HollywoodLife is pitting Selena Gomez against Bella Hadid in an exploitative story about their bikini bodies. Gossip Cop can explain what’s going on and why it’s problematic.
One of the ways HollywoodLies, as it’s known, likes to get traffic is by stirring up celebrity fandoms. This often means writing articles in which one star is in competition with another, and their fans are prompted to take sides. Sometimes this is done by outright fabricating stories, like when the webloid makes up articles to fuel the Taylor Swift-Katy Perry feud.
Other times, though, the site explicitly asks teams of fans to face off by creating some kind of poll. On Saturday, a headline from the outlet blares, “Bella Hadid Vs. Selena Gomez’s Bikini Pics: Which Of The Weeknd’s Gals Is Your Fave?” The piece begins, “Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid have more in common than their relationships with The Weeknd — they also both know how to SLAY in bikinis!”
But the purpose of this story isn’t body positivity. It’s about riling up Gomez and Hadid’s respective fans. The gossip media locked onto a “love triangle” narrative when Gomez started dating Hadid’s ex, and HollywoodLies plays it up whenever possible. That just furthers the negative myth that women in Hollywood can’t get along, especially when a man is supposedly involved.
Why does Gomez’s bikini body have to be compared to Hadid’s? Why is the online publication asking in a poll, “Who wins the bikini battle?” Gossip Cop voted only to see the results, which indicate 80 percent of readers (the amount of which is unknown) have picked Gomez, while only 20 percent cast a vote for Hadid. By extension, the model was just body-shamed and deemed inferior. Why? Because HollywoodLies wanted clicks.
The webloid does this on a fairly regular basis and has done so for years. To give another egregious example that Gossip Cop can’t forget, in 2014, HollywoodLies asked in a headline, “Robert Pattinson Vs. Kristen Stewart: Whose New Hair Is Better?” Their hairstyles, of course, had nothing to do with each other. But because they used to date and fans on both sides are vocal, the site created a competition.
There’s no inherent news value in these stories. If anything, they’re fake news, even though Google is currently promoting the Gomez vs. Hadid post as a “top story” and as the first result on its “news” tab (see below). It is really clickbait designed to attract warring fan teams on social media and through search engines. But, aside from giving the outlet traffic, all it really sparks is hateful comments from those who favor one celebrity over another.
Gomez and Hadid should have a right to wear bikinis in public and even post such photos on social media without worrying about whether those pictures will be exploited in an article that pits them against each other. Their fans, too, are also being exploited, because these pieces are manufactured to get their attention and raise their emotions. But there’s nothing journalistic about it.
Gossip Cop has determined this story is accurate to the best of our ability.