Katy Perry is getting some heat for a joke she made at an aspiring singer’s expense on American Idol.
When the 38-year-old pop star and her Idol co-judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan discovered on the March 5 episode that a hopeful named Sara Beth Liebe was the mother of three kids at just 25, she stood up and clutched the table in front of her, leaning back on it in shock.
“If Katy lays on the table, I think I’m going to pass out,” Liebe exclaimed, to which Perry quipped, “Honey, you’ve been laying on the table too much.”
The young mother has since called out Perry’s joke, saying in a recent TikTok that it was “embarrassing to have that on TV.” “It was hurtful and that’s that,” she continued. “I think that women supporting and uplifting other women is so cool, and I think that mom shaming is super lame and I think that it’s hard enough to be a mom and it’s hard enough to be a woman.”
“I see all of the young moms and just moms in general … keep loving your babies,” Liebe added. “Nobody deserves to feel crappy about that.”
Billboard has reached out to Perry for comment.
After performing renditions of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” and Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets,” Liebe went on to receive a golden ticket from the judges — but only after enduring further criticism from Perry. The “Dark Horse” singer expressed doubt that the hopeful, who was bubbling with nervous energy, was ambitious enough for the show. At another point, she said the singer was “like a comic strip character came to life.”
Viewers also weren’t happy with the other judges’ reactions to Liebe — Bryan laughed heartily along with Perry’s table joke and Richie was the only judge who voted against passing the singer on to the next round — though most expressed particular disappointment in Perry’s remarks.
“The judges seemed to go out of their way to judge her before they had anything to actually judge,” commented one on the audition video posted to Idol‘s YouTube channel. “After she sang her pure heart out, the judges acted like they needed to save face and stay rude towards her instead of acknowledging they might have jumped the gun forming an opinion too quickly…. Shame on Katy especially.”
“I love that she powered through all the rudeness,” wrote another, calling Liebe “a ray of sunshine.”
Watch her American Idol audition above.