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Jennifer Lawrence and the Roller Coaster of Public Perception

Love her. Hate her. Love her (again).

Let's go back to February 2012, when a young actress named Jennifer Lawrence was on the cusp of superstardom. The first Hunger Games film was a month away from wide release. As soon as it came out, there was no stopping Miss Lawrence from slaying both you and your faves. A new American sweetheart arrived seemingly overnight.

But there was something different about Jennifer compared to the Meg Ryans of yesteryear. She was unfiltered, quirky, and unfazed by the circus of attention surrounding her. We're sure you fondly remember these prime retro JLaw soundbites:

For the first time, we had a superstar unafraid to admit she gorges on fries, fangirls over Meryl Streep, and has brothers who still call her ugly. She wasn't some unattainable, ethereal figure. Jennifer was actually human, and that felt awesome. Just look at some of the headlines about JLaw during her rise to fame (2012–early 2013). Notice how they're all overwhelmingly positive:

  • Rolling Stone— "Jennifer Lawrence: America's Kick-Ass Sweetheart"
  • BuzzFeed— "The 25 Best Jennifer Lawrence Quotes Of 2012"
  • ABC— "10 Reasons to Love Jennifer Lawrence"
  • Bop and Tiger Beat— "10 Reasons We Love Jennifer Lawrence"
  • She was also unapologetic—and still is—about her "curvy" body. (More on why we put that in quotations later.) “I eat like a caveman. I’ll be the only actress who doesn’t have anorexia rumors," Jen told ELLE magazine in November 2012. “In Hollywood, I’m obese. I’m considered a fat actress." Sound logic, right?

    All of this worked brilliantly in painting JLaw as the everygirl—the cool chick who could down an entire pizza but still made your brother thirsty AF. And things only got crazier when she won the Best Actress Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook...and fell up the stage. Please watch.

    The peak of JLaw obsession came immediately after the fall during her Oscars press conference. Her off-the-cuff and somewhat crass remarks were endearing and, heck, even funny. (Plus, the fact that she "did a shot" before answering questions further solidified her "one of us" status.)

    But things took a turn in spring 2013. We reached Jennifer Lawrence overload. Because our society is full of trolls, we started picking apart everything she did. Maybe JLaw wasn't so perfect, after all. Truthfully, though, some critics made excellent points.

    Like how Jennifer may not be the most positive body role model for young girls after all. When Miss Lawrence quipped to Mirror, "I'd rather look chubby on screen and like a person in real life," one Huffington Post contributor Jenny Trout was quick to check her thin-shaming. "But when someone says they would rather 'look like a person' than look thin," the blogger wrote, "the message between the lines is that thin people don't look like people." Damn. She's right.

    Trout also criticized Jennifer for being so candid about stuffing her face when actual plus-size actresses like Melissa McCarthy have to repeatedly apologize for their figures. "Imagine if Melissa McCarthy had made so many public comments about food and McDonald's," she wrote. "It wouldn't be cute or funny, it would be schtick. Look at the fat woman, being human and hungry for something bad for her! How grotesquely humorous it is when fat people eat!" Again, no lies detected.

    This was only the beginning. Slowly, cracks started to form in Jennifer's loud-mouthed image. Could it be that she's not funny and actually just plain rude? Perez Hilton seemed to think so in April 2013, when he reported that Jennifer was the only celebrity to have bodyguards at the GLAAD Media Awards and didn't pose for any pictures with fans. And who can forget her 2014 Golden Globes press conference, where she was noticeably snarkier toward reporters compared to previous years? Charm in short supply.

    Flavorwire writer Tyler Coates put it best when he penned, "There’s a whiff of ingratitude about Lawrence that continues to be rewarded because most see statements like this as 'honest' or 'irreverent.'" Indeed, these diva-like behaviors created the picture of a Jennifer Lawrence vastly different from 2012's bright-eyed Katniss Everdeen. You can't be the everygirl and a glamour girl, too.

    And then the nude photos happened. In September 2014, several X-rated pics of Jennifer, Kate Upton, and other A-listers hit the Internet as the result of a cloud hack. This may have seemed like JLaw's public perception low, but she actually turned it into something positive. (A Vanity Fair magazine cover will do that.) Like clockwork, the whole world loved her again for standing up for the right to privacy.

    “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime,” she told the glossy. “It is a sexual violation."

    We're not quite sure why this statement flipped the switch on Jennifer's persona. Maybe because it was drenched in Katniss DGAF badassery or her, erm, snark appeared reigned in. But it did the trick. People quickly praised JLaw for taking such a feminist stance with the photos, which set the "We adore you again!" train back in motion.

    So, where does J go from here? After vacationing with resident media darling Amy Schumer earlier this summer, she's firmly back in the public's good graces. With the final Hunger Games flick and Joy, her third collaboration with director David O. Russell, on tap for end of year, she's set to wow critics—and maybe earn a fourth Oscar nod. (Which she desperately needs after her third film with Bradley Cooper, Serena, flopped astronomically. You probably didn't even see it and may not even be aware it exists.)

    What comes up, must come down. It's a saying that's tired, true, and applies 100 percent to Jennifer Lawrence. Thankfully, however, Hollywood gravity isn't so black and white. And sometimes—if the public wants it—what falls can rise again. High. Please see Britney Spears as reference.

    From the looks of it, JLaw can breathe a sigh of relief. We like her—we really, really like her. (For now, at least.)