Making appearances at award shows and schmoozing with the elite—the life of a celebrity is filled with allure. Whether you are a casual, couch-bound consumer of media or a professional, perhaps moderately insane, fangirl, you can’t deny that there is at least one figure in the entertainment industry that you would like to, well, become.
There is no fault in following after fashion trends set by Selena Gomez or practicing Jennifer Lawrence’s signature wink for the camera. That being said, when the supposed admiration for a celebrity morphs into obsession or worse—idolization, be well aware that you are stepping into dangerous territory.
Everybody is constantly trying to find their true identity and shape their personality. Especially in your teen years, media influence has become increasingly fundamental in this phase of self discovery. However, when teens turn on their computers to immediately be ambushed with the news of their “idol” being papped “looking stunningly thin,” they are bound to spend that extra five minutes in front of their mirror–contemplating whether they could be considered so as well.
That’s alright. But when those five minutes transform to hours, and that one quick look at the scale turns into an excruciating daily ritual, their lives will soon be bound by numbers–pounds, calories, percentages… As the notion of the ideal human body is continuously represented and even celebrated in mass media, teens who strive to achieve the “default” perfection have been reduced to methods like starving themselves, binging and purging, or excessive exercise–all of which will lead to eating disorders. It has been recorded that, at this moment, anorexia is a daily struggle for ten million females and one million males in the United States (NationalEatingDisorders.org), and these numbers themselves are on a steady incline.
This is reason enough to say that idolizing celebrities will only do yourself harm. It may sound harsh, but celebrities are truly unworthy of becoming role models for our future generation. Not implying that they are not good people, but the stars we see as idols are merely performers in the light of the public. Their job is to entertain, to act. They spend hours themselves perfecting their smile and practicing answers in interviews. Before they turn on the cameras, they are polished with make up–airbrushed to the core. The people you see on the television screen are not people of true authenticity. And therefore, if you idolize them, you’d simply be idolizing the character they created.
And even though this character is supposedly “perfect” aesthetically, they may not be as perfect ethically. In other words, they will make mistakes. Big ones. Justin Bieber is a superior example–this is someone arrested for driving under influence and assault. Still, his fans stand up to defend him in a way that just might smudge the line of moral and immoral. Teens who see such scandals may not only forgive their idols for it, but because they deemed their idols as faultless, they may follow in the same footsteps, thinking that those mistakes are acceptable and “cool”.
Parents often complain that certain celebrities and the media are not setting a good example for their children. But as they say this, they are imposing a responsibility onto the stars that they have no obligation to take. In the end, it’s the parents that need to guard their children from inappropriate outfits, explicit videos and vulgar language depicted in the media. If they are not “setting a good example” maybe it’s because they should not be an “example” for your children. Again, celebrities’ jobs are to entertain, to act, to sing–whatever it is that made them famous in the first place. Educating your children? That’s your own responsibility.
Celebrities lead interesting lives, and it’s inevitable that some consumers of the media will want to imitate them and their endeavors. However, it is awfully presumptuous to think that celebrities truly desire to be imitated and idolized.
The faces you see in the media today are faces that have been altered for the sole purpose of being visually pleasing to the viewers. Simply put–just because they look perfect, does not mean they are perfect. So idolizing celebrities will only put impossible standards and restraints on you that the stars themselves have yet to meet.
Further on, instead of trying to fit the mold of an idol in the media, try finding role models within your life. A parent, an older sibling, a classmate, etc. Real, tangible personalities around you will inspire you more than a photoshopped figure atop their metaphorical throne, printed upon magazine covers.