We’ve all done things that we’re ashamed of; we’ve all said things we regret. And, most times, that’s okay. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. Unfortunately – sometimes – in our process of growth, we end up hurting others. Whether this is conscious or not, the truth of the matter is, we’ve caused someone else pain. When this happens, we have two choices: a) brush it under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen or b) acknowledge the pain you’ve caused, and apologise. For model, TV personality and mother of two Chrissy Teigen, it seems that she may need to do more than just apologise.
A little over a month ago, Teigen was accused of cyberbullying then-16-year-old TV personality Courtney Stodden. Stodden (who identifies as non-binary) accused Teigen of not just bullying them, but asking them to end their life. Old, resurfaced tweets backed up Stoddens claims.
At the time that this came to light, Teigen publically tweeted an apology, saying she was “mortified” and “sad at who [she] used to be”. She also said that she had tried to connect with Stodden privately. Unfortunately for Teigen, Stodden hadn’t received any of Teigen’s attempts at reaching out, and in fact, blocked from Teigen’s Twitter account.
Fast forward to about 10 hours ago, Teigen has once again addressed the issue. In a lengthy blog post, the 35-year-old shared how “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.”
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Teigen acknowledged the “old awful (awful, awful) tweets” she had once sent and said that there was no excuse for them. She admits:
“I was insecure, immature and in a world where I thought I needed to impress strangers to be accepted […] Now, confronted with some of the things that I said, I cringe to my core. Words have consequences and there are real people behind the Twitter handles I went after. I wasn’t just attacking some random avatar, but hurting young women — some who were still girls — who had feelings. How could I not stop and think of that? Why did I think there was some invisible psycho-celebrity formula that prevents anyone with more followers from experiencing pain? How did I not realize my words were cruel? What gave me the right to say these things?”
She also admits that, in hindsight, she should have taken note of the “red flags” that came up in real life.
“More than once, someone would come up to me and say, “You’re so much nicer in person.” Why was that not a huge red flag?”
But, Teigen says that the person she is now is very much different from who she used to be.
“The truth is, I’m no longer the person who wrote those horrible things. I grew up, got therapy, got married, had kids, got more therapy, experienced loss and pain, got more therapy and experienced more life. AND GOT MORE THERAPY.”
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She went on to say how her husband John Legend tells her daughter that their daughter Luna reminds him of her, and how this motivates her to be a better person.
“Every day, I try to make sure she’s all the best parts of me, all the things I aspire to be all the time, but fail at sometimes. And we preach kindness to her and Miles every chance we get. Will they eventually realize there is some hypocrisy there? I certainly do. But I hope they recognize my evolution. My goal is to be so good that my kids will think this was all a fairy tale. “
Is this a simple case of normalising a change in opinion? Of growth? The question here would be: did she really take the steps necessary to take responsibility for the effect that her actions had on the lives of those she bullied? What did she do to reach out to those she caused trauma to? How did she help in their progress towards healing? After all, there’s a huge difference between “reacting” and “responding”. An apology is merely reacting, but action towards change is a response. To answer this, according to her post, Teigen is “in the process of privately reaching out to the people [she] insulted.” She went on to conclude:
“I won’t ask for your forgiveness, only your patience and tolerance. I ask that you allow me, as I promise to allow you, to own past mistakes and be given the opportunity to seek self improvement and change.”
And to be absolutely fair, we’re not the ones who have the right to decide whether she should be forgiven or not – it’s the people she hurt that do. All we can do is to learn what mistake was made (unnecessary hate towards others in the form of comments we might think are “funny”), what its effects were (hurt, pain, trauma) and how we can grow as individuals (if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all!).
*Cover image credits: @chrissyteigen