Confessions of a Former Celebrity Gossip Addict
Bracknell, United Kingdom - January 28, 2014: A selection of the celebrity news, gossip and entertainment magazines on sale in the United Kingdom


There was a time when I would check Perez Hilton before I checked my email in the morning. After Perez, there was The Mail Online, then TMZ, then tabloids like The Mirror and The Sun, then (celebrities on the scale). That’s before I’d even picked up the weekly gossip magazines.

I was completely anesthetized to the trashy, bombastic, cliched language of showbiz rags: “baby weight,” “piled on the pounds,” “putting on a leggy display,” “celebrating her curves,” “cracks showing,” “an insider says.” I clicked on the bait. I knew the names, diets and half-baked business ventures of every reality television star in Britain and America.

And then one day I just…stopped. I deleted my internet history so “P” didn’t immediately predict Perez and “D” The Daily Mail. I started getting my news from, well, news outlets.

My reasoning was twofold. First, I didn’t like what my habit was doing to my brain. This daily dose of aesthetic dissection was altering the way I looked at other women’s physicality as well as my own. It is a commonly held theory that women internalize misogyny because it is impossible not to when it is so omnipresent in our culture. Some of that internalization can’t be helped. It sinks into our unconscious mind, nagging us to believe we are lesser. A bit stupid, a bit silly; worthy of time or love but only depending on how we look.

There are certain choices we can make to reduce that noise, such as not reading magazines that draw a red circle around a woman’s dimpled thigh or not looking at photographs taken up the skirt of a woman who is just trying to get out of a car. I’ll never be able to fully shake off patriarchal indoctrination, but I can definitely deprogram habits like looking at a new mother in a bikini and guessing how much weight she put on during pregnancy. Or studying the lines on a middle-aged woman’s face and asking myself if they’ve “aged well.”

Gossip sobriety does have its downsides. I am a hopeless nostalgist by nature and the bulk of the music I listen to, the literature I read and the movies I watch are from the dusty shelves of the 20th century. Showbiz websites and magazines were my return ticket to the zeitgeist. Every morning when I visited The Mail Online, I briefly wandered around an exhibition of cultural relevance, picking up on all the names and faces and places people talk about. Without it, I am now your friend’s embarrassing dad when you were 14 — rewinding Paul Simon songs and insisting everyone listen to a particular lyric or sitting in an armchair with tea in my “special mug” reading Beat memoirs. This isn’t great when you’re a journalist, particularly one who hosts a pop-culture podcast. Recording the first episode, my co-host Pandora Sykes mentioned a story concerning Gigi, as in Hadid. I thought she was talking about the 1958 musical starring Leslie Caron. I had never heard of the Hadids. I still can only name two of the Kardashian franchise and one of those is Robert (I’ve viewed the O.J. Simpson documentary).

But the second, and main, upside is I’ve claimed a bit of space — in my day and my brain — back. The writer Arnold Bennett wrote a book called How To Live on 24 Hours A Day, in which he observed that if we sleep for eight hours a day and are at work for eight hours a day, we still have eight free hours every day to fill however we want. For years, mean-spirited, badly written gossip about people I don’t know or care about monopolized these precious eight hours in between sleep and work. Think of all the other amazing things I could be doing in that time! Training for a marathon, reading every section of the paper, watching every episode of Seinfeld twice. Of course I’ll never do any of that (other than maybe the last one), of course I still procrastinate, browse and ingest futile, fluffy content. I still love The Food Network channel and velvet sofas on Pinterest and hippie mommy bloggers on Instagram. I still love nonsense. But at least it’s not nonsense that’s hurting people. Or me, for that matter.

Get more Humor ?
  • Jamie

    Ugh yeah… it’s definitely a guilty pleasure… i limit it to whoever pops up in my google news feed.

    Btw, “Without it, I am now your friend’s embarrassing dad when you were 14 — rewinding Paul Simon songs and insisting everyone listen to a particular lyric or sitting in an armchair with tea in my “special mug” reading Beat memoirs.” *soulmates*

  • Aydan

    I def had similar tendencies at the beginning of college. It was partway through college that I started dealing with some family illness that basically sent me into a period of learning and understanding myself in which I shifted away. I keep my consumption of celebrities to the following of those that I like (for various reasons) on instagram (if they have one) and I find that to be satisfying in the same way, but far more positive!

  • I used to religiously read Heat and Look magazines every week, the shit I read, ugh. I gradually read less of them, until I was only flicking through the fashion pages, then just stopped altogether. It wasn’t until later when I looked back I realised how thankful I am that I stopped reading that kinda shit. I always had people make fun of the way I dressed so the ‘Worst Dressed’ and ‘Who wore it best?’ features hit a nerve for me.

    Amber Love Blog

  • muireann

    Holey moley, the idea of eight hours a day to do what I like outside of sleep and work is blowing my mind! I gave up the Mail Online gossip section for Lent last year and it was one of the better decisions I made in 2016. I feel like there is more room in my brain for important stuff now that I don’t spent four hours daily looking at TOWIEs falling out of Whisky Mist, plus my phone battery lasts wayyyy longer without the constant refreshing of the sidebar of shame.

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    I’m very down with this. Especially in light of the “you only have x-amount of hours in a day so use them wisely” context. And the “let’s lift each other up not bring each other down” context of today’s political climate, especially where women are concerned. I would also add that it’s been interesting to experience how the internet has COMPLETELY changed my approach to celebrity gossip – as a teen i was obsessed with all the tabloid magazines, and recently at the airport I picked one up since it’s been a long time, and it took me a few minutes to put my finger on why it was no longer interesting to me — it’s largely because in today’s constantly connected world, you can’t help but be bombarded with celebrity gossip and “news” whether you like it or not, so a) you don’t have to seek it out and b) any printed tabloid is likely already out of date (or just totally made up like so much else out there today). Just took me by surprise to realize this!

  • melissa

    question. if you were so in to celebrity gossip news sources, how are you saying that you can only name two of the kardashians? I’m confused!

  • Joanne

    I used to read Perez back in its/his heyday (mostly on breaks at work) until one day I realized the negativity he was spewing was affecting me and I didn’t want to waste anymore time reading about people I could care less about. I still read Laineygossip, but that’s it.

    • ReadER451

      I had the same experience. Perez was too negative and one day, just stopped.

  • BK

    Theory: celebrity news gossip is the origin of alternative facts

    • Sequoia Damiani

      This stung me a little because you’re almost certainly right.

    • Adrianna

      The electoral college did elect a celebrity, after all…

      • BK

        this has the makings of either a brilliant conspiracy theory or screenplay

  • ugh so relevant ! you’re making me so less ashamed now that I know I am not alone !!
    But how do you just stop one day ??? please help

  • Sarah Saladino

    I just did what I call a “Kardashian Kleanse” aka unfollow the whole fam (this includes hair, makeup, wardrobe stylists, ETC) on all social media. Not a simple task, many accounts, so much information!

    I truly thought I’d miss them and their perfectly symmetrical little faces. Like an old ex, when reminded of them– damn Daily Mail!– unfollow!!– I just kind of close-mouth smile and hope they’re happy.