Last week, Chrissy Teigen made headlines for a heartbreaking post on Instagram that caused rather polarising reactions.
On October 1st, the model and entrepreneur shared with her 32 million followers that she and her husband, singer John Legend, had lost their third child Jack due to complications in the pregnancy. The black and white photos showed a deeply personal moment in the family’s life and one that no doubt many could relate to.
So why would sharing such a tragic incident on her own social media account invite so much flak from the comment section?
The post, which has currently garnered more than 10 million likes and 500,000 comments since the three days of its publication, has a host of vicious comments ranging from personal attacks and speculation to downright verbally abusive. Here are some actual examples (trigger warning: some of these are pretty brutal, so feel free to scroll past them):
There are several problems with this barrage of insensitive comments on Teigen’s post. Firstly, it is astounding that people think they have reached a place where they dictate in what way a person expresses their grief, especially after losing a child. Everyone mourns in their own way, and whether that way is public or private is in no way connected to the authenticity or validity of the individual’s pain.
Moreover, it is no secret that Teigen is already known for regularly posting on her social media (her hilarious tweets have earned her the title of ‘unofficial queen of Twitter’), and her account has more than 4000 posts, not including almost daily Instagram stories. If a person already posts that much about the happy, aesthetic moments in their life, why is it that posting a vulnerable one sparks so much controversy about being ‘attention seeking?’
Secondly, the fact that Teigen chose to place her tragedy in the public eye contributes to the destigmatization of miscarriages and troubled pregnancies. According to the Mayo Clinic, 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages. When taking into account that there were about 6 million pregnancies in the US alone in 2010, that percentage in 2020 could easily translate into more than 600,000 miscarriages every year – a devastatingly high number.
When celebrities use their platform to show that their lives are not beds of roses and that miscarriages can happen to anyone, it can act as a comfort for all the other individuals who have had to go through the experience. Talking about it helps other women to open up as well, and take away some of the taboo around what is a natural process but is widely considered a matter of personal shame.
Trolling aside, that comment section also featured a remarkable outpouring of support (mainly from other moms) and more than a few similar personal experiences faced by the users themselves.
There were also several comments to the tune of ‘she should be prepared for negative remarks when posting on such a public platform’, that offered a feeble defense for the hate surrounding the issue. Here is what is wrong with that limp cabbage of an explanation – it sounds awfully similar to ‘she should be prepared for unwanted advances when posting on a public platform/ wearing such clothes/ making such faces/ existing as a living female’, you get the gist.
It is extremely difficult to imagine the level of self-inflicted masochism that would prompt someone to post on Instagram actively seeking negative comments about such a desolate event, but what is easier to imagine is attempts to strip women of their agency and turn their personal narrative against them.
All in all, this incident hopefully serves as a reminder that in these times, the best thing we can do is continue to be kind to one another.