‘Shameless’: Lisa Wilkinson erupts over dining photos

Lisa Wilkinson has escalated the drama over a series of photographs which pictured the host eating out alone.

The Project host Lisa Wilkinson has lashed out at women’s magazines and celebrity gossip sites, despite having started her career as an editor of Dolly and Cleo.

According to The Australian, Wilkinson was speaking to a 500-strong networking breakfast in Melbourne when she made the comments, labelling the publications as bringing out “the worst in human nature”.

Her scathing critique of the industry follows an online stoush with a news website over the publication of photos of Wilkinson eating a meal by herself, which was accompanied by a detailed blow-by-blow.

She said: “Every time we pick up one of those magazines in a doctor’s waiting room and every time we click on that salacious link to a trashy gossip website, not believing the ridiculous emotion-charged headline but clicking on the link nonetheless, a click means you like it, so it only brings more of it.

“In these faces women exist only to be ogled at, picked on, ridiculed, pitted against each other, laughed at or scorned. It’s designed to make us feel better if we are having a bad day, but it doesn’t, it makes us feel worse, and it simply brings out the worst in human nature.

“It’s part of a system to weaken and suppress women and we’ve been witnessing it for decades.

“Apparently, if you’ve read any of the trashy media gossip over the last few months, I’m also a craven, shameless media whore who has the temerity to eat dinner and sip on a margarita on her own while on a business trip to Melbourne – very possibly without even checking with her husband first.”

The drama surrounding those photos of Wilkinson involved several back-and-forth between the experienced journalist and the photographer who papped her during her meal.

She posted her complaints on social media at the time the images were made public.

She wrote: “Here’s to women everywhere being able to happily – and safely – take themselves out to dinner after a long day to do some work, plough through a few dozen emails, text friends, have a cheeky cocktail, eat broccoli (because, hey, greens!), catch up on some reading, wear clothes, tuck their hair behind one ear, and place a white napkin on their lap in peace… without worry about being shamed or judged or dissected or made to feel totally violated by some creepy old guy secretly taking pictures designed to make you look sad and lonely.”

The photographer responded with an open letter, published on the website of a former radio presenter, taking umbrage with being called old and arguing she was fair game because she was sitting at a window seat of a Melbourne hotel on a busy street.

During her speech today, Wilkinson also cited other examples of women being treated unfairly in the media, including the well-known comparison between Kate Middleton who was praised for being maternal by touching her baby bump while the same action from Meghan Markle was condemned as attention seeking.

Wilkinson took advantage of the platform to “set the record straight” on a range of other rumours. She quashed any speculation of a feud between her and Carrie Bickmore, or with Sylvia Jeffreys or with Karl Stefanovic’s ex-wife Cassandra Thorburn.

She also said the many dollar amounts that have been claimed to be her salary has been inaccurate.

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