Were they really dating? Why did everyone think they were a PR couple? And why did everyone hate them?
Ladies and They-dies, we're free! Late last night, in the evening of November 17, 2021, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello announced their breakup via a joint statement over Instagram stories.
There is so much to unpack here. So let's get to it:
The Break Up Heard Around the World
Social media editors everywhere: my condolences. Last night, the surprise announcement sent everyone on the internet into a tizzy.
Couples of yore previously made statements via their PR teams, breaking the exclusive news across the front pages of magazines like People or E! News and cashing in on their demise. However, this Gen Z couple chose the tumultuous format of matching Instagram stories — kind of cute? Maybe. Chaotic? Definitely.
Entertainment news outlets scrambled to report on the break up while the internet quickly whipped up memes about the former couple.
In their statement, the two proclaimed a commitment to being "best friends," like they'd been before their relationship.
THEE break up announcement heard around the world
They did not, however, give any clues as to why they broke up. Although popular gossip Deuxmoi's Instagram account had predicted this break up earlier in the week. If Deuxmoi is to be trusted, we can expect a new Shawn Mendes song about this soon. No word on Camila's post-break up plans — but we hope they don't include a sequel to the monstrosity which was Amazon's Cinderella.
Deuxmoi is never wrongvia Deuxmoi on Instagram
Therefore, many fans were not surprised at the announcement, though disappointed at the lack of illuminating details. Not even the usual excuses about "schedules" or "growing apart" were made. So, now we sit here, sighing with relief and ruminating about the most irritating celebrity couple of this generation so far. We're struggling to find answers to why they ended, what will happen next, and just why we hated them so much.
While it feels wrong to celebrate someone's break up, Shawnmila were never the crowd favorite. Most of us can't pinpoint why. Before their relationship neither were that controversial — mostly they were just irrelevant — but the two of them together? Something about them truly grated on our collective nerves.
The two go way further back than most people realize. They met in 2015, both opening acts for Austin Mahone's tour. Shawn was a fledgling Vine star trying to bust out of the social media bubble and into the mainstream, while Camila was a member of Fifth Harmony and later even dated Mahone.
Shawn claims he had a crush on Camila back then, but the two were destined to be friends — making for a lot of songs on Mr Mendes's albums about his unrequited love.
Their friendship remained strong for years, and they began to collaborate on music that was slowly gaining recognition. Their first duet — I Know What You Did Last Summer — gained traction amongst a younger demographic in 2015. But it wasn't until they collaborated on 2019's Senorita that their careers really took off — as did their relationship.
But … was it real?
Here's where it gets interesting: many (read: most) people don't actually think the relationship was ever … real.
Hollywood has been known to push together upcoming celebrities, sparking tabloid interest, and boosting their mutual careers in what are known as "PR relationships". The mutually interested parties pretend to be involved, using that narrative to garner more press and fame. While this was way more common in the past, it still happens — especially among younger, emerging stars.
So, when Shawn and Camila announced their relationship as they were promoting their single "Senorita," people were dubious about the timing. After all, hadn't Shawn been in love with Camila for years? Why did they start dating now, right as the single gained traction and they were making bids for awards?
The timing got even more suspicious given how closely it followed his appearance at the 2019 Met Gala … with Hailey Baldwin, now Hailey Bieber.
Rumors that Shawn was dating Hailey swirled around in the press. After all, taking a girl to the most coveted event of the season is a pretty good first date. However, Hailey was swiftly linked back with Justin Bieber, her current husband, and suddenly Shawn was parading around with … Camila?
Many have speculated that Shawn's PR team had tried to spark a PR arrangement with Hailey's team, but her actual relationship with Justin got in the way. So, who was next in line to play his girlfriend? Who better than the other half of his sensual duet.
From the cursed Senorita video
Soon, we couldn't escape it — not the song, which was omnipresent on the radio, nor the speculated farce of a relationship. If it indeed was a PR relationship, it worked. "Senorita" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, as well as in 35 other countries, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It also won many awards, including two VMAs, and was even nominated for a Grammy.
No wonder they kept up the maybe-charade so long. The two rocketed from teen idols to mainstream superstars after one song and a couple of smooches.
When lockdown hit in early 2020, the pair was still going strong. Quarantined together at Camila's Miami home, they took daily walks which didn't dispel the rumors about them. People called their super slow walks around the block "pap walks," blatantly begging the paparazzi to take photos of them.
Even if their relationship was real, being constantly inundated by PDA and paparazzi didn't make people like them any more. So, while they were one of the most prominent Gen Z couples, they were the most polarizing.
What does it all mean?
For us? Honestly nothing. Less bottom-feeding tabloid drama to speculate about, fewer nauseating paparazzi shots, and hopefully a new era of celebrity relationships that feel less forced.
Real or not real, Shawnmila revealed how this generation is intrigued by mysterious couples — both those that make no sense — like Pete Davidson and anyone he's with — and those who only offer rare glimpses into their lives. It's the era of Offline Boyfriends and unexpected pairings, not whatever Shawnmila was.
It's the end of an era, for them and for pop culture. And good riddance to it.