The media, and its enablers, the people who love to consume scandalous content, have time and again led full-blown campaigns against famous women. The women who reached to the top with sheer hard work, only to be pulled down by those holding the cameras, those writing headlines, and those sitting in front of the camera reading those headlines.

Huffington Post

Some of these women braved through, some could not. Here, we look at women celebrities vilified by the media over the years and the effect insensitive public profiling had on them. 

1. Rhea Chakraborty

After actor Sushant Singh Rajput died due to suicide, the nation went on a hunt for his “murderer”, which is a wild concept to grasp. Anyway, without any proof, people went after the easiest target, Rhea Chakraborty. She was his partner at the time and the entire media, supported by millions of Sushant “fans”, started vilifying her for “killing” Sushant, for providing him with drugs as if he had no choice in the matter, keeping him away from medicines, so on and so forth. 

She was even sent to jail in connection with the drug case. Mind you, the case did not have any legal holding so it was obvious that she will be released; but the woman spent days in jail that will never come back; because in our society, behind every tragedy involving a man, there is a woman and she must be punished for it. 

2. Rekha

In a somewhat similar turn of events, Rekha was called names by her in-laws, was not given work, and labeled a “daayan” after her husband died due to suicide. The fact that she was also going through a deeply personal loss was not taken into account and the media covered her “story” with every possible sadistic angle.

Gujrati Bhasha

“What led him to take this step?” ‘Was he not happy with Rekha?” “What did Rekha do?”. These questions were asked left, right and centre. It should be noted here that the stories of her alleged “relationship” with Amitabh Bachchan had been written about for years at that point and people continue to cash on them to date.

Back To Bollywood

3. Parveen Babi

Today, if you search for Parveen Babi’s name on the internet, you will find at least one story about her relationship with Mahesh Bhatt and how she went “crazy” on him. There are numerous versions of it. Because that is apparently what sells, that is apparently what people want to read: How her behaviour affected a man. Not many seem to be questioning how her mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia, affected HER.


In her last days, she couldn’t get up from the bed as she was ridden with diseases, and was found dead in her apartment allegedly due to hunger. In her own apartment, because she could not move. Imagine the extent to which she was villainised and isolated. Her life was sensationalised without an ounce of sensitivity and today that she is no more, have learned anything? It doesn’t appear to be so.  

Bollywood Bubble

4. Jiah Khan

Jiah Khan died due to suicide at the age of 25 and the case was followed by a high-profile investigation involving an alleged suicide letter and her then-boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi. Sooraj has been abetted now, but this is not about him. You’ll still find people talking about her alleged relationship with Mahesh Bhatt, there are photos of them together which the news channels run for the lamest of reasons (sometimes none at all), and her character is assassinated to date.

The Times

“She was pregnant apparently – pregnant without marriage”, “Did she have a miscarriage or an abortion”, “Is that why she ended her life?”, “What happens to girls when they find fame?”.

What happens to girls when they find fame? They are not given the dignity that every human deserves, even after their demise, that is what happens. 

Brown Girl Magazine

5. Princess Diana

From the day her marriage to Prince Charles was announced, there was nothing Princess Diana could do without scrutiny. Whether it was something she did or something that happened to her, it was looked at from a scandalous gaze. Headlines after headlines were printed about Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles and how unhappy it made Diana. 


Don’t get it wrong, no one cared about her sentiments, they just wanted to document the unhappiness, the anxiety, the eating disorder, the alleged attempt at taking revenge which very well may not even have crossed her mind, the kids, the rebellion against the royal household, the reported affair…her death. I’d like to believe that no one thought she will meet an accident trying to run away from the media but I will also not rule out the possibility that it did not occur to anyone that it is possible for something like that to happen. They didn’t give a damn. They just wanted the photos.

The Daily Beast

6. Britney Spears 

Today, we are all hearing about the #FreeBritneyMovement and it is more complicated than one would imagine. But the coverage of every aspect of Britney Spears’ life just shows the limits to which people can go for a snap. There is a photo of Britney, crying inside a restaurant with her baby in her arms, as the paparazzi continue to take pictures of her from the outside. 

Vanity Fair

She reportedly asked the owner of the restaurant to give her a place to hide but they didn’t. Look at these pictures and tell me if you’d call them anything other than brutal. Her relationship with Justin Timberlake and the fall-out was also extensively covered, and somehow, she was made the villain. As if the man had nothing to do with anything. The media let her down and that’s a blot it will always have to live with. 


7. Anushka Sharma

One of the most over-used phrases in the history of cricket, demands that we call it a “religion in India”. That should sort of put us to shame, because if your religion allows you to bully a woman, an achiever in her own right, then that leaves a lot to be introspected. No matter what her husband and the captain of the Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli, does on the field, it inevitably gets linked to Anushka. 

Her name starts trending as soon as something goes wrong on the field, and the vilest example of it was the first Test between India and Australia, after which Virat had to return home for the birth of their first child. You can imagine the kind of jokes that were made about her. That she “asked” Virat to come early and that is why he lost. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we treat women.

8. Serena Williams

God forbid Serena Williams decides to fight with the chair umpire. God forbid. Because people, even some of the experts of the game, jump straight to her character. I do not mind discussing the legitimacy of her argument but let’s play by the rules, let’s stick to the technicalities of tennis. Why do we have to make it about her ‘hormones’? 

She is the effing greatest of all time. In many, many ways she has done more for the game than Federer and Nadal, she has more GS singles titles to her name, she has uplifted women, she has uplifted her race – so even if you do not agree with what she has to say, to call her “hormonal” and a “sore loser”, that requires some guts – which if you spared for all the racket-breaking, abusing-on-the-field, holding-each-other-by-the-collar male athletes, sports would be much more pleasant to watch.

9. Meghan Markle

Meghan and her husband Prince Harry decided to break ties with the royal household, and as you’d expect, the media went berserk. It was a grim reminder of what had happened to Princess Diana. She is obviously now a “home-breaker”, someone who snatched a son from his mother because she did not like the rules of the household and wanted to live freely.

Yes, you’d bet she wants to live freely, and while we are on this topic, her husband is not a child she grabbed by the finger and dragged outside the palace. They made the choice together and it’s something very personal to the couple. Since it seems to be incomprehensible to some, I’ll put it in words: What they do with their lives is none of your business.  

10. Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie

There is no winning with the media, is there? You’re either a woman who couldn’t keep her husband or a woman who “snatched” him. And the all-knowing, intelligent, wisest-of-all, man – suddenly becomes a puppet in the hands of these women. Poor thing! Aniston and Angelina have been pitched against each other so much, it’s disgusting to watch. 


Aniston was earlier the woman Brad Pitt “left behind” and now that he is divorced from Angelina, Aniston has had her “revenge”. And she won’t take him because she has pride. Do you see this absurd form of fanfiction? It is so removed from reality, it’s almost unbelievable. Not to mention, vicious but who cares about that?!

11. Sridevi and Mona Kapoor

Much like Angelina and Jennifer, there is a story in our own backyard. That of Boney Kapoor, Sridevi, and Mona Kapoor. The producer, who was initially married to Mona, broke off his relationship With her to tie the knot with Sridevi. And from that point, the narrative became all about the two women.

My Nation

Their fights, mostly fictional, made headlines back in the day and Sridevi, though revered as an actor could never get rid of the title of a “home-wrecker”. Even after her demise. People went as far as saying that it was “her bad karma that came back to bite her”. And of course, we all remember the disgusting ‘recreations’ of how she could have died because apparently it’s media’s job to find that out.

India Today

Patriarchy makes women’s success a sin, and we have witnessed many of them living in hell for the same. This is what the world has become.