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The show hasn’t even started yet, but this year’s bakers are already senselessly swept away by the audience.
The Great British Bake Off will be on our screens again next week (Tuesday 21 September, 8 p.m. on Channel 4, put it in your calendar). What with that, plus the arrival of Strictly Come Dancing, we’re almost ready to settle in for a great fall season of TV. The 12 new amateur bakers have now been announced, including a police detective, a retired midwife and a student.
But unfortunately, one contestant has already been hit with abuse from online trolls – before the show even started. The comments have apparently gotten so bad that 19-year-old Freya Cox has reportedly deleted a social account.
Freya, who is currently studying for a degree in psychology, is not only the youngest participant in this year’s series: Bake, but is also the first all-vegan baker to participate in the show. And that’s where the online abuse comes from.
Announcing that she will be joining the popular baking show this year, Freya wrote on Facebook: “I am so passionate about ethics and feel blessed to have the opportunity to share this with the world. To say that I am the first fully vegan baker on GBBO feels like such an honor.
“I’ll be posting loads of updates, bakes and behind-the-scenes photos on my Instagram page if you’d like to follow me there. Speak to you all soon… the future is truly vegan.”
On Facebook, the Yorkshire-born student had previously dedicated a page to her horse riding called ‘Freya Cox Eventing’, but users took to the page to criticize the young woman for her hobby, as she is vegan. It was suggested that equestrian sport is cruel to animals and objections were raised about how horseback riding goes hand in hand with being vegan.
“Please don’t say you’re passionate about ethics if you’re still riding,” one person wrote. ‘She’s not vegan. Just plant-based, of course,” added another.
“If you’re still driving, don’t call yourself vegan and definitely don’t go on TV calling yourself vegan. It’s no wonder people get confused about what veganism means when the ethos is constantly watered down,” read a third comment.
Since the deluge of comments, the “Freya Cox Eventing” page appears to no longer exist on Facebook, suggesting that Freya deleted it or at least made it private to protect herself from unwanted judgment. It’s understandable that some people are passionate about veganism and animal rights, but when the comments come thick and fast to someone who’s never been in the spotlight, it can feel like a pile of stuff and can undoubtedly get very overwhelming.
Online abuse is something Great British Bake Off stars have dealt with it time and again. Last year contestant Laura Adlington shared on Twitter the emotional toll that trolls had taken on her while the show aired. “It’s okay to be sad that your favorite person didn’t make it, but please remember it’s not my fault. I don’t make the decisions,” she wrote. “GBBO is all about kindness and I haven’t seen much of that here,” she added.
In a later tweet, the home baker continued: “It’s easy to sit there on your couch and judge. But I am a real person with feelings. Take a moment to think about your words before judging someone you’ve never met and whose food you’ve never tasted.”
Ahead of this year GBBO series, Judge Paul Hollywood urged viewers not to turn their opinions into snide remarks. The professional baker described the participants as “raw” and “not used to this”, the professional baker added: “This can harm people, this really hurts people, and I think you have to be very careful. There will be a be backlash and you just don’t want it, it’s not fair.”
Let’s hope, for the sake of the Great British Bake Off 2021 participants, that online trolling will be kept under control this year. After all, they are real people with real feelings.