Yes, you read that headline correctly: the most unexpected social media feud is ever happening right now, between Amanda Seyfried and Arielle Charnas. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t follow @ariellecharnas, but I’ve heard of her before and I’m vaguely aware that she’s one of the bigger fashion influencers, with 1.2 million followers on Instagram and her own fashion brand called Something Navy. Amanda Seyfried, as you’ll recall, is best known for playing Karen Smith in the iconic film Mean Girls. (No, I have not seen Mamma Mia, and no, I will not be taking any questions at this time.) So why are Amanda Seyfried and Arielle Charnas feuding on Instagram, you ask? Well, it all started with a bikini selfie. As it tends to do.
Two days ago, Arielle posted a mirror selfie in a bikini to Instagram, captioning the photo, “Proud of my body after two kids” with the green heart emoji. (I took a screenshot of it because my coworkers mistakenly thought she’d deleted it, and she hasn’t—for now. But I’m too lazy to go back and embed the post, so here is my screenshot.)
Now, if you have eyes, you will likely notice one thing: Arielle Charnas is very thin. Children or not, she’s skinny af. And when I saw this photo, I internally groaned, because anytime motherhood and post-pregnancy bodies come up on the internet, people are going to get really upset about it. And that’s where this turned into the Amanda Seyfried and Arielle Charnas show. Amanda’s friend, Sophie Flack—an author, freelance writer, editor, and former dancer—posted a comment slamming Arielle for posting this photo, and basically, not disclosing all the privilege she benefits from that afforded her to get the body she has. That comment apparently got deleted, and Sophie got blocked.
View this post on Instagram
Fuck it- this is feed material. My very smart friend (again-not tagging) wrote this on a semi-influencer’s feed and she blocked both of us (even though I didn’t tag her-at least she’s getting the message). If we’re ready to get paid for flaunting our lifestyle (and inspiring some in the meantime) we have to be open to the discussions surrounding what we’re promoting. We have to back ourselves up- not run away from the issues it presents. There are gray areas everywhere. Each of us has a chance to back ourselves- especially on this platform. If you know who you are- take a second to decide if what you’re throwing out there is worth it- in the big picture. 👊🏼
She begins, “hate to dump on you but since you asked,” (Arielle didn’t), “1) Totally fine that you’re privileged and thin, good for you (I am too-ish!). Got no problem with either of those things. BUT if you don’t acknowledge how your wealth made your workouts/body possible, you’re just perpetuating the patriarchal (totally unrealistic) notion that mothers should ‘bounce back’ after childbirth, an impossibility for anyone who can’t afford ample childcare (which is almost everyone in this country). Lots to unpack here I KNOW.”
She continues, “Honeychild, you are glorifying an unhealthy body image (I don’t care if it’s ‘natural,’ don’t even try that sh*t with me) in a society that fetishizes the adolescent female form. Young girls don’t need any more images of emaciated women thank you very much. 3) I know you’re better than this. Why not use your platform to encourage more women to be ambitious business women, or say, run for office, or maybe, sheesh I don’t know, do something to help the kids literally dying in cages? But what do I know, YOU DO YOU!”
Now, here’s where Amanda Seyfried comes in. She screenshotted this comment, posted it to her feed, and captioned it: “F*ck it- this is feed material. My very smart friend (again-not tagging) wrote this on a semi-influencer’s feed and she blocked both of us (even though I didn’t tag her-at least she’s getting the message). If we’re ready to get paid for flaunting our lifestyle (and inspiring some in the meantime) we have to be open to the discussions surrounding what we’re promoting. We have to back ourselves up- not run away from the issues it presents. There are gray areas everywhere. Each of us has a chance to back ourselves- especially on this platform. If you know who you are- take a second to decide if what you’re throwing out there is worth it- in the big picture. 👊🏼”
First of all, ouch at Amanda calling Arielle a “semi-influencer”.
By posting that to her feed, Amanda endorses Sophie’s statements. And I agree with her assessment that if influencers are getting paid for promoting a lifestyle, they should be transparent about how they actually attained that lifestyle, and not make it seem like it’s natural or comes easy if it doesn’t. Also, if you’re a public figure, blocking someone who criticizes you is rarely ever a good look… but then again, I’d probably block someone who called me “emaciated” (more on that later).
