Toxic: Women, Fame, and the Tabloid 2000s

Toxic: Women, Fame, and the Tabloid 2000s

  • ISBN: 9781647007454
  • Publication Date: January 23, 2024


Price: $25.20

A scathing reexamination of the lives of nine female celebrities in the 2000s—Britney, Paris, Lindsay, Aaliyah, Janet, Amy, Kim, Chyna, and Jen—and the sexist, exploitative culture that let them down

Paris Hilton's 11:11 Media has optioned Toxic as a docuseries. Hilton said: “When I discovered Toxic, I was immediately taken by the depth of Sarah’s dedication, research, and writing. Sarah’s work inspired me to envision Toxic as a documentary series where we can provide a platform for similar stories of those who had to navigate intense public scrutiny, so they can reclaim their narrative from a time when they had little control.”

Welcome to celebrity culture in the early aughts: the reign of Perez Hilton, celebrity sex tapes, and dueling tabloids fed by paparazzi who were willing to do anything to get the shot.

The internet was still the Wild West: slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and revenge porn were all fair game, and celebrity was seen as a commodity to be consumed. And for the famous women of this era, they were never as popular—or as vulnerable—as when they were in crisis.

In Toxic, journalist Sarah Ditum tells the stories of nine famous women who defined this era and explores how they were devoured by fame, how they attempted to control their own narratives, and how they succeeded or (more often) failed.

Whatever you think you already know, leave it at the door. Toxic reveals these women neither as pure victims nor as conniving strategists, but as complex individuals trying to navigate celebrity while under attack from a vicious and fast-changing media. It’s time to come to terms with how these iconic women and their experiences living under the public gaze shaped the way we see ourselves, our bodies, our relationships, and our aspirations. We are all products of the toxic decade.


"Ditum’s prose is never overwrought, and she treats pop culture with a rare seriousness. She is right to do so. . . .Toxic, Ditum’s reframing of an era, suggests that the uproar. . . may have been just the beginning of a reckoning."

—Financial Times, "The best books of the week"

“Top-notch pop-culture commentary—a smart and entertaining look at female celebrity during a decade of immense change.”
—Kirkus, starred review

“Readers will rethink what they thought they knew about some of the most publicized celebrity stories of the early 2000s.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A necessary and incisive feminist reckoning with the aughts. Insightful, exhilarating—and horrifying. What were we thinking?”
—Caroline Criado-Perez, author of Invisible Women

“Living through the ’00s, I never realized how casually cruel they were—how cruel we were— to famous women. Toxic is an incendiary page-turner that will make you reconsider the price of fame. . . and your opinion of Kim Kardashian. It’s a Molotov cocktail hurled at the feet of celebrity culture.”
—Helen Lewis, writer at the Atlantic and author of Difficult Women

“Brilliant . . . [Toxic] really made me realize how no one has pulled back and given an overall story to the last twenty years . . . It’s clever because it makes me think about now.”
—Adam Curtis, filmmaker

"When I discovered Toxic I was immediately taken by the depth of Sarah's dedication, research and writing."
—Paris Hilton

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