Chrissy Teigen has long been the unofficial cancel culture queen of social media. Three months ago, she was served a taste of her own medicine. But has her canceling gone too far?
In the latest development of Teigen’s ignominious downfall, Teigen’s dress designer, Zuhair Murad, who has nothing to do with Teigen’s bullying scandal, is facing “fierce” backlash for dressing Teigen for the UNICEF gala in Italy on Sunday. Critics are accusing the Lebanese designer of “supporting the bully” and having “low moral standards” while threatening to “unfollow” his brand.
The backlash Murad is facing is the result of the toxic culture that Teigen herself helped create. But as much as many of us dislike Teigen, it’s unfair to punish and cancel Murad for someone else’s poor choices. Murad has done nothing wrong.
There is a difference between calling someone out for bullying and hypocrisy and applying appropriate social or other consequences versus actively trying to destroy every part of their life, including the innocent people in their orbit. As satisfying as it may seem for us to jump on the cancel-culture bandwagon and give Teigen what she deserves, we need to consider the consequences.
Teigen’s dramatic fall from grace was ignited by a May Daily Beast article about model and singer Courtney Stodden, who was viciously bullied by Teigen as a teen and is now 26. When the supermodel was exposed for cyberbullying 16-year-old Stodden in 2011, more stories of Teigen’s toxic behavior were brought to the public’s attention.
Indeed, in addition to telling vulnerable teenage Stodden she looked “like an idiot,” was “so effing weird,” and even fantasizing about her dying, Teigen told former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to “shoot herself in the face.” She also wrote of child star Lindsay Lohan in 2011: “Lindsay adds a few more slits to her wrists when she sees Emma Stone.”
Since Teigen’s public canceling over old, resurfaced tweets, she lost a number of lucrative partnerships, including her brand deal with Bloomingdales, its parent firm Macy’s, and Target, where she sold her cookware, “Cravings by Chrissy.” Cleaning-supply brand Safely, which Teigen launched with Kris Jenner, also announced that Teigen would temporarily step away from the company. Most recently, Teigen’s guest-narration role on Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” was instead filled by Gigi Hadid.
The Federalist’s Emily Jashinsky made the case that Teigen deserves the canceling and shaming because she “is being asked to live by the standards she helped set.” Jashinsky is right that Teigen has been one of social media’s worst trolls. Teigen has actively sought to destroy other people’s livelihoods and deserves to live with the full consequences of the toxic cancel-culture she helped create.
However, even though Teigen deserves to be canceled, that doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for our culture at large. As someone who has been hyper-critical of Teigen’s woke virtue signaling and bullying, I believe it is time to stop canceling Teigen and extend to her the grace and forgiveness she never gave others. Those of us who oppose cancel culture should model what to do instead.
Cancel culture has always had a sadistic appeal. Some people will always enjoy watching the demise of others. This growing toxic behavior is only reinforced and normalized when we cancel someone as high-profile as Teigen.
No one, even Chrissy Teigen, should lose his job over tweets he posted more than a decade ago. And for what it’s worth, Teigen has publicly flogged herself over the scandal, apologizing profusely for her past behavior.
The truth is, Teigen is not really a victim of cancel culture. She is still very rich, and clearly feels comfortable enough to show her face at fancy celebrity galas in Italy. The real victims of cancel culture are the non-celebrities — the people without power or tons of money, who find themselves at the mercy of a raging, anonymous social media mob.
Take, for example, West Virginia high school French teacher Peter Vlaming, who failed to address one of his students by the student’s cross-sex pronoun. Vlaming, who has four children to support, was subsequently fired, losing his health insurance and income.
Jashinsky and others are entirely justified when they say Teigen deserves everything she is getting. However, if we continue to encourage cancel culture, no matter who it is, we normalize what happened to innocent people like Murad and Vlaming and his family.
So, for the sake of powerless people who don’t deserve to have their lives destroyed, this toxic canceling has got to stop. That means extending mercy, compassion, and second chances, even to mean girls like Chrissy Teigen.