Hollywood's teen bride on 'problematic' 35 year age-gap marriage

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Courtney Stodden was something of a punchline back in 2011 and 2012, when popular culture became obsessed with the then-16-year-old bride of 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchinson.

These days, she’s an uncomfortable reminder of that time not so long ago when celebrities and mainstream media alike trolled, slut-shamed and ridiculed a child in a high-profile relationship whose staggering age-gap was its primary calling card.

Courtney Stodden was a human punchline for years as actor Doug Hutchinson's teenage bride. Photo: Getty Images

The 51-year-old husband? He got a few mentions and was criticised for his young bride, but the true sneers and smears were saved for the 16-year-old who looked like a thirty-something, and was married to a fifty-something.

Now 25, Courtney is out of the nine-year marriage she now describes as ‘problematic’, though husband Dough Hutchinson tells Yahoo Lifestyle he treated his then-teen bride ‘like a queen’ throughout.

These days she is releasing new music and trying desperately to get some kind of acknowledgement from the big names who ridiculed her online back in 2011.

So far, Courtney tells Yahoo Lifestyle, she’s been met with crickets – most notably from Chrissy Teigen who has yet to address old tweets directed at then-teenage Courtney.

Chrissy Teigen addressed 16-year-old Courtney in a number of tweet published between 2011 and 2012. Photo: Getty Images

Chrissy has been embroiled in a scandal of her own recently, after she spoke out about celebrity chef Alison Roman’s criticisms of her cooking brand.

“For me, seeing her interaction with Alison but completely ignoring the hate messages she was sending me on Twitter, I think it’s absolutely shameful,” Courtney tells Yahoo Lifestyle, claiming she feels ‘gaslighted’ by the star. 

Chrissy got an apology of her own after fellow author Alison criticised both her and Marie Kondo’s respective business empires’ in an interview.

When Chrissy revealed the chef’s words ‘hit her hard’, Alison responded with a lengthy apology letter.

However, Chrissy herself is yet to respond to questions over her own comments towards Courtney eight years ago.

No response to 2011 tweets

In 2011 she posted a series of tweets directed at the then-16-year-old, all of which can still be found on Chrissy’s timeline.

They include calls for the teen bride to ‘take a dirt nap’ and ‘go to sleep forever’ as well as insulting her appearance and suggesting she was taking drugs. Nothing is known regarding the context the tweets were made in, and Courtney’s tweets Chrissy replies to in several instances have since been deleted.

Courtney tells Yahoo Lifestyle she has received no apology.

Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchinson’s age-gap relationship

At the time, Courtney was the peroxide blonde, busty but thin wife of Doug Hutchinson. The pair were an admittedly odd-looking couple. Courtney hyper-sexualised in layers of makeup and tiny outfits, Doug, older, usually dressed all in black and shorter than his wife who staggered around in dizzying high heels.

Doug and Courtney were regular feature on red carpets and in tabloids. Photo: Getty Images

They met after the actor spotted Courtney’s YouTube music videos which featured the teen acting above her age in skimpy outfits, singing about romantic relationships she admits she had no experience of at the time. In other words, being a teenager, albeit one who pulled off the older look far better than most.

After chatting online for six months, the pair met, got engaged and wed, all within the month of May in 2011.

At just 16 years old, Courtney required the permission of her parents, which her mother Krista Keller was all too happy to provide.

The single mum became a regular fixture by her daughter’s side in paparazzo snaps of Courtney attending events by her husband's side, a clear and vocal supporter of her daughter’s match with a man three years her own father’s senior.

Courtney with Doug and mum Krista Keller at age 17. Photo: Getty Images
Courtney's mum Krista Keller was a very visible supporter of Courtney's match. Photo: Getty Images

Courtney says she was deliriously happy at the time, or at least she thought she was.

“He gave me that attention I needed and I believed everything he told me,” she says. “I fell head over heels in love with him, as much as a 16-year-old girl can fall.”

Courtney says she now feels ‘taken advantage of’ in general when reflecting on the entire situation.

The pair were together until 2018 when Courtney left the marriage, but their divorce was only finalised in March 2020, when Courtney announced the official split on Instagram.

She says she is still coming to terms with the relationship, and divorcing not only her husband but her false understanding of what it was she had been a part of.

“I’m dealing with a lot behind the scenes, you know taking off the rose coloured glasses,” she says.

“That’s been very painful, to see what I was allowed to marry into.”

Doug Hutchinson tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he takes ‘full responsibility’ for the relationship, though denies he treated Courtney with anything but extreme respect during the relationship.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” the actor says.

“I'm definitely not a saint. No one is... [But] I treated Courtney like a queen throughout our marriage.”

‘I was a little kid in war paint’

Courtney, pictured in 2012, says her mature exterior was 'war paint' hiding a vulnerable kid. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Courtney alleges she was attacked in the media and by celebrities with platforms far bigger than her own, and certainly made a fair few headlines at the time.

These days Courtney understands that looking like an adult may have been part of the reason she was treated by one, but doesn’t consider it an excuse.

“I was a little kid in war paint, to be completely frank,” she says of her striking appearance at the time. 

“They see the cover and all of a sudden they think they know the book.”

Headlines from the time are enough to make anyone living in a post-#MeToo world feel a little uncomfortable.

On a particularly odd appearance by the teenager with husband Doug, Fame-seeker Courtney Stodden slurs her way through TV appearance, trying to explain debauchery at Pumpkin Patch.

When the teen was spotted getting coffee, Courtney Stodden Without Makeup Is a Painful Sight.

“Courtney clearly has no qualms walking into church looking like a cheap hooker,” another article read, describing Courtney’s attendance at a church service.

Celebrated broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper addressed the teen’s marriage in a segment that focused almost entirely on the minor, barely mentioning her 51-year-old husband except to poke fun at his dwindling film career and his choice of bride.

“Being [trolled] by big celebrities is really scarring”

Courtney says she forgives her mum Photo: instagram/courtneystodden

Courtney says an increasingly difficult marriage was compounded by the attention from high-profile celebrities and publications.

“I feel like society should have been far enough along not to judge the child, and to judge the responsible adults around them,” she says.

“Adults with huge platforms then jumping on the bandwagon and hating the child, I just really don’t get it.

“So, that scares me,” she says. “Being [trolled] by big celebrities, it’s really scarring.”

While fans of Teigen and Aderson have defended the stars, arguing in Chrissy’s case that the comments were made years ago, and accusing Courtney of dredging up the past for more publicity as an adult, Courtney says going public is the only way she can try to reach out to the star after she was blocked from her social media accounts.

Courtney initially hit back with a YouTube video, but received no reply. Photo: youTube/courtneystodden

“The reason I came out with my story now wasn’t to dig something up from the past,” she says, adding she has started work on a memoir, a project that has dragged the experience back into the light for her.

“I’m reliving a lot of trauma and reliving a lot of life experience that I didn't really allow myself to digest and process because I was too young to even go through a situation like that in the first place,” she says. 

“So as I was writing about all the different celebrities that [trolled] me at a young age I was just sort of like, ‘wow’. This kind of slipped under the radar and I think this is an important thing to write about and bring attention to.”

She says she has forgiven her mum for green-lighting a relationship she has come to regret and is not hoping to see Chrissy fall victim to the ‘cancel culture’ that no one can seem to escape online.

“I think we grow as people but we need to apologise and address [incidents] to move forward,” she says.

“I’m hoping eventually she can apologise to me.”

Chrissy Teigen has not responded to requests for comment.

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