TikTok’s most famous sisters, Charli D’Amelio, 16, and Dixie D’Amelio, 19, are speaking out against intense backlash that they’re facing after a YouTube video on their family channel had people calling them “immature,” “disrespectful” and “ungrateful.” But as the girls continue to face harassment from fellow teens and adults across social media platforms, experts say “we need to put this into perspective” and remind fans and followers of the unrealistic expectations placed on the young influencers.
“We can’t forget that they are teenagers,” adolescent psychologist Barbara Greenberg tells Yahoo Life. “Because they’re celebrities doesn’t mean they’re no longer teenagers.”
The video, which was posted to the D’Amelio Family YouTube channel on Monday, is the first of a series called “Dinner with the D’Amelios” in which the two teens and their parents, Marc and Heidi D’Amelio, welcome guests into their home for a meal cooked by their family friend and chef Aaron May. However, shortly after the premiere, featuring special guest James Charles, the internet was set ablaze with hate for the girls, who reacted to a surprise ingredient in May’s paella, asked for chicken nuggets and spoke about an upcoming milestone for Charli, who was set to hit 100 million followers on TikTok.
“Imagine if I hit 100 mill[ion] a year after hitting 1 mill[ion],” Charli said in the video, explaining that she wished she had “more time” to achieve that goal on the anniversary.
In the days since, she has been called “ungrateful” for the audience that she already has, and even shared in a TikTok live that she had received death threats in response.
“Honestly, seeing how people reacted to this. I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore. Like, this is messed up stuff that people are saying,” Charli said through tears on Thursday, providing a trigger warning before reading some comments. “Like people telling me to hang myself, people blatantly disrespecting the fact that I’m still a human being is not OK at all.”
Dixie, who received similar threats for throwing up after eating a snail that was in the paella cooked by their personal chef, posted a video to TikTok to provide further context.
“So basically my team knows I throw up a lot. I could throw up at the smell, the thought or the taste of anything. So when they saw the snails, they ‘re like, ‘Oh, let’s get her and try to see if we can get a reaction out of her,’” she explained before showing a clip of her holding the snail and quietly conversing with someone off-camera. “That clip that wasn’t in the original video is my team and chef Aaron May trying to convince me to try snail, knowing that I would have a reaction.”
Reps for the D’Amelios declined Yahoo Life’s request for comment. However, May and Tommy Burns, the head of content and merchandise for the D’Amelios, corroborated Dixie’s story when asked about the “snail drama” by paparazzi in Los Angeles.
“Somebody on production thought it would be funny to feed Dixie and Charli snails. They didn’t take it the best,” he said. “I love Charli and Dixie. I’ve worked with them before, I’m gonna work with them again. I think it’s a little blown out of proportion.”
While audiences, and Dixie’s mom Heidi, continue to call the 19-year-old “dramatic” for her reaction, Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, tells Yahoo Life that the teen shouldn’t be scrutinized for the way that she handled herself.
“The primary etiquette would have been to let all of the guests know in advance if there is anything unusual to be aware of, so there would be no surprises of any kind. Dixie was caught off guard, showed her dislike, and then vomited as a result,” Gottsman says. “After the ordeal, she tried to make light of it, very similar to what most adults do when they are embarrassed and caught off guard by an embarrassing moment.”
Gottsman goes on to note that Dixie went back and continued to eat. “Give her a little bit of grace,” Gottsman says. “She got sick. That’s real life. And she was uncomfortable. That’s real life.”
For a video that’s set to depict reality, Greenberg says that the girl’s behavior at their own dinner table is what’s to be expected. “They are teenagers, and yes, we would expect this sort of behavior from teenagers,” she says. The problem, however, is that people’s expectations are skewed as a result of the girls’ notoriety.
“When we have extremely high expectations of teen celebrities, we are certainly going to be let down because we put them on a pedestal, and that’s a problem,” Greenberg says. “Because 16- and 19-year-olds shouldn’t be put up on a pedestal for model behavior.”
Charles, who rose to fame at 15 years old when he became the first ever male ambassador for CoverGirl, echoed the sentiment about followers’ expectations when he tweeted in support of Charli on Thursday night.
this charli situation is NOT sitting right with me... 100M followers in one year & y'all expect her to know how to be a perfect role model? death threats because she's a picky eater & made a joke about a milestone? 30+ year olds dragging someone half their age? feels familiar 😐
— James Charles (@jamescharles) November 19, 2020
“This Charli situation is NOT sitting right with me,” he wrote. “100M followers in one year & y’all expect her to know how to be a perfect role model?”
Despite Charli losing over one million followers as a result of the criticism — putting her at 98.5 TikTok followers as of publish — the teen announced on Thursday night that she will “be back posting normal content with a smile on my face!”
tomorrow i will be back posting normal content with a smile on my face! at the end of the day i know i am a good person with a good heart and i will never change that about myself. i love you all!! 💕
— charli d’amelio (@charlidamelio) November 20, 2020
”People make assumptions way too quickly and they don’t even really know these two girls,” Greenberg concludes. “So it really speaks to the expectations that we put on young celebrities.”
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