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The conspiracy theory that Avril Lavigne was replaced by a lookalike is probably too far-fetched to be true.

Through hits like “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi,” Avril Lavigne rose to stardom at the ripe age of 18. She cultivated a fanbase with her pop style and punk fashion sense. When fans noticed that her style and brand began evolving, some attributed it to a wild theory that Lavigne died and was replaced by a lookalike named Melissa. The supporters of the theory offer photo evidence and an analysis of her music to claim the differences between the “new” and “old” Avril Lavigne. The articles on the theory are compelling, but the switch is likely too extreme to be true.

The theory allegedly originated from an online Brazilian blog called “Avril Lavigne morreu e foi substituída por uma sósia?” in 2005. The blog post, which is entirely in Portugese, details the conspiracy and its evidence. It points to differences in Avril’s skin, nose and even videos of her music and lyrics to prove stylistic changes. When the conspiracy gained speed on Twitter and other web sites in America, supporters of the ideas laid out on the original post failed to notice an important disclaimer: “This blog was created to show how conspiracy theories can look true.”

In a 2015 article, Buzzfeed reporter Ryan Broderick attributes his tweet to causing the theory to garner attention in America. He claims that after he heard about the hoax when working in Brazil, he tweeted about it. He wrote that he thought the theory was humorous, positing that the blog was a kind of an inside joke in Brazil. After his tweet, several articles were released about the theory. What started as a simple gag blew up into an internet phenomenon, proving that information can be taken out of context and blown out of proportion. 

According to BBC, The story that some internet junkies have latched onto is that Lavigne committed suicide in 2003 and hired an actress named Melissa Vandella to take her place. It’s unclear how Vandella became tied to the theory, and after the alleged transition, some say her lyrics hint at her death. Heavy.com sites the song “My Happy Ending,” which contains these lyrics that some believe relate to the details of her suicide: “Don’t leave me hangin’. In a city so dead. Help up so high. On such a breakable thread.” Lavigne also opened up about her struggle with Lyme disease to in 2015, BBC reports. This could be a factor in her shift to darker, emotional song lyrics. 

Lavigne has since responded to the rumor in The Sun, calling it “dumb.” While it’s unlikely that she’d reveal her secret, it would be an extremely difficult stunt to pull off. People like doctors and lawyers would have to be let in on the scheme, and it could be challenging to keep all these people quiet.

Regarding the alleged changes to her appearance, aging, fame and money could likely be attributed to the change. While Lavigne has changed since 2002, most people change over time. Years can drastically alter one’s appearance. Hollywood also has a way of influencing celebrities’ styles, aesthetic and even facial structure. Mashable sites dermatology, dental work, plastic surgery, and other treatments as the secrets to the Hollywood beauty routine. Celebrities can easily get caught up in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Some celebrities like Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, look somewhat unrecognizable in pictures taken before their rise to major fame.

While it’s an interesting take on a singer’s evolving style, this theory proves how easily the internet can exaggerate the validity of an outrageous theory. 

Diana Witt is a sophomore theatre and media arts and design double major. Contact Diana at wittdr@dukes.jmu.edu.