The Tragedies & Triumphs Of Heidi Montag

The Hills premiered 10 years ago and unknowingly sparked a rivalry even Shakespeare would’ve deemed too dramatic: Lauren Conrad vs. Heidi Montag. And then eventually, Heidi Montag vs. Everybody.

Which, in retrospect, didn’t make sense. First, Lauren and Heidi’s friendship began cracking upon the introduction of Spencer Pratt (Heidi’s then-boyfriend and current husband). And then it was Spencer we watched mastermind their fallout as he manipulated Heidi in moments of vulnerability and discouraged her from trying to repair the relationship between herself and her former friend.

Plus, Heidi seemed to be genuinely battling with mental health issues. Recently, she sat down with Entertainment Tonight to talk about her reality TV legacy and admitted that both she and Spencer had become consumed with the characters they’d begun to take on which fueled her body image issues and eventually led to undergoing nearly a dozen cosmetic surgeries.

“Everyone else in the show is in clubs and dealing with this and that, and we were dealing with this and that, and we were dealing with life-threatening, severe things,” she said. “We were just emotionally empty and spent at that point, and we really just needed support and set up and a team, and not to be cut down by everyone.”

Which is what everyone did. Instead of recognizing that Heidi was clearly in jeopardy (and that Spencer was obviously struggling, too), we watched and made jokes because it was easy. We tended to see her as Lauren’s villain and Spencer’s victim, but never an actual person. And while social media had still not ushered in the era of mental health discourse we now seem to be welcoming (with a long way to go, mind you), we need to admit it: we really sh*t the bed when it came to talking about Heidi Montag.

So let’s amend this. Considering Heidi’s story's the most complex, arguably the most interesting, and also a testament to how strong she is, let’s celebrate the triumphs and tragedies of Ms. Montag. We may have gotten her totally wrong, but perspective can lend itself to an evolved narrative.