Inspiring Celebrities

Liam Payne Reveals The Reason Why One Direction Was More Toxic Than It Seemed

By | Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, Liam Payne, Motivation, One Direction, stories, toxic

Was being part of One Direction as phenomenal and glorious as it seemed?

Even the most skeptical of audiences can confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that the group is one of the most influential musical acts of all time. Not only did they singlehandedly revive the boyband model that had gone stagnant since the nineties, but they essentially laid the groundwork for how modern fandom operates. 

The admiration among the public was unparalleled. 1D commanded colossal, crazed audiences everywhere they went, complete with hordes of preteen girls screaming, crying, and fawning over their every move. Its members — Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik — and their seamless dynamic inspired so many inappropriate fantasies, ‘shipping’ wars, and neurotic discourse that it transformed the nature of celebrity for good. 

Though the group is technically on hiatus, it’s universally accepted that they’re not likely to get back together anytime soon. The silver lining is that this does grant each member ample time and space to reflect on their experience with a fresh perspective. As it turns out, being in One Direction wasn’t a walk in the park. 

Liam Payne said the group’s success was “dumb luck” and that he was “pissed” most of the time

Liam Payne discussed One Direction’s near-cosmic success in a revealing interview with Men’s Health Australia. He’d only been sixteen when he, along with the four others, were handpicked to form a band in the music competition series The X Factor. Though they finished third in the competition, they managed to impress judge Simon Cowell enough to land a deal with his record label Syco Records. The rest, as they say, is history. 

The 27-year-old firmly rejects the notion that it was ‘meant to be’ for the boyband, that they possessed an extraordinary natural ability that would have found a way to break through no matter what.  It’s tempting to attribute their stardom to some God-given talent that allowed them to flourish in such a striking way, but Liam claims that it was all “just dumb luck.” Like many other triumphs, you need a little bit of skill, a little bit of hard work, but an enormous amount of fortune in your favor. “There were so many scenarios that had to fall into line for that to happen,” said Liam, adding that it was a “perfect storm” that led to the group’s swift ascendency — something that will never be quite so similarly be replicated. 

It’s almost like putting the Disney costume on before you step up on stage and underneath the Disney costume I was pissed quite a lot of the time because there was no other way to get your head around what was going on. 

Liam Payne to Men’s Health Australia

It must feel wonderful to accumulate so much wealth, acclaim, and adoration in just your teenage years, but if you’re not careful, it can quickly veer off into a curse. Liam turned to alcohol to keep up with the pressures of growing up in the public eye and having the innermost particulars of his life turn into fodder for the press. As 1D became more and more well-known, Liam started discerning the darker, more malicious side of celebrity and how it shatters the individual’s well-being, end to end. 

It was a “toxic” experience that left him feeling “numb” for a long time

There’s a price to pay when you’ve signed over your innocence to the predatory claws of fame. Granted, they’d been too young to comprehensively contemplate the toll it would take on their health, both physical and mental. You miss out on the mundane, yet immensely valuable, routines of an ordinary school kid; instead, you have to push yourself to unimaginable lengths to produce more output, to provide more entertainment, to please everyone in the crowd. 

Liam stated that the problem is as intensive in the music industry as anywhere else; if you’re forced to exert yourself day in, day out without addressing underlying issues, you’re going to run out of fuel in no time. “When you’re doing hundreds and hundreds of [concerts] and it’s the same 22 songs at the same time every single day,” it doesn’t matter whether you’re happy or not. “You’ve got to go out there,” said Liam. 

In addition, your entire life is mapped out by forces outside your purview. From the group’s genesis to its evolution, every aspect of the One Direction project was precisely orchestrated and micromanaged by corporate entities seeking to reap profits. Liam acknowledged that he’d had absolutely no control over his day-to-day. “No, never,” he said. He just followed instructions, nodded his head, and danced. He added that he still struggles with being more decisive. “I really struggle to say no because I don’t like to let people down. It’s in my nature.” 

We had an absolute blast, but there were certain parts of it where it just got a little bit toxic.

Liam Payne to Men’s Health Australia

The struggles of holding onto your identity amidst the chaos and the public fixation “nearly killed him,” and there were times when he wanted to act on his urges, he told The Guardian

When the group decided to go on an indefinite hiatus in the mid-2010s, Liam could finally take a breath and envision life on his own terms. It was like the “the pressure cooker had been let off” and that the group could firmly focus on their art and friendship in the final months. 

Only, post-separation, he realized he didn’t really know anything about himself or the kind of direction he wanted to take in his career or otherwise. He found himself dawdling through old patterns and resistant to change. “It was a bit of a numb feeling,” he said. Thankfully, fatherhood knocked on the door at just the right time, and Liam was able to promptly reframe his priorities and zero in on the big picture. 

Despite the aches associated with One Direction, Liam maintains that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and was generally fun. It’s nearly impossible to keep everything in check when you’re a worldwide spectacle like One Direction, but, for the most part, he doesn’t regret it too much. 

[embedded content]

Maintain realistic expectations

The contrast between One Direction’s outward brilliance and the internal tumult is a lesson in setting healthy expectations for yourself and those closest to you. You can’t accurately predict every development that’s to occur in your life, but you can tell yourself that it’s never as simple as it seems and that obstacles of all types could present themselves before you. 

You have to venture into every undertaking, knowing that you’ll be pushed to the limit. As long as you understand your limit and what you’re willing to do to achieve ‘success,’ you’ll save yourself a good deal of trauma and pain. Appearances don’t matter; what matters is you and your ability to tend to your wellbeing in the face of adversity. 

More inspiring stories:

The Truth Behind Victoria Beckham’s Plastic Surgery Will Change The Way You Think About Her

By | Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, plastic surgery, self-esteem, stories, Victoria Beckham

If your name is Posh, you’re likely expected to uphold rigorous standards whenever you go for the rest of your life. Victoria Beckham has yet to let us down. 

During her effervescent breakout with the Spice Girls, she developed a reputation as a poised, high-achieving woman of immense class, attitude, and sophistication. Only, it’s been north of twenty-five years, and she keeps raising the bar. From an outsider’s perspective, she’s blessed with everything: an adorable family of four, a scintillating fashion empire, a gorgeous husband, and a musical legacy that’ll remain unmatched. 

Yet, underneath the success and the self-assuredness lies a world of vulnerabilities and insecurities. While penning a letter to her younger self in Vogue, Posh Spice didn’t hold back on shedding light on the complexities of her image and how she still struggles with embracing self-love

You might say it’s easy for someone like Victoria to seamlessly accept herself, but her admission — and subsequent regret — of plastic surgery indicates that nothing is as simple as it seems. 

