Whilst studying Media Studies at sixth form, I came across a feisty, honest, compassionate and opinionated documentary maker called Stacey Dooley. In the world of BBC, which is often filled with aloof, white, middle class men giving their opinions on worlds that are so far removed from their own, I was overjoyed to see an energetic and opinionated young woman documenting on social-political issues across Britain and the world.
Stacey Dooley was born in Luton, England and left school with no qualifications. At the age of 21 she starred in the BBC Three documentary series Blood, Sweat and T-shirts. The series focused on young fashion-obsessed consumers and took them to India to see how workers, making clothes destined for sale in British high-street stores, worked and lived. Stacey’s brash, honest and assertive attitude made her stand out from the rest of the participants. In one episode she confronted the owner of a factory after spotting a young boy hiding underneath a workstation. She is convinced that the child is not old enough to be working in the factory and is determined to prove that he should not be working there despite this not being her remit.
Her courage to confront those responsible for oppression alongside her desire to give a voice to those in need is something that has continued in her own documentaries; making her a role model for fighting injustices. Many of her shows focus on women and girls, showcasing the inequalities faced by us across the globe; including episodes focused on femicide, female prisoners, abortion rights, domestic violence and women’s rights.
Stacey’s documentaries often have similar threads running throughout, particularly in those that focus on women. Themes of inequality, injustice and oppression towards girls and women are always evident and increasingly troubling. But what I love about Stacey is that alongside showing the dreadful circumstances that many women face; she also endeavours to showcase the strength, unity and undeniable power that women possess. Her openness, geniality and kindness provides a safe space for these women to tell their stories.
Stacey has come up against lots of criticism during her ten year career. Many have criticised her accent, honesty, lack of education, clothes and of course, her opinions. But, thankfully she didn’t give up and throughout all of this she has stayed true to herself. She hasn’t changed the way she speaks or dresses, the issues she covers or the way she approaches situations that she feels passionate about. I feel like, in the world that we live in today, when there is so much pressure for women and girls to change the way they look, act, think and feel, she is a great example of staying yourself and getting what you want by doing so. This for me, is really inspirational. Throughout high school and university I was always trying to fit in; taking on a persona that I thought I should be, not challenging things that I thought were wrong and ultimately not being my true self. Over the past few years though I have realised how important it is to stand up for what you believe in, voicing my opinions and doing, saying, wearing what I want. I truly believe women like Stacey have influenced this change in me and I hope that other girls and women around the world feel supported and inspired to be their true selves because as Dr Seuss once wrote “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
I have been lucky enough to meet Stacey twice, once at the Women of the World Festival and again at An Evening with Stacey Dooley and she is as kind, confident and genuine as she comes across in her documentaries. From her ordinary beginnings in Luton to her extraordinary successes in documentary making, I think she is truly inspirational. Through hard work, dedication, passion and courage she creates visibility for people who are overlooked, tells the stories that need to be heard and stands up for people who need it most. In her book, On the Frontline with the Women Who Fight Back. Stacey writes about some of the women she has worked with in greater detail and really highlights how vital it is that women stick together, unify and fight for the right of ourselves and others around the world. Her fearlessness, feistiness and courage have inspired me since I discovered her documentaries. She is an activist in her own right and I believe she is one of the greatest journalists of our generation. That is why Stacey Dooley is my girlhood heroine.
Girl Museum Inc.