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#FreeBritney Protests Break Out in West Hollywood

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  • Protestors in West Hollywood are fighting to get Britney Spears out of her decades-long conservatorship with her father.
  • Earlier in the month, reports claimed that the singer checked herself into a mental health facility, but fans believe she might be there against her will.
  • Many also believe her father made her go there months before we knew she was checked in.

#FreeBritney Protest in West Hollywood

Britney Spears fans gathered for a #FreeBritney protest in West Hollywood on Monday to fight the singer’s conservatorship with her father.

This protest follows Britney’s recent admission to a mental health facility at the beginning of April. Reports say the singer was experiencing emotional distress because her father, Jamie Spears, has been struggling with severe health issues. However, some fans believe that Britney did not enter the facility on her own, and is being forced to be there.

Since 2008, Jamie has been Britney’s conservator. This gives him control over her finances, assets, estate, and personal life. He shared estate control with attorney Andrew Wallet until Wallet resigned in March.

Conservatorships are court-ordered and are mainly used when someone is in a coma, suffering from dementia, or has another very serious illness that makes them incapable of making judgments. Fans started #FreeBritney to remove her from the conservatorship, as they think it gives Jamie too much power in the pop star’s life and gives him the ability to abuse her finances.

“We just kind of believe that through the proof of her work, that through the past X number of years, that she’s proven herself that she’s capable of being her own person,” said co-host of the Britney’s Gram podcast, Barbara Gray, who attended the protest. “We can’t speak exactly to her mental health, but we can speak to what we’ve seen as fans and as the public, and what she’s able to do. And it’s obvious that she shouldn’t be under that control.”

How #FreeBritney Started

While Britney has been a conservatee of Jamie’s for over a decade, theories on how he might be using this power started when she canceled her second Vegas residency in January. Soon after announcing the show, she said needed to spend time with her father and help him recover from surgery.

“A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died,” she wrote on Instagram. “We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time.”

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I don’t even know where to start with this, because this is so tough for me to say. I will not be performing my new show Domination. I’ve been looking forward to this show and seeing all of you this year, so doing this breaks my heart. However, it’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make. A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died. We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time. I hope you all can understand. More information on ticket refunds is available on britneyspears.com. I appreciate your prayers and support for my family during this time. Thank you, and love you all… always.

A post shared by Britney Spears (@britneyspears) on

Fans were suspicious and found her decision to be abrupt. Their suspicions were only furthered after the hitmaker went off the grid. For several months, there were no public sightings of the well-documented star, and her Instagram remained vacant of new content.

News that Wallet would be leaving his role as an attorney, handing sole conservatorship off to Jamie, broke during this time. However, there was still no sign of Britney.

The early-April, reports of Britney checking into a mental health facility hit the internet. On April 3, she posted a quote to Instagram and captioned it, “We all need to take time for a little “me time.” :)” Fans found the post to be off-brand for the star, leading them to believe she was not there on her own admission, and that her dad pulled the strings to enter her to the center.

Tip on Britney’s Gram Podcast

The theories only grew from there. On an April 18 episode of Britney’s Gram, the hosts reveal they received a tip on Britney’s status. While the source was anonymous, Gram and co-host Tess Barker said they verified his credibility. The call came from a man who claimed to be a paralegal in the office working on Britney’s conservatorship case.

In his tip, he backed up many of the fan theories that were circulating on social media. He said that while Britney was rehearsing for her second Vegas residency, Jamie learned she was not taking her medications as prescribed. He told her she could take her medication, meet with a doctor to find a new medicine program, or cancel the show. When she refused the first two options, Jamie did the latter and chose to blame it on his health.

The source also said that while the public only learned about her treatment in April, she actually had been in the facility since January, when the tour was canceled.

“She did not want to go,” he added. “From what I understand, this is not a decision she made, at all.”

One the same day, however, an article from the Blast cites a source who claims the songstress “would be dead” if she had not been checked in.

Where Are We Now?

Since Britney has been checked into the mental health facility, there have been two sightings of her in public. The most recent, for an Easter outing, left fans worried.

They think the singer looks out of sorts, and like her health is on the decline, based on the paparazzi photos.

