Chrissy Teigen, Cyberbully

Written for Acculturated

November 25th, 2016

“Chrissy Teigen Engages in Cyberbullying”

That’s what the headline for this Buzzfeed article should read. Instead, it’s titled “Chrissy Teigen Shuts Down Trolls Who Complain About Her Swearing.”

For those of you who don’t know who Chrissy Teigen is (which, until very recently, included me), she’s a model and the wife of musician John Legend. Teigen recently attended the American Music Awards (wearing a dress that revealed far more than anyone wanted to see) where her husband was set to perform, and introduced Legend before he began singing. Once on stage, she took advantage of her soapbox to comment on the result of the recent presidential election. Ever the eloquent, concise orator, Teigen called the outcome, “f***ed up.”

A woman with the Twitter handle @JKSelvey called Teigen out for swearing saying, “I guess @chrissyteigen thinks it’s ok for foul language at 8:30pm central time- when children are awake #classlessdouche,” which prompted a response from Teigen. While I think the hashtag was an unnecessary touch, her main point stands. Teigen’s comment was crass, and could have reached young, innocent ears.

Ordinarily, the story would end there. After all, people call out celebrities for their bad behavior all the time on social media. Teigen, however, was unwilling to take such treatment, and shot back, “My baby is asleep you need to sleep train booboo,” implying that Teigen was a better mother than the Twitter user because her child was home in bed, not awake, at 8:30 PM.

Another tweeter also called out Teigen for swearing on a show that kids might watch, sarcastically telling Teigen she was a great role model for her daughter. Teigen’s defense was even more vulgar than the original offending phrase, “My daughter isn’t on social media, you ignorant tool. Go f*** yourself. F*** f*** f***!” The censorship is my own.

Teigen followed that up by tweeting, “I have exhausted ways to say “get f***ed” on Twitter.” And a gif of her saying, you guessed it, the F word.

Seeing these tweets reminds me of a commercial Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran, where they played all of Donald Trump’s vulgarities and offensive statements and showed children watching it. While I didn’t support Clinton (or Trump) I thought it was one of the most powerful commercials of this recent election cycle, reminding us to consider the role of public figures as role models for children. A similar, and equally provocative, commercial could be made using Teigen’s past vulgarities.

But I digress. The main point I want to make is that Teigen’s response to her social media detractors was immature. This was silly middle school drama, but with far more significant consequences. We’ve seen in the past what fans will do if they believe “their” celebrity has been victimized. Relationship woes between Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift caused people to turn their hate to her social media accounts. When Beyoncé sang about her husband cheating on her with “Becky with the good hair,” her fans swarmed social media like vigilantes in search of any and every potential “Becky.” The chef Rachael Ray even accidentally got caught in the crossfire. And when Justin Bieber fans (The Beliebers, as they call themselves) decided their man’s new gal pal wasn’t good enough they took to her Instagram to berate her.

If Teigen had been any normal person her Twitter spat would have been dumb, but not noteworthy. However, she’s an international celebrity with 2.86 million Twitter followers. And when the first tweet that earned Teigen’s ire was deleted, she sent out a screenshot of it to ensure her 2.86 million followers could see who had “wronged” her. Teigen understood what would happen next. It doesn’t require much intelligence to realize she’d just thrown the offender to the wolves. Sure enough, a quick search for @JKSelvey on Twitter reveals Teigen’s fans leapt on the poor woman and she eventually deleted her Twitter account.

If you read that Buzzfeed article I linked to up at the top, you will have seen that Buzzfeed and the vast majority of those who commented on the story were on team Teigen. They were all impressed by her “clapback.” I can’t help but wonder why Buzzfeed and so many of Teigen’s fans find her behavior worthy of praise. Teigen engaged in an unnecessary and childish Twitter war with an ordinary person, then cruelly urged her fans to harass her. People should stop calling Chrissy Teigen a hero and start calling her what she really is: a bully.