Caroline Calloway Gaslit Me into Believing She Doesn’t Have Kneecaps

It’s the price you pay for Apple Bottom Knees…

By Katelynn Browne

Arts Editor

About a month ago, Natalie Beach penned a brutally honest article for the New Yorker about her ex-best friend – social media influencer, Caroline Calloway. It chronicled her time with Caroline – from co-writing/ghost-writing Caroline’s lengthy Instagram captions (which is what caused her to gain a large following) to ghost-writing a book about Caroline’s adventures, as well as detailing the emotional manipulation and poor treatment Natalie endured. 

It became evident through Natalie’s article that Caroline was a serial liar – and about weird things, like the Yale plates. Caroline was apparently bitter she wasn’t accepted into Yale and as a gag gift, Natalie gave Caroline these Yale plates, which she personalized by writing on. Caroline was apparently ecstatic after receiving the gift, but a few weeks later told Natalie that someone broke into her apartment and stole only the Yale plates. Natalie found that hard to believe, but let it slide. Caroline has also lied about more serious things – such as her writing workshop. She claimed that she was going to host workshops all around the country and sold tickets before booking venues, thus scamming people out of hundreds of dollars. She then plead for people who bought tickets to take trains from out of state to come to her event.

On the day “I Was Caroline Calloway” was released on The Cut, I did sort of a deepdive on Caroline’s Instagram because I hadn’t really heard of her beforehand. And what I found may shock you: she claims she doesn’t have kneecaps. In two Instagram posts Caroline discusses how she had her kneecaps removed at the ages of 9 and 12, because her kneecaps never ossified from cartilage into bone when she was a toddler. She lamented the time she spent in middle school needing to use a walker and getting bullied as a result, but felt stronger for her ability to handle the bullying she endured. She spent gym classes getting lost in books about England. I was incredulous. Is this really something that happens to people? Why is no one talking about Caroline Calloway’s apparent lack of kneecaps? 

So I took it upon myself to deepdive into this issue so that you don’t have to. First, I started my research by looking at images of Caroline Calloway’s knees. From the looks of it, she appears to have kneecaps. I then started to look into reasons why people get their kneecaps removed. People will get patellectomy (kneecap removal) for three reasons: 1.) the kneecap is fractured or shattered 2.) the kneecap dislocates easily and repeatedly, or 3.) degenerative arthritis of the kneecap causes extreme pain. So this means at least in this sense her story checks out – she had her kneecaps removed because her kneecap was dislocating easily and repeatedly. However, having aplasia/hypoplasia of the patella (a genetic disorder which causes the kneecap to either not fully form or not form at all) is super, super rare. But, just because it’s rare doesn’t mean it’s impossible. 

What I read about pallectomy is what I feel may catch her in the lie more than what was previously mentioned. Patellectomy has about a 6 month recovery period, and people often use crutches or a cane during the recovery period – not a walker. I think it’d be especially weird to give a seventh grader a walker, despite her claim that grownups did it, and didn’t understand how hard it is to be in seventh grade. 

Patellectomy and Caroline’s alleged lack of kneecaps made me wonder what level of mobility you could have if you have no kneecaps, and never had them replaced, as she alleges in her post. According to some sources, you’re able to walk fine, but you may have trouble kneeling due to your more exposed knee joints. A different source I found said that you would have trouble fully extending your legs due to the lack of cushioning around your knee joints, and there’s some ligament in your leg that needs to stretch over your kneecap in order to allow your knee to bend and contract. 

Caroline, however claims that she can’t squat, but she can fully extend her leg. She also says she can’t run, jump or dance like people in their twenties are able to. What confuses me is that in the same post that she claims she’s unable to squat, there is an image of her clearly squatting. It made me feel like I don’t know what squatting is. Maybe she’s not squatting? Does she mean squatting in the exercise sense? Also, there’s several pictures of her kneeling, which according to some sources I read, she shouldn’t be able to do since she doesn’t have the cushioning required to kneel without pain. If kneeling is painful, you just don’t do it. 

Then, after getting so disoriented at looking at pictures of only Caroline Calloway’s knees, I forgot what a kneecap should actually look like. So I went out into the field, and looked at my own kneecaps, which are round, and clearly present. Then, I went back to the images of Caroline’s knees and noticed how square her kneecaps look in some images. In some pictures, she clearly has that patella bump that all of us patella-havers have but in some images, I was really beginning to believe that she lacks kneecaps. I went back to the field to observe my own knees and became increasingly anxious upon realizing that maybe the squareness of her kneecaps meant that she really doesn’t have kneecaps.

To conclude, I don’t really know whether or not Caroline Calloway has kneecaps. I find it personally important to find out, but realistically, I know I will be forever haunted by the mystery that is the presence or lack of kneecaps of a scammer, and I hope you will be too.

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