It’s been six years since Anne Hathaway played the role of Catwoman, but it wasn’t until today, January 8, when the world discovered her real superpower. In the cover story in Town & Country‘s February issue, under the telling headline “Anne Hathaway Is Nobody’s Punching Bag,” Hathaway casually revealed that being on Instagram—which is to say, having constant access to seemingly picture-perfect people to compare herself with, not to mention putting herself at the mercy of millions of followers, some of whom actually self-identify as “Hathahaters“—doesn’t give her anxiety. In fact, it actually makes her feel better.
“Having the ability to do something on my own terms has been good for me,” she explained. “It has allowed me to calm down and communicate in a way that’s more clear.” (It probably helps that she limits her screen time on the app to 15 minutes per session; only follows 54 accounts; and sticks to a routine of drafting her posts, handing them over to someone else for at least an hour, and posting them only after they’ve gotten final approval—which, yes, means that she also thinks extra hard about all the dad jokes she uses in her captions, like the hashtag “#ImWithTheBand(age)” for the photo below.)
That may not sound like much of an accomplishment, but according to pretty much every other celebrity who’s spoken on the record about the app over the past few years, it’s tantamount to a superhuman feat. Indeed, the app’s longtime most followed user has, on more than one occasion, far from given it a glowing endorsement: “I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram. Which is why I’m kind of under the radar, ghosting it a bit,” Selena Gomez told Vogue in 2017. Before taking her most recent Insta-hiatus, she also shared that “the happiest” she’s ever been was before social media existed, hence why she no longer even knows the password to her account, and has come to consider not Justin Bieber, but Instagram, as her “most difficult relationship.” Take it from Gomez herself—keeping in mind that, thanks to one Stefano Gabbana, at least one commenter has in fact since called her “ugly”:
“I delete the app from my phone at least once a week. You fixate on the [negative comments]. They’re not like, ‘You’re ugly.’ It’s like they want to cut to your soul. Imagine all the insecurities that you already feel about yourself and having someone write a paragraph pointing out every little thing—even if it’s just physical.”
Or take it from Kelly Marie Tran, the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars film, who not only deleted all of her Instagram posts, but also felt strongly enough about the app’s harmful effects that she wrote a passionate op-ed about it for The New York Times:
“Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories … And as much as I hate to admit it, I started blaming myself. I thought, ‘Oh, maybe if I was thinner’ or ‘Maybe if I grow out my hair’ and, worst of all, ‘Maybe if I wasn’t Asian.’ For months, I went down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth.”
Or Tran’s costar, Daisy Ridley:
“People weren’t nice about how I looked. And I was like, ‘I’m out.’ Simple as that. That is not what I signed up for … And I didn’t sign up for people to go, ‘You’re amazing!’ But I didn’t sign up for them to say things like ‘Your skin is shit,’ either … It’s not good for me, personally. I’m just not equipped for it. I’m super sensitive—not too sensitive—but I really feel things.”
Or Hailey Baldwin, whose words were seconded by Patrick Schwarzenegger and Millie Bobby Brown:
“Being off of Instagram is the best thing ever. Whenever I take breaks from it I feel so much better, so much happy as a person.. the second I come back on I get immediate anxiety, I get sad and I get worked up … the negativity screams so loud. It’s hard to focus on your well being and mental health when each time you open Instagram someone is tearing apart your job, or your relationship or essentially any of the things in your life that are positive.”
“Every day I think I should delete [the app]. I still don’t know why I’m on it, then I think, well, ‘I guess I want to promote Avengers‘ and then I find myself putting something private up there and I think, ‘This is stupid, why did I do that? I should delete it immediately.'”
Or Gigi Hadid, who once quit the app as an act of self-defense. Or Kendall Jenner, her BFF who considered her “detox” to be an act of self-care. Or Jennifer Lawrence. Or Emma Stone. Or Ariana Grande. Or—well, you get the picture.
So, what’s Hathaway’s secret? How is she able to be so much stronger than the rest? The answer is less complicated than you may think. Instead of, say, costly techniques like transcendental meditation, she simply turns to a tool that’s not only free of charge, but also been around for centuries and centuries: fire.
“Set a timer on your phone, have a candle nearby, and write it all down,” she said of her procedure to rid herself of panic and stress. “You spew it all out. You do not read it. The timer goes off, you tear it out of the book, and you light it on fire. Literally on fire. All of this energy, this angst, this rage—everything is smoke.”