After Kasia Lenhardt’s death: The business of humiliation – culture


It’s dirty in the boulevard. “Separation mud battle!” Was the title of the “Bild” newspaper on February 2, when a text about the separation of FC Bayern star Jérôme Boateng and former “Germany’s Next Top Model” candidate Kasia Lehnhardt was called. “Now it’s getting really dirty with the Boateng separation. Kasia’s private messages to Boateng’s ex, ”was another headline.

 The  32-year-old soccer star gave the newspaper an interview in which he made serious allegations against his ex-girlfriend, with whom he dated for about a year. You have destroyed the relationship with the mother of his children, put him under pressure and also an alcohol problem.

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“Bild” publishes all of this, and Lenhardt’s “formerly best friend” also let the paper have its say. Lenhardt is mostly just the “Boateng-Ex”, her tattoos and cosmetic surgery are dissected in numerous articles.

© The  “Bild” message from February 10, however, is emphatically sober. “Model Kasia Lehnhardt is dead,” it says. “©

 The  young woman died on Tuesday at the age of 25, leaving behind a son.” Kasia Lenhardt’s family confirmed her death on Wednesday. According to the Berlin police, there were no signs of third-party debt.

“Mobbing kills,” says a friend of Lenhardt’s

We do not know the exact circumstances and causes of Lenhardt’s death. Certainly not only the “Bild” newspaper, the numerous celebrity blogs or the thousands of malicious to hateful comments on Instagram are responsible, perhaps they even played no role at all. Nonetheless, the young woman’s alleged suicide sparked a discussion about cyberbullying and the tabloid press.


 The  model Sara Kulka, who was friends with Lenhardt, denounces a scenario on Instagram in which a person is pelted with mud until they go under. “Bullying kills,” she writes.

A new dimension of humiliation

It has been a tradition since ancient times that women are showered with hatred, malice and misogyny in public and humiliated in public. With the advent of the internet, the problem has taken on a new dimension. ©

 The  patterns are often similar. A prominent example that is currently causing a stir in the United States is the Britney Spears case.

On February 5, the New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears” premiered. ©

 The  film, which can only be seen on the US streaming service Hulu so far, shows the rise and fall of the pop star. And it makes it clear how decisive a man’s statements were for Britney Spear’s loss of image.

Britney Spears in 2019 at a film premiere.Photo: AFP / Valerie Macon

When Spears’ relationship with pop star Justin Timberlake ended in the early 1990s, he chatted in numerous interviews that he had sex with Spears, so she was no longer a virgin, as previously claimed. In a song and the accompanying video, he suggests that she cheated on him. This Friday, Timberlake apologized for his actions on Instagram.


 The  narrative is picked up by the media and the public. “You did something that brought him so much pain and suffering. What did you do? ”TV host Diane Sawyer asks a tearful Spears. She was then 21 years old.


 The  beginning of a downward spiral


 The  breakup is the beginning of a downward spiral. Spears is no longer perceived as the innocent all-American girl, but as a slut who cheated on her boyfriend. It is the classic dichotomy of Madonna and Magdalena, angel and whore that women are still trapped in.


 The  breakup is the beginning of a downward spiral. “Framing Britney” impressively shows the nefariousness, ruthlessness and misogyny with which the media and the public treated a young woman. An army of paparazzi are constantly on Spears’ heels, with gossip websites and magazines posting humiliating images.

Justin Timberlake und Britney Spears.Photo: AFP

Spears is pursued non-stop. She never said that she wanted to be left alone, says a paparazzo in the documentary. He made a lot of money with photos of a bald Spears attacking his car with an umbrella. Spears tried several times that night to see her children, who had just been removed from custody. Her ex-husband turned her away at the door. A video from the night clearly shows what Spears tells the paparazzi: “Leave me alone.”

Mental health as a late night joke

Even Spear’s forced admission to a psychiatric clinic became a media event at the time. ©

 The  star’s mental health was not an issue, at most as a joke on late night shows. A particularly disturbing scene from the film shows the US version of the “family duel” from the noughties. Spears is in his mid-twenties at this point.

“Name something that Britney Spears lost,” says the host. “Your husband,” calls out a fellow player. “Your hair,” says a second. “Your mind,” says a third teammate triumphantly. ©

 The  audience hoots and applauds.

Has MeToo led to more compassion?

Today we are further, one would like to think. After all, many young stars like Ariana Grande or Billie Eilish speak openly about their psychological problems and even suicide attempts; the topic is also much more present in the media. And the


 The  MeToo movement has resulted in the arrest or retirement of some key men in the film business, new guidelines, and increased awareness of misogynist images. But have these movements also reached the world of the boulevard? Did they really lead to more compassion and consideration on social media?

Monica Lewinsky als „Patient Zero“

“In 1998 I lost my reputation and my dignity. I lost almost everything. And I almost lost my life, ”says Monica Lewinsky in a 2015 Ted Talk. In it, she describes herself as“ Patient Zero ”worldwide, mass shamings. As a 22-year-old intern in the White House, she fell in love with her boss – the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton. ©

 The  affair came to light two years later. At the time, she was also accused of having destroyed a family, of being a “home wrecker”.

Monica Lewinsky now speaks publicly about her experiences.Photo: dpa / Gorm Kallesstad


 The  public humiliation was so painful that she could hardly bear it, says Lewinsky. Her mother watched her bed every night for a while and only let her shower with the bathroom door open. “My parents were afraid that I would be humiliated to death,” says Lewinsky. “Literally.”

Shame as industry, clicks as currency

Lewinsky describes the level of bullying made possible by the Internet. “Millions of people can hurt you with their words,” she says. “That’s a lot of pain.” She calls for a change in culture. It takes a cultural revolution, more compassion and empathy online to end the mass bullying. “Public humiliation is a commodity, shame is an industry. What is the currency? Clicks, ”says Lewinsky.

Kasia Lenhardt at the Bunte New Faces Awards 2018 in Berlin.Foto: imago images/Future Image


 The  case of Kasia Lenhardt shows that the problem seems to have gotten worse since then. ©

 The  tabloid media and social media live on each other like parasites. ©

 The  tabloid press makes stories out of Instagram posts by stars and starlets, which in turn provoke reactions from both the actors and the numerous readers who set out to insult these stars online.

Negative effects are potentiated, misogynistic images such as that of the “home wreck” are reproduced, be it thoughtlessly or consciously, in order to generate clicks. ©

 The  public shaming of young women is still a guarantee of making money. Kasia Lenhardt wrote her last Instagram post on February 3rd. “You have to draw a line here,” she wrote, and then another word. “Enough”.

Do you have dark thoughts? If you are not doing well or are thinking of killing yourself, try talking about it to other people. ©

 The y can be friends or relatives. However, there are also a large number of offers of help that you can contact.


 The  Berlin crisis service is anonymous, free and available around the clock. ©

 The  phone numbers vary by district, the correct extension for your district can be found here.

Furthermore, the telephone counseling service offers a help chat. ©

 The re is also the option of email advice. Registration takes place – also anonymously and free of charge – on the website. Information can be found at:

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