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Recently we’ve been asking the BuzzFeed Community to tell us when famous women were disrespected by the media, which has sparked a plethora of important conversations around celebrities and how they’re treated as a whole.

Diane Sawyer questioning Whitney Houston's weight in a 2002 interview


However, it’s not just the toxic behavior perpetuated by the media that’s affected how famous women are perceived — the public has played a major role, too. This inspired us to take a deeper dive and ask the BuzzFeed Community when famous women were mistreated by the public. Here are the eye-opening results.

Warning: Some submissions include topics of racial bullying, verbal abuse, and online harassment.


Meghan Markle

A Tumblr account mocking Meghan Markle's race from her recent interview with Oprah, which reads: "How could anybody know what color she is in order to be racist?? Look at her hand compared to her bronzed up face"

Tumblr: meghantheduchyofpitstains / Via meghantheduchyofpitstains.tumblr.com

“Meghan Markle likes to work hard and be proactive, and all of a sudden she’s labeled ‘Duchess Difficult.’ Meghan is torn down for things Kate Middleton was praised for, and it’s not just the media — the public is responsible as well. Now she’s trying to use her voice and people whine about ‘privacy,’ as if privacy means dropping from the face of the planet and never being heard from again. Being private means you have control over how you present your story, and it means you are able to correct wrong information.” —jesswehby

The public has created Tumblr pages online solely dedicated to harassing Markle, where they criticize her race, politics, beliefs, and everything in-between. The hateful websites reblog each other with horrific comments, and are currently posting abusive content at a rapid pace based on her recent interview with Oprah.


Brie Larson

A tweet of multiple photoshopped pictures of Brie Larson’s Marvel character, Carol Danvers, smiling

Viral Current / Via youtube.com

“Brie Larson made a valid point about the need for more diversity amongst film critics. People then decided to post bad reviews for Captain Marvel (which hadn’t been released yet), photoshopped smiles on her character’s face, and bombarded her social media with misogyny and death threats.” —emmanz

“Definitely Brie Larson — the public trolled her so much because she didn’t clap for Casey Affleck when she presented him the Oscar for Best Actor in 2017. She gave him his award and stepped aside quietly. The next day, there were a lot of people tweeting at Brie that she was rude and arrogant towards Affleck — although this story died quickly, I still thought it was ridiculous to begin with. People have to realize that Brie Larson works with many sexual assault survivor organizations, and Casey Affleck has had sexual harassment allegations against him. So if Brie was distant towards him, that’s probably why.” —s4bb472acb


Kelly Marie Tran

A picture of Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in "The Last Jedi" with a block of text from her New York Times essay, "I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment"

Walt Disney Studios / Lucasfilm / Courtesy of Everett Collection / The New York Times / Via nytimes.com

“KELLY MARIE TRAN!!! She is an absolute goddess and did not deserve one bit of hatred she got from middle-aged white men when she joined the new Star Wars cast. She’s such a treasure, and the Star Wars community absolutely did her wrong. I will never not be upset about it.” —brennadowd

“She had to delete her social media because of the constant abuse — like, why bully someone because you don’t like a role they play in a movie? I’m so glad she pushed back against the haters and is now onto bigger things, as she now voices a Disney princess in Raya and the Last Dragon.” —hrb441


Halle Bailey

A tweet insulting Halle Bailey’s casting as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” live action remake; Halle Bailey on a 2019 red carpet; Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” (1989)

Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images / Disney / @PaolaFl55150463 / Via Twitter: @PaolaFl55150463

“When Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid live-action remake there was immediate backlash because she’s Black, and the public who disapproved of the casting had a horrible hashtag trending on Twitter: #NotMyAriel.”



Olivia Wilde

A red carpet image of Olivia Wilde from 2020; a few blocks of abusive comments from Wilde's Instagram account, slut-shaming her for dating Harry Styles

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images / @oliviawilde / Via instagram.com

“When it was revealed that Olivia Wilde was allegedly dating Harry Styles, she was treated so horribly by Harry Styles fans on Instagram, especially since she had recently separated from Jason Sudeikis. She had to restrict her comments on her Instagram account because the abuse was so horrific.”




