Tara Palmer Tomkinson deserves better

Since you cannot purchase The Sun from Essentials, you probably follow their Facebook page to keep up with their five-star journalism. Last week Tara Palmer-Tomkinson passed away. The Sun’s sensitive and considerate headline read: “Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s troubled life… Drug overdoses, a failed music career and the search for love that always eluded her”. Unless it’s an obituary of an infamous criminal or cruel dictator, I wouldn’t expect anyone in the public eye to go down with such a scathing headline.

Of course, you go on to read the article and it’s a classic piece of online Sun journalism; a shocking, eye catching headline followed by disappointment. The article simply lists highlights and facts about Tara’s life, the known circumstances of her death accompanied with lots of pictures to break up the text. The article fails to make a real connection between the sensationalist headline and the content; all talk no bite.

Similarly, The Metro headline read; “Tragic Tara dead at 45”. The Metro’s use of ‘tragic’ and the Sun’s use of ‘troubled’ set alarm bells off in my head. I’m sure some would put this down to my ‘over sensitive’ inner feminist monologue, but I have a suspicion that Tomkinson has been framed in this ‘tragic’ and ‘troubled’ light because she was single. That, coupled with her drug addiction, ultimately made her a broken woman, unredeemable; troubled and tragic.

In her 20s and 30s Tara partied and lived a celebrity life style. However, contrary to the popular practise of some of the other “It girls” of the nineties such as Normandie Keith and Isabella Hervey, Tara didn’t settle down. She didn’t get married, have kids or write a life style book on how to make perfect vegan brownies. No, she passed away single and alone in her bed.

Let’s break down The Sun headline in its criticisms of Tara a little further. Yes she did have drug overdoses, but she was very self-aware of her failures and her problems.  In a radio interview with Matt Baker, Tara stated that after all the crazy parties “… you end up in rehab because you feel no self-worth and you realise you’ve done absolutely nothing. You’ve been completely greedy because of your bank account and your rather naughty party habits…When I was using I was in the darkest, loneliest most horrible little hole.”

In the way of a “failed music career”, The Sun is pulling at straws. She released one very bad song in 2012 called “5 seconds”. The video could be confused for some sort of Peter Kay parody type video. But despite this one unsuccessful pop song, she was still a very talented pianist. The Sun chose to pick on this one obscure fact rather than acknowledge all of her other achievements; the columns she wrote for numerous magazines and papers, the TV shows she hosted and the fact she was a patron for the Scottish charity ‘Speur Ghlan’ which helped young people with Autism.

Finally, The Sun states that Tara was on a “search for love that always eluded her”. If a male celebrity of similar status passed away, would we not hold him up as a rock and roll style bachelor who never let a woman tie him down? The last line of Tomkinson’s Wikipedia page reads “She never married or had children”. Yes, once again this is true, but she dated Robbie Williams and Duncan from Blue, the biggest British heart throbs of the new millennium. It’s clear that in our society marriage and children are held up as the most important thing a woman can achieve.

  Ultimately, Tara created her own brand from her “It girl” status, she was a household name in the late nineties and noughties. Tara had low points in her life and to die at such a young age is heart-breaking. However, “tragic” and “troubled” are not the words I’d prescribe to the life of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

Bethany Donkin

(Image courtesy of The Independent)

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