The musician, who partnered with Simone Biles and SK-II on a film series about societal pressures and tuning out online criticism, says he's witnessed firsthand how difficult the internet can be for women

By Janine Puhak
May 03, 2021 05:33 PM
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John Legend
| Credit: Getty

Whether onstage or off, John Legend always seems to hit the all right notes.

The EGOT winner and former "Sexiest Man Alive" got candid about championing women at work and at home on the latest episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast. Legend, 42, has teamed up with SK-II to tell the stories of six Olympians, penning the empowerment anthem "Take a Look" to accompany gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles' short film series "VS Trolls."

The Voice judge explained to host Janine Rubenstein why the partnership resonated with him.

"It was cool to do it ... [because] I was able to tell a story about Simone and some of the challenges that she's dealt with," Legend said. "She'll probably go down as the greatest gymnast of all time, but she still deals with challenges. People critiquing the way she looks, people harassing her online and trying to shoot her down even as she's succeeding in such a monumental way. And despite all those challenges, she still continues to triumph over adversity."

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He further explained about the series, "We're celebrating these athletes but also talking about some of the challenges they face, not only as an athlete but out in the world. Whether it's dealing with beauty standards, all the other negativity they may encounter, and how they're able to triumph over that."

That experience hit home to him personally as well, after watching wife Chrissy Teigen (with whom he shares daughter Luna, 5, and son Miles, 2) weather so much criticism online that she quit Twitter for good in Marchthough she ended up returning in April.

"Being married to Chrissy and seeing some of the challenges that she has dealing with social media," he said, has helped him understand "it's just harder for women, when it comes to that because there's a lot more scrutiny on the way they look and people feel much more comfortable being mean to them then they do to men. Just seeing the difference between the way I get treated and the way Chrissy does."

He also acknowledged it's not as simple as turning off social media or not reading the comments.

john legend and chrissy teigen
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend with daughter Luna and son Miles
| Credit: Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

"It's easier said than done," he said. "Because you do wanna get feedback. And so much of Chrissy's career has been built off of her interaction with people and her getting to know her audience and them getting to know her. She doesn't want to close herself off to it, but at the same time, it can be toxic sometimes."

"And so obviously, she quit Twitter for a little while, thinking that might be the answer, but she realized that she missed it too much," he added, with a laugh.

Check out more from Legend's interview on PEOPLE Every Day, airing now on iHeartMediaApple podcastsSpotifyStitcher or wherever you listen to your podcasts.