The three-month-long Hailey Bieber-Selena Gomez public catfight appears to be finally winding down after Selena took to Instagram on Friday, condemning the “hateful negativity” and death threats that have been lobbed at Hailey. But as we look back on what is likely to be the biggest celebrity feud of 2023, it seems everyone has failed to recognize the real bad guy of the story (and no, it’s not Hailey).
To understand the drama that’s ensued between the two women, you have to know the history. Pop icon Justin Bieber dated both supermodel Hailey (formerly Hailey Baldwin) and Disney Channel star Selena on and off throughout the 2010s but eventually tied the knot with Hailey in 2019. For nearly a decade, Hailey has been dubbed the “other woman” and blamed for the undoing of Selena and Justin’s relationship, despite Hailey insisting her romantic relationship with Justin never overlapped with Selena’s.
The hate for Hailey escalated after her marriage, and in April 2022, Hailey posted a TikTok video begging the trolls to stop tormenting her. Unfortunately, however, internet low-lives have made it their mission to fabricate drama between the two women, claiming, for example, that last May Selena mocked Hailey’s makeup routine in a TikTok. In reality, Selena’s video was benign; there’s no real indication she was making fun of Hailey.
Similarly, after Hailey posted a now-deleted TikTok lip-syncing to the trending sound, “I’m not saying she deserved it, but God’s timing is always right,” trolls claimed it was directed at Selena, who was reportedly “body-shamed” in the comments of a bikini photo she posted of herself on Instagram.
The TikTok made no mention of Selena, and Hailey quickly denied the post had anything to do with her husband’s ex-girlfriend.
That hasn’t stopped the Hailey haters, though. As Cassandra Green explained in Elle, “…literally every single post on Hailey’s Instagram page is being flooded with hundreds and thousands of comments calling her a mean girl, a plotting, desperate woman (yes, those are the actual terms being used) and saying that her husband Justin Bieber doesn’t really love her. Many of the comments swear at her, body shame her and involve commentary saying she ‘really deserves the hate.’”
In the three months since the TikTok, the supermodel has silently endured intense public harassment, and the worst attacks have arguably been on her marriage. Indeed, the condemnation quickly turned into posts claiming the Baldwins arranged Hailey’s marriage to Justin, Justin is still in love with Selena, and Justin never really loved Hailey at all.
Justin is under no obligation to defend Hailey against every internet controversy. There’s power in refusing to dignify certain people and topics with a response. However, the moment it became clear his wife and his marriage were experiencing a monsoon of public attacks, Justin should have told the trolls to back off his wife and publicly confirmed his love and commitment to her.
Hailey and Justin both profess to be Christians, so in his wedding vows Justin presumably pledged to “have and to hold” his wife “for better or worse,” and that includes internet firestorms. Instead of standing by Hailey, affirming his love for her, and dispelling the rumors, however, Justin remained silent. His non-response fueled even more slander against his wife and conspiracies about their marriage.
In 2021, the couple revealed that in their first year of marriage, Justin was diagnosed with Lyme disease and was struggling with mental health issues that included having “out of body experiences.” His health problems and adjusting to married life were so hard on Hailey that she recounted crying and calling her mother to say, “I just can’t do it. There’s no way that I’m going to be able to do this if it’s going to be like this forever.”
With faith and a strong commitment to her vows, however, Hailey stuck by Justin. “But I also just think I was in it,” she said later, recalling how she got through that difficult time. “I made a decision. I know for a fact that I’ve loved this person for a very long time, and now would not be the time to give up on him. I just wouldn’t do that to him.”
Over the last three months, Justin has not done the same for Hailey. At the center of the feud is not Hailey or Selena, but Justin and the debate over whom his heart belongs to — his ex-girlfriend or his wife. Out of respect for Hailey and his vows, Justin should have squashed any accusations that he’s still in love with Selena a long time ago.
A good Christian husband does not abandon his wife, especially when she needs him the most. But that’s exactly what Justin did.