The Britney’s Gram podcast has reported that Britney has filed a motion in court this year, potentially regarding her conservatorship. However, the court records on this are sealed, so this is not verified.

As of now, no one on Britney’s team has commented on the protests or the #FreeBritney movement.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Entertainment Tonight) (Forbes)

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Chrissy Teigen’s Team Says Direct Messages Shared by Michael Costello Were Fake

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Teigen’s team accused the designer of faking the screenshots a day after a report from Insider found several “technical inconsistencies” in the photos.


Chrissy Teigen Accused of Bullying Michael Costello

Model Chrissy Teigen released a statement from her team on Friday denying the authenticity of screenshots designer Michael Costello shared last week depicting Teigen bullying him and threatening his career.

Costello’s claims against Teigen came just after she apologized for past offensive social media remarks she made. Those remarks included hateful comments directed at then-16-year-old Courtney Stodden, who received an onslaught of negative press for marrying a 51-year-old man a decade ago. Hours after posting her apology, Costello said he, too, was a victim of Teigen’s online persecution in 2014. 

Costello wrote that Teigen attacked him online when a screenshot allegedly showing him making a racist comment was circulating. He claims that the screenshot was fake, but even after he told Teigen this, he alleges that she and her stylist Monica Rose continued to berate him and threaten his career. In his post, he said this drove him to have suicidal thoughts.

He also shared alleged screenshots of direct messages that depicted Teigen telling him his career was dead and that he deserves to “suffer and die.” His post ignited a swift round of backlash and outrage against Teigen and caught the attention of several major news outlets. 

Source: Instagram @MichaelCostello

Investigations Finds That the Screenshots Were Faked

A Thursday report from Insider alleged that those conversations had been doctored. The investigation found “technical inconsistencies in the purported DMs that could suggest they are manipulated.” 

“Several visual identifiers in the images appear to come from various iterations of Instagram and Teigen’s profile throughout the years, which is oftentimes a signature of manipulated imagery,” the article continued. 

According to Insider, the screenshot looks like it was taken in 2014, as Teigen did not have a verified check, a status she received early in 2015. However, the message backgrounds in the image have a purple and blue gradient, which did not exist in Instagram until 2020. There is also a video chat icon on top of their chat, a feature that was not introduced until 2018. The photo that appears for Teigen is also her profile picture from 2014. If Costello had gone back and taken that screenshot recently, her current profile picture would have been visible instead of her old one, and again, her verification would be visible.

Teigen shot back on social media Friday, sharing a statement that addressed the inconsistencies noted in the Insider article. The statement, which was written on Teigen’s behalf, also claimed that in early iterations of the screenshots, Teigen’s name had been spelled incorrectly.

“Chrissy is completely surprised and disappointed by Michael Costello’s recent attack, which includes fictional ‘screenshots’ from 2014 of supposed private messages that Chrissy did not send,” the statement said. 

According to the statement, Teigen did comment on one of Costello’s posts in 2014 after he was accused of making a racist remark, but she deleted that comment upon learning that the remark was photoshopped. It also claims that Teigen did not work with Rose until 2016, two years after Costello claims he was victimized by her. 

Teigen went on to share screenshots of messages the two had exchanged online, which were largely complementary. In one message, Costello praises her lipstick choice. In another, he admires a meal she cooked. Teigen claimed she was under the impression she had a cordial relationship with him. 

“Chrissy has acknowledged her past behavior and the pain she has caused but will not stand for anyone spreading false accusations to further demean her name and reputation,” the statement continued. “Chrissy will continue to do the work she needs to do to be the best person she can be. She hopes Michael Costello can do the same.”

“Chrissy has every right to correct the record and defend her name. She is not interested in making Mr. Costello the target of harassment or abuse for anyone claiming to support her.”

Teigen’s husband, singer John Legend, also defended her, saying he had no idea why someone would insert themselves into an already complicated narrative.

“I encourage everyone who breathlessly spread this lie to keep that same energy when they correct the record,” he wrote. 

