Justin Bieber is nothing if not whimsical. He had a pet monkey, until the German government seized it from him; he dresses like Jimmy Buffett if Jimmy Buffett were a hypebeast; he probably got secretly married to his girlfriend/wife, Hailey Baldwin, of the Baldwins, after just a few months of dating; he openly weeps on Citi Bikes.
All of this is to say that Bieber plays by his own, tiny-popstar-prince set of rules. So, when a picture of a scraggly blond person wearing a hoodie and eating a burrito SIDEWAYS (?!) began making the rounds on Thursday, no one had any trouble believing it was Bieber. They did have trouble, though, with how he was eating that burrito.
“Justin Bieber Goes Against the Laws of God and Man,” cried PAPER Magazine.
“WTF Is Justin Bieber Doing to This Burrito?” wailed E!.
“Justin Bieber eats his burrito sideways and it’s horrifying,” snapped SB Nation.
We here at the Cut were similarly shocked. Who eats their burrito from the middle? It seems messy and unsustainable. We needed answers.
First we consulted our on-staff Canadians, Lisa Ryan and Anna Silman, to see if maybe this is just how burritos are eaten in Canada, Bieber’s homeland. Neither of them were helpful. Lisa said she thought Canadians ate burritos normally (from the ends) but noted that she’s never had a burrito in Canada. Anna said she had “no idea how they eat burritos in Canada.”
And then, a theory emerged: What if this person wasn’t Justin Bieber at all? Their eyebrows seemed more groomed than Bieber’s, their hair longer, silkier, more blond.
Our photo team set out to investigate. Scrolling through recent paparazzi photos of him, they noted that Bieber hadn’t worn anything similar to this burrito ensemble in the past few days. But maybe the picture was old?
While our associate photo editor Preeti Kinha tried to track down the origin of this photo, I embarked on my own investigation — to determine whether eating a burrito sideways makes any sense at all.
At lunch, I went to a Chipotle by our office and got a steak burrito with guacamole that was the size of a newborn, which was fine with me because I was very hungry. As I was walking back, I got an email from Preeti:
“After some extensive research (looking at paparrazi photos going back more than a year) it seems Bieber’s never been spotted wearing this outfit and with this style of hair at the same time,” she wrote. “He was wearing a pink sweatshirt on 10/10–10/11, but the hoodie’s string tip is metallic and this man’s is pink all the way through. There are recent pap pics of him wearing a similar hat from 10/5 … but his hat has a wider … rib … compared to burrito man’s hat.”
She added that “before January of this year, Bieber’s hair isn’t long enough to match the burrito man’s hair length or coloring. (Also, burrito man’s hair is curly and lighter while Bieber’s usually looks stringy and darker.)”
Hm. So it probably wasn’t Bieber. To be sure, I emailed Bieber’s longtime manager, Scooter Braun. As of publishing, we have not heard back from Braun.
Photo: Madeleine Aggeler
Whether the person in the photo was Bieber or not, I still had to figure out if eating a burrito from the middle made any sense. Sitting in my cube, I held the dense, heavy burrito in my hands, and bit right into the middle of it, like some sort of sicko. If you don’t believe I would really do something so perverted, here’s a picture:
Photo: Courtesy of Madeleine Aggeler
I’m sorry you had to see that.
To be honest, at first it wasn’t terrible. Sometimes the ends of burritos can be a little tortilla-heavy, and it was nice to bite right into the fillings. But, as you might expect, this technique quickly became unsustainable, and after several bites I had to put the burrito on a plate and eat it with a spoon, like a bread bowl.
Several hours later, here we are. What did we learn? It’s probably not Justin Bieber in that picture, though we have no idea who this doppelganger is or why they eat burritos from the middle which, as we also learned, is dumb and bad, no offense.
If you have any information about who the individual in the picture might be or, if you are Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, please contact me.