Katy Perry prides herself on being an outspoken advocate for female empowerment, but the singer is in hot water over remarks she made on a recent episode of “American Idol” to contestant Sarah Beth Liebe, a young mom who says she felt hurt and embarrassed by the pop superstar during her season 21 audition.
Fans are flooding the comment sections of Perry’s and the show’s social media accounts, urging Perry to apologize to the 25-year-old mom of three who earned her golden ticket to Hollywood Week, but has since publicly shared how hard it was to have Perry make fun of her for having three children at such a young age. So far, Perry has kept quiet about the controversy, but pressure is mounting from upset fans.
‘Idol’ Contestant Sarah Beth Liebe Calls Katy Perry’s Remark ‘Embarrassing’
On the season 21 episode of “American Idol” that aired on March 5, 2023, Liebe auditioned for celebrity judges Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, who all remarked about how young she looked, thinking she appeared to be 16 rather than 25.
Flattered, Liebe told the judges that she had three kids and Perry stood up in shock, jokingly looking as though she might faint or throw up.
Liebe nervously laughed, “If Katy lays on the table, I think I’m going to pass out.”
Perry then quipped, “Honey, you’ve been laying on the table too much.”
The audition carried on and Liebe eventually received a golden ticket after the judges asked her to sing her second song choice — Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” — with greater emotion. Bryan voted yes, Richie voted no, and Perry nonchalantly said, “Yeah, I guess. Why not?”
Many viewers were so shocked by Perry’s comment and attitude during Liebe’s audition that the young mom started receiving lots of questions about her reaction to it, she said in a TikTok video posted on March 8.
In the video, Liebe said, “There was a joke that way made that’s gotten some attention and I’ve gotten a lot of people reaching out to me, asking how I’m feeling.”
She so was careful not to share any details about the show beyond her feelings about the already-aired exchange, possibly because contestants have to sign non-disclosure agreements as part of their participation. Noting that Perry’s comment “wasn’t super kind,” Liebe continued in her video, “It was embarrassing to have that on TV, and it was hurtful and that’s that.”
She added, “I think that women supporting and uplifting other women is so cool and I think that mom shaming is super lame and I think that it’s hard enough to be a mom and it’s hard enough to be a woman.”
Liebe also uploaded the TikTok video to her Instagram account, but wrote that she turned off the comments “because the last thing I want is anything but love being spread in the comments towards another woman.” The post has received a great deal of attention in recent days, including from entertainment media, with fans expressing disappointment over Perry staying mum about the backlash she’s receiving.
Fans Flood Katy Perry’s Social Media Demanding an Apology
Perry, 38, has one daughter with longtime beau Orlando Bloom, and in the past, she has been known to champion other moms on “American Idol.” During season 20, producers showed how her getting visibly emotional as she consulted two young women, Haley Slaton and Sam Moss, who were pregnant while competing in the early weeks of the show.
“I know you’re going to be a great mother,” she told 23-year-old Slaton, “and I also know you’re never gonna give up on your dreams.”
In Liebe’s video about her own exchange with Perry, she said that she’s appreciated all the people reaching out and wanted to send love to other young moms.
“I see all of the young moms and just moms in general,” she said. “Keep loving your babies. Nobody deserves to feel crappy about that. If you’re a good mama and you love your babies, that’s all that really matters. Other comments just don’t feel necessary.”
But lots of fans want Perry to make a public apology to Liebe, flooding her social media posts — especially those promoting “American Idol” — with comments urging her to do so.
One mom wrote, “Watching how rude you were to Sara Beth was so disappointing 😞 as a mom of 3 at 27, we go through enough! People giving off those vibes bring negativity that is really not needed. Moms are shamed enough, I really hope you apologize to Sara, the comments and overall attitude was rude af. #momshamer”
Another commented, “I’m very offended and a young mother of two. You should not talk down to people like that. At the end of the day we are all mothers and went through the same beautiful experience. You really need to humble yourself and remind yourself of where you came from.”
“You owe Sarah Beth a public apology, another person wrote. “Your behavior during her audition was atrocious, especially being a mother yourself. Speaking on someone’s personal life and how many kids they choose to have in a ‘disgusted’ tone, is not appropriate when the whole world is watching. As a mother you shouldn’t have that negative attitude towards the fact that she has 3. Speaks to how you feel about your own child.”
Many fans have also returned to a March 5 post that the “American Idol” Instagram account shared of Liebe’s audition, commenting on their frustration with the segment.
“She’s amazing and for whatever reason Katy felt so intimidated by her that she tried to shut her down. Shame shame,” one wrote.
Someone else commented, “These celebrities think so highly of themselves and think they can treat ppl any way they want. Katy Perry had an attitude the whole audition and was incredibly rude. Shame on her. She owes you an apology.”
On the “American Idol” YouTube page, the video of Liebe’s audition has been viewed nearly two million times, generating over 3,000 comments — primarily from people who are upset about the way the California mom was treated.
One of them wrote, “25, a mother of 3, energy that can light up even the darkest of rooms, and she sings like that….honey I’m rooting for you all the way %.”
Others have expressed frustration that ABC producers decided to air that portion of Liebe’s time with the judges, including one fan who wrote, “how did you let her publicly shame that woman and then still decide to put it on tv?”
At the time of publication, Perry has not commented on the backlash over her remarks. It’s also not clear how Liebe fared during Hollywood Week, as those episodes are set to begin airing on April 2, according to ABC.