Florence Pugh had the best response when someone questioned the 21-year age gap between her and her boyfriend Zach Braff on Instagram this week.
Relationship age gaps really shouldn’t matter in this day and age – and yet, it’s amazing how much fodder for gossip they can provoke.
You only have to look at the reaction to Keanu Reeves’ relationship with Alexandra Grant to understand this prejudice in action. Grant was deemed “too old” for Reeves by online trolls; this despite the fact that she is nine years younger than the actor.
When Pugh’s boyfriend Zach Braff posted a princess emoji on one of her Instagram posts recently, it sparked a wave of unwelcome speculation over their 21-year age gap (Pugh is 23 years old and Braff is 44).
It was an affectionate gesture on a very ordinary post – and yet a handful of people couldn’t resist using it as an excuse to wade into the age debate.
As several of Pugh’s fans on the thread pointed out, what happens between two consenting adults in a happy relationship is entirely their own business – regardless of age or any other factor.
But it was Pugh herself who finally shut down the silliness. When someone wrote to Zach, “you’re 44 years old”, she responded simply: “and yet he got it ”.
It is exactly the kind of direct, unfussy shut-down that stops trollers in their tracks; all kudos to Pugh for stepping in.
Pugh is currently starring alongside Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan in a critically acclaimed remake of the Louisa May Alcott classic Little Women.
The actor plays youngest sister Amy March in the Greta Gerwig-directed film, and is keen to break the stereotype of her character as the spoilt, bratty one.
Instead, she and Gerwig have worked to introduce elements of drive and creativity to the portrayal of Amy, drawing detail from the much-loved book.
Pugh and Scrubs star Braff started dating earlier this year, after working together on the short film In the Time It Takes to Get There.
Braff attended the New York premiere of Little Women, although he arrived separately to Pugh. Aside from this brief Instagram exchange, the couple have yet to comment publicly on their relationship.