Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
Whether you know much about her or not, Chrissy Teigen: the model and television personality, who’s also married to John Legend – is a hit on social media. She has 32.7 million followers and documents everything from salmon recipes to her children’s drawings. Her life curated and tightly framed within those stylish, yet falsely manicured Instagram squares. Yet, what came on the 1st October was a far cry from manicured perfection. No, it ripped that to shreds, standing alone in stark black and white and painted over in grief and utter pain.
It was the kind of tear-jerking, stop-in-your-tracks sort of post – Teigen totally and completely vulnerable crying in a hospital bed, followed by both her and Legend cradling their dead child.
“We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before.”
She wrote. It almost broke the internet, and my heart alongside. Its raw purity exploding onto my feed and brought a juddering halt to my mindless scrolling.
At 22 weeks, she suffered a miscarriage. At 24 weeks, it would be a stillborn. “That’s karma for you”, “God’s revenge” or people asking whether it was all staged for “clout” – were present in the responses. And then came the “feedback”, not-so subtle micro-aggressions of “what went wrong?”. “Did you do this…?” It appears even a grieving mother does not escape the wrath of the vicious internet trolls.
It might be easy to be sceptical at first about her motivations for sharing, that was perhaps me for a second. As we realise the millions of hearts and emojis a post like that, full of such devastating news, would generate on social media.
However, the digital world we live in, allows for that immediate reaction of scepticism to turn into a physical, tangible internet comment. Those comments hurling into an attack. Everyone is allowed an opinion and, as usual, many felt it was the right to share theirs. Social media will tear down even those that are already down – clearly no one is spared.
Perhaps an element was to do with the “celebrity enchantment” being broken, a glitch in the system. They cared, they loved, they lost, and it played out over our screens. Their glossy, untouchable status shattered into a thousand pieces until we’re forced to confront the realisation that, they too, are real people. Clearly, some people couldn’t handle it, bring back berry pies, smiles and children laughing they rallied.
Quite frankly, to hell with them.
But maybe there is a different issue behind comments that “some things should be private”. That miscarriages are shockingly still considered a taboo subject, something to be dealt with privately and silently.
One in four women in the UK will suffer a miscarriage, and yet it’s a tragedy shrouded in mystery and even shame for some. A US national survey revealed that 47% of men and women who had miscarried had felt guilty and 41% felt they had done something wrong.
So, we should thank her for every heart-wrenching photo and word spoken on it. She broke the silence on a topic that so needed to be talked about. It was bold and despite the haters, there was an outpouring of admiration as thousands of women who had felt her devastation spoke out.
Teigen and Legend shared a moment, so painful, so despairingly honest and sought the love of the world community. I only wish we had fully given it to them.
However, they choose to mourn, let them. Let them scream as loud as they want on twitter, let them tear down Instagram, let them post whatever pictures they damn well please. Just let them be.
Their loss is unimaginable, but now it is loss that is out in the public and resonating around the world with those who have also lost babies, those who mourn silently and know not to any longer. Her pain was their pain, 11.3 million likes and counting said so.