Sophie is right in that there is a lot to unpack with her comment *cracks knuckles*. I am more or less with her on the first part of her comment. Certainly, mothers are faced with unrealistic expectations to immediately get their pre-baby bodies back, and that’s unfair and f*cking ridiculous, given all the crazy changes your body can go through during and after pregnancy. Celebrities and influencers who brag about losing all their baby weight right away are not helping (and probably harming) new moms who are struggling. I’ll even go so far as to say that not being able to “bounce back” after pregnancy should not even be a question of affordable childcare, because women should not have that expectation placed on them, period. (And also, childcare should not cost as much as an entry-level salary. But that’s for another article!) So we agree, Arielle’s body, post-pregnancy or not, is not attainable for most women.
But the second part, I’m not on board with. Arielle specifically wrote in the caption that she was proud of her body. How on Earth is that “glorifying an unhealthy body image”? She’s explicitly proud of her body—that right there is healthy body image! To assume that she got thin in the first place because she had body image issues, as that statement implies, is some serious projection, and really not any of our place to say. To liken Arielle’s body shape to that of an adolescent is, dare I say, riding very close to the line of body-shaming? And to further call her “emaciated” is… eek. For someone who opens their comment with “Totally fine that you’re privileged and thin”, it does not sound totally fine.
But even taking a step back, is Arielle really responsible for disclosing all the factors that had to go right for her to get the body she has in this type of post? If this were some sort of sponsored post, or post about dieting and working out, absolutely. But nothing about Arielle’s mirror selfie or caption were promotional. She was simply saying she was proud of her body—she was not advocating for other people to have or want it, and she wasn’t crediting her figure to some Flat Tummy Tea or waist trainer and pretending she didn’t follow a rigorous diet and workout routine. This wasn’t Khloé Kardashian posting an ad for Flat Tummy Tea and making it seem as though a laxative tea, and not her trainers, nutritionist, and plastic surgeon, helped her get her “body back”. Arielle was literally like, “hey, here’s my body, and I’m proud of it.” Does that kind of post really require a disclaimer? “I’m proud of my body, even though I know that I have been afforded a ton of privileges that a lot of new moms might have, and my very thin body type is unachievable for many women—kids or not—and I’m very grateful that my wealth allowed me to…”?
I am all for people on Instagram, and people in the public eye, being more transparent about the opportunities that they have that their followers likely don’t have access to. That’s why I love our Photoshop Fail series, article about Jameela Jamil calling out the Kardashians, and really any piece calling out influencer bullsh*t. It’s the right conversation to be having, absolutely. But was this the time and place (and post) to do it?
Update: Brandon Charnas, Arielle’s husband, has now gotten in on the drama with a new Instagram post. He posted a picture of himself and Arielle, with a snarky caption referencing Sophie Flack and Amanda Seyfried’s issues with Charnas not acknowledging her privilege.
View this post on Instagram
#tbt in honor of my upcoming birthday ***WARNING*** • THIS BODY IS NOT ATTAINABLE •PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ATTAIN SUCH BODY BY WORKING OUT •IF YOU ATTEMPT TO ATTAIN, YOU MUST HAVE AT LEAST THREE NANNYS AND BE SURE TO NOT ONLY PAY THEM BUT ALSO THANK THEM IN A MINIMUM OF 4 SHOUTOUTS A WEEK ON INSTAGRAM •IF YOU CANT AFFORD A NANNY, PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HAVE A VERY SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN ORDER TO DO SO •GENETICS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE PLAYED A FACTOR •ONLY AGES 30 AND OLDER ARE ALLOWED TO VIEW THIS POST, YOUTH MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A THERAPIST ***please note such warnings have been provided for in compliance with the ABSA or the American Body Shaming Association*** #Repost @brandoncharnas ・・・ Getting to marry this one is the best 29th birthday present I could ever ask for. #cantwait
Lol, that’s kind of what I said, except way more aggressive. Dude, why are you yelling?
Also, it looks like Amanda Seyfried posted a sort-of update a day after the initial confrontation occurred.
View this post on Instagram
Over a goofy selfie, she put the text “INFLUENCE = POWER. And if you’re taking advantage of that- EMPOWER” and captioned it, “Goodnight, all, and thanks for a much needed discussion. I’m tired! 💖”. So it looks like she’s sticking to her original comments, Arielle’s husband is sticking by his wife, and there don’t appear to be any more new updates. But, given that now this story is getting mainstream attention (hi, I’m calling myself mainstream, but JK, Yahoo! wrote about it), these two may feel pressured to respond again.
Images: amandaseyfried, ariellecharnas / Instagram