Victoria regrets getting a boob job and not “embracing her imperfections”

Victoria hadn’t always been the absolute picture of English opulence, genteelness, and old-school glamor. She’d once been young and callow, unsure of her place in the world and how she’d go on to attack the opportunities that laid in her way. The Vogue letter addressed to her 18-year-old self describes young Vic as “not the prettiest, or the thinnest, or the best at dancing at the Laine Theatre Arts college.” 

She’d expressed a thorough interest in dance at an early age, and so her parents arranged for her to be sent to a performing arts boarding school in Surrey. Unfortunately, she realized at her über-competitive school that she wasn’t as skillful or remarkable as she’d been led to believe. The environment was cutthroat, the peer group was industrious and ambitious, and Victoria found herself faintly dwelling in the middle of the pack. She begged to return home, explaining that she wasn’t “good enough” to keep abreast, but her dad urged her to keep her head high and continue working hard. “Dad got on the phone: “Stay there, prove everyone wrong.”

And I should probably say, don’t mess with your boobs. All those years I denied it – stupid. A sign of insecurity. Just celebrate what you’ve got.

Victoria Beckham to Vogue

She felt inferior in every which way — the “bad acne,” being “too plump”. Her fellow classmates relentlessly bullied her by throwing soggy tissues and old Coke cans at her for not sporting the most fashionable gear. Yet, these agonizing experiences only helped Victoria grow a thick skin and endure the scrutiny that would befall her life in just a few short years. 

Adult Victoria advises her younger self to “embrace your perfections” and not spend every waking minute obsessing over her appearance. The complexion will “sort itself out,” the perm will disappear, and your weight will stop fluctuating and become stable. There’s no reason to adhere to the latest diet fad, whether it’s eating “Super Noodles” or drinking green juice. 18-year-old Victoria should instead let her skin breathe and wear less make-up; be more confident in her natural beauty and her ability to shine regardless of how she manages to look on a specific day. 

That’s when Victoria acknowledges the veracity of a story she’d spent years denying — that she’d had plastic surgery. 

It’s taken her a long time to feel okay and be “comfortable in her own skin”

Like anyone else, Victoria hasn’t had the most straightforward journey with building inner strength, especially when it comes to earthly vanity concerns. 

However, what’s dissimilar about her situation is that she’s essentially perceived as the pinnacle of poshness and perfection. The audience actively positions her as the impeccable ideal to which they can aspire. As a result, she has to deal with the additional pressure of establishing the norm, setting the trend, and blazing a trail for others seeking to follow in her footsteps. 

Victoria has no qualms about imparting style advice — for example, “wear sunglasses a lot”; they “turn a nothing-outfit into something quite pulled together and cool” — but she doesn’t want to precipitate a whirlwind of anxiety, self-loathing, or timidness among young women. She knows all too well what it’s like to face an upheaval of apprehensive, self-hating emotions and think yourself lacking here, there, and everywhere. 

I see my imperfections and flaws and I smile: it’s who I am and I’m not going to try to change that. It’s taken me a long, long time to recognise that by 45 years old, actually I’m all right.

Victoria Beckham to Harper’s Bazaar

What’s not entirely known to the public is how the “Posh Spice” nickname was a device for promotion and didn’t accurately describe Victoria’s own stance on fashion or etiquette. The name originated from her reserved nature, her choice of designer outfits, and her affinity for “high-heeled footwear.” It’s unfortunate that those characteristics are attributed to only the wealthy and the upper-class because, in the twenty-five years since the Spice Girl phenomenon, everyone has gained the ability to adopt them. “I was young and shy, and being Posh helped me find my style and confidence, and my voice,” she told ET.

If assuming a more dignified, “posh” identity empowers you to stand tall with pride and conviction, so be it. However, it’s not necessarily going to resolve your issues with self-esteem and wariness. It took Victoria a long time before coming to grips with her innate face, body, and exterior. She still doesn’t think of herself as beautiful; she promptly tells Harper’s Bazaar,“No, absolutely not. But I make the best of what I have.”

Plastic surgery or other permanent cosmetic procedures aren’t a long-term resolution for your troubles; they are but a temporary balm. That’s not to say that these practices shouldn’t be considered at all, especially amidst medical considerations, but that there’s more to life than living up to these exacting beauty standards. Victoria realized over the years that her family and work come before her vanity and fashion, that she’s far more content to be prioritizing the attention to other areas. 

[embedded content]

Self-acceptance is an uphill battle, but it’ll come

The biggest takeaway from her evolution over the last twenty-five years is that you can’t afford to pick at the silliest of things. It’s a natural, undeniable tendency to some extent, but as you mature and come across beautiful, oftentimes contrasting discoveries about yourself, it’s best just to let the worries slide and start to accept yourself as you are. “When you get older, you learn how to be comfortable in your own skin,” said the former Spice Girl. 

More inspiring stories:

Shaq Surprises Struggling Mom Who Couldn’t Afford School Supplies For Kids

By | celebs, Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, Shaquille O'Neal

Apparently, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal’s heart is as big as one can expect for a man of his size.

He bought a laptop for a struggling mom

Shaquille O’Neal is known for his thunderous dunks (including ones that broke the backboard), winning four NBA championships and his often-hilarious mid-game analysis on TNT. But he’s becoming known for something else — acts of kindness.

Shaq’s latest good deed was revealed on the podcast, “Million Dollaz Worth of Game.” On the show, he explained how he purchased a computer for a mother who couldn’t afford school laptops for her kids.

“I got you,” Shaq recalled saying while at the cash register, according to ESPN.

He realized his privileged position

Shaq added that after a career as an NBA star and a current analyst, the price of a computer makes little financial impact on him, so it was worth doing what he could to help.

“$1,500 ain’t nothing to me but — mom trying to help her babies go to school. … do it,” he added.

My motto lately is it could be worse, and that could be you.

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq is a do gooder

This is far from the only act of kindness to go viral for Shaq. He paid for the funeral of an 18-year-old Florida teenager who was shot and killed, as well as for an 11-year-old Louisiana boy who died in a car crash.

And this isn’t even the first time Shaq has purchased a laptop for an unsuspecting stranger. In early 2020, an Atlanta man gave the 7-footer condolences for the loss of his sister Ayesha Harrison Jex as well as former teammate Kobe Bryant, so Shaq bought him a computer.

“I like y’all, so get the nicest one in here and I’ll pay for it,” the man recalled Shaq saying.

Share the wealth

Shaq unquestionably worked hard to become as wealthy as he is today, but what he rightfully realizes is that others are not as fortunate and could use an uplift. Hopefully, he continues carrying out these random acts of kindness and inspires others to follow suit.

More inspiring celebrities:

How Tiger Woods’ Ex-Wife Is Doing, 11 Years After Their Scandalous Divorce

By | Elin Nordegren, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, stories, Tiger Woods

The world will never forget Tiger Woods’ cheating allegations. 

