The Accidental "It" Girl

(CBS/iStockphoto)
Meet the Greta Garbo of the Internet: Allison Stokke. She's 18 years old, athletic, attractive and wants to be left the hell alone.

Today's Washington Post runs a front-page (?!) story about Stokke, a high school track star who became a worldwide (maybe just a world wide web wide) star in recent weeks.

According to the Post piece, Stokke's unwanted ticket to fame was punched when a leering blogger received a picture taken of her at a track meet. All it took was one posting of that picture on a website, along with a "hubba hubba" (I'm not kidding) and things began to unravel.
From her computer at home, Stokke tracked the spread of her image with dismay and disbelief. She had dealt with this once before, when a track fan posted a lewd comment and a picture of her on a message board two years earlier. Stokke had contacted the poster through e-mail and, a few days later, the image had disappeared. But what could she do now, when a search for her name in Yahoo! revealed almost 310,000 hits? "It's not like I could e-mail everybody on the Internet," Stokke said.
This is a troubling zeitgeist piece with only one sympathetic character: Allison Stokke. How do the others stack up?

Stokke's father Allan: Sometimes the best thing to say is "No comment" and hope that the request for privacy is granted, or at least noted. Or as the sports humor site Deadspin snidely (and correctly) observed:
[G]iving an huge interview to The Washington Post about how you can't stand everyone talking about your daughter -- and including two more attractive pictures -- is really the perfect way to get everyone to stop talking about your daughter.
The Washington Post: Yes, you're writing about an attractive young woman. Yes, she's an Internet sensation. And yes, a picture would help inform the story. But there are a number of innocuous pictures that are already available and in the public domain. Why not use one of them to accompany the piece rather than snap two new ones and add to the feeding frenzy she's lamenting?

Ogling Bloggers: Not quite headline news there. One of the more printable, toned-down comments I found online was "Now is when we need the paparazzi to do something useful - follow this family to the beach and give us some bikini shots of this chick!"

But there is a silver lining in this story: Belated Restraint. As of today, the pictures have been removed from the aforementioned "hubba hubba" site with a notice reading UPDATE: Photos removed at the request of copyright holder.
  • Matthew Felling

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