Julia Roberts never imagined that a family photo could garner such a harsh response.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey for Harper’s Bazaar, the iconic actresses opened up about her unpleasant experience with social media. In July, Julia’s niece, actress Emma Roberts, shared a photo of the two of them online.
As Julia explains, Emma had spent the night and the next morning, they got up and played cards while having tea. Emma later posted the photo on her Instagram with the simple caption, “Card games with Aunt Julia.” But the stripped-down weekend version of Julia Roberts prompted some nasty comments.
A few asked, “What happened to pretty woman?” Several commented on the effects of age on the 50-year-old’s complexion. Another commenter wrote, “She went from looking like a horse to looking like [Dobby].” And one simply said, “Damnnnn Julia is old.”
However, there were also those who urged the actress not to take the criticism to heart — like the commenter who wrote, “Be proud of your natural beauty. Better than many colleagues who don’t accept to get old, up to the point we don’t even recognize them anymore. It’s not a wrinkle or a silly comment that can fade your wonderful smile.”
The negative comments didn’t escape Julia’s notice. She told Bazaar about, “the number of people who felt absolutely required to talk about how terrible I looked in the picture — that I’m not aging well, that I look like a man, why would she even post a picture like this when I look that terrible!”
Though some might expect that a career in Hollywood would have prepared Julia for the negativity, she admitted that even she was surprised by her own reaction:
“I was amazed at how that made me feel. I’m a 50-year-old woman and I know who I am, and still my feelings got hurt. I was sad that people couldn’t see the point of it, the sweetness of it, the absolute shining joy of that photo. I thought, ‘What if I was 15?'”
The experience gave her an insight into what it’s like to be a young person growing up in the age of social media. And as a mother herself, that made her grateful for the comments, even the negative ones:
“I was so happy that happened because I had this whole new glimpse into a way of living that I didn’t get at all. You have to go through things to understand them, and this was just a little paper cut of what can really go on with social media.”
Roberts denies that she has “mastered” any work-life balance as a working mother. She told Winfrey that as a woman, it’s easy to, “fall into this place where we feel like it’s our responsibility to give everything, give and give and give.” However, she has learned that there’s nothing wrong with asking a spouse, friend, or one of the kids for help.
Moreover, she’s willing to acknowledge that she can’t understand everything her children are going through: “Danny and I really don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager today. Sometimes my kids ask me things, and I just say to them, ‘I’m going to say no, and I’m going to look into it because I don’t even know what we’re talking about.'”
What’s more, she doubts her children will ever really understand her fame as an actress. But that’s just as well. As she told Winfrey, they’re never going to sit down as a family and watch “Pretty Woman.” Though she could imagine a family viewing of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” or maybe “Steel Magnolias.”