An open letter to Justin Bieber (please don't pull a LiLo!)
Now that you're 19 years old, Justin Bieber, it's time for us to have The Talk. No, not the one about the birds and the bees: The one about Lindsay Lohan.
See, Justin, we saw that rant you posted on Instagram—yes, the one you quickly deleted—about how everybody should lay off you. You wrote that you were "tired of all the countless lies in the press," specifically the stories that claim you're out of control and headed to rehab. You wrote that you're "a good person with a big heart," that you have "worked your a** off" and "accomplished more than I could've dreamed of," and that you don't deserve to be criticized. Then you said that haters should stop "comparing me to Lindsay Lohan," and made a joke about her money problems.
In other words, you think Lindsay Lohan is a train wreck, while you're on top of the world. You could never end up like that, you think. But oh, Justin—you are venturing dangerously close to Lohan territory right now. This, right now, is your reality check.
Let's start with your recent behavior. Since January, you've been photographed smoking weed and groping a young fan. You were seen running around London half-naked and wearing a gas mask. You threw a temper tantrum on your birthday when a trendy club wouldn't let your underage friends come in to party. You attacked the paparazzi. You showed up late to one show and cancelled another. You collapsed onstage and ended up in the hospital. Do you get why people might be worried?
The more troubling thing, though, is how you've reacted to these situations. The way you handled the pot-smoking pictures, with a Twitter apology and a sheepish SNL joke—that was classy. But getting angry at every criticism and false report, claiming that you don't "deserve" that kind of treatment because you work so hard? That, sir, is ridiculous.
Your Instagram rant reminded us of the things Charlie Sheen said during his infamous meltdown. The whole time, he was insisting he was a rock star, totally in control of his life, and being unjustly persecuted by the media. Meanwhile, it was obvious that his substance abuse problem and personal life were out of control. Lindsay Lohan, too, likes to play the "media martyr" card. Whatever mess she gets into, she inevitably insists that she's totally fine, it wasn't her fault and she's being unfairly targeted because of who she is. You obviously don't believe Lindsay when she says these things, given your joke. So why should anyone believe you?
Let's say the media is totally wrong about you, and you're on the straight and narrow. What does it benefit you to complain about the false reports? Alternately, let's say you're indulging in a wild-child phase, and you think that's your right because you're 19. Okay then. Why should you care what anybody else thinks?
The fact is, there's only one way to change people's minds about salacious tabloid reports: prove them wrong. If you change your behavior, the rumors will stop hounding you. Right now, your Twitter complaints say one thing, and your erratic actions say another. Moan about the press all you want, but you're the one feeding the beast.
And maybe you don't care what we have to say to you, which is fine. But hear us out on one last thing. When you start believing that the press has a personal vendetta against you, and when you start believing that you deserve special treatment because you're better than other people—that's the moment you lose control of your career.
Right now, you are so dependent on maintaining a perfect image and earning the fans' love that you're blind to what's actually happening in your life. Forget the fame. Forget the media. Be true to yourself. Go away and get help if you need it; the fans will still be there. Otherwise you're headed for a vicious spiral of people-pleasing and crazed behavior that too many child stars have experienced.
Please don't be that guy, Justin. The world has enough Charlies and Lindsays as it is.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.