An Expert Explains What Pushes People Like Chrissy Teigen To Viciously Troll Others Online

We can't end the hate unless we understand it.

Chrissy Teigen Tinseltown / Shutterstock 

Less than 24 hours after Chrissy Teigen issued a public apology for her past behavior on Twitter, more people who experienced her wraith have come forward with their own experiences with cyberbullying at Teigen's hands.

Fashion designer Michael Costello and "Teen Mom" star Farrah Abraham also shared how Teigen's harsh treatment affected them, leaving many to wonder why someone like Chrissy Teigen would bully others online in the first place.


What did Michael Costello and Farrah Abraham accuse Chrissy Teigen of doing?

Costello released a statement claiming to have been left "traumatized, depressed" with "thoughts of suicide" after Teigen allegedly harassed and bullied him in 2014.

The designer says he was accused of racism based on what he says is a “Photoshopped comment.” This prompted an onslaught of abuse allegedly sent by Teigen telling him he deserved to suffer and saying, “You might as well be dead.”

Costello also said Teigen and her stylist Monica Rose threatened other brands in order to block him from getting work.

RELATED: Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter Departure And The Vicious Cycle Of Social Media Toxicity


“Teen Mom” star Farrah Abraham noted that Teigen had yet to reach out to her to apologize, though Teigen stated in her piece that she was “in the process of privately reaching out to the people I insulted.”

The MTV star likened Teigen rise and fall to a “‘Mean Girls' movie spin-off” and she’s not wrong.

Teigen, in a very Regina George-esque manner, stepped on a lot of necks to gain popularity and notoriety. Now the people she stepped on along the way have enough numbers behind them to build a movement.

While those who criticized Teigen might relish in her downfall, perhaps the greatest way to ensure that we don’t see actions like hers online is to attempt to understand and address what creates this online vitriol.


Why would someone like Chrissy Teigen bully others on social media?

We spoke to Tiffany Brown, a therapist with experience addressing communication and self-esteem issues, about what pushes someone to mercilessly bully online.

“When the ability to hurt someone without reason is examined, it can often be linked to insecurity and low self-worth,” Brown tells us. “This could be proven by reviewing various cases of bullying and especially cyberbullying.”

Teigen makes this admission herself, acknowledging her insecurity and desire to be perceived as “cool and relatable.”

“I thought I needed to impress strangers to be accepted,” she writes. Yet, there seems to be another level of disconnect in Teigen’s actions that is even harder to understand.


We’ve all wanted to be liked by strangers but telling someone they deserve to die is stepping into much more dangerous territory.

Costello said that he is “still not able to recover.” Abrahams insisted that Teigen apologizes not only to her but “to my child who has to witness the aftermath of remarks publicly that not only affects her mom but her.”

One of Teigen’s first targets, Courtney Stodden, has spoken about dealing with trauma for many years after vicious online trolling.

Teigen’s desire to be liked created deeply engrained threats to their lives and mental wellbeing. But she didn’t act alone.

Perhaps Teigen’s greatest crime was her ability to mobilize millions of fans against her targets but for that, she cannot be held solely responsible.


Her past actions and current reckoning serve as a reminder to all of us of the dangers of taking things too far.

Teigen is only so lucky that none of her targets ever followed through on their suicidal ideation.

RELATED: Why Did Chrissy Teigen Delete 60,000 Tweets From Her Timeline?

Teigen hinted at some of the desensitization she experienced that made it possible to bully her victims online without feeling as though her words might have consequences.

“Why did I think there was some invisible psycho-celebrity formula that prevents anyone with more followers from experiencing pain?” she writes.

Teigen references the disparity between how she appeared online and how she behaved in real life.


This is likely the root of many cyberbullying cases. What one wouldn’t dream of saying in real life is easy to express online when you’re detached from your victims.

Brown tells us this lack of remorse is compounded when one’s own self-worth issues are in the way.

“The desensitization comes to the forefront in greater detail when individuals have more insecurity.”

Of course, this is not an effort to excuse Teigen or justify her actions. One person’s insecurities don’t give them the right to prey on the insecurities of others.

But her story does point to the cyclical nature of online trolling. Teigen has long been criticized as a hypocrite who can dish it out but can’t take it.


We limit ourselves if we don’t address the root of why this bullying happens and, instead, expect the bullies to become the bullied.

“Although most people feel attacked when called out for harming another, it does not always mean they will stop bullying,” Brown says. “It's the root of insecurity that needs to be addressed and this could happen with the help of friends and family.”


Teigen says growing up, becoming a parent and getting plenty of therapy has helped her overcome these insecurities, not experiencing more backlash online.

And while the simple response is to spin it back on Teigen and feel frustrated that she was able to access support when her victims were still struggling, we cannot ignore the importance of kindness and compassion in breaking the cycle that Teigen instigated and then fell victim to.

Turning on each other and hurling insults online can be our collective default setting, but Brown tells us more support is needed to address what lies at the root of these actions.

“Often people need help and honest answers in order to understand that bullying is not a response to managing insecurity.”


RELATED: It Happened To Me: I Was Cyberbullied And Lost A Close Friend Over It

Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.