Being picked on can make anyone, no matter how successful or famous, feel very much alone.
But while it's little consolation, no female celebrity should feel alone when inevitably her turn comes to be the target of some tasteless commentary. And that's because she is in no way alone. In fact, she's in estimable company.
Ashley Tisdale has been acting and singing for the majority of her life, and having starred in the Disney Channel phenomenon that was the High School Musical franchise—and having come of age with fellow performers who've been through their share of trials and tribulations—she knows that being famous has its sometimes heartbreaking drawbacks.
She also knows what it's like to have her appearance picked over—not least because she's done a lot of the picking herself.
"I always feel like I could look better. I'm like, 'ew,'" Tisdale told E! News with a laugh back in 2013 when told that paparazzi pics of her usually had other women curious as to what exactly the actress was doing to look so good.
And that, coming from someone who admittedly spends a lot of time focused on exercising and eating healthily, couldn't be a more common sentiment among...most people, really. You certainly don't have to be famous to wince at a picture of yourself—and when you're famous, you have way more unsolicited shots to choose from.
Fast-forward to now. Tisdale got all dolled up Sunday night for the 25th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party at West Hollywood Park, which she attended with husband Christopher French and had a fabulous time. Sephora provided her makeup and today she posted a tutorial for those looking to recreate her red carpet-ready glow.
"When you're on your way to the Elton John viewing party but have to stop at Starbucks so you can pee. Never been so dressed up for coffee," she tweeted Sunday afternoon.
But on Monday, Tisdale woke up to an obnoxious comment on social media about her looking pregnant in her formfitting blue dress. An unfortunate coincidence in that Jennifer Aniston also woke up to find out she was having a girl, courtesy of a still-mystifying tweet posted by Kathy Hilton, who even punctuated the sentiment with "100/ percent" and many exclamation points.
"Shame on her," a source told E! News in response to the errant, 100-percent wrong Hilton tweet. "It's so rude."
Aniston, who is not on social media, recently gave society a piece of her mind—her years of being the subject of pregnancy speculation culminating in a scathing essay she wrote for Huffington Post about body shaming, ageism and the relentlessly sexist, self-defeating theory that a woman isn't complete until she's married and/or had children.
Tisdale told E! News in 2015 that she and French weren't planning on having kids "anytime soon." But that's entirely beside the point. (Although, if the person was passing judgment on Tisdale's family-planning timeline in addition to her appearance, then a pox on that as well.)
"The pressure to being perfect is a struggle.No im not pregnant,I'm just happy and haven't been strict on my diet but thanks for the reminder," she clapped back on Monday morning.
While it would be nice if her terse yet pointed tweet made whomever wrote that she looked pregnant feel incredibly ashamed, that doesn't seem to be how this whole back-and-forth-on-the-Internet thing is panning out so far.
Aniston may have been writing about the "regular" media's skewed priorities in trying to keep tabs on the shape of her belly, but the same could easily be said about social media, where everything that's nice goes to die.
"It hurt my feelings because I never experienced that before, but I didn't want [that] to be the story, so I said, 'I don't care what you think!'" Selena Gomez talked to British InStyle in 2015 about her own experience with body-shaming, which inspired her choice to pose nude for the cover of her album Revival.
"I'm learning that you can be comfortable and still look beautiful," Gomez added. "Some days, I like what I see. Other days I'm like, 'I'm not even going to bother.'"
Sounds strangely familiar.
Lady Gaga's barely there Grammys ensemble was generally interpreted as a giant and well-deserved middle finger at body shamers who critiqued her appearance during the Super Bowl Halftime Show (which still boggles the mind, because she looked unbelievable).
"I think other people maybe that are just, like, normal girls and guys who either have their own body image issues or just didn't think it was a nice thing to say [were hurt]," she said. "I just thought I would impart some of my positive attitude about it so that they felt like they had someone who was strong on their side."
"I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV," Jennifer Lawrence told Barbara Walters in 2013, when she was named one of the "10 Most Fascinating People" of the year.
"I get it, and I do it, too. We all do it," the Oscar winner, who once self-deprecatingly joked that she was "obese" by Hollywood standards, said. "I think the media needs to take responsibility for the effect it has on our younger generation, on these girls that are watching these television shows and picking up how to talk and how to be cool. So all of a sudden being funny is making fun of a girl that's wearing an ugly dress.
She added, "If we're regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words, because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren't we regulating things like calling people fat?"
Body-shaming is hardly a new thing; rather it's a troubling go-to form of criticism and bullying that social media has made nauseatingly easier. Combine that with all the idle pregnancy chatter, and you have a 24/7 judgment clock going on women's choices.
It can seem like much ado about nothing at times, speculation as to whether a famous woman is pregnant—until you put yourself in her shoes for 2 seconds and realize how much it sucks.
Because it's all connected—how women behave, what they wear, what they eat and who they date is just a hop, skip and a jump, headline-wise, from when they get married, when they don't get married, when they have a baby and when they don't have a baby.
All of which is part of real life for the woman in question, the one whose body has the big target on it.
She's the one who's got to decide which battles are worth fighting. And as Jennifer Aniston proved last summer, after years of trying to make light of the mass fascination with her appearance and personal life, you can still only ignore what people are saying for so long. Words, even the ones on the Internet that you're not supposed to pay attention to, pile up.