INDIE WENDY DARLING: THE JEANAE WHITE STORY
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NOTE: Since this article has been somewhat anticipated by readers and followers, I wanted to take a little extra time to prepare it just to make sure that everything was orderly and factual. If any of this information is incorrect, please message/notify me. It would be an honest mistake!
Throughout the ages, there has always been a strong marriage between artists and models, actors and understudies, musicians and muses, and the like. Botticelli had Simonetta, Oscar Wilde had Bosie, Dali had Gala, Sid had Nancy…you get the idea. Former Fall Out Boy bassist/songwriter Pete Wentz is probably best known for being Mr. Ashlee Simpson to the mainstream media, but before Ashlee, there was another woman, or should I say girl, that was the #1 driving force behind every decision he made and the chief inspiration for nearly song he wrote. Who exactly is Jeanae Therese White, and why did she matter so much to a Pop-Punk superstar?
"I used to obsess over living, now I only obsess over you…"
Back in 2002, 23-year-old Pete Wentz was a local legend in the Chicago Hardcore underground. A college dropout, Wentz was still living with his parents and jamming with best friend (and future FOB guitarist) Joe Trohman in various bands, most notably Arma Angelus, which also featured Tim McIlrath, later of Rise Against. Somewhere during this time frame, a spunky 15-year-old with multi-colored hair and large almond-shaped eyes began turning up at shows, and Wentz was intrigued. Despite the eight year age difference, Jeanae and Pete grew very fond of one another and quickly formed a relationship.
Likewise, Wentz formed a relationship with another individual, Patrick Stump, and Fall Out Boy was created. The first couple of years were rough for Wentz - Fall Out Boy seemed to be going nowhere, and his teenage muse seemed to not know what the word “faithful” meant. Learning that Jeanae had slept with two of his closest friends in the same weekend fueled a raging fire in Wentz, but the outcome was creative rather than destructive. Fall Out Boy’s 2003 breakout album Take This To Your Grave was full of scissor sharp “Softcore” tunes with angry, scathing lyrics. For example, take the album’s opening track, “Tell That Mick He Just Made My List Of Things To Do Today”:
"Breaking hearts has never looked so cool
As when you wrap your car around a tree
Your makeup looks so great next to his teeth
Let’s play this game called “when you catch fire”
I wouldn’t piss to put you out, no
Stop burning bridges and drive off of them
So I can forget about you”
While Wentz did have a good reason to be upset, it’s still a little disturbing that he would write lyrics like this about a 15-year-old girl that he was sleeping with. Jeanae seemed barely phased by it though, and Wentz eventually forgave her. However, as Fall Out Boy grew more successful, Wentz found himself on the road more than at home, and once again, Jeanae’s interests turned to other men. The severe push/pull dynamics within their relationship was a partial cause behind Wentz’s 2005 suicide attempt. Just three months before Fall Out Boy’s first major-label album From Under The Cork Tree, Wentz overdosed on Atavan in his car to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” and spent two weeks in the hospital afterward.
Once From Under The Cork Tree was released, Jeanae and Wentz’s problems became fodder for the droves of fangirls that Fall Out Boy gained. While Jeanae was happy to stay out of the spotlight and let Wentz do all the talking, she did regularly take to her blog and share thinly veiled details concerning their relationship, some of which was not the least bit savory.
Their ups-and-downs grew even more extreme - in late August 2005, Wentz was arrested for assaulting a police officer who tried to break up a fight between him and Jeanae, which led to him busting the windows out of her car. Following this incident, there was actually a strange year-long calm between the two where they actually seemed to be happy and well-adjusted. Jeanae was spotted at various FOB-related parties and events, and in July 2006, Wentz bought a bulldog puppy for Jeanae that they could raise together. They named him Hemingway.
Jeanae overall seemed to be in a better place mentally, and her heightened exposure within punk and scene circles led to friendships with alternative models like Audrey Kitching and Jac Vanek. Nick Scimeca, a mutual friend of Jeanae’s and Wentz’s, encouraged her to pursue her dream to become a high-end hair stylist. She was hired at a salon in Chicago and had steady work while still enjoying the perks of being a rock star’s girlfriend.
(S)he tastes like you, only sweeter…
For various reasons, Wentz decided it was time to leave Chicago behind and move to Los Angeles. After years of suffering from Jeanae’s infidelity, he suddenly decided that it was his turn to play the field. Within the span of three or four months, Wentz was romantically linked to Michelle Trachenburg, Lindsay Lohan, and of course, Ashlee Simpson. Meanwhile, Jeanae was still back in Chicago and probably had to learn about Wentz’s extracurricular activities through tabloid reports. Ashlee became Wentz’s LA girl, while Jeanae was Wentz’s Chicago safe bet.
As 2007 arrived, Wentz found himself caught between the two and unable to make a clear decision. Fall Out Boy’s Rolling Stone cover feature described Jeanae as Wentz’s main squeeze. “She’s the only girl who can really get to me”, Wentz had said. The following February, The two seemingly happy lovebirds took a romantic vacation to Paris; the photos were infamously slabbed all over the internet for enthusiastic fans to dissect.
