Cara Delevingne's Most Controversial Moments

Before she tried her hand at being an actor, singer, and woman-about-town, Cara Delevingne was a massively-successful model, having walked for Chanel, Balmain, Victoria's Secret, and more. She has appeared on the cover of just about every fashion magazine in the industry, including, at the height of her fame, three Vogue covers in 18 months, per the Independent. The Cut even called her "the only truly modern supermodel" in 2014, positioning Delevingne as the heir to the lineage of legendary modeling names like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford. 

Still, her rise to the top of Hollywood has not been without controversy. The "Suicide Squad" star frequently makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, sparking conversation for her social media missteps and occasional theft of fashion slogans just as often as she is recognized for her now-iconic eyebrows and modeling prowess. "Every time I say something real, something I truly believe, something others may think of as controversial, something that makes people think and ask questions, I lose followers," she noted on Instagram after one particular round of backlash. 

Sometimes she's right and sometimes she's emphatically not, so take a look back at the outspoken model's most controversial moments and decide for yourself!

She criticized Coachella, but loved Beyoncé

Over the course of her long career in the industry, Beyoncé has had a number of moments that felt like, as she famously rapped, "stopped the world." One such moment: Beychella, the culture-shaking performance at the 2018 edition of the Coachella Music Festival, later chronicled in her self-directed Netflix documentary "Homecoming." Like many of us, Cara Delevingne was glued to that livestream, and when the confetti settled, she took to Instagram to share her thoughts with the world. "I am speechless. That performance made me burst into tears and sent shivers down my spine," she wrote, thanking Beyoncé for inspiring so many girls around the world. Relatable, right?

Her followers pounced, accusing Delevingne of hypocrisy; before the event, according to Billboard, Delevingne was open about her support for the #NoChella movement, which called on celebrities to boycott the fest over the owner's reported donations to anti-LGBTQ causes. Noting the negative comments on a post that was supposed to be about uplifting Beyoncé, Delevingne took to Instagram Stories (via Twitter) to clear up confusion. "I still refuse to go to a festival that is owned by someone who is anti lgbt and pro gun," she wrote. "I am allowed to shame that man and show my appreciation of an artist at the same time."

After the online kerfuffle, AEG, which owns Coachella, shared a statement about their donations, claiming they were inadvertent. Still, according to Billboard, the anti-LGBTQ donations have continued as of 2020.

Cara Delevingne's Jimmy Choo ad was ill-timed

2017 was a pivotal year for the culture; it saw the birth of the #MeToo movement thanks, in large part, to Ronan Farrow's exposé in The New Yorker of studio executive Harvey Weinstein, a man who evidently used his power to force impressionable actors to engage in sexual favors in exchange for film roles. Weinstein was ultimately convicted of sex crimes in 2020, and his conviction was upheld by a court two years later, according to The New York Times. Cara Delevingne was one of the women who came forward to discuss their own experiences with the super-producer; the "Paper Towns" star revealed on Instagram in 2017 that Weinstein had convinced her to follow him to his hotel room, had tried to get her to sleep with a woman in the room, and almost forced a kiss on her before she escaped. "I felt guilty as if I did something wrong," she remembered.

The model starred in an ad for Jimmy Choo later that year called "Shimmer in the Dark." The short film featured Delevingne walking around New York City at night, drawing attention from the men she passed, many of whom catcall her and compliment her fashionable outfits. "Nice shoes, lady!" one man shouts out as she walks by. Backlash online followed. One viewer tweeted, "Nothing says 'buy me' like harassment. Hard pass." While the video is still on YouTube, Jimmy Choo deleted the tweet linking to it (via NME).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

She talked about sexism in superhero movies

Back in 2015, leading up to the release of the following year's "Suicide Squad," the star who played "Enchantress" in that film shared her thoughts on comic book movies in general while speaking with Empire (via The Hollywood Reporter). "Superhero movies are totally sexist," she said, noting that costuming for female heroes usually shows off an impractical amount of flesh. "No one would be able to fight like that. Wonder Woman, how the hell does she fight? She would be dead in a minute," Delevingne added. (Remember that Patty Jenkins' hit film "Wonder Woman" wouldn't be released for two more years, so forgive Delevingne for not seeing how, exactly, Wonder Woman defends herself in that movie!)