Zendaya as Mary Jane in "Spider-Man: Homecoming;" A block of text from a Hollywood Reporter article interviewing Zendaya on being cast as Mary Jane

Marvel / The Hollywood Reporter / Via hollywoodreporter.com

Suggested by: bervelyjoassaint7

There was also huge backlash when it was first revealed that Zendaya was cast in the new Spider-Man movies because everyone assumed she’d be playing Mary Jane (the role of Mary Jane has been historically white in the comic books and the movies). In a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor expressed that the public’s reaction was ridiculous, and people would just “have to get over it.”


The Chicks

Someone protesting The Chicks with a poster that reads: "Sluts suffering from dysentery of the mouth!" A US citizen from the South saying "We love George W. -- they should be shot for saying stuff like that"

Mold-a-Rama / Via youtube.com

“The Chicks received death threats, had their music pulled from radio stations, were bullied and harassed, and canceled because in 2003 they said they were ‘ashamed the president of the United States [was] from Texas.’ They spoke out at a time when it was pretty dangerous to do so, especially as female country stars. People hated them simply for having an opinion.”



Leslie Jones

A red carpet image of Leslie Jones at the "Black Panther" premiere; a block of text from a BuzzFeed News article that reads: "Hackers also reportedly posted a video of Harambe at the top of Jones' website"

Roy Rochlin / Getty Images / BuzzFeed News / Via buzzfeednews.com

“In 2016 hackers infiltrated Leslie Jones’ website, uploading naked pictures of the comedian, her driver’s license, and racist memes. Jones is unfortunately familiar with online harassment from the public. That very same year, she exposed people on Twitter for tagging her in racist memes (which compared her to a gorilla) and ultimately felt unsafe on one of her favorite social media platforms.”



Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at the 2013 Met Gala; a Twitter user insulting Kim Kardashian's look while pregnant, saying: "Kanye named his couch 'Kim Kardashian' and took it to the Met Gala last night"

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images / @razzledazzlekal / Via Twitter: @razzledazzlekal

“Kim Kardashian was trolled SO MUCH for her pregnancies and having kids through the help of a surrogate. When she was pregnant with North and Saint, she gained a lot of weight, which is absolutely normal while being pregnant — people trolled her so much (especially at the 2013 Met Gala). Due to preeclampsia, she was always in pain and had a horrible time during her pregnancy — people harassed her for choosing her safety over carrying a third child. It was shameful.”



Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda at a 1972 press conference; a young man holding a protest sign that reads: "Miss Fonda or Hanoi Jane;" a vintage button from the 1970s that reads: "Boycott Hanoi Jane"

AFP / Bill Ray / Stuart Lutz / Gado / Getty Images

Suggested by: s4bb472acb

Despite having a flourishing career in Hollywood and using her platform to be an activist for important causes, the public still calls Jane Fonda “Hanoi Jane.” This nickname was given to her when she visited North Vietnam in 1972 to speak with Vietnamese citizens and protest the Vietnam War. Fonda has spent decades apologizing for sitting behind an anti-aircraft in Hanoi, and has had conversations with veterans since the 1972 visit to take ownership of her actions — nonetheless, she’s suffered great verbal abuse from the public.


Serena Williams

A Twitter user saying horribly racist things about Serena Williams: "Serena Williams looks like a gorilla, and sounds like a gorilla when she grunts while hitting the ball"

@Zonkednerd / Via Twitter: @Zonkednerd

“Serena Williams is the most successful and famous athlete, but people still criticize her so much. She has always been criticized about her looks, for not being ‘feminine’ enough, and has been subjected to horribly racist comparisons. She’s presented as arrogant or rude when she speaks about anything bad that happens on the tennis court.”



And Taylor Swift

A series of tweets from the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty hashtag from Swift's "Miss Americana" documentary; a clip of Kanye West fans chanting "Fuck Taylor Swift" from her "Miss Americana" documentary


#TaylorSwiftIsOverParty was trending for a loooong time in 2016. Sure the press played a part in it, but do you know how many accounts have to be tweeting that hashtag to get it trending? If you watch Swift’s 2020 documentary Miss Americana, it details exactly how both the media and the public were treating her. There was even a clip of a Kanye West concert and everyone was chanting ‘Fuck Taylor Swift.’ So, yeah — Taylor Swift is a big one.”


Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.


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