(Another) Open Letter to The New York Post, one year after going viral

Subject: (Another) Open Letter to The New York Post, one year after going viral
From: Collette McLafferty
Date: 9 Jun 2015

Happy Anniversary New York Post.

I’ll never forget the morning I opened to page 3 of your paper to see an unrecognizable photo of me with the headline “Singer Sued for Being Too Old and Too Ugly for P!NK Tribute Band”.

It felt like getting sued all over again. Publicly, I laughed and joked about it, to save face. Behind the scenes, however, I spent endless days and nights crying, sleeping and day drinking. My room mate made me breakfast for two weeks when I couldn’t get out of bed. A year later, with amazing support from family, friends and therapy, I’m finally breaking through to the fourth and final phase of trauma.

To be fair, I was already firmly in phase one when I made that phone call: Detachment. I later learned the brain loses about %50-%90 of it’s intellectual capacity when faced with a traumatic situation. I would say I was at the %50 mark when I called your news desk in a panic. I’d been in the legal system for a month and a half. The Plaintiff, a personal injury lawyer, expressed to my lawyer if I thought getting sued once was inconvenient, I would “certainly hate” a second lawsuit for defamation of character. I had not gone public yet, barring a comment on my Facebook. I had joked that in the time it took for him to write the 112 page complaint, he could have started his own P!NK Tribute Band.

The Plaintiff, who was representing himself, denied me an extension when I missed my first filing deadline. I had never been sued before and didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have my legal counsel in place yet. At this point, my legal fees were around $3200. My lawyer broke the news I could be in the legal system for a couple of years. Doing the math, I envisioned $20,000-$40,000 in legal defense simply for showing up to do a job I was hired for. I was paid $75 for the show I was being sued for. No bueno.

I didn’t want to call you. I had to.

I was surprised that there was no mention of the 42 causes of action, 13 against me personally, including Conspiracy for Fraud in your coverage. Or the fact The Plaintiff was asking the courts to ban me from working in any P!NK Tribute Band in perpetuity, despite the fact it is my First Amendment right to sing anyone’s music I please.

I was also shocked the NY Post made an issue out of my age when I made it clear to each journalist I felt he didn't realize he targeted a grown woman, a seasoned pro. I look pretty young for my age, which is probably why Byron Smith had to go out of his way to photograph me from the worst angle possible to create an image that would suit your headline. Honestly, your image appeared well…altered. I now know why he wouldn’t let me see the pictures in his camera.

Why was my age a talking point, when the ages of the Plaintiff, bandleader and co-defendant were not even mentioned once?

I wrote a letter to the editor and to the journalist that my age was a non issue. I’m perplexed as to why a retraction was not made, nor were these letters even acknowledged. I’m equally perplexed as to why the words “Too Old and Ugly gal..” was captioned underneath my photo months later in your follow up coverage, despite making it abundantly clear my age had no business being a talking point in the coverage.

I watched in disbelief as media outlets around the world picked up these bogus headlines of a woman sued for “not being hot enough”, “old, ugly and untalented”. Only one person had the BALLS to call it out for the absolute garbage it was: Perez Hilton.

I won’t talk too much about the other phases of trauma I went through… telling the story repeatedly to process it, the emotional roller coaster, the PTSD, lashing out on the very people who loved me the most… or the fact that I spent the entire month of May sleeping. It took me a year to process that I had been abused within the legal system, only to be pummeled by the media. I had to step down from a band I loved dearly, one that had me performing at Yankee Stadium and Central Park on New Year’s Eve. I was too exhausted from the year’s events and mentally drained to give the %110 I had previously given in my 21+ years of singing professionally.

A year later, I am over the worst of it. I have to occasionally check in with friends to make sure that yes, this really happened to me. It still doesn't feel real.

To the person who made the decision to run with the “Old and Ugly” headline/caption both times… I can only imagine what could be going on in your own life/lives that would motivate you to do this to an innocent woman who did not deserve any of this. I pray you do not have a daughter. If you do, it is never too late to apologize or retract your false statements about me, to demonstrate to your daughter the correct way to treat a woman. I’m now working on forgiveness. Not for your sake, but my own. Word on the street is the “Crazy Collette” version of me is not fun to be around.

Here’s the good news: after sleeping the entire month of May, I am very rested. I am finally in the very early stages of healing. In my path to forgiveness, I got a Jeff Buckley lyric tattoo on my forearm, “Feel No Shame for What You Are” with my age “41”. Because no matter how many times you attempt to age shame me in your paper, I am having none of it.

I am working on my first solo album, which will come out on my birthday entitled “42”. Yes, it is a nod to Adele’s “19” and “21”. It is also a shout out to a beautiful age, when women stop taking shit and feel comfortable in their skin. To the journalist who mistakingly assumed my age was an issue the first time around: I am fighting the good fight now, so when you turn 40 you do not have to deal with this bullshit. Your welcome. I am not mad at you, how could you possibly hear me when society tells you it all goes downhill once you get to be my age thousands of times a day? Don’t believe the hype, your going to LOVE your 40’s. Admitting an honest mistake is a true sign of character and I thank you for it.

So while this is a bit of a “fuck you” to the editors, it’s also a bit of a “thank you”. It took getting age shamed in front of the whole world to firmly encompass that my age is a gift and a blessing. If I had experienced this level of humiliation in my 30’s or 20’s I may have committed suicide over this, as many women informed me they would have if it happened to them.

There is a tipping point when sensationalized click bait is not worth the destruction of a human life. NY Post with all due respect, you reached that tipping point.

In closing, I have a present for you in celebration of our anniversary. It is my young, attractive and very much in key version of P!NK’s “Perfect”.


Enjoy. And Happy Anniversary.