The model and author issued a lengthy apology following a month of silence after some controversial past Tweets resurfaced.
Cancel culture is not a straight line. Are we so fickle that we forgive certain figures in the public eye for their past mistakes and forever condemn others? The gravity of those mistakes is almost always at the heart of the matter. It’s somewhat easy to accept an apology for words that should not have been said (if it is genuine), as is now the case for Chrissy Teigen, but even the apology can’t undo the words.
Teigen is someone very likeable. She’s quick and witty; she is herself. She’s relatable while on a red carpet just as she is in the throes of grief and despair. It’s one of the reasons her previous tweets (now leaked in the public domain) are jarring. Not least because they are very wrong, but especially as they were directed at a 16-year-old.
Courtney Stodden (who is nonbinary) first became famous in 2011, when at the age of 16, they married 50-year-old actor Doug Hutchison. Stodden and Hutchinson are now divorced, and, it’s clear that during their marriage, Stodden was a child who was, “taken advantage of” by an adult man. But in 2011, Stodden was widely considered to be someone mockable, a frequent source of ridicule. People called them “the child bride” and made heartless jokes at their expense.
“I’ve been scared to even speak up about feeling groomed or being verbally abused during the almost 10-year marriage because I was a child and he was 50 when we married ….I’ve felt completely trapped, manipulated, and at times abandoned by adults, growing up in such an environment — it became a lonely and dark place,” Stodden said last year.
Teigen was one of many to make jokes, and frequently directed them right at Stodden.
Stodden revealed multiple tweets Teigen sent to them at the beginning of the 2010s. “my Friday fantasy: you. dirt nap. mmm baby,” Teigen tweeted at Stodden in 2011. In another tweet, she simply wrote, “I hate you.”
“It really affected me,” Stodden said in their Instagram video. “It’s so damaging when you have somebody like Chrissy Teigen bullying children.”
Last month, Stodden discussed Teigen’s bullying in an interview with the Daily Beast, adding that in addition to publicly tweeting at them, Teigen had also occasionally direct-messaged Stodden, telling them to kill themselves.
“I was a troll full stop”
Reflecting on it in a Medium piece shared on Monday, Teigen wrote, “As you know, a bunch of my old awful (awful, awful) tweets resurfaced.”
“I’m truly ashamed of them,” Teigen wrote. “As I look at them and understand the hurt they caused, I have to stop and wonder: How could I have done that?”
“I was a troll, full stop,” Teigen said. “And I am so sorry.”
“I want to go a little further here, thinking of those I’ve hurt and friends I’ve disappointed,” she said, with what she called her “snark at some celebrities” that she did via “jokes, random observations.”
“In reality, I was insecure, immature, and in a world where I thought I needed to impress strangers to be accepted,” Teigen wrote. ” If there was a pop culture pile-on, I took to Twitter to try to gain attention and show off what I at the time believed was a crude, clever, harmless quip. I thought it made me cool and relatable if I poked fun at celebrities.”
I wasn’t just attacking some random avatar, but hurting young women — some who were still girls — who had feelings. How could I not stop and think of that? How did I not realize my words were cruel? What gave me the right to say these things?
“I wasn’t mean in my everyday life. More than once, someone would come up to me and say, “You’re so much nicer in person.” Why was that not a huge red flag?” she continued. “But I took it in and tossed it aside. At the time, I just didn’t get it. Believe me, I get it now.”
Teigen said her piece was to provide people context, not to portray herself as a victim. She’s grown since then, she said, married, had children, gotten therapy, and been on the receiving end of enough trolling to understand the damage she has done.
I have tried to connect with Courtney privately but since I publicly fueled all this, I want to also publicly apologize. I’m so sorry, Courtney. I hope you can heal now knowing how deeply sorry I am.
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 12, 2021
“I’m more understanding of what motivates trolling — the instant gratification that you get from lashing out and clapping back, throwing rocks at someone you think is invincible because they’re famous,” she wrote.
“I won’t ask for your forgiveness, only your patience, and tolerance. I ask that you allow me, as I promise to allow you, to own past mistakes and be given the opportunity to seek self-improvement and change.”
“I accept her apology and forgive her. But the truth remains the same, I have never heard from her or her camp in private. In fact, she blocked me on Twitter. All of me wants to believe this is a sincere apology, but it feels like a public attempt to save her partnerships with Target and other brands who are realizing her “wokeness” is a broken record,” Stodden wrote last month.
The apology and the whole scandal is a telling reminder that we only present the versions of ourselves we want the world to see – and of the time gone by we should never have tolerated in the first place.