On June 7, John Legend posted a photo of Chrissy Teigen and at the time, I wrote in Celebrity Social Media, “Is this her way of working back up to being “online” again? Is it John’s way of showing her support? Or is it something more ordinary – two parents celebrating their child on social media, like so many people do every day.”
My instinct to be slightly skeptical of the timing was right because a week later she has posted “Hi again” on Medium. You can read it in full here.
The last time she apologized was on May 21, 2021. So it’s been a little over three weeks since we last heard from her. And that’s not long enough.
I get that social media is part of her job because her job is part of my job. She has contracts to fulfill and businesses to run and a brand to get on track. But her first apology is still in the news cycle and the fact that she doesn’t – or can’t – stay away after telling us she lives to be loved on social media makes me think that she hasn’t really gotten to the root of why this all happened.
After her first apology, many people wrote in to tell me they were disappointed with my take on her, that I was too quick to give her the benefit of the doubt. This is true in a lot of ways because we have these harmful parasocial relationships with celebrities and our own biases. I also tried to take a larger look at how internet culture (including the internal culture at Lainey Gossip) has evolved, which many people pointed out is not the same specifically because Chrissy taunted Courtney Stodden with suicide.
Yesterday after the Medium post went up, former Project Runway contestant Michael Costello posted about Chrissy DMing him messages like “racist people like you deserve to suffer and die”.
So this second apology is not getting any justification. The self-absorption is jumping out.
“I know I’ve been quiet, and lord knows you don’t want to hear about me, but I want you to know I’ve been sitting in a hole of deserved global punishment, the ultimate “sit here and think about what you’ve done”. Not a day, not a single moment has passed where I haven’t felt the crushing weight of regret for the things I’ve said in the past.”
“I” (or a version of it) is used six times in the first paragraph. And she says we don’t want to hear from her but if she really thought that, why is she doing this? Every single thing she does on social media is dissected so if she doesn’t think we (the consumers of entertainment media) want to hear from her, then who is this for? She knows this will make headlines, so the naivete doesn’t play. She’s experienced enough to know that doing this will get dissected (like I’m doing here) and make headlines on Vulture and The Cut and Entertainment Weekly.
One thing of value here is that she lays out not just what she did, but what she is doing about it now (contacting people directly). She also breaks down the difference between being “nice” (which can mean a lot of different things) and being empathetic, which is a much more complicated thing in that she’s learning how to extend it to others and also asking for it in return. Overall, it’s still too raw and she’s possibly too weighed down by this to think or write clearly.
Her drive to be adored (“I have so much love to give if you are open and willing to accept it. And if not, that’s okay too.”) is continuing to cloud her reaction. She says she disappointed us and as I mentioned above, it might feel that way because we are in these weird, intimate relationships with people like her, but I don’t feel personally let down by Chrissy Teigen because she’s not a person I’m invested in in real life. She’s a person I follow on Twitter and I’m a person who reads her tweets and that should be the extent of our responsibility to each other. But the line is so blurred now – for celebrities, for influencers, for every random person we follow on Instagram and can’t explain why – that the more she gave us, the more we demanded and now we are in this loop of expectation and disappointment.
Public shaming is a sport on social media. Many bad actors are using Chrissy Teigen as a punching bag because they don’t like her politics, not because of what she did, and all these things feed into each other. At the same time as those conversations are happening, she is trying to get out of the loop by apologizing, relating it to her personal life (and how she parents) and reworking the conversation to be about how we all have the capacity to evolve and become better people.
Her message is not exactly coming through though because she can’t get past herself quite yet. Is she able to give it a month, or three months, or six months to work on the things she wrote about without an audience?