It was the moment in time that forever tarnished the athlete’s reputation. Up until then, he’d been known as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, figures in golf. There’s a reason why he’s broken innumerable records and is number one in PGA Tour wins alongside Sam Snead — he’s simply phenomenal.  He also managed to carve out a unique place in what is traditionally known as a stomping ground for rich white men. 

That’s not to say that Tiger Woods isn’t considered a superb sportsman anymore, but a lot of discourse around his career does revolve around the affairs scandal that spanned between 2009 and 2010. The news dominated mainstream media for a solid year or so, resulting in the divorce between Tiger and his wife, Elin Nordegren. 

While the allegations have been scrutinized to death, there isn’t a lot of information out there on the current dynamic between Tiger and his ex-wife Elin Nordegren. So it’s worthwhile to take a step back, look into the former couple’s sweet beginnings, and examine how their relationship has evolved over the years:

Tiger Woods’s wife Elin had “had no interest” in him when they first met

Elin Nordegren was born on January 1, 1980, in Stockholm, Sweden to Barbro Holmberg and Thomas Nordegren. Her mother, Barbro, had been the Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy in Sweden between 2003 and 2006, and also served as the governor of Gavleborg County for seven years. Elin’s father, Thomas Nordegren, is a political journalist and writer; he also worked in Washington D.C. for some time as a bureau chief. Her siblings include elder brother Axel and twin sister Josefin.

Though Elin hails from a prominent, well-established family in Sweden, she didn’t necessarily grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth. She and her sister had to work to earn their pocket money. They worked as cashiers through the summers to pay for school. Erin also did some modeling work in the early 2000s, landing a cover on Cafe Sport magazine at just 20 years old. 

Elin Nordegren young

She’d been working at a retail clothing store when she met Mia Parnevik, the wife of Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik. Mia immediately took a liking to Elin and offered her a position as nanny to her children. Elin accepted and moved to the U.S. with the family as that’s where they were primarily situated. In the U.S., Elin would accompany the family to numerous golf tournaments, turning heads wherever she went. 

She met Tiger at The Open Championship in 2001, and though he was smitten with her from the get-go, Elin “had no interest in Tiger, and he was OK with that,” as per Mia Parnevik. Elin told People magazine that she had her “opinions about celebrities,” but Tiger made her think they were more similar than expected.

I got convinced that we were a lot alike and agreed to a date. The biggest reason I fell for him was because we had a lot of fun together.

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

Elin had been seeing someone at the time and wasn’t particularly keen on beginning a long-term relationship with anyone. She was also focused on going to school to become a child psychologist. Yet Tiger convinced her to give him a chance. In November 2003, Elin accompanied Tiger to the President’s Cup in South Africa. The two became engaged during a four-day stay at the Shamwari Game Reserve the same month. 

Tiger Woods Elin
(David Cannon/Getty)

The two tied the knot a year later, on October 5, 2004, at the luxurious Sandy Lane resort in Barbados. Tiger went all out for the nuptials; he rented the entire estate, including three golf courses and 110-odd rooms, and ended up paying approximately $2 million for the mind-boggling venue. The couple went on to have two children in nearly six years of marriage: daughter Sam Alexis, born in 2007, and son Charlie Axel, born in 2009. 

She was accused of being physically violent towards Tiger after learning about his “transgressions”

The first of the accusations surfaced in a National Enquirer report that alleged that the golfer had taken part in an extramarital dalliance with New York City nightclub owner Rachel Uchitel. Though Uchitel denied the news, it soon became apparent that there was more to the story. According to HBO’s Tiger Woods documentary, Tiger had Uchitel call Elin to assure her there was nothing going on. 

Only, the situation got murkier when Tiger became involved in a car accident on November 27, 2009, a few weeks after the Enquirer article. He crashed into a fire hydrant, a tree, and several hedges near his mansion in Florida and suffered facial injuries as a result. The press jumped to speculate on how the accident occurred, with many theories looping in Elin as the potential perpetrator. The documentary confirmed that Elin had confronted Tiger the same night about his affair with Uchitel, so tensions were running high between the married couple. Some theories stated that Elin had been “chasing Woods with a golf club at the time of the crash and smashed the back windows of the vehicle,” as per The Los Angeles Times

Both Tiger and Elin denied these rumors vehemently, and Tiger claimed full responsibility for the collision. “My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me,” he said in the statement. 

Elin told People that “there was never any violence inside or outside our home,” adding that the speculation that she could have inflicted violence on him is “truly ridiculous.”

The apparent tryst with Rachel Uchitel was only the tip of the iceberg. Over the next couple of months, a dozen or so women came forward claiming to have slept with the married golfer. Tiger Woods owned up to these “transgressions” and stated that he’s “far short of perfect.”

He reaffirmed his love for Elin and wrote, “Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.,” once again dismissing the malicious gossip about his car accident. He also announced that he would take time off of professional golf to try to salvage his marriage. 

These efforts didn’t come to fruition, and Elin filed for divorce shortly. The two finalized their divorce at the Bay County Circuit Court in Panama City, Florida, on 23 August 2010, with Elin receiving $100 million in the settlement. 

If there is no trust between the parents, I think it is better for the children that the parents split up. I am now going to do my very best to show them that alone and happy is better than being in a relationship where there is no trust.

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

She has “moved on” and is in a “good place” with Tiger

Though the adultery scandal generated widespread global interest at the turn of the decade, the gossip has subsided in the years since — giving both Elin and Tiger enough space to begin their lives anew in some form or the other. One can only imagine the hardship Elin must have faced amidst the media circus; to have to endure the judgment and the gossip through no choice of her own. She’d become an overnight “spectacle,” someone to be mocked and ridiculed simply for existing. 

It’s no wonder Elin didn’t want to have anything to do with Tiger in the wake of the scandal. Following the divorce, she bought a 1920s-era mansion in Florida and demolished it to build an innovative new structure from the ground up — inadvertently giving way to a rather pointed metaphor of her life. She fulfilled her dream of going to college and getting a degree in psychology. She graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in May 2014, earning the distinction for Outstanding Senior. She said in an interview that education “is always what [she] wanted” and is proud to set an example for her children about following your passions no matter what. 

She has fallen in and out of love a few times since Tiger as well. She dated late coal tycoon billionaire Chris Cline between 2011 and 2016, and began a relationship with former NFLer Jordan Cameron in early 2019. In June 13, 2019, it was reported that the two were expecting their first baby. Elin gave birth to her third child, a son, in October 2019 and is still believed to be dating Jordan. 

Elin Nordegren Jordan Cameron

Elin has been fiercely private about her life post-Tiger, but the few interviews she’s given reveal a great deal about the evolution of their relationship. In a 2010 interview, Elin disclosed that she’d never suspected Tiger of cheating on her. In fact, the whole state of affairs proved to be an absolute shock. 

