Sofia Richie is the epitome of cool. In 2016, she was the most hated woman on the internet.

You don't get much cooler than Sofia Richie. 

As the youngest sister of '00s reality TV icon Nicole and the daughter of '70s music legend Lionel, Sofia's star power was etched in her DNA. 

In recent years, Sofia has broken away from her family, along with her classification of a 'nepo baby', to become a modern style icon

Everything she does is heralded as a new trend, especially by her millions of followers on Instagram and TikTok. 

From her understated wedding aesthetic to becoming the pioneer of the 'quiet luxury' trend to her hairstyles creating the blueprint for how her followers sculpt and colour their hair, everything Sofia touches turns to gold. 

Image: Instagram/@sofiarichie.


But it wasn't always this way.

Seven years ago, Sofia Richie was one of the most publicly hated people on the internet. 

She basically became an internet pariah.  

What was her crime? She reportedly dated Justin Bieber. 

In 2016, Sofia started appearing on Justin's Instagram which suggested to his followers that they were in a relationship. 

Image: Instagram/@justinbieber. 


Sofia addressed their relationship in an interview but didn't confirm whether they were romantically entwined.“We have a special relationship. Justin is very easy to talk to, and that’s hard to find with people in Los Angeles," she told Billboard in August 2016.

Multiple sources told E! News that the two were "just friends" and "nothing serious" was ever going on between the two young stars.

But that didn't stop Justin's fans from trolling Sofia. 

This was during peak Belieber hysteria on the back of JB's record-breaking album Purpose, which produced three number one hits in 'What Do You Mean', Sorry', and 'Love Yourself', and won him his first Grammy. 

Justin Bieber was the biggest pop star in the world and his fans could be, let's say... a bit much.

Every post Justin shared that featured Sofia would be flooded by comments attacking everything from her looks, her family to her biracial identity. And of course, plenty of the comments were about Justin's ex Selena Gomez, a girlfriend that Beliebers had decided was the only person Justin was allowed to date. 

The trolling got so bad that Justin replied to a post to tell his followers to quit attacking this young woman, who was only 17 years old at the time. 


“I’m gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don’t stop the hate this is getting out of hand, if you guys are really fans you wouldn’t be so mean to people that I like,” Justin captioned a photo.

The online hate campaign got so intense that Justin eventually did make his account private before he deleted his Instagram altogether. 

Selena Gomez didn't help matters. 

In a since-deleted Instagram comment on a photo featuring Sofia, Selena seemingly replied to Justin's call for his fans to stop trolling Sofia by blaming Justin.  

"If you can't handle the hate then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol – it should be special between you two only," she wrote. "Don't be mad at your fans. They love you."


Selena twisted the knife ever more by then posting a collage of pictures of herself interacting with her fans, captioned "My whole life. You matter most." 

Justin wasn't having it. 

"It's funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way. Sad. All love," he wrote back. "I'm not one for anyone receiving hate. Hope u all can be kind to my friends and each other. And yes I love my Beliebers."

This kicked off a series of comments which have became part of Jelena lore. "Funny how the ones that cheated multiple times, are pointing the finger at the ones that were forgiving and supportive," Selena snapped back. "No wonder fans are mad. Sad. All love."

Messy enough for y'all? Just wait. 

Justin wrote back "I cheated...Oh and I forgot about you and Zayn [Malik]."


Selena eventually regretted getting involved. "What I said was selfish and pointless," she later wrote on Snapchat.

This is true. Selena might have felt hurt at the time, after all she dated the Canadian singer from 2011 until 2014, but her comments completely disregarded Sofia's wellbeing. 


Amid the bullying being levelled at Sofia, another famous offspring Paris Jackson stepped in to defend the young star. In a since-deleted Instagram story, Paris wrote "I have known...Sofia since I was 12 or 13. She's one of the sweetest girls in the world and people are telling her to kill herself... I don't blame Justin for deleting his Instagram account."

Justin and Sofia called it quits by the end of 2016, but that didn't stop his fans from continuing to troll her in the preceding months.

Justin returned to Instagram in February 2017 and by March, Sofia was being trolled again with emojis and cruel comments after Justin wrote "Ur so pretty" on her Instagram post.

In July, Justin commented “You are gorgeous” prompting the trolling to start all over again. 

Image: Instagram/@sofiarichie. 


Of course, this wasn't the end of Bieber's fans mercilessly trolling their hero's girlfriends. Their negative energy would eventually transfer to Hailey Bieber, who dated Justin on and off before they got married in 2018. 

Thankfully for Sofia, the hate eventually died down. Richie ended up dating another controversial celebrity, Scott Disick, from 2017 until 2020. 

Due to the fact that Sofia was only 19 years old when they got together while Scott was a 34-year-old father of three, fans pivoted their hatred towards Kourtney Kardashian's ex rather than Richie.

After the couple parted ways, Sofia became official with music executive Elliot Grainge in 2021, they got engaged in 2022, and were married on April 22, 2023.

Sofia Richie's career has continued to go from strength to strength, making us forget all about that time she possibly dated Justin Bieber for a few random months when she was a 17-year-old.

Feature image: Getty + Instagram/@justinbieber. 

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