Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes are most commonly known for their smash hit and collaboration, "Senorita". The second thing they're most commonly recognized for is their very public and very affectionate relationship. For better or worse, it's hard not to notice how much the two care for each other — at least, physically.
Cabello was forced to reckon with her affectionate trend on a segment of "Unpopular Opinion" on Radio 1 Breakfast with Greg James last November. Listeners called into the show to vent their controversial frustrations, like how Christmas should be celebrated for months instead of just in December or how Shawn Mendes should wear sleeved shirts more. The last unpopular opinion was partially aimed at the "Never Be The Same" singer.
"Public displays of affection on Instagram are too much!" the final caller argued. "Well, I feel personally targeted," Camila Cabello laughed. The caller clarified their opinion, saying that posting anything overly mushy on Instagram is annoying — if it "sounds like something you can send in a text message," it shouldn't be on social media. "I get that, I actually agree with that, I've never really done that," the "Havana" singer agreed.
"The problem is with you, Camilla, and Shawn as well, people are always trying to take photos of you all the time!" Greg James exclaimed.
"I know!" Cabello responded. "So you honestly get kind of desensitized to it, you're like, 'Well, might as well just make out on Instagram!'"
Even if you're strictly opposed to snogging on social media, you can at least kind of understand the singer's frustrations. In fact, her response actually explains why the two are considered such an affectionate duo — especially considering the fact that the couple's first "public" makeout wasn't even all that public.
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes started dating sometime around last July, and the reason we know this is the weirdly-accepted-as-normal fact that the couple was photographed hundreds of times by dozens of complete strangers as they got lunch. They're both obviously passionate people, so we can tolerate a solid romantic kiss here and there. What we can't imagine tolerating is having every single moment spent with a significant other being documented and printed on the front page of gossip rags.
As a result of having every moment together — namely, every time they kissed one another — published and reposted online and seen by millions of people, the public perception of the two stars shifted. The comments started rolling in about how people didn't like the relationship or how they seemed to act all the time. Camila Cabello could post a promotional piece of art and still get waves of angry responses about her relationship with Shawn Mendes.
The two didn't post about their relationship on social media all that often. They weren't getting sloppy in the middle of the street. When the only sellable photo a paparazzo gets is one of them locking lips once on a daylong excursion, then that's the only image everyone else sees. And just like that, the couple was trapped in the PDA narrative.
The duo performed a steamy rendition of "Senorita" at the VMAs in August 2019, but they didn't even kiss — it wasn't anything that'd be out of place in an off-Broadway musical. In September, they performed the song again during one of Shawn Mendes' tour stops. Since it was his tour, and not a performance specifically for a formal event, the two locked lips in a slightly less restrictive recreation of their VMA performance.
Again, it seems like one of your own shows would be fair game for getting a little risque, but it was just more fuel on the "how dare this couple express affection" fire. Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes were now firmly the "steamy PDA" couple, and it was hard to find a headline about the two that didn't involve some variation of those words.
Then the couple took the offensive. A few days after the intense performance at Mendes' show, the two posted an extremely...unique makeout session to Instagram. Mendes himself opened the video by admitting they had seen the vast amount of comments criticizing them for the way they kissed one another — "like fish" — before telling viewers they wanted to show them how they really kiss. Of course, their "real kissing" was purposefully excessive and silly.
If you're uncomfortable with PDA, the humor doesn't quite hit very well, but if you're a tabloid or Twitter user desperate for clicks, the joke doesn't exist at all. It was just another excuse to once again call them the "steamy" couple. Only this time, it was based on a joke the two posted themselves rather than some lurking paparazzi spying on their daily errands.
And just like that, the ball was in their court. Nothing they do in public can ever compare to their fish-like Instagram makeout. They managed to embrace their title of unofficial PDA champions. Although the two are still hounded in public by desperate photographers, they own their makeouts.
Whether it's at a basketball game or in a private party bus, the two can laugh at the paparazzi's dedication to their affection. It must still be frustrating on some level — Shawn Mendes just announced a huge charity initiative and Camila Cabello postponed her tour, but that news was quickly drowned out by dozens of outlets all reposting the same image of a quick peck from the two going on a walk earlier this week.
It's worth mentioning that outside of having every kiss documented, they're a surprisingly low-key couple. Camila Cabello's Instagram is mostly about her career, family, and friends. Shawn Mendes' profile is similar, loaded with photos of him performing between working with charitable initiatives. There aren't a whole lot of posts of them together or making out or paragraphs of texts about how much they love each other. We can't say that's true for a lot of celebrity couples.
It seems like the two incredibly popular stars know that any time they spend together will be excessively documented for them. Hopefully, they can feel a little bit better knowing that they'll have the last laugh at haters and paparazzi alike.