I’m so embarrassed that I never suspected — not a one. […] Forgiveness takes time…I am going to be completely honest and tell you that I am working on it. I know I will have to come to forgiveness and acceptance of what has happened for me to go on and be happy in the future. 

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

At the same time, she’s committed to making it work with Tiger as co-parents to their two young children. The Swedish mother-of-three made it clear eleven years ago that she wanted the children to be close with Tiger. “I will always have a working parenting relationship with Tiger,” she asserted. 

I have moved on, and I am in a good place. Our relationship is centered around our children, and we are doing really good — we really are. He is a great father. 

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

All unpleasant situations eventually end

Elin’s development over the last ten years speaks volumes about her sense of self and maturity. She’d been a young mother of two when her entire world crumbled and she had to reckon with a betrayal of the most extreme kind. But the Swedish psychology kept her head down and focused on her priorities. 

The scandal and the subsequent divorce empowered her to fulfill her dreams and invest in education. Yet, she also has enough room in her heart to maintain a cordial rapport with Tiger, if only for the sake of their children. We need to remember that all situations, no matter how pleasant and testing, have an expiry date. If we can cope with them thoughtfully and patiently, they too shall pass, and we’ll be able to climb back up to the surface and gain a fresh perspective on our life.

The Truth Behind Lil Kim’s “New Face” Will Change The Way You Think About Her

By | dating, emotional health, family, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, lil kim, mental health, Motivation, stories

Lil’ Kim is undoubtedly one of the brightest, most influential women in hip-hop, yet her legacy remains controversial for one reason or the other.

For the past twenty-five years, she’s been pushing the boundaries as a female rapper and breaking records in the process. She’s considered to have pioneered mainstream sex-positive feminism in hip-hop and has carved a path for many contemporary artists, including Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, and Kash Doll. In addition to her unique sound and lyrical matter, she’s known for her breathtaking, flamboyant fashion style and advocacy work for various causes. 

While she’s been an inspiring figure in more than many ways, she’s also let her fans down in others. The rapper, also known as Kimberly Jones, was convicted of three counts of conspiracy and one count of perjury on Marcy 17, 2005. She’d been caught lying to a federal grand jury about not having seen her friends at a scene of a 2001 gun shooting — a testimony that was subsequently proven wrong via video surveillance footage. Kim served twelve months in prison as a result. 

But lately, the criticism leveled at her isn’t about her past as a convict — it’s about her face. Here’s what we can learn from Lil’ Kim’s struggles with beauty and expectations:

Kim wanted to cover the injuries from an “abusive relationship”

[embedded content]

Lil’ Kim has been fielding criticisms and judgment about her face since the beginning of her career. In 2005, she went on a radio show and explained that she had had her nose broken during a physically abusive confrontation with an ex-boyfriend. Kim told the listeners that she, like many other women, had been part of a violent relationship that left her with a “broken nose, black eyes, all that stuff.”

The New York native revealed that she had to “fix her nose” not once but multiple times — every time she’d go through a procedure and come back to her boyfriend, he’d hit her again and send her reeling into a tangle of insecurities and self-loathing. It’s not just her face that was damaged as a result of these brutal attacks. Kim had to undergo multiple MRIs because “he beat me up so bad I couldn’t even move.” She also suffered from blood clots in her back. 

Kim was so tired of lying about her injuries, pretending they were “an allergic reaction,” and burying her bruises in makeup that she thought it would be better to get professional work done and wipe out those physical markings for once and for all. 

I kinda prayed the whole time. I didn’t know what to do. And it has a lot to do with my maturity too. It’s been times I was in the car with my ex-boyfriend and he punched me in my face and [I was] bleeding all over the car […] The doctor had to fix my nose [because] it was almost shattered. 

Lil’ Kim to The Source

The trauma led her to start her charitable organization, Lil’ Kim Cares, which does extraordinary work in raising awareness and funds for issues such as homelessness, child neglect, and violence against women. She’s also keen on showing that just because she’s a celebrity doesn’t mean that she doesn’t go through the same trials and tribulations as anyone else suffering from abuse. Like any other survivor, she has to muster up tons of courage to leave a toxic environment and learn to love herself again. 

Kim admitted she “cheated” with plastic surgery and didn’t think she was “good enough”

(Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams /FilmMagic)

It’s truly been an uphill battle for Kim to love herself, but she’s finally at a stage where she can do so to her heart’s content. It’s also crucial to note that Kim hasn’t always set a good example for her fans — she’s said and done things that have caused a tremendous amount of distrust and pain among her friends, family, and fans. 

Whereas the initial plastic surgery resulted from a violent altercation, Kim has admitted that she’s gotten more surgeries over the years by her own choice. She said she “cheated” and got several facial features “fixed up” as she pleased. In a 2000 interview, Lil’ Kim shared that she’s faced insecurities for as long as she could remember; her boyfriends kept cheating on her with “European-looking” women, the “long-hair type.” 

The mother-of-one said she felt like she couldn’t compete as a “regular black girl” and thought she wouldn’t ever be “good enough.” It’s not just former lovers that triggered feelings of doubt and shame in her; she also endured verbal humiliation at the hands of her father. She claimed, “It’s always been men putting me down, just like my dad.” 

To this day, when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says.

Lil’ Kim to Newsweek 

The continuous barrage of disapproval made its way to her head, and she felt like she had no choice but to turn to cosmetic surgery. Kim said, “It was like I could do nothing right, everything about me was wrong — my hair, my clothes, just me.” The fact that she’s getting condemned for conforming to the same expectations that were imposed on her in the first place is hypocrisy at its cruelest. Lil’ Kim likely didn’t ask to be saddled with the weight of these debilitating insecurities — they were drilled into her from a young age and were continually reinforced by the men in her life. 

Plastic surgery is a contentious issue that has neither wrong nor a right side. We have to trust women that they’re aware of the health implications and that they understand the full extent of what they’re choosing to undergo. It’s a massive, irreversible decision, and so it should be treated as such. As long as the person comes out on the other side feeling confident and beautiful, we don’t have the right to chide the person. 

At the same time, no one should feel so pressured to look a certain way that they perceive plastic surgery as a necessity, not a choice. Lil’ Kim couldn’t overcome her anxieties and had been fixated on her so-called imperfections for so long that the only way to get peace of mind was to go under the knife. It’s perhaps even more frustrating to see that her career is dominated by rumors of skin bleaching, lip injections, boob jobs, so on and forth when there are far more substantive points to discuss — including her run-is with law enforcement and her illustrious body of work. 

I’m a person who may get bored with my look sometimes. I love what God gave me, but sometimes I want to dress it up.

Lil’ Kim on One World Music Beat

Don’t let assumptions guide your judgment 

Sometimes it’s just best to see something and move on without asserting your opinion about it. People have been berating Kim for a long time — both before and after her plastic surgeries. If they had kept their assumptions at bay from the get-go, Kim wouldn’t have felt forced to go under the knife. 