Costello Doubles Down

Since he came out against Teigen, several people have accused Costello of misconduct. A makeup artist who was undergoing chemotherapy said he was sexually harassed by Costello, singer Leona Lewis said he body-shamed her, and a woman who sold him something online said he called her the n-word.

Costello has deleted his original post accusing Teigen of bullying him, which included the allegedly doctored screenshots, though he doubled down on his claim that Teigen tried to ruin his career in a post shared Friday.  

“The fact that Chrissy Tiegen and her crisis team are working so hard, so strategically, to come out against the DMs she sent me, and to downplay the comments she publicly posted on my Instagram, only proves that she is the same bully she always has been, despite her fake apology to the public,” he wrote.

He said this will be the last time he speaks on the issue and announced that he is taking a break from social media to aid his mental health.

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Variety) (Entertainment Weekly)

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Victoria’s Secret Drops Signature “Angels” for a More Inclusive Rebrand

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Stars like Megan Rapinoe and Priyanka Chopra will be the new faces of the company as it begins a major rebranding effort.


Victoria’s Secret Ditches Angels

Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret announced Wednesday that it is phasing out its signature “Angels” for a more inclusive campaign that will feature “accomplished women who share a common passion to drive positive change.”

The initiative is called Victoria’s Secret Collective. In a statement, the company introduced a slew of new partners, including soccer star and gender-equity activist Megan Rapinoe, actress and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra, body positivity advocate and model Paloma Elsesser, photographer and GirlGaze founder Amanda de Cadenet, and many others. In addition to appearing in advertising for the company, they will also advise the brand on its messaging. 

This rebrand marks a stark change for Victoria’s Secret, whose tall and thin Angels have become the hallmark of their business.

Victoria’s Secret Angels Catered to Male Gaze

Since the ‘90s, some of the world’s most iconic models — including Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks, Adriana Lima, and Gigi Hadid — have dawned the famous wings. In doing so, they also set impossible female beauty standards that catered almost exclusively to the male gaze. 

The company has faced no shortage of criticism for using its models to promote what is ultimately a dangerous and unrealistic fantasy. It has had to change its slogan from “The Perfect Body” to “A Body for Every Body.” It also canceled the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2019. Still, “sexy” was the goal of the brand, and even though the products are for women, many argued that it used a man’s definition of the concept. 

“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” Martin Waters, the company’s new chief executive, told The New York Times. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”

Waters told The Times he has long known that Victoria’s Secret was overdue for a shift, but the company has just now gained the control to do so. Now, he says he does not see the old approach, or the Angels in particular, “as being culturally relevant.”

Rapinoe told The Times that Victoria’s Secret’s old messaging was “patriarchal” and “sexist.” She also said that it was trying to achieve sexiness “through a male lens and through what men desired.” 

“And it was very much marketed toward younger women,” she continued, saying this was “really harmful.”

Victoria’s Secret has found itself wrapped in a handful of controversies over the past several years. In 2019, it was revealed that its former chief executive Les Wexner was closely tied to Jeffrey Epstein. In 2020, a report uncovered that men at the top of the company built its culture upon misogyny and harassment. 

The store’s sales have also been falling. According to The Times, the company’s share of the women’s underwear market in the country dropped from 32% to 21% in 2015. 

Company Will Have New Focus On Real Women

Now, more women will be in charge of the company and its major effort to rebrand. The brand’s new chief marketing officer, Martha Pease, released a statement saying its new goal is to develop deeper relationships with the women it caters to. 

“We’re bringing new dimensions to our brand experience,” Pease said. “In marrying our new partners’ energy, creativity and perspectives with our network and scale, we can transform how we connect with and show up for women.”

On top of replacing Angels with outspoken and accomplished women of all sizes and backgrounds, other changes include expanding mannequins to a variety of sizes, replacing the Angels imagery that currently appears in every corner of the store, and expanding products in areas like sportswear. 

The company will also focus more on depicting and servicing real womanhood. Up until this year, the store had never celebrated Mother’s Day, as it did not mesh with the “sexy” brand image. Last month, for the first time, the company celebrated the holiday and featured a pregnant model in its campaign. The store will also soon begin selling nursing bras.

