Model and social media personality Chrissy Teigen publicly came after me five years ago because I called her a bully in a VH1 piece, “Chrissy Teigen Is Twitter’s Biggest Hypocrite.” I had watched as she went on a Twitter tirade against random people she thought were trolling her, retaliating with unnecessary name-calling – and more bullying.
I called it out in my piece. I didn’t get why she’d use her powerful platform to make a point about bullying by doing that very toxic thing. Even your local high school bully would blush.
Teigen responded by going after VH1 on Twitter then attacking my personal account in all its peasantry. VH1 ultimately caved to Teigen’s wrath and pulled down the piece. Teigen blocked me while mainstream outlets like HuffPost praised her as “a boss.”
Low and behold, she’s back. Reality star Courtney Stodden recently revealed that Teigen used to publicly harass them and privately message them, telling them to commit suicide. Stodden was just 16. Turns out, Teigen has a track record of vicious tweets aimed at famous women over the years:
►About musician Avril Lavigne, Teigen tweeted, “If u told me I could have 1 kid, but it would be exactly like avril, I would choose to have a barren, sterile existence that ends when I die”
►About actress Lindsay Lohan, Teigen tweeted, “Lindsay adds a few more slits to her wrists when she sees emma stone”
►About Republican politician Sarah Palin, Teigen said, “I don’t want much from Sarah Palin. I just want her to admit partial fault, then shoot herself in the face. Is that wrong?”
These tweets are outright offensive. They shame bodies. Taunt suicide. They’re misogynistic and degrading. And there are many more examples. Yet the person behind them is woke royalty who has been put on a pedestal. Given the Twitter lords’ censoring obsession, you’d think they’d block her five times over by now.
Cancel culture goes round and round
This isn’t a plea to cancel Chrissy Teigen.
Cancel culture is not my friend. It’s more like a stalker ex who gets under your skin, has you on edge and just won’t quit. Like everything, it has become political. Both sides hate it for different reasons, yet they’re the first to delegitimize anyone they don’t agree with. The left goes after the right, the right after the left. Round and round we go.
I acknowledge that the left generally gets more leeway (hence, Teigen). And it's absurd that a joke you made years ago could be your demise. Basically if you’re not a perfect specimen of woke ideology, you’re screwed. But alas, the right, like conservative commentator Candace Owens, has the perfect cure to stop this madness it despises so much: Cancel Chrissy Teigen! An eye for an eye until we’re all taken out.
Our problem is bigger than petty tit for tat.
My issue is with the media, specifically female-centric outlets. They’d rather live on a deserted island with Jack Nicholson’s "The Shining" character than call out Teigen. They’re that committed to their woke narrative. Teigen reigns as their champion, despite purposefully hurting and degrading women and literally acting in a way that is against everything they’re about.
Bustle didn't cover this story until weeks later, on Monday. Then again, it was “very heartbreaking” to the outlet when she left Twitter in March because she was tired of the negativity. Rich, isn’t it? Sites like HelloGiggles beat around the bush and made excuses for her. New York magazine’s female-centric site The Cut covered it over a week later. A Refinery29 post said, “A Twitter without Chrissy Teigen isn’t the kind of Twitter I want to tweet in.” I’d encourage them to go back and read those tweets again.
Let's get a dialogue going
Do they not see how destructive this is? Politics and narratives supersede everything. It's sad because this shouldn’t even be about politics. Or narratives.
In the end, this only hurts the causes they try to stand for. For instance, I interviewed an A-list actress who said we shouldn’t ostracize men from the #MeToo movement, but rather we should let them in so they understand. My editor turned down that angle because how dare we prop men up.
Some people would rather shut men out of the conversation they need to be in to change their behavior, and villainize them. In reality, including men could create more empathy and actually achieve the outcome they want.
Apply this to almost anything. Racism. Trans issues. Misogyny. We need compassion and understanding, but we need to be free enough in our dialogue to get there. Instead, people are terrified of blinking the wrong way, afraid of selective canceling that only seems to apply to some people and depending on the day.
This spring, the first Black "Bachelor" Matt James and his white girlfriend Rachael Kirkconnell broke up when racially insensitive photos of her resurfaced. The controversy was massive and cost Chris Harrison his longtime hosting role for defending her. Despite everything, the couple is back together. It seems more fulfilling for them to grow through it versus shutting the other out. Unfortunately, we may never know what Harrison learned since he’s out in the canceled abyss.
It’s only a matter of time before another celebrity is the subject of the public jury. It’s time we change our approach. Silencing people won’t make them change. Getting them in a dialogue might.
I challenge these outlets to put politics aside and welcome different ideas, if it means getting people to connect and grow in a way that actually means something.
And I challenge Teigen to use this moment to get into a real, open discussion with her millions of followers about bullying and its repercussions. Get in their minds, and let them into hers. Who knows. Maybe one day Chrissy Teigen will save your life, not tell you to take it.
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chrissy Teigen-Courtney Stodden: Cancel culture won't end bullying