Conventional beauty doesn’t determine the value of a person; what matters is the person behind the face and the work they’re doing to improve their lives and their collective society around them. Lil Kim has all but transformed the world of her hip-hop through her intuitive, thoughtful, and powerful music. Why must we let our presumptions drive our opinion of the artist? Especially since the artist herself had deeply personal and medical reasons to get many of these surgeries in the first place. Lil’ Kim has her own flaws, but choosing to love herself despite the criticisms shows endurance. And that’s something we can take away from her journey. 

More inspiring stories:

How Liv Tyler Figured Out Steven Tyler Was Her Biological Father

By | family, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, liv tyler, parenting, steven tyler, stories

Liv and Steven Tyler are one of the most powerful father-daughter duos in the entertainment industry. He’s a legendary rockstar with an illustrious career spanning 55 years, whereas she is a brilliant, charming actress who has consistently impressed with her thoughtful performances in film and television for twenty-odd years. 

Dysfunctional families are a dime a dozen, yet Steven and Liv continue to have the utmost respect and gratitude for one another. Yes, they represent two different generations and hail from two different areas of the business, but it doesn’t stop them from showering heaps of praise upon each other, no matter the occasion.

You’d see their sweet, loving relationship and think that Liv must have been daddy’s girl from day one — but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Liv Tyler hadn’t even known Steven was her biological father until she was about 10, at which point she had to reexamine her entire family situation and determine the type of relationship she wanted to have with the Aerosmith lead as well as with her adopted dad. 

Here’s the bizarre but ultimately delightful story of how Liv Tyler figured out she was Steven Tyler’s daughter.

Liv realized she bore a striking resemblance to Steven’s other daughter Mia

Liv Tyler was born Liv Rundgren to Bebe Buell, a model, musician, and former Playboy magazine playmate, on July 1, 1977. Bebe was in an on-and-off relationship with rock artist and member of the band Utopia, Todd Rundgren, when she met Steven Tyler in the mid-seventies.  Bebe and Steven enjoyed a quick fling in 1976, resulting in Liv’s birth a year later. 

Steven Tyler
(Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Though Bebe and Todd had been broken up at the time of Liv’s birth, Todd decided to step up to the plate, put his name on Liv’s birth certificate, and decide to raise her as his own daughter, knowing completely well that her paternity was complicated. 

Bebe revealed in an interview that she and Todd decided early on that he would act as Liv’s father for all intents and purposes, and “if it ever became an issue, we’d tell her at 18,” she said. Bebe was only 23 when she welcomed Liv. It had been overwhelming for her to navigate life as a single mother in New York City, so she often sent her daughter to live with her uncles, aunts, and cousins in Maine. Liv claims that she had a “very family-rich childhood” and generally didn’t have any reason to doubt her parentage. 

But suspicion took root in Liv’s mind when she encountered Steven Tyler in a concert at age nine. She’d caught a glimpse of Steven’s second-born daughter, Mia Tyler, and immediately detected a resemblance between the two of them. “I was literally like looking at my twin,” said Liv.  Even at the age of nine, Liv could figure out that something was amiss and that she needed to follow her intuition.

When I realized that Steven was my father, it was a moment that was bigger than me, it was almost spiritual […] I felt a connection in a very strong way when I met him as a little girl and I didn’t know why at first, but I figured it out rather quickly.

Liv Tyler to The Guardian 

Liv immediately confronted her mother over her theory, who let the cat out of the bag without resistance. She reportedly hid Liv’s paternity because Steven had been “heavily addicted to drugs at the time,” and therefore, she didn’t think he would be a stable enough presence in her young daughter’s life. 

She is super close to Steven but has an equal amount of love for her adoptive dad

Once Steven found that he had a daughter he didn’t know about, he “started calling” incessantly in the hopes of building a relationship with her. Liv said that she and her mother would go see him often — he’d just gotten out of rehab and had been looking to make some swift changes to his lifestyle. 

Liv started to spend more and more time with her biological father and realized that they had way more in common than their DNA. She said that they “look so alike” and even “do things the same way.” She also noticed that Mia’s mannerisms were so eerily similar to that of her own.

Over the years, Liv started feeling so connected with the Tyler clan that she underwent a name change in 1991 and changed her last name to that of her father: Tyler. Steven could have easily avoided this paternity revelation and went about his life, but he decided to go above and beyond to build and maintain a loving, supportive relationship with his newfound daughter. 

Liv Tyler dad
(Ron Davis/Getty Images)

Liv also started becoming involved with her father’s musical career. She appeared in Aerosmith’s music video, ‘Crazy,’ when she was just in high school. Steven also wrote the song, ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,’ for Liv’s movie Armageddon. The father and daughter had established such an easygoing, no-holds-barred rapport that he was even present in the delivery room when she gave birth to son Sailor in 2015. It’s safe to say that they have overcome their rough, awkward beginnings and genuinely see each other as father and daughter now. 

But Liv’s affection for Steven doesn’t change the fact that she still has plenty of love for her adoptive dad, Todd. He’s been there for there from the beginning and decided to undertake the responsibilities as a father despite knowing that the child might not be his. 

I’m so grateful to [Todd], I have so much love for him. You know, when he holds me it feels like Daddy. And he’s very protective and strong. 

Liv Tyler to Wonderland Magazine

[embedded content]

At the end of the day, Liv is grateful for both her fathers and appreciates her wonky, non-traditional upbringing. She doesn’t hold any resentment for her mother, as she knows that this would have been a tough call to make for anyone in her position. She certainly credits Todd for being a “stable, loving force” in her life. And she cherishes every moment with Steven, knowing that she could have very well gone through an alternate timeline without Steven’s presence to guide her. 

Both my fathers are unconventional. They are like unicorns or wizards. They are musicians through and through. The way they think is just different. Their eccentricities have made me more practical and more normal, in a way.

Liv Tyler to The Guardian 

Embrace your family however you can 

Liv Tyler Steven Tyler family
(Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

Our lives may not be as dramatic or surreal as Liv’s, but that doesn’t mean that our families don’t come with their set of baggage. Family can appear in many shapes and sizes, so all you can do is hang on for the ride and take in each and every moment as they come. 

If we love our family, we shouldn’t worry about the awkwardness or the quirks or the non-traditional experiences — we should embrace these moments to the fullest extent and share love however we can. Not everyone is perfect, but as long as you have the intention of making it work, nothing is impossible.

What Happened to Meg Ryan? The Vanishing Rom-Com Star

By | dennis quaid, Food for thought, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, marriage, meg ryan, russell crowe, stories

Meg Ryan might be the quintessential star of the rom-com. 

