'Taylor Momsen's Tampon String' was a viral tabloid story in 2009, but the Gossip Girl star was only 16 when she was upskirted while performing onstage.
Taylor Momsen had a markedly unrelatable upbringing. A child star, famous for her role as Cindy Lou in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, she earned the role of Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl at just 14 years old. By 16, she had signed a record deal with Interscope and was touring with her band, The Pretty Reckless. But it was her goth image that stole headlines in the mid-noughties, the black smokey eye and grunge leather style a dramatic departure from the sweet, blue-eyed blonde fans had watched growing up.
Naturally, the tabloids had a field day with it. According to showbiz bloggers, Taylor Momsen’s love of black eyeliner and rock music as a teenager was evidence of her descent into darkness. Headlines slut-shamed her mini outfits, called out her out for ‘attention seeking’ on stage, suspicious sources claimed she had become brattish and was ungrateful for her renewed Gossip Girl fame – it was a true misogyny trifecta.
Perhaps that insidious set up of her reputational decline was why no one was outraged when, at aged 16, Momsen was upskirted by a photographer while performing onstage. The pictures went viral online before viral was even ‘a thing’, namely because Momsen’s tampon string was visible in the picture. Plastered all over gossip blogs and showbiz sites, the pictures followed Momsen throughout her career – consistently appearing on Google whenever you searched for the star with 'Taylor Momsen's tampon string' a breakout key search term for her for years.
Now, she’s opened up about how the incident made her feel, on podcast Podcrushed hosted by Penn Badgley, Nava Kavelin, and Sophie Ansari, describing the ordeal as incredibly ‘embarrassing’.
Thankfully, the reaction to Momsen retelling the story now is very different to the mid-noughties. Outrage has since ensued on TikTok. 'The way tabloids treated young women and girls was so despicable, so violent and gross,' one person commented. 'It just kept getting worse and worse,’ another said. ‘Taylor Momsen is incredible.’
For those that remember the incident, it’s certainly cathartic to see how much times have changed that the response to Momsen sharing the story is appropriate horror – but it shouldn’t have taken all this time for her to be vindicated in her anger.