More than 11 million people follow Chrissy Teigen — and that's just on Twitter. (Another 24 million follow along on Instagram!) Her reach is undeniable, and she doesn't take that lightly. Yet while Teigen is known for being vocal online, sometimes she doesn't exactly feel up for enduring the internet's onslaught of opinions — and in those instances, she takes her activism elsewhere.
There can be an exhausting level of expectations placed on celebrities, something she acknowledged in a tweet on May 17. "People really try to get you to speak out about every single thing, or they'll tell you if you do speak out about something that there's something else out there that's more important," Teigen explains to Bustle when we chat at NYC's Ritz-Carlton hotel, as she promotes Pepsi's newly launched #Summergram campaign. "So you can't really ever win, and for me, that's a frustrating thing."
While on the one hand she wants her Instagram and Twitter to be a likable, "happy place," she also understands the gravity of the political landscape. "There's some crazy things happening in the world that you want to be able to address," Teigen says. But as far as tackling every trending hashtag, she explains, "Sometimes for me, I'm just not mentally prepared to take on that stress, maybe that day, that week."
It can feel like a lose-lose scenario. If you talk about controversial topics, there are people who will be unhappy; yet if you don't, you'll spark backlash for staying silent. "It's just something I'm still getting used to," she says, adding she's felt like this for as long as she's been online. "I'm never nervous about the reaction to what I say. It's more like, I know what's coming, but am I ready to read all of it?"
And when the news cycle feels especially daunting, it can be tough to find the right words or know exactly how best to help. But to assume she doesn't care, just because she hasn't tweeted about something, is far from the truth. With regards to Alabama's recent abortion bill, Teigen recalls, "I looked at John [Legend] the other day and I said... 'Everything that's happening in Alabama and women's rights being stripped away, you wonder, what can you do? Like what can I say?'"
Given how publicly the couple has spoken out against harmful policies in the past, she adds, "Obviously everyone probably knows my beliefs. I don't know what I can say to change anything, and I think a lot of people feel that way." Their solution? "John and I like to take it a step further and connect directly with the ACLU, or connect directly with people that are being affected in Alabama, and make our donations that way," she says. (For example, Teigen and Legend donated $72,000 per family member to the ACLU on Trump's 72nd birthday last year.)
While she acknowledges the power of having conversations and the ease of retweeting, she admits, "I don't think a hashtag is going to fix what's happening." That's why she and Legend try to "balance letting our opinions [be] known to other people, but still actively doing something about it, because it's easy to retweet a hashtag, but it goes so far beyond that, so we try to take it to the next level."
Being a public figure doesn't mean someone has to share every aspect of their life online. And for as much as people think they know Teigen, she reveals, "I'm very much an introvert off the internet," even though she's "constantly on it." "When I'm at home, I'm very, very much at home. Very present with the kids, my husband, cooking obviously."
With her busy schedule and all that's going on in the world, she makes sure to take time for unwinding. In perhaps the most relatable sentence ever uttered, Teigen says, "I feel like I can never get enough sleep, so I really relish in just crawling into bed and putting The Office on." Since she's seen the series a "million times," she doesn't have to pay close attention. "Just laying there and cuddling John and having the bulldog in the bed, that's my happy place."
Even if the internet isn't always a happy place, it's clear Teigen's trying to use her platform the best she can. And sometimes, that simply means taking action off-screen.