Monday, May 20

Swifties Delight, Then Recoil, From Travis Kelce’s Old Tweets

For celebrities riding a wave of fame, it may well be a rite of passage: new scrutiny to old social media posts. This week, it was Travis Kelce’s turn, as fans of Taylor Swift took delight in mundane tweets by her apparent boyfriend — now an football star — from his early 20s.

Then internet sleuths turned up other tweets — since deleted — that proved to be more troubling. They showed the future Kansas City Chiefs player commenting about “ugly girls” and “fat people.” Another included a slur that people with disabilities have long urged people to avoid.

At first, Swift’s fans found Kelce’s streams of consciousness from more than a decade ago on Twitter to be relatable, hilarious and even endearing.

In one tweet from 2010 that now has over 16,000 likes Kelce posted that he didn’t want to work, instead preferring to “sleep in my bed and do nothing with my life!!”

In another from 2011, he described feeding bread to a “squirle” and how the animal “straight smashed all of it!!!! I had no idea they ate bread like that!! Haha #crazy.” Users on the former Twitter, now rebranded X, have liked that one more than 30,000 times.

It briefly seemed like the two-time Super Bowl champion was “experiencing the most positive possible version of the internet digging up your tweets from 2011,” wrote Alison Herman, a critic for Variety.

But later in the week the deleted tweets surfaced in Reddit threads and were authenticated by the fact-checking site Snopes.

“As a man, You have something wrong with you if your going for girls that weigh more then you!!” Kelce wrote in on post in 2010. In another, he joked about being “attacked by ugly girls.”

Screenshots of those posts have circulated on X and Reddit, and archived versions of them still linger. But as of Thursday, they appeared to have been deleted from his page.

The Kansas City Chiefs did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

In the social media age, celebrities have grappled with the re-emergence of past social media posts, which may be at odds with the image they project.

Chrissy Teigen, the model and cookbook author, had a reputation for being funny online, for instance. But in 2021, some of her posts from the 2010s were spotlighted. In them, she repeatedly harassed Courtney Stodden, a model who was 16 at the time.

Older posts by Iggy Azalea and Kevin Hart have also gotten them into trouble. Azalea, an Australian rapper known for her song “Fancy,” pulled out of an appearance at Pittsburgh Pride in 2015 after her homophobic and racist posts from the early 2010s were surfaced. Hart, the comedian and actor, stepped down as the host of the 2019 Oscars after his homophobic posts from around 2011 surfaced.

Fans probably did so much sleuthing around Kelce to begin with because of “the precedent of the last couple of people that Taylor has dated,” said Bobbi Miller, a culture critic and the host of the pop culture podcast “The Afternoon Special.”

The critic pointed in particular to Matty Healy, an English singer-songwriter who has been criticized over past racist and sexist comments.

One fan wrote that his posts represented a simpler time on that platform: “travis kelce’s old tweets perfectly encapsulate what twitter once was.”

“Dudes expressing themselves without fear of judgement during study hall.”

But not long after fans were put off by posts they called misogynistic and fatphobic, in which he said fat people falling was like “slow motion entertainment,” and said he was judging passers-by for being “ugly, fat, funny looking, sexy.”

Those posts have spurred debate online over how critically Kelce should be judged for content he shared more than a decade ago. Pop culture aficionados were also surprised that the intense focus on the pair’s apparent budding relationship had not led him to be more careful in scrubbing his account.

Users found some more minor faults, from spelling errors he made in the posts to their lack of sophistication compared to lyrics written by Swift, a 12-time Grammy winner whose Eras Tour this year shattered concert records.

Fans began speculating that the two were dating not long before Swift started to appear at a few of Kelce’s football games in September. The two have also made frequent appearances together, including on “Saturday Night Live” and at Swift’s Buenos Aires concert where she changed the lyrics of a song seemingly to reference him.