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AFLW star Tayla Harris has responded to her harshest critics, opening up about how she was judged after a famous 2019 photo went viral.
The then-Carlton player was captured in-flight, launching a ball high into the air, an image that immortalised her during that season.
However, that photo unfortunately led to a series of derogatory and sexist comments on social media taking aim at Harris.
The 25-year-old has now had her last 12 months documented as part of an Amazon Prime documentary Kick Like Tayla.
In the trailer for the upcoming documentary, she hit back at those critics and spoke of the impact of being so heavily in the public eye as a result of that image.
She said: “I know what they say. They tell me every day.
“I’m overrated, overpaid, just some girl who got lucky with a photo.
“But they have no idea who I really am.
“I don’t know what I expected with life becoming so public but I thought, if you just try to be kind, people will be kind back to you. The world doesn’t necessarily work that way.
“Now every step I took, or every thing I did, was judged.”
Harris was one of two marquee players announced by the Brisbane Lions in the inaugural AFLW season in 2017.
She was involved in a high-profile trade from Brisbane to Carlton that saw Bella Ayre and Nat Exon to Brisbane, and Bianca Jakobsson to Melbourne.
Her 2019 season at Carlton was marred by the now-infamous photo taken by photographer Michael Wilson that stole headlines that year.
Tayla Harris (1997-) Australian rules footballer. Seven Network withdrew a photo of her after a flood of sexist trolling. She hit back tweeting "Here’s a pic of me at work... think about this before your derogatory comments, animals". Statue of the image put up in Melbourne 2019. pic.twitter.com/kGOGehYXhB— Womans_Place_UK (@Womans_Place_UK) December 8, 2020
In a 2021 column for news.com.au she spoke of the comments she received on social media from ‘normal blokes’.
She said: “Despite what you might expect, most of the trolls weren’t from fake accounts.
“I looked through some of their profiles and saw they were mostly normal blokes – smiling in pictures with children, women, colleagues and friends.”
She continued: “The nasty and sexist online abuse I copped that sexualised my body and belittled my athleticism, not only had profound consequences for me and my loved ones, but it also sent a message to girls and young women that they’re not welcome on the field.”
In her Amazon Prime documentary, she recounted some of the messages she received following the public photo, with many asking that the statue of her in Melbourne’s Federation Square be pulled down.
She continued: “People roasted me for never smiling, and never singing the song. I was like, what do you mean? I’m always smiling. I’m with my best mates, playing footy.”
Harris was traded to Melbourne following a messy exit from Carlton as it was reported that she was seeking $150,000 a season from the Blues - a report she has since denied.
However, she returned to form for the Demons kicking 18 goals over the course of the season.