Why would anyone hate Anne Hathaway?

Since her debut in The Princess Diaries, she has become one of the most accomplished and cherished figures in cinema. Whether it’s due to her effortless charisma, extraordinary acting abilities, good-humored demeanor, or natural thoughtfulness, she continues to impress year in, year out. 

Yet, somewhere along the way, the tide turned against her, and she became subject to widespread hatred, annoyance, and judgment. There’s actually no rhyme or reason for the antagonism, yet audiences still singled her out as someone they could band together to loathe and, in essence, bully. Something about her public presence just rubbed people the wrong way, and so they decided to rally against her.

Though we might be ten years removed from the peak of this phenomenon, it’s still worth examining where it all went so wrong for Anne Hathaway and what it signals about our own behavior:

Why did Anne Hathaway rub people the wrong way?

It all started with a notorious, degrading turn as the co-host of the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011. Though it’s universally acknowledged at this point that James Franco was the one to blame for the dreadful affair, Anne’s involvement did send her crashing into disrepute. However, the crux of the hostility developed a few years later when Anne started winning a slew of awards for her transformative performance as Fantine in the 2012 musical drama Les Misérables

There’s no doubt Oscar season is long, excruciating, and demanding, especially with the pressures the contenders face in being their charming, most perfect selves. Anne Hathaway didn’t put a foot wrong during the campaign, but her earnest, deeply feminine, and enthusiastic personality managed to aggravate the masses nonetheless. As she collected trophies one after the other, the keyboard warriors sprung into action and started implementing an unofficial smear campaign against the actress. They went so far as to create a name for themselves: the Hathahaters. 

Alexis Rhiannon, a gossip blogger on Crushable, described Anne as “not a real person.” A New Yorker writer said she was “annoying.” The San Francisco Chronicle voted Anne as the ‘The Most Annoying Celebrity of 2013.’ You don’t have to look too far to see the flurry of horrid reactions that surfaced in the wake of Anne’s win for Best Supporting Actress. 

Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep

I did have my monster out there, I did have the internet turn on me and hate me and it was like a whole big thing […] You can be incredibly empowered because of those things. So I guess what I’d say is when the bad s**t happens, don’t fear it — just go with it, flow with it

Anne Hathaway to The Sun

It was relentless and, frankly, baffling. Anne is never one to instigate an ugly beef with a co-star, take part in a controversial project, or say something outrageous for attention; she just goes about her day while being unapologetically herself — which is no piece of cake, to begin with. 

Sarah Nicole Prickett, a culture commentator, posited that Anne’s display is indicative of a particular type of girl that everyone associates with privilege and pretension, the “princessy, theater-schooled girls who have no game and no sex appeal and eat raisins for dessert”; whereas Ann Friedman of The Cut suggested that people project their insecurities onto Anne because they can’t seem to relate to her supposed ‘perfect’ profile. She allegedly doesn’t have the same “down-to-earth delivery” as someone like Jennifer Lawrence, argues Friedman. Anne is “charming, but not funny,” and therefore, a sizeable contingent of people feel justified to pile on her for simply flourishing in her chosen field. 

It’s telling that someone as rosy, bright, and optimistic as Anne Hathaway gets ridiculed for the qualities that are otherwise encouraged among young women. It speaks to the impossible, ever-fluctuating expectations placed upon women and the consequences of swinging too hard in one direction. 

How did the hate make Anne feel more “empowered?”

Anne, for her part, has been forthcoming about her insecurities and how they were exacerbated by this onslaught of criticism. In 2013, following her win at the Oscars, the Ocean’s 8 actress commented about the divisive reaction to her acceptance speech, saying that it does “get to her,” but she tries to remain focused on the positive rather than the negative. “The miracle of the universe is that, as far as they know, there’s 51 percent matter versus 49 percent anti-matter — things tip in the scale of the positive,” she said at the time. 

Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews

[the hate] was a really good thing for me personally.

Anne Hathaway

The mother-of-two opened up about the backlash a few years later and said that she doesn’t like to dredge up this specific chapter of her career. At first, she’d be “caught off-guard” by these tabloid narratives. She admitted that she hasn’t necessarily grown a “rhino skin” over the matter but that she sees it for what it is. She also isn’t too “eager” to discuss ‘Hathahaters’ in every interview and is ready to move past the rather demoralizing subject. 

Ultimately, she feels “empowered” by the entire situation; it taught her that sometimes you couldn’t control the conversation around you or about you. “And it was a really good thing for me personally,” she said. Her advice is that all you can do is roll with the punches and focus your priorities as if nothing happened. You cannot let haters take care of your self-esteem by any means, so it’s critical to continue being yourself come hell or high water. This doesn’t mean you won’t entertain change but that you don’t have to conform to the ups and downs of public opinion to feel worthy. Once you become fixated on winning everyone over, you invariably end up winning no one over, including yourself. 

Don’t judge others — look within

What’s perhaps a little bittersweet about this commotion is that Anne likely wouldn’t have faced the same level of resentment in today’s day and age. Not that everyone has become progressive out of nowhere, but there is a greater awareness and tolerance for celebrities and their distinct personas. There’s room for glass-half-full and the glass-half-empty; the cheerleader, the goth, and the band geek; the Jennifer Lawrence and the Anne Hathaway. Of course, controversies will occur as they do, but someone won’t, and shouldn’t, get crucified over nothing. 

We aren’t well-known figures like them, but everyone has come across rumors and perceptions of themselves that just don’t seem to make sense. You can’t judge a book by its cover; so if you find yourself spending a great deal of time creating assumptions about someone, it’s time to stop and look within. You can’t expect everyone to have thick skin, but you can move forward with empathy, understanding, and respect. 

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