Where were you when iconic punk princess Avril Lavigne released her debut album? If you were like most me in 2002, you were probably screaming “Sk8r Boi” at the top of your lungs and expertly coating half your face in black eyeliner.
Flash forward to 2013: Lavigne released an overwhelming, kawaii-themed video for her track “Hello Kitty.” Not only was the video obnoxious and widely criticized for being full of cultural appropriation, it was a total departure from Lavigne’s original work. “Complicated” Avril had exchanged her all-black wardrobe and signature guitar-smashing angst for bright pink miniskirts and bleached blonde hair. Why the dramatic change? Where was our queen, skater punk Avril?
According to one widespread internet theory, the answer is that Lavigne is dead (yes, dead) and has been replaced with a lookalike actress reportedly named Melissa Vandella. The theory was first posted in 2011 on a Brazilian Lavigne fansite, but has continually resurfaced every few years to shock and horrify fans around the world.
In its most recent reincarnation, the theory was posted in a tweet thread Friday by Twitter user @givenchyass, who prefaces the thread with a necessary disclaimer: “I’m not sitting here being like ‘this is 100% facts’ it’s literally just a theory so calm down and miss me w[sic] that headass shit.”
The basic gist of the theory is that Lavigne once hired Vandella, an actress, to face the paparazzi posing as Lavigne during her early days of fame. Lavigne, according to the Twitter thread, may have died by suicide just after releasing Let Go in 2002, at the peak of her career. Following her death, Vandella took over Lavigne’s identity, which would explain the dramatic shift in the punk aesthetic. The thread, like internet theories before it, includes side-by-side comparisons of Lavigne’s earlier work with more contemporary releases.
Reactions to the thread include some detailed photo comparisons of Lavigne versus her supposed replacement. Some inconsistencies noted include her jawline, differences in handwriting, and the shape of her nose. Others pointed out that these could all be the results of plastic surgery.
One speculation, proposed by Brazilian fans and again by Noisey in 2015, is that Lavigne’s doppelganger ever-so-subtly alluded to Lavigne’s death in various lyrics from her 2004 album Under My Skin.
BIIIH SHE REALLY TRIED TO TELL US pic.twitter.com/YSgVMHP3sD— Kelly (@kellyblaus) May 14, 2017
Lavigne (or is it MELISSA-turned-Avril?) has yet to reply publicly to the longstanding theory. Her latest tweet, posted Sunday just after her name started trending on Twitter, received responses calling out “Melissa.”
I SEE YOU MELISSA YOU TRICK ASS BITCH— Jack (@J4CKMULL) May 15, 2017
No matter how convincing the theory seems, it’s important to remember that a millennial fave like Lavigne was practically made for meme-ing and outlandish conspiracies. Never forget that she is, after all, married to the lead singer of Nickelback.