Rapinoe told The Times that while she was initially shocked the brand wanted to work with her, she was convinced to do it because the company was committed to owning up to its past errors and changing its narrative, and she liked that she could be a part of creating that change. 

Elsesser was likewise excited to use her voice to shape the company’s messaging and reach a large audience. 

“With platforms like VS, where you enter the living rooms of all people, that’s where you make radical change,” she told The Times. Her goal is to use her role to push the company to expand its sizing

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Insider) (People)

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Rita Moreno Defends Lin-Manuel Miranda Amid “In The Heights” Colorism Criticism

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“You can never do right, it seems,” the actress said during an appearance on “The Late Show” Tuesday night.


Lin-Manuel Miranda Addresses “In The Heights” Controversy

Actress Rita Moreno defended multi-hyphenate Lin-Manuel Miranda on Tuesday after the film “In The Heights,” which is based on his Tony Award-winning musical, faced criticism for its lack of representation within the Afro-Latino community. 

While the musical has been met with wide critical acclaim, it has also faced backlash for its casting. The story takes place in the predominantly Latino New York neighborhood of Washington Heights, however many were upset that it largely represents lighter-skinned members of the Latino community and excludes darker-skinned members of the Afro-Latino community. 

Miranda, who was also a producer for the film, addressed the controversy in a Twitter statement on Monday. He said he wrote “In The Heights” because he felt he had never been seen and wanted that to change for others who felt the same way. 

“I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling unseen in the feedback,” he wrote. “I hear that, without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the world feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy.”

“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short,” he continued. “I’m truly sorry…I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings.”

Rita Moreno Defends Miranda

Moreno — whose stage and screen credits include “West Side Story,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “The Ritz” —defended Miranda during her Tuesday appearance on “The Late Show,” implying that the playwright had nothing to be sorry for. 

“You can never do right, it seems,” she told host Stephen Colbert. “This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.” 

“I’m simply saying, can’t you just wait a while and leave it alone?” she continued. “There’s a lot of people who are Puerto Rican who are also from Guatemala who are dark and who are also fair. We are all colors in Puerto Rico. This is how it is.”

“It would be so nice if they hadn’t come up with that and left it alone, just for now. They’re really attacking the wrong person.”

Her response ignited backlash on Twitter, where she was a trending topic on Wednesday morning. Many were upset that she not only brushed the criticism aside but seemingly told Afro-Latinos to “wait a while” when it comes to representation.

Cast and Director Speak Out

Since “In The Heights” came out last week, issues of colorism have dominated conversations about the film on Twitter. Members of the cast have addressed the situation in an interview with Felice León at The Root. 

“I didn’t realize until making this movie that I didn’t really get to see myself or people that looked like my siblings, that are darker than me, onscreen,” said Leslie Grace, who plays Nina in the film and is Afro-Latina. 

“I hope that this is cracking that glass ceiling because I do hope to see my brothers and sisters that are darker than me lead these movies,” she later added. 

Melissa Barrera, a Mexican-born actress who plays Vanessa told León that during the audition process, there were many darker-skinned Afro-Latino people being considered, but production ended up going with the actors they felt aligned most with the characters. 

“I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles,” she explained. “For the person that embodied each character in the fullest extent.” 

Director Jon Chu, who previously faced similar criticism regarding colorism in his film “Crazy Rich Asians,” acknowledged that he learned a lot in the process of making the film and is open to learning more.

“That’s a fair conversation to have,” he said. “I mean listen, we’re not going to get everything right in a movie. We try our best on all fronts of it.” 

Chu’s response received some criticism, as at one point he mentioned the diversity of the background dancers to León.

“Those are roles that historically, we’ve been able to fill,” León, who is Black and Cuban, explained. “Right, we’ve been able to be the dancers and we’ve been able to be in the hair salons, and this and that”

“But a lead, that’s the breakthrough,” she continued. “You want to see Black people in the Heights. We want to see Afro-Panamanians, Black Cubans, Black Dominicans. That’s what we want to see and that’s what we were yearning for and hoping for.”

“I hope that at least encourages more people to tell more stories and get out there and do it right then,” Chu added.

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (NPR) (HuffPost)

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