Those comments didn't sit well with superhero fans online, who took to Twitter to speak out against the perceived slight to the genre. "Personally I feel applying real life societal issues to a world where flying men who shoot laser beams from their eyes is MEH," wrote one fan in response to a tweet about her remarks. However, Delevingne had her defenders, too. "They are [sexist]," one social media user agreed. "This is not revolutionary."

Selfie-shaming was not it

There are a whole host of things to get shamed for online. In an effort to make sure people aren't made to feel bad about themselves, others try to stay on the lookout for things like body-shaming, s**t-shaming, and age-shaming; on the other side of the coin, there's even "woke-shaming," an effort to make people ashamed for being too cognizant of movements for social equality. But... selfie-shaming? Cara Delevingne found a way! At least, according to her ever-vigilant comments section.

In 2017, the model-turned-actor shared an "inspirational" meme to her Instagram. You know the type: a quote meant to make people feel good about themselves, the kind that sparked backlash like the Instagram account "Unspirational," for people who are tired of getting their faux-philosophy from memes. In Delevingne's case, the post she shared was a black-and-white photo of a girl sitting and reading; the text said, "One girl loved reading so much / She forgot how to take a selfie."

Followers were unhappy with the message of the meme, writing things (per Brit Co) like, "It is clear the statement in the picture is designed to make women feel stupid for taking selfies. It's really sad the way women are being shamed and judged for absolutely everything in our lives." Seeing the response she was getting, Delevingne edited the caption to clarify, "I am not trying to say that I am better than anyone. It's a nice reminder ... The power of getting lost in a book.

Her behavior at the Billboard Music Awards confused fans

At the Billboard Music Awards in 2022, Cara Delevingne was spotted behaving strangely with rappers like Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat. Videos went viral of the multi-hyphenate lying on the floor to take photos of Doja, helping stretch out Megan's dress on the red carpet, and peeking around at photographers went viral. She even awkwardly licked her lips while staring at the "Thot S**t" rapper, according to The Shade Room

As fans online speculated about the "Tulip Fever" star's behavior, The Daily Beast published an exposé of Delevingne's odd behavior around town, calling her "Hollywood's weirdest — and most unwelcome — party girl." Online celeb-watchers began to make frequent quips about Delevingne, such as one viral tweet that joked she might be the blurry figure inserting themselves into a romantic moment between "Stranger Things" stars Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton.

Alongside a video of the model apparently attempting to lick Azealia Banks while the controversial rapper performed, one fan tweeted, "Can we ban Cara Delevingne from Hollywood?" However, the "212" rapper defended her friend in a series of tweets. "There were plenty of times I would just hide Cara in my apartment for days at a time to make sure she got some deep sleep and some actual food," Banks wrote on her page, which has since been suspended (via HollyMovies). "Cara and I just did normal stuff like dress up like mermaids, smoke spliffs and take naps. That's my girl thru and thru," she concluded.

She seemed to have stolen a sweatshirt design

Models traditionally wear other people's clothes; they don't typically sell things themselves. That's not the case for Cara Delevingne, though, who decided to give her Instagram followers a gift by selling a shirt she got compliments about. As Teen Vogue noted, the model was first papped wearing a shirt saying "The Future is Female" in October 2015; several months later, she posted a photo of herself and a friend wearing it to Instagram. "A lot of you have been asking for one of these – so I decided to put them up for sale, with proceeds going to Girl Up!" she wrote. Girl Up is a foundation whose website describes it as "a movement to advance girls' skills, rights, and opportunities to be leaders." A good charity to donate to, one would think!

