Thank you for being real.
In January of this year, Vanessa Hudgens’ father passed away from cancer. In May, she revisited her father’s initial diagnosis and opened up about what it was like to lose her dad at such a young age. This is my response.
You don’t know me, and I won’t pretend to know you. Sure, I’ve seen all three high school musicals at least twice and follow you on Instagram, but I certainly don’t know you, at least not the real you.
I should probably preface this by saying that besides being two girls in our twenties, we have extremely little in common. You’re a performer and I’m an observer, sitting quietly behind my laptop. Based on your Insta pics, you look like a cool hippie chick, and I, well, let’s just say that half of my work attire came from J. Crew. Oh, and you’re also a crazy-rich Hollywood super starlet and I’m, uh, not. But in January of this year, we both suddenly had something very big in common: we both lost our fathers at unfairly young ages, yours at 27 and mine at 14.
You’re certainly not the first celebrity to lose a parent to cancer. But other celebs were quick to offer messages of hope and optimism following their tragedy — and while nice, certainly didn’t feel real. And then you came along.
You probably don’t remember this, as I imagine you have done hundreds of interviews since, but back in May you spoke with E! about your dad and for the first time it felt like someone was being honest about cancer. And it was weirdly nice.
In case you don’t remember, let me refresh your memory:
“It felt like it was some mean joke. You think you’re going to make it through, you’re there with them every step of the way, holding their hand, wanting it to be okay. I had never dealt with cancer personally and to hear that word, it was just like a punch in the stomach. You always think that you’re going to make it through and you’re going to overcome it, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Cancer is very aggressive and it doesn’t take pity on anyone or anything. My dad passed away the night before my show, and it was shocking. I knew that it was coming, but nothing can prepare you for losing a parent.”
That was honest. And it was refreshing. And I just wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for being real. For not acting like it was ok and that you can just move on like nothing ever happened. For not acting like it didn’t just majorly impact your life. Sometimes we just need someone to be honest and not sugarcoat a tragedy, like we are all so conditioned to do.
So thanks, Vanessa. From me and from a lot of other girls who can relate but don’t yet have the platform to speak up.
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.