skilled work. pic.twitter.com/UGjj9oj8Ie
— GKR Scaffolding Ltd (@GKRLtd) September 6, 2017
While I think we can all agree her comments were ignorant, uncalled for and completely wrong, there is no justification for the abuse and threats.