The REAL Problem With Ariana Grande That No One Is Talking About

Ariana Grande is not having a good July. The pop star is embroiled in a truly bizarre scandal after being caught on camera licking doughnuts and saying, “I hate America.”

But think back to just about a month ago: Grande was riding a wave of social media love thanks to a Gloria Steinem-citing note she posted on Twitter, in which she discussed the “double standard” for women. “I can’t wait to live in a world where people are not valued by who they’re dating / married to / attached to, having sex with (or not) / seen with…. but by their value as an individual.”

The note won praise from a variety of sources, including reigning feminist pop star Taylor Swift and The Washington Post, which described it as a "brilliant career move.” It was alternately candid and eloquent, written with the exclamation points and capitalization of an exasperated email sent to a good friend — except that 22-year-old Grande shared it with her millions of followers.

But the metaphorical demons (not the actual ones that Grande has said she believes in) of Grande’s past have come back to haunt her, and her status as a celebrity feminist has been eclipsed by her status as a celebrity horror show.

In her doughnut apology tour, Grande has been attempting to win back the goodwill that she only recently amassed, employing the same technique she used when posting about how our culture treats women. While she issued a statement to news organizations, she also posted a version of it to Twitter. Like the let’s-unite-in-sisterhood post, this one was semi-unpolished and contained something of an activist bent. She apologized, while attempting to explain her statements by saying, “the fact that the United States has one of the highest child obesity rate in the world frustrates me.” (Typo, hers.) Grande probably wanted headlines from that apology to go something like this: “Ariana Grande Just Turned Her Scandal Into An Important Statement About How America Eats.”

That's not exactly how it panned out. Instead, she was still called out for "fat shaming." She was critiqued by Rob Lowe and on the Today show. (“Sometimes when you say I’m sorry, it should just be I’m sorry,” Tamron Hall said.) Now — with the situation growing even more ridiculous — Grande has issued yet another apology, this time with a video titled “sorry babes.” In the black-and-white DIY video, she says: “I kind of missed my opportunity to actually sincerely apologize and express how I was feeling, because I was too busy preaching about my issues with the food industry.” She describes seeing video of herself in the doughnut shop as a “rude awakening,” and says she was “disgusted” by her own behavior. In conclusion, she added that she "appreciate[s] being able to talk to you so directly like this."

Social media can provide celebrities an avenue through which to appear unedited and genuine, to pushback a media narrative they don’t like. Grande successfully used the tools at her disposal when she shared her well-received post about facing misogyny. But nothing feels more genuine than the sort of raw, candid footage captured of Grande in the doughnut shop — especially footage that seems to confirm what has long been rumored: that she is difficult and prone to rude behavior. That's something the star is finding harder to combat.


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