After feuding with fans all summer, Doja Cat says shedding fans online has felt like defeating a large beast.
She spoke with Harper’s Bazaar ahead of their September 2023 “Icons” issue, in which the “Attention” artist is spotlighted. And after a long and salty summer, the star says she doesn’t feel like an icon.
“I think I deserve love and respect from the people that I love and respect back — and I guess respect means different things to some people,” the 27-year-old singer and rapper, born Amala Dlamani, told the outlet. But she also doesn’t think she’s worthy of veneration.
“I put myself out there on social media and TV,” she said. “I love positive feedback. I appreciate when people speak up for someone who is getting bullied or attacked by internet trolls. … Some of the most moving moments for me have been when my fans have stood up for me or for other people.”
The revelation comes not long after the hip-hop artist was scrutinized for a(nother) public interaction with fans that some might consider prickly. After she was spotted in numerous PDA-filled outings with rumored boyfriend J Cyrus — an embattled Twitch influencer and comedian accused of emotionally abusing his Twitch community — fans voiced their disdain for the pairing and called on Doja Cat to address the controversy.
She wasn’t having it: “I DON’T GIVE A F— WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT MY PERSONAL LIFE I NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL GIVE A F— WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT ME OR MY PERSONAL LIFE GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE MISERABLE HOES HAHA!”
Shortly after, she disparaged the “Kittenz,” her hardcore fan base, writing on Threads, “If you call yourself a ‘kitten’ or f— ‘kittenz’ that means you need to get off your phone and get a job and help your parents with the house.”
Doja Cat then went on to defend her decree by posting, “My life my rules my style my attitude.” And she shot down one fan account’s request to say that she loved her fans, writing: “I don’t though cuz I don’t even know ya’ll.” She further called some of her fans “creepy.”
The “Like That” singer has since deactivated her Threads account. And she has shed more than 500,000 Instagram followers since the feuds with her fan base this summer.
But when talking with Harper’s Bazaar, the artist offered some insight as to why she thinks fans respond to her “pushing boundaries” — a la shaved eyebrows and shaved head — in such impassioned ways.
“My theory is that if someone has never met me in real life, then, subconsciously, I’m not real to them,” she said. “So when people become engaged with someone they don’t even know on the internet, they kind of take ownership over that person. They think that person belongs to them in some sense. And when that person changes drastically, there is a shock response that is almost uncontrollable. … I’ve accepted that that’s what happens. So I put my wigs on and take them off. I shave my head or my eyebrows. I have all the freedom in the world.”
On Wednesday, Doja Cat addressed losing more than a half-million Instagram fans, posting a story that read: “Seeing all these people unfollow makes me feel like I’ve defeated a large beast that’s been holding me down for so long and it feels like I can reconnect with the people who really matter and love me for who I am and not for who i was … I feel free.”
Times staff writer Jonah Valdez contributed to this report.