A photo shared by Rebekah Vardy as she waited to undergo a smear test has prompted many women to book their own screenings, a charity has said.
Mrs Vardy was trolled by some Instagram users who said there was “too much on show” and “some things are best left private”.
But Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said the post had already reminded some women to book in for cervical screening.
Millions of women in England have missed out on the “life-saving” tests.
Mrs Vardy is married to Leicester City and England footballer Jamie Vardy and also appeared on the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
The photo showed her in red jungle socks from the programme, which she wore to remind her she could “brave” the smear test.
“I dread smear tests & I don’t even know why,” she wrote.
She tagged Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in the post but is not formally working with the charity to raise awareness.
Trust chief executive Robert Music said the charity was “really pleased to see Becky sharing her smear test experience”.
“We want women to know they’re not alone if they feel worried about going for their smear test, and that there’s also lots of support available to help them feel more comfortable when they go for their appointment,” he said.
The charity pointed out that many women have commented under the photo saying it has prompted them to get tested.
PR expert Andrew Bloch disagreed with people who described it as a publicity stunt.
“I think it’s pretty cynical to say she’s doing it for attention and I think she should be commended for anything that raises awareness of something that’s so important and such a big issue,” said Mr Bloch, managing partner of Frank PR.
“It’s a fantastic way to use her fame and her influence and there’s always going to be the trolls out there, but she should ignore them because positive actions like this could save lives.
“She should be commended, that’s my opinion.”
Why are so many women missing smear tests?
- Cervical screening rates rose after reality TV star Jade Goody died from cervical cancer, but the numbers have fallen back and are at their lowest for two decades in England.
- Recent statistics show that 1.28 million women in England did not take up their invitation for cervical screening last year, which amounts to more than one in four women not attending.
- Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said there was a wide range of reasons which could make going for a smear test difficult, from psychological and social barriers to physical barriers such as access and literacy.
- A survey of 2,017 women by the charity suggested young women were embarrassed to attend smear tests because of their body shape (35%), the appearance of their vulva (34%) and concerns over smell (38%).
While some people trolled Mrs Vardy and said they would unfollow her account, many others were supportive.
One woman wrote: “I’m 28 with 2 children and still haven’t ever had a smear I’m just so frightened! Seeing this has definitely gave me a gentle reminder thank you.”
‘Victorian era called’
Another wrote: “I think it’s fantastic you’re raising awareness! I cry every time i go for mine as im so embarrassed but I always go, and its thanks to people like yourself, raising awareness.”
Mrs Vardy was also quick to defend herself against the trolls.
To the man who posted saying there was “too much on show”, she replied: “My thighs, knees and feet….the Victorian era called and they want you back home ASAP.”
She admitted she had previously ignored her mother’s “tiresome pleas” telling her to book an appointment.
After the test she said: “It wasn’t painful at all. Just a little bit uncomfortable.”