This morning, like every celebrity who just wants a story to go away, Hilaria Baldwin gave an 80-minute interview to The New York Times about the recent claims that she has been staging, in the words of Twitter’s @lenibriscoe, “a decade long grift” of pretending to be Spanish ever since first wooing Alec Baldwin. Prior to that, she was known to friends and family as Hillary Hayward-Thomas, a dancer from Boston who graduated from the Cambridge School of Weston at age 18 — despite Hilaria’s prior claims that she moved from Spain to New York City at age 19 to attend NYU. Beyond a fondness for Latin dancing, former classmates have been hard-pressed to recall any hint of Spanish heritage, and quick checks into both of Hilaria’s parents showed they (and their parents before them) had been born and raised in America. Among many reasons why these questions about Hilaria’s heritage (and Spanish accent) did not come up sooner is the conspicuous absence of those parents on her Instagram, a social media feed largely dedicated to documenting her family life. And given the intimacy with which Hilaria’s invited us into her family life, her explanation for why she’s kept photos of her parents hidden from her page made no sense.
I Deleted my previous tweet. I went to HS with Hillary Hayward Thomas in Boston and she had no accent, was archetypal northeastern prep schooler. we all mythologize ourselves, but her pretending to be ESL is a level of exaggeration that seems problematic.
— David Golann (@DavidGolann) December 25, 2020
“One of the most important places to start is this idea of boundaries,” Hilaria tells the Times’ Katherine Rosman. “We have this thing called oversharing, which I’ve actually been accused of [on social media].”
It’s true: for a woman whose background has proved a mystery to unravel, her feed paints the picture of someone who truly has nothing to hide. Hilaria is known to post everything from staggering postpartum transformations to breastfeeding pics and near-daily updates on her five kids Leonardo, Carmen, Rafael, Romeo, and Eduardo, who she shares with Alec. But when it comes to her own family, her parents or the family or family friends she speaks of visiting in Spain, their images are conspicuously absent.
“My children are young enough and I’m just sharing sweet little things of them,” Hilaria tells Rosman, dismissing the claim that she’s “oversharing” photos of her children. But her rhetoric when it comes to showing her parents’ image is quite different.
“‘Where does something stop being your story and start being someone else’s?'” Hilaria asks Rosman, who writes further: “And, to shield her parents from press attention that would fall upon them simply because their daughter married someone really famous, she said she had purposefully avoided sharing details of her upbringing.”
Call me naïve, but wouldn’t Hilaria’s children have even less say in the situation than her parents, who are at least grown and able to express or decline consent about their images being posted online? Hilaria is no stranger to privacy concerns when it comes to her children, either, having told SheKnows exclusively earlier this year that she posted photos of her children as a strategy to cut down on paparazzi attention.
“I started sharing on Instagram about my children as a defense against paparazzi, because we had a ton [following us], and it was so unpleasant and aggressive,” she said. “And eventually somebody told me, ‘All you have to do is post about them all the time, and then the bounty for the image goes way down.’ I went from seeing many paparazzi a day to rarely any.”
Hilaria, then, knows well that the best way to dispel rabid interest is to shine as much light on a situation as possible. Give people so much of the unvarnished truth that they’re sick of hearing about it, let alone seeking it out. So why can’t she bring herself to do that with this Spanish accent drama?
Asked if she could clearly point to the time she spent in Spain growing up, Hilaria said this: “I think it would be maddening to do such a tight time line of everything. You know, sometimes there was school involved. Sometimes it was vacation. It was such a mix, mishmash, is that the right word? Like a mix of different things.”
Is that the right word? It’s definitely an English word, if that’s what she means. But when it comes to describing her relationship to Spanish and American culture, I’m still not sure.
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