Then just a month later, Wentz was spotted with Ashlee again. Fall Out Boy released Infinity On High, and Jeanae was completely out of the picture for good. Some speculate that the album’s lead hit “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” was a kiss-off to Jeanae as Wentz decided that Ashlee was the one he really wanted:
And I want these words to make things right
But it’s the wrongs that make the words come to life
“Who does he think he is?”
If that’s the worst you got
Better put your fingers back to the keys
One night and one more time
Thanks for the memories
even though they weren’t so great
“He tastes like you only sweeter”
In April, a confused and hurt Jeanae took to her blog to share fond (and not so fond) memories she had with Wentz. She quoted lines from the FOB songs “I’ve Got This Ringing In My Ears But None On My Fingers” and “Gay Is Not A Synonym For Shitty” before expelling five years’ worth of baggage. “My heart’s been feeling like a bird fighting for freedom with my ribs as its cage, or something like the thrill of the roller coaster, only not in the good kind of way,” she wrote, adding “I have experienced a wonderful thing, and through all the pain and happiness i have endured i don’t think id ever change a thing. I will never forget the way he could make my heart swell”
Most FOB fans know what happened next: Ashlee got pregnant and Wentz married her, and the two are still in the midst of matrimonial bliss. As for Jeanae, she endured intense struggles with only a few hometown friends to rely on for help. Rolling Stone had described Wentz as Peter Pan, and his gang in the Decaydance/FBR community were his lost boys. In actuality, Wentz and Jeanae had seen one another as Peter Pan and Wendy Darling for much of their relationship, but without Pan, Wendy could no longer fly. She was unable to find work as a stylist for a while and had to become a serving wench at Medieval Times. On her Myspace page, Jeanae listed her relationship status as “divorced” and befriended an Anti-Ashlee Simpson page. Her writing became somewhat erratic; one post contained poetry with lines like “does she know what I know about you?” (these poems were later removed).
The worst of it came when Wentz refused to allow her to see Hemingway on the grounds that she “couldn’t take care of him”. By the end of 2007 she took to Ebay to sell items of clothing that Wentz had bought for her, which sharply divided fans. Some felt empathy for her, while others felt she was desperately seeking attention. The truth is that she was a girl in crisis, someone who had wrapped a large part of her identity up in a man who left her for someone more rich and famous than either Jeanae or himself.
Today Jeanae keeps a low profile, occasionally popping back up to post song lyrics on her blog. She has been able to find work as a stylist once again as a traveling stylist (like the ones who make appearances in shopping mall plazas). Hopefully she has found a way to properly heal her wounds and pick up from where she left off.
From A Personal Perspective
Jeanae is a person with a talent for provoking strong feelings in people, both positive or negative, and I was no exception. My first impression of her was that of a fuck-up who was trying to latch onto Wentz for her 15 minutes of fame. Admittedly some of my comments on her blog posts were pretty harsh. She wrote things that seemed specially made to hurt him; this and her reputation for cheating made me take a disliking to her. She cheated on him multiple times, she did shady things behind his back, and he left her for someone else. You get what you give.
Then I found out about how young she was when their relationship began, and honestly it made me sick. It also made me realize why so many FOB fans were willing to take her side. Think about it - here’s a teenage girl who is not much older than the girls who make up a sizable amount of FOB’s fan base, and she’s dating a rock star that most of said girls would kill to date or at least hook up with. He took this unknown girl and put her on a lofty pedestal for his own gain and set a multitude of ideals that she could not live up to. Then after he became famous, he knocked her off of this pedestal, forcing her to watch as a rich starlet, who knew nothing about his past or his desires, was named as her successor. As one follower of Jeanae’s blog commented, “you were completely robbed of your teenage years”.
I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to be that young and to know that the song blasting out of your friend’s car radio was written about you. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to walk down the street and have 13-year-old strangers calling you a whore. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to turn on the TV, open a magazine, or go online only to see your ex’s face staring back at you with that same crooked grin slabbed on his face, only it’s intended for someone else. I especially can’t imagine how much it would hurt to hear this ex trash-talk you in interviews without ever mentioning your name, as if you’re as visible as the air slipping out of his lungs.
Wherever Jeanae is, I hope she’s doing alright. In hindsight, the girl has been through a hell of a lot of obstacles at a young age and has had to endure a lifetime’s worth of bullshit. The truth is that none of us know what we would do if we were placed in her situation, so it’s not our place to judge. All we as fans can do is listen to the songs and try to figure out what was running through Wentz’s mind as he wrote each line.
In no way am I bashing Ashlee, either. I’ve always liked her and I think she did a lot to help Wentz get back into a better state of mind. They make a good couple and I wish them all the best. My goal for writing this article was to remind the masses that while there’s an Eve behind every Adam, there was also a Lillith before every Eve. Lillith may be forgotten and not get her dues, but she’s still there nonetheless, and she knew Adam’s penchant for sin before Eve was able to exorcise it. Jeanae’s story can serve as a good cautionary tale to any girl of my age group or younger who wants to be the girlfriend of a musician.
- Fall Out Boy Lyrics from Take This To Your Grave, From Under The Cork Tree, and Infinity on High
- Fall Out Boy’s Rolling Stone cover story, March 2007
- Pete Wentz’s Kerrang! interview from April 2008
** Additionally, there are interviews with Wentz where he discussed aspects of their relationship, but I don’t remember the exact ones. When I am able to locate these sources again, this section will be updated. Also, if you can help out, drop me a message.
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