It’s no secret that our favorite celebrities have gotten themselves into trouble with scandalous photos. We all remember when Miley Cyrus was caught smoking salvia underage or Michael Phelps’ famous bong photo. Being in the limelight might have its benefits, but clearly can be detrimental when you have a PR mishap. As social media grows, so does the following of major celebrities. Kim Kardashian has a whopping 53.7 million followers on Instagram and that number is continuously growing. One controversial photo can shake the world.
You see it on Instagram, magazine covers, Twitter and more – celebrities in poses or clothing that are extremely controversial. From being slightly racially insensitive to just downright ignorant, these stars’ photos have caused a huge stir in pop culture. Lindsay, Kim, Miley, and more – all of these stars have been caught in a comprising pose or two. Whether it’s cultural insensitivity or over sexualization, the public and the media has proven it will rage against these celebs when controversy strikes.
Some of these scandalous circumstances were documented on Instagram, but some were even feature photoshoots in magazines. With power of the internet, it becomes easier and easier for the public to access celebrity photos and respond to the controversy. Word spreads like wildfire online and these celebs have definitely invited the criticism. Follow this list to see some of the most controversial PR missteps in Hollywood!
10. Kylie Jenner – Wheelchair
This December, the cover of Interview magazine pictured a dolled up Kylie Jenner sitting contemplatively in a wheelchair. The photo caused an uproar for its promotion of ableism – the discrimination against disabled people. Not only was Jenner criticized for treating the chair like a prop, she sexualized the disabled circumstance and turned it into an opportunity to look hot.
Jenner claims the photo and the entire shoot was supposed to portray how she is perceived as “an object of vast media scrutiny”. Disabled and able bodied people alike took negatively to this portrayal, upset that a wheelchair was treated like a temporary fashion accessory, as for many it is a permanent tool that is necessary for them to function.
9. Kim Kardashian – “Breaking the Internet”
Kim Kardashian’s famous Paper Magazine photoshoot in 2014 pretty much achieved its goal of breaking the Internet. While many people applauded Kardashian for her boldness to own her sexuality after becoming a mother, some were upset that people deemed the shoot “history making” and iconic, as it is an imitation of a identical photo taken by Jean Paul Goude that was embedded in racist undertones.
The original photo was featured in a book called Jungle Fever, which was a racist manifestation of Jean Paul Goude’s fetishization of black women.
8. Glee – GQ Photoshoot
In October 2010, GQ featured three stars of Glee – Dianna Agron, the late Cory Monteith, and Lea Michelle in particularly racy poses. Barely clad in high school attire, these stars were photographed in extremely sexual poses. The photoshoot received heaps of criticism, particularly from the Parents’ Television Council.
The PTC was outraged at the way in which these young stars, who played high schoolers on the FOX show, were portrayed. The president of the organization stated, “It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on Glee in this way. It borders on pedophilia.”
7. Selena Gomez – Bindi
At the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, Selena Gomez debuted her song “Come and Get It” dressed in an Indian influenced dress. Her decision to don a bindi sparked major controversy, many upset that it was cultural and religious appropriation.
The leader of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, said of the controversy, “The bindi on the forehead is an ancient tradition in Hinduism and has religious significance […] It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory aiming at mercantile greed.”
Selena defended herself by saying, “I think the song has that Hindu, tribal feel and I wanted to translate that. I’ve been learning about my chakra and bindis and the culture … It’s beautiful.”
6. Julianne Hough – Black Face
Julianne Hough caused quite the outrage in 2013 when she showed up to a Halloween party in blackface. Hough attempted to dress up as Crazy Eyes from Orange Is the New Black. Her friend Isla Fisher “was mortified” by the display and recommended she wash off the paint before the media could find out, but she was too late.
Hough came out with a public apology after the incident, saying, “I am a huge fan of the show Orange Is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”
5. Lindsay Lohan – Glorifying Suicide
One of the most disturbing celeb photoshoots was a shoot that Lindsay Lohan did with controversial fashion photographer Terry Richardson in 2012, who then posted the pictures to his personal Tumblr page. Lohan was photographed in various poses with a gun, putting it to her head and her mouth.
Gun-control activists and anti-suicide activists were quick to blast the photos, saying they were insensitive and “glorifying suicide”. A suicide hotline said “when a celebrity uses suicide and specifically the means to do it as a joke, it is grossly irresponsible and is a disgrace.”
4. Miley Cyrus – Twerking
At the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus shocked the world with her twerk-filled performance with Robin Thicke. Clad in a nude plastic bikini, Miley sang her big hit “We Can’t Stop” and shed any last hint of the innocent Disney child star, Hannah Montana.
She received criticism for her sexual performance, but mostly for her appropriation of the “twerk” dance move. The black community felt that Cyrus treated her black female dancers as props. Miley’s reaction to the backlash was to take a stand and say that she had intended to keep people talking with the performance. “You might as well make them talk for, like, two weeks, rather than two seconds,” said Cyrus.
3. Ellie Goulding – Headdress
In 2014, Ellie Goulding was under fire after posting a photo on her Instagram of her wearing a Native American-inspired headdress and costume. Angered at her cultural appropriation of the Native American culture, the public called her ignorant and racist for wearing another culture as a costume.
It seems like Goulding learned her lesson. She soon deleted the photo and spoke out on Twitter after someone tweeted at her, “Hey Chief perhaps you can support the Native American Children/ Donate/ spread the word… IndianYouth.org/Dreamstarter”. Goulding responded, “Then I shall! Thank you x.”
2. Miley Cyrus – Slant Eyes
This one might be the oldest on the list, but certainly not the least buzzed about. In 2009, Miley Cyrus was pictured with friends and her then boyfriend, Justin Gaston, doing a slant-eyed pose. This wasn’t the first and certainly not the last time Miley was the subject of controversy.
The Asian-American community was deeply offended, especially Asian American fans of Miley Cyrus. The Organization of Chinese Americans said, “not only has Miley Cyrus and the other individuals in the photograph encouraged and legitimized the taunting and mocking of people of Asian descent, she has also insulted her many Asian Pacific American friends.”
1. Kylie Jenner – Blacklight
The last and possibly worst instance of controversy on the list: the blacklight/blackface drama on Kylie Jenner’s instagram. Earlier this year, Jenner posted photos from a photoshoot, which featured her with skin that appeared a shimmery shade of black.
The black community was angered that Jenner was trying to appropriate black skin as a fashion trend. As the accusation kept flowing in, she posted another picture captioned, “This is a black light and neon lights people lets all calm down”. She also posted one that was captioned, “What I wish I looked like all the time” that was later deleted.