She burst onto the scene as effervescent, charming Sally in the rom-com classic When Harry Mets Sally. She proceeded to follow up her breakout role with a string of other hits in the genre, including iconic 90s films like Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss, You’ve Got Mail. Meg led the revival of the romantic comedy genre in a striking fashion, having drawn throngs of people to the movie theatres time and time again. 

[embedded content]

However, like many celebrities from the 90s, Meg’s fame didn’t last. At some point, she fell off the radar, and the mainstream media didn’t bat an eye. The question remains: what happened in Meg Ryan’s career or personal life that drove her to step back from the spotlight?

As usual, the answer isn’t black or white. Meg’s exit from the industry was both a choice and an outcome of social pressure and judgment. Here is the truth behind Meg Ryan’s bittersweet exit from the industry:

Did Meg Ryan cheat on Dennis Quaid?

Meg and actor Dennis Quaid were married through the nineties. They tied the knot on Valentine’s Day, 1991, and welcomed their only son Jack on April 24, 1992. By the late nineties, their marriage was on the rocks, and they were both seeing other people. 

Meg Ryan Dennis Quaid
(Warner Brothers/Getty Images)

In 1999, Meg began a relationship with actor Russell Crowe, who co-starred with her in the film Proof of Life. They were an item until 2001, but because Meg and Dennis hadn’t announced their split until June 2000, the press accused Meg of cheating on her longtime husband. 

At the time, Meg gave an interview to W Magazine, saying that she knew what it felt like to be the ‘Scarlet Woman’ — a reference to the book The Scarlet Letter where a woman was ostracized and shamed by society for having committed adultery. As it turns out, the customs hadn’t shifted all that much since the book’s original publication in 1850. The tabloids hounded Meg for impairing the “squeaky-clean persona” she’d built over the last ten years. They accused her of humiliating her family and for breaking her husband’s heart into a thousand little pieces. 

Only, none of the publications thought to ask themselves whether they had access to the complete picture. Simply put, Meg and Dennis weren’t content in their marriage anymore and were openly pursuing romances with other parties.  Dennis himself had several extramarital affairs but didn’t face the vitriol his wife did — a demonstration of double standards. He got off scot-free, leaving Meg to cope with the widespread scrutiny herself.

It’s a real gift when you know you can’t ever really manage an image or a story and you stop caring […] Divorce is hard. Love is hard. All those things were so personal. They weren’t for mass consumption.

Meg Ryan on The New York Times

Meg also explained that the “complexity of a life or marriage” could never be condensed in a news headline or tabloid feature. Most people seem to accept these stories at face value without considering their impact on the individuals concerned. Meg lived through pain and shame in the spotlight, knowing all too well that she wasn’t in the wrong for cozying up to Crowe. 

Meg Ryan Russell Crowe
(Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images)

Meg felt “burned out” as an actress and felt “pressure” to look a certain way

Meg’s fall from grace over an ultimately false cheating allegation exhibits that misogyny and discrimination are well and alive in the entertainment industry. They extend beyond cheating scandals and public perception — they also affect how women are supposed to present themselves as they get older. 

The press’s treatment of Meg amidst the Russell Crowe romance made her feel disillusioned with movie stardom, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Meg now found herself on the ‘wrong side of forty.’ As is wont to happen, the offers landing on her doorstep were becoming less and less appealing, and she didn’t feel like these roles were worth her time or interest. She said that the “same opportunities did not present themselves in [her] 40s that did in [her] 30s and 20s,” adding that she didn’t feel like she could bring anything to the table for these purported roles. 

The mother-of-two holds a lot of respect for women who choose to undertake roles at her age, but she herself felt like she had done as much as could — and as much as she wanted to — in the realm of acting.

I was burned out … didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated.

Meg Ryan on The New York Times

In the New York Times interview, Meg detailed how being an actor is akin to “burning through life experiences.” One moment, you’re a helicopter pilot; the next a journalist, after which you go on to play an alcoholic. Meg felt like she was living these “express-lane lives,” and sooner or later, realized that she needed to take time off to reevaluate her own aspirations. 

Meg Ryan
(Manuel Romano/NurPhoto/Getty)

There are very few dynamic roles for older women, and there’s an unimaginable pressure to look a certain way. This isn’t necessarily communicated to the actresses outright, but it’s evident nonetheless. That’s why a considerable number of women possibly turn to plastic surgery or unhealthy diet plans. They’re coerced into fitting into a mold that don’t want them in the first place. 

The pressure [to look a certain way] was implicit. How you look — there’s so much judgment. You can’t win or lose. That’s an annoying thing, and you deal with it.

Meg Ryan on The New York Times

Ultimately, Meg Ryan’s gotten “truer as a person” and is cherishing being in “first gear”

Though the blown-out-of-proportion adultery accusations and the ageism did have implications on Meg’s career, the talented entertainer used these difficult obstacles to find her true passion. Meg left behind her acting career to achieve peace, fulfillment, and growth. 

The horrifying media frenzy Meg experienced led her to reexamine her situation and carve out a new path. She wanted to slip out from under the overwhelming gaze of the paparazzi, so she turned down film roles of her own volition and began to consider a career as a writer or a producer. 

I didn’t have to care what people thought. I have gotten to do what I guess I secretly wanted to do. Be totally under the radar and live my life.

Meg Ryan via People

Meg’s directorial debut Ithaca was released in 2015, and she has a romantic comedy in the works. She’s busy raising her adopted daughter Daisy True and spending time with her adult son, Jack Quaid, an established actor. She’s adding more skills to her repertoire and is relishing being in the driver’s seat as a director and producer; she said in one interview, “When you’re an actor, you’re a cog. When you produce, you understand the other gears. I’m in first gear now.”

[embedded content]

She also said that she “got tired of waiting to be chosen,” so if the ideal roles weren’t going to come knocking, she would develop them herself. Meg was not taking orders any longer from an industry set on objectifying and discarding her. The scandals and the frustrations pushed her to take charge of her own life.

I felt like I got truer as a person. I’m more myself

Meg Ryan via Closer Weekly

Let life guide you where you want to go

Despite the hardships, Meg Ryan realized her true ambitions and acquired the tools she needed to make them a reality. Despite the media’s cruelty, no one forced Meg to leave acting — she made the conscious choice of following her heart. 

We all must examine what makes us happy. Are we doing everything we can to achieve our dreams? Sometimes, the unpleasant experiences will do their part in forcing us to wake up and face the music. Let life teach you where you’re meant to be. Don’t be afraid to make those tough decisions when the time comes.

Billie Eillish’s Parents Are Not The Reason Why She Is Successful

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, stories

No artist has taken the world by storm with such swiftness over the last few years as Billie Eilish

The 19-year-old California native doesn’t just stand as one of the industry’s most beloved, intriguing, and critically acclaimed musicians; she has practically come to represent the entirety of Gen-Z, whether it’s through her oversized clothing, her striking hairstyles, her macabre visuals, her dark goth-pop sound, or her remarkable ability to be brutally honest about mental health. 

