And I know, that doesn’t sound particularly positive.
As a kid, the 1998 of ‘The Parent Trap’, starring Lindsay Lohan, was my absolute favourite movie. Sure, it didn’t help that I was obsessed with twins at the time (my favourite show was ‘Two of a Kind’, starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), but when I saw The Parent Trap on weekend daytime television for the first time, I was hooked. Hallie and Annie were my favourite people to exist, full stop. I went to sleep wishing I was Hallie (our names are very similar, although in retrospect I have much more in common with Annie. I mean, I am British). I would dream of going to Camp Walden and seeing her there - my spitting image. I was never sure what we’d be doing when I met her (I’ve never been to camp and I don’t know how to fence) but when I saw her, that was that. It was a life-changing moment, played out every night in my head.
After being so initially obsessed with the twins, you can imagine my surprise upon learning that my dream world companion was actually just one eleven year old girl - a girl named Lindsay Lohan. Everyone else was shocked too: but whilst they were shocked at the young Linday’s talent, I was just surprised that my ginger companions were one, not two. From that day forward, nine-year-old me decided I would love Lindsay Lohan until the day I died.
You’re probably not surprised when I tell you that this didn’t last for very long. After watching the Lohan 2003 remake of Freaky Friday, I remember declaring to my mother and my best friend at the time that:
“I love Lindsay Lohan”.
The look on their faces was, well, it was something else. My mother winced, whilst my best friend uttered in a weary voice:
“isn’t she… in jail?”
My mother then told us about her ‘drink-driving’ incident, and swiftly left it there.
I still continued to watch and enjoy Lindsay Lohan films - mainly rewatches of The Parent Trap and Mean Girls - but it never felt the same, knowing the person that Lindsay had become. I slowly grew away from her. I remember seeing an episode of her MTV show ‘Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club’ whilst babysitting, a show about a beach club that she opened in Mykonos. It felt like seeing an old best friend and being surprised at how much they’d changed.
It wasn’t until recently when I learnt the extent of Lindsay’s fall. When I saw tales of multiple rehab trips, more court appearances than I could count, and multiple run-ins with the media, I learnt that Linday’s case was a lot more extreme than just one drink-driving incident. Lindsay was, and still continues to be, a victim - one of childhood stardom and the press. Scrutiny at such a young age, following claims of being a ‘diva’ (whatever that really means), quarrels with Hillary Duff, and excessive weight fluctuation pushed Lindsay unnecessarily further and further down until she was beyond help. Headlines such as: TEENS GONE WILD!: OLDER MEN, ALL-NIGHT PARTYING, EXTREME PDA. JUST HOW OUT OF CONTROL ARE HOLLYWOOD’S SEXY in US weekly (2004), after going clubbing with other Disney stars. HILARY VS. LINDSAY: BLOEDONJE in Breakout (2004), after the pair got into their infamous series of arguments. They continue: SMASHED: LIGHTS OUT FOR LOHAN AFTER DUI BUST in the New York Post (2007), DESTROYING HER LITTLE SISTER: LINDSAY LOHAN EXPOSES ALI TO DRUGS, DIET PILLS, PLASTIC SURGERY. SHAME ON LINDSAY! in Life & Style (2009), LINDSAY WASTED AGAIN in Star (2011), and LINDSAY’S SHOCKING LIST: 36 FAMOUS LOVERS EXPOSED in InTouch (2014), after she left a list of people she had been with in a hotel she had stayed in. This one, however, in my opinion, the worst:
LINDSAY HITS ROCK BOTTOM: SHE’S ONLY 23 - LOOKS 40! Star (2009)
SHE PASSES OUT IN PARIS!
DEADLY DIET OF VODKA, COCAINE, AND PILES OF PRESCRIPTION PILLS
FRIENDS: ‘YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!’
The first of these headlines came out 6 years after she starred in the Parent Trap - when Lindsay was 17 years old - and this was merely the beginning of Lindsay’s exposure to the public eye. Evidently, she was abused and exploited by the tabloids. They exposed her secrets and her lowest moments for their gain, pushing her further and further down in the process, and, as a result, she lost her career, her family, her reputation and her livelihood.
It should be no surprise that Lindsay was not the only woman who was, and still is, victim to this. ‘Controversial’, ‘disagreeable’ women are constantly scrutinised in the media, for nothing but being themselves. Lindsay was portrayed as a ‘diva’ since she was a child: a self-important person who is temperamental and difficult to please. If a man portrayed these characteristics - if a man was confident in himself, easily bothered, and unsatisfied - would he have received the same backlash as Lindsay did throughout her entire career?
Whether Lindsay was a so-called ‘diva’ or not is an entirely different question when considering the environment she spent her formative years in. It’s really no secret that the world of Hollywood can be harsh for young children, to the point where many would even call it unethical. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been in the limelight pretty much since they were born. They have grown up with all eyes on them, spent their teenage years dealing with teenage emotions in front of a global audience. In 2004, at only age 17, rumours about Mary-Kate and eating disorders began circling - only perpetuated by Oprah, who asked for her clothing size on national TV. These rumours continued, even after the incident with Oprah, with this on the cover of Star (2007):
MARY KATE OLSEN 80LBS ANOREXIC AGAIN?: STICK THIN LEGS!
HER EATING COACH IS GONE!
SHE LOOKS SKINNIER THAN NICOLE RICHIE!
HEADING BACK TO REHAB?
The media treats these women as puppets in the spotlight, as play-things for them to use for clicks, attention, and ultimately for money. They squeeze content out of unconsenting girls and women, often pushing them to darknesses far beyond what I, for starters, can imagine. The worst bit is, we are encouraged to participate. We are tricked into the media’s lies, sucked into their drama as we read these women’s secrets - things that would stay deeply private if the women were not in the position they were. It is important to notice this as victims of the press speak out, including Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen twins, as well as celebrities like Britney Spears and Meghan Markle. Their private lives are not our business because we know their names.
Lindsay Lohan is not my childhood hero because of her acting abilities (although they were extensive) or because she was my childhood friend. Lindsay Lohan is a symptom and a symbol of the exploitation of women and girls in the media for money. Lindsay Lohan is my childhood hero.
Previously published in The Daily Drunk.
Holly Zijderveld (she/her) is currently based in the UK. When she's not writing or running her own lit journal, you can find her watching too many films, playing Bach, and thinking about the way the light hit that one very specific bit of water. You can find her @hollyzijderveld on Instagram and Twitter.