However, people in Delevingne's replies were quick to point out that she hadn't designed the shirt, and therefore it wasn't right to sell it without crediting the original makers. A piece by The New York Times noted that the slogan has been around since the 1970s, when it was used on clothing in support of a feminist bookstore, and the newer version worn by Delevingne and her then-girlfriend, Annie Clark, was from LA-based designer Otherwild — who commented on her post, calling her out for lifting the design (via Refinery29).

After backlash, Delevingne edited the caption to make it clear that she was, indeed, now helping sell Otherwild's version of the shirt.

Cara Delevingne's Met Gala look turned heads

In 2021, Cara Delevingne attended the "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" edition of the famed Met Gala wearing a white bulletproof vest emblazoned with the words "Peg the Patriarchy." While some praised the outfit's message, the slogan caused controversy on several levels. Commenters on the /r/AskFeminists section of Reddit called it homophobic, interpreting the message as suggesting there is something "shameful, degrading, or emasculating" about the sex act. "To me this notion is very toxic," the Redditor wrote.

In addition, Delevingne also ran into trouble because the phrase was trademarked in 2015 by Luna Matatas, a queer woman of color, who told Jezebel she not credited. The sex educator said that the classes she taught led her to the slogan, which "allowed me to take sex ed and put it in a context of examining equity and how that affects our gender expression, how that affects our sexual interest, desires, behaviors, safety."

The original designer further explained the meaning of the term on Instagram, elaborating, "Peg the Patriarchy is about subversion. Subverting a system of oppression that impacts all genders and is upheld by the behaviours and ideas of [white] colonial masculinity." When Delevingne posted a photo of herself in the outfit on Instagram, her comments section filled up with the hashtag #LunaMatatas, asking her to credit the original designer; as of press time, she does not appear to have done so.

She spoke out against R. Kelly

Like many people, Cara Delevingne watched "Surviving R. Kelly," Dream Hampton's 2019 miniseries about accusations of sexual abuse made by numerous women against the R&B star. According to Billboard, after the documentary aired on Lifetime, the singer parted ways with Sony, his record label; he was arrested several months later on child pornography and kidnapping charges (via NPR). According to the same outlet, he was ultimately found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking, looking at a potential life sentence in prison for his crimes.

When she finished watching the show, Delevingne posted about it on Instagram. "I am so shocked and outraged at how long this has gone on. My heart goes out to all the victims of his emotional and physical abuse and their families," the model wrote, adding, "Stop separating art from the artist, just because he sings like an angel, doesn't mean he is one."

That seems like a pretty standard position to take on the issue, one shared by much of Hollywood and the general public, but it resulted in backlash from R. Kelly's fans, who unfollowed Delevingne en masse after the post. The following day, Delevingne continued speaking out, writing, "I lost more than 50,000 followers yesterday after posting about @rkelly." She said she refused to stay silent on the issue, and that she didn't miss anyone who left. "Goodbye silence and backwards followers, hello confrontation and forward thinkers," she said. "It's going to be a loud year."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

She reportedly had an affair with Elon Musk and Amber Heard

The 2022 defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard produced a number of shocking accusations — and a whole lot of online misogyny, according to advocates like those in The Guardian, who fear the tone of online joking about Heard may shame other victims of domestic abuse into staying silent. One such stunning insinuation appeared in a leaked deposition that went viral online during the trial, though it was ultimately left out of the courtroom; the video, leaked by The Daily Mail, featured the allegation that Cara Delevingne was involved in a "three-way affair" between Heard and billionaire Elon Musk.

Josh Drew, who was married to one of Heard's friends, can be seen in the video agreeing that, while Heard was still married to Depp, "the three of them, Amber Heard, Elon Musk and Cara Delevingne, spent the night together." The rumor pulled Delevingne into the online furore surrounding the trial, as speculation in Page Six and other outlets suggested Delevingne might have to testify about what, exactly, went on there. Musk, perhaps attempting to head off too much conversation, told the same outlet that the whole thing was made up. "Cara and I are friends, but we've never been intimate," Musk claimed. "She would confirm this."

Delevingne was not called to give testimony; perhaps, as one observer noted, the courtroom realized it would be irrelevant. "What does that have to do with anything in this case?" they wrote.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.