While Billie’s fashion style and unique musical stylings capture the lion’s share of attention, it must be noted that her personal life is just as fascinating in more than a few ways. We were able to get a glimpse into her private sphere through her 2021 documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry, but there’s undoubtedly more to be explored in terms of her dynamics with brother Finneas and parents Maggie and Patrick O’Connell. 

So let’s take a few moments and chronicle the early life of Billie Eilish. As it turns out, her success becomes all the sweeter once you take her upbringing and family history into account:

Billie Eilish was born to “unemployed actors” who “knew no one” in the industry

Billie Eilish was born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell on December 18, 2001, to Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell. 

Maggie worked as an actor, vocal artist, and screenwriter through the nineties and early aughts. She’d been a background artist in popular television series like Friends, The X-Files, Curb Your Enthusiasm and was even involved with The Groundlings as a member and teacher. While at The Groundlings, a sketch comedy troupe, Maggie worked with up-and-coming comedians like Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, and Kristen Wiig. 

Billie’s dad Patrick played bit parts in a handful of shows and movies, including The West Wing, Baskets, Iron Man. Patrick and Maggie met while filming a project in Alaska and married in 1995. They welcomed their first child, son Finneas, in 1997. 

It’s true that both of Billie’s parents were in the industry, and therefore she didn’t necessarily struggle with finding support, both emotional and financial, from her folks. Yet, it’s key to remember that Billie shouldn’t outright be accused of nepotism. Her parents weren’t huge A-listers who had assistants, agents, and PR professionals lined up at their door, catering to each and every one of their desires and ego trips. They were working actors who lived paycheck to paycheck and were highly dependent on their next role to get them through the month and pay their bills. This is the case for the majority of actors in the entertainment industry; you go through roles one after the other in the hopes of catching a lucky break one day and landing a consistent gig.

During my lifetime, our parents were never able to fully financially support us off of their work as actors. Our dad worked 12 hour days 7 days a week as a construction worker for Mattel and our mom was a teacher. Our parents gave us love but knew no one in the record industry. 

Finneas via Insider

As per Rolling Stone and confirmed by Billie’s dad himself, they were “unemployed actors” who decided to press pause on their careers to homeschool their children and nurture their creative abilities. Maggie and Patrick ensured that their children were fully encouraged to pursue and excel in their passions — despite the family’s unstable financial situation. 

Billie and her brother Finneas were homeschooled so that they could focus on “creating” music

Maggie shared in an interview that Finneas was only able to attend a singing lesson because she’d arranged to cook for the teacher during the lesson. Similarly, Patrick exchanged handyman services for Billie’s gymnastic classes. These sorts of sacrifices extended to their household as well — Maggie and Patrick chose to “sleep on the futon in the living room” so that Billie and Finneas could be spared from sharing a room. 

Both Maggie and Patrick were amateur musicians and kept three pianos in their modest two-bedroom house, with music residing in every “nook and cranny” of their home. Maggie taught her children the basics of songwriting so that they could develop a passion for creating and writing music. In fact, nothing gave the parents more joy than seeing their children becoming budding, thriving artists before their very eyes. 

We had a rule growing up that was kind of a household respected thing of just no matter what time it was, no matter how old we were, if we were creating, writing music, playing piano, playing guitar, or any instrument at all, we could stay up as long as we were doing that. 

Billie Eilish to Vanity Fair

The family faced their share of financial difficulties, but they worked together to treat their children to whichever tools and structures they needed to succeed as ambitious young artists. Billie also added that “being creative” was the most critical consideration in their household — not the technical “esoterica you’ll never use” from high school. 

Billie pays her parents a salary to join her on the road and says she wants to “make a movie” with them

Maggie and Patrick sacrificed several luxuries and privileges when raising Billie and Finneas, so it’s only fitting that they’re able to reap the rewards of Billie’s outstanding career. 

Finneas revealed in a tweet last year that he paid off his parents’ mortgage and that “Billie pays them each salaries to tour with [them] full time,” even though Maggie and Patrick had allegedly told them that they would do it at no cost. Billie broke out early — her debut song ‘Ocean Eyes,’ produced by Finneas in their bedroom, blew up on SoundCloud when Billie was just 13. By the time she had launched her debut studio album, she had accumulated north of a billion streams on Spotify and other music streaming platforms. 

Therefore, her mom and dad had to adapt to the onslaught of fame rapidly. When Patrick realized that Billie’s career was taking off, he decided to quit his construction job and become her “one-man crew,” undertaking everything from driving the van to doing the lights, as per Rolling Stone. His handyman skills are as helpful as ever when he joins his daughter on tour — he takes it upon himself to “fix whatever needs fixing,” whether it’s carpentry or cleaning up the floors. 

As for Maggie, she works around the clock as Billie’s “psychological gatekeeper.” She’s the first and frequently the only point of contact between Billie and the rest of the world. She’ll ensure that her daughter’s mental health is prioritized, that the 37-person crew is content and getting along, and that the siblings remain focused on the big picture. 

You also know that someone has to be completely your child’s advocate. That’s fallen to us. She can speak up for herself, and she does. But sensing that she needs a break or she’s tired, that’s mom.

Maggie Baird on Your Teen Mag

Billie, on the other hand, has nothing but immense love and respect for her parents’ sacrifices. She said Maggie is the “best mama in the world” and that she and her dad are “very similar.” She also expressed admiration for Maggie and Patrick’s respective skillsets in the arts and said that she wishes they’d had more recognition early on. Her ultimate goal is to make a movie featuring the two of them, said Billie. 

My dad is the best actor I’ve ever seen. And my mom can do all these voices and characters — she’s incredible. So I wish they’d had more recognition. I actually want to make a movie and put them in it — I’ve never told anyone that. 

Billie Eilish on Rolling Stone

You’ll never be able to measure your parents’ sacrifices

The love for a child is immeasurable. Some parents will sail the seven seas to put a smile on their child’s face or die trying. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t enough toxic or abusive families around to disprove this theory, but we should also acknowledge the vast majority of mothers and fathers only want the best for their children. Some will have their own way of expressing their goodwill, but most will make their sacrifices in their little way. 

Maggie and Patrick were thought to have spoiled Billie and Finneas with their industry perks, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The media and the public overestimated their fame, not knowing that they’ve fought tooth and nail to cultivate creativity in their children and lead them towards the arts. They could have just taken the easy way out and only remain focused on their basic necessities. Yet, they made it a mission to foster their talent and empower them to create beautiful, fulfilling art. We’ll never truly measure how much parents have given up for us, but we can at least show appreciation every step of the way.

