After a reported five months of secret dating, the cat’s out of the bag for Olympic champion Michael Phelps and his girlfriend Megan Rossee. E! Online was the first site to break the news when Phelps and Rossee appeared together on the red carpet of a Speedo event on Monday night. Ever since, the internet has been buzzing with speculation: who is Rossee, and what does she want with Phelps? Most of the rumors surrounding Rossee have been nothing but negative, and that’s just unfair.
Here are the facts: Rossee is an aspiring model who supports herself as a cocktail waitress and has said on her Model Mayhem profile that she won’t pose nude, Huffington Post has reported. Since going public with their relationship, she’s been posting images with Phelps to her Instagram account. Armed with little more that the bare bones info, the press has already opened fire on Rossee.
TMZ called her a “Jet-Setting, Vegas-Hopping Hobnobber” after photos aired of Rossee traveling with her model friends on private jets with VIPs. Someone with her modeling career is going to meet VIPs who are going to have jets; this isn’t unusual, and certainly isn’t grounds to say that she “has been around the block,” a phrase with a sexual connotation that implies that Rossee was doing more than just modeling. Whatever went on during those jet trips should be none of the media’s business either way. Why should we expect a beautiful 25-year-old to have been effectively a nun before meeting Phelps?
Radar Online, meanwhile, accused her of “chasing celebrities for years” because of a comment she posted to her sister’s Myspace account five years ago complaining that she emailed Scrubs star Zach Braff but never received a response: "oh yea…. and I wrote zach braff an email. He didn’t respond. :(!!!! my dreams are ruined," she wrote. That hardly sounds like a schemer trying to worm her way into the upper echelons of Hollywood, but rather like a young woman having a good-natured laugh at herself about a celebrity crush. To just write Roossee off as a gold digger or fame-hunter because she, like every other girl, has crushed on celebs before does nothing but perpetuate harmful stereotypes about women.
Finally, there are the accusations that she’s only dating Phelps to get famous herself. Although “unnamed sources” are cited, there’s no real proof given that she and Phelps have anything but a happy relationship built on a genuine bond. This is nothing more than a case of the media attacking a girl for being linked to a celebrity. Her father, Wayne Rossee, defended her to Rumor Fix, saying “she had a career in her own before she met Michael.”
Maybe someday a girl will be able to date a celebrity without her name being dragged through the mud, but apparently today is not that day.