When Shaq Overheard A Man Struggling To Purchase An Engagement Ring, He Did This

By | Food for thought, generosity, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, inspiring celebs, Inspiring Stories, sports, stories, uplifting news

Shaquille O’Neal is a very famous, accomplished, and wealthy man – but he recently showed yet again that what he’s truly rich in is generosity.

A true gem

Recently, the NBA superstar was at an Atlanta-area Zales store, where he actually has his own jewelry collection. That’s when he saw a man about to purchase an engagement ring – and took out his own credit card to pay for it. He told the story to NBA on TNT.

“I seen a guy come in — he was just so shy and he was saying, ‘Hey, how much do I owe to pay off my ring?’”


“And I was like, ‘How much is the ring?’ ” he said, and then stepped in to pay instead of the man at the counter.

Shaq then gave his card to the cashier, and shook the hand of the customer, who seemed kind of shocked at what was happening.

“I always get off 30 minutes before you come in here,” the cashier told Shaq, also excited at what they were witnessing.

An elite philanthropist

Shaq is known for his charitable actions and kindness to others. During the pandemic he bought a fan a computer at Best Buy. He also donated all the proceeds generated from his Super Bowl party in Miami to the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation as well as the families of the helicopter crash victims.

He be a legendary athlete, but he also seems to be a legendary kind of good guy.

Copy the play

Most of us aren’t as wealthy as Shaq, but there are other ways to follow his lead in the generosity department. Resources other than money, like time, expertise, love, and support could all greatly help someone in need. Just stay alert and willing, and you could be reaching Shaq levels of charity in no time.

More inspiring celebrities:

How Mariska Hargitay Fell For Her Co-Star—Not The One You Expect

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, stories

Over 21 years after the first episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered, Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni are still close friends. The actors co-starred for 12 years as the dynamic detective duo Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, before Meloni left in 2011 over a contract disagreement. Through it all, however, they’ve remained close, and fans got a long-awaited chance to see them reunite onscreen in a special episode of SVU, airing April 1, 2021, right before the premiere of the brand new spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime, in which Meloni came back to play Stabler again after a full decade. How’s all that for full circle?

The reunion, of course has breathed new life into some old burning questions that many fans had (nay, have) about the pair’s undeniable chemistry. It should be noted that as much as fans may have wanted the two to get together, Meloni has been happily married to his wife, artist Doris Sherman Williams since 1995, and that Hargitay fell for actor Peter Hermann (who she met when he guest starred on SVU), and the couple have been happily married since 2004. Meloni and Hargitay are both content and have their own families (hell, Hargitay is even godmother to Meloni’s daughter), so what’s with the enduring fascination, pray tell? Is it their friendship that’s misunderstood? Perhaps it’s the unspoken belief that men and women can’t have strong chemistry and be friends rather than romantic partners? 

Mariska and Christopher talk openly about their relationship

Today, Meloni, 59, and Hargitay, 57, still spirited as ever, decided to tickle fans’ expectations in advance of their on-screen reunion. To this day, the pair contend that they felt an instant bond upon meeting, with Meloni describing how they “walked into the screen test…and we get up onstage in front of all the suits, and we’re just so engaged,” and Hargitay recalled:

I walked in, saw him, and I went, ‘That guy. That’s the guy.’ It went deep, very fast…I won’t say that I fully understood it, but I knew that meeting him was important and life-changing. My father, my husband, [Law & Order creator] Dick Wolf and Chris are the four pillar men in my life. And that happened early.

When the pair got back together to film their reunion episode after a whole decade, it’s hardly surprising that everything clicked right back into place—almost as though no time had passed at all. “It was this thing that I had really dreamed about,” says Hargitay. “It was Pavlovian,” says Meloni. “Ring that bell, and you get right into Stabler and Benson.” 

“We know each other and mess around socially and all that,” he says, “but when we got down and cameras were rolling … it was such a seamless, effortless endeavor. It was great.”

“There was so much shorthand between us, which all goes back to the trust we have,” Hargitay says. “He’s always made me feel like I could just jump off the ledge, the cliff, the bridge, and he would catch me, in so many ways, whether it was comedy or acting or friendship.”

Meloni and Hargitay have shared their most important milestones

Mariska Hargitay and her husband Peter Hermann Credit:
Patrick McMullan / Contributor

The pair have seen each other through many a life milestone and are still going strong.

Meloni, of course, was already married to his wife when SVU began, and Hargitay remembers “The birth of his first child and being privy to his amazing, solid relationship with his wife, before I had that for myself — I think that Chris and Sherman played a really big role for me, to see this really stable couple that loved each other.” 

A few years later, Meloni watched Hargitay fall for her future husband Peter Hermann, who she now has three kids with. Meloni recently described watching them meet, and knowing beyond a doubt that they’d end up together, despite obstacles: 

“He’s on the show as a guest actor, and I’m looking at her, looking at him, and I’m seeing how she’s acting, right? I know her, and I’m like, ‘Oh boy. Here we go.’ And she’s just, ‘Tee-hee, tee-hee, I don’t even care about him or anything like that.’…Sure enough, they start dating…After they’d been dating a long time, she came in one day and she was crushed. She goes, ‘Peter and I had a really deep, long conversation. We cried, and I just don’t think it’s going to work.’”

And she’s sobbing, and the whole time, the [thought] bubble in my head was just: ‘You’ll be married within five months.’ That’s all I was thinking. I knew. I knew.

Christopher Meloni

Ever have a friend know you better than you know yourself? If that’s not intimate friendship, I don’t know what is. 

Friendship, a many splendored thing

To anyone out there who still wishes Hargitay had fallen for Meloni, and that they had shrugged off their respective romances for one another, think again. Hargitay did not fall for the wrong co-star. On the contrary, she’s lucky enough to have both a great love and an infallible friendship with a man. If you’re among those who limit friendship to same-sex relationships (or judge others for not doing so), it may be time to reexamine your reasons for that, your fears—and maybe even those of your spouse/partner. It never hurts to reevaluate those inner settings of ours.

Bottom line: it’s time we all celebrate Hargitay and Meloni for what they do have: a truly incredible friendship. As a society, we have endless reference points for what romantic love should look like, but not so many for what friendship should look like—particularly ones between opposite genders. But we should. In the interest of healthy, well-rounded relationships, I say it’s time to create new reference points for friendship. Reference 1: Hargitay and Meloni. 

Hargitay talks about how before she met her husband, Meloni being in a very strong relationship with his wife made her “feel even safer with him, as opposed to: ‘Great guy — but single.’ Or ‘Great guy — except for his romantic life.’ Instead, he’s this man who is as solid as a rock, and who is that rock in his relationship. And I got to lean on it when I needed to. It was like family.”

Meloni credits their long-lasting friendship to one thing. “It’s simple,” he says. “We have each other’s back.”