Technology has given people easy access to everyone’s lives. Fans are able to feel a part of their favorite celebrity’s everyday life by tracking their whereabouts. They feel up-to-date on what is happening in their lives. Thus, giving them a connection and a sense of closeness to celebrities. The ability to constantly know what is happening with celebrities—what they are wearing, where they are going, and what they are interested in—affects how society lives their lives. People feel the need to emulate their favorite star, so they imitate their clothes, accessories, and even attempt to attend the same type of places.
Teenagers are the most common people trying to copy their idols. Celebrities have the easiest time influencing teens because they are so vulnerable. Teenagers are in search for self-esteem, their identity, and a “cool” self-image. All of these aspects of a teenager’s life are detrimental to who they will become. The power of the celebrity has taken control of these teens and ended with negative influences.
A teen needs to satisfy his need for love, acceptance, and success in order to experience high self-esteem. He gains his self-esteem by pleasing his parents, peers, and society. This is a time in an adolescent’s life where they feel the most need for acceptance. This need for acceptance drives teens to be more experimental, innovative, and sometimes controversial. They are at a time in their life where they keep reinventing themselves. They may start out as a jock, then become a punk, then preppy, and so on and so forth.
According to Teenager Research Unlimited, fun is the number one description for the teenage generation. Teenagers emphasize freedom, yet do not want to take on the responsibilities and obligations of adults. Fun links the teens to experimentation with illegal or illicit substances. Their ideas on life are more in the clouds than in reality. Teens are thinking, dreaming, and even planning a few years ahead. This, in turn, is making celebrities a few years older than them more desirable. Teens are fans of Miley Cyrus, who was caught on film smoking marijuana, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, who went to jail for drinking and drugs. Teens consider this to be okay, and do not let instances like this hinder their idols’ likeability.
*STOP KILLING YOURSELF: HOW TO OVERCOME A MUSIC ADDICTION*
They have become immune to things that are wrong because they constantly see celebrities conducting themselves in this manner in the media. Reality shows have become very popular and teens have begun to realize that you can become famous just by being a bad girl, teen mom, or a crazy party animal who likes to do nothing but drink and “smush,” like the cast members on Jersey Shore. All of these shows set bad examples for young teens. They broadcast that it is okay to constantly fight, be drunk, and have random hookups. A person may even become famous and make millions of dollars in doing so. Why would teenagers see anything wrong with this if society is telling them it is okay? It is not fair to teenagers because they are being influenced by negative actions. They imitate what they see, and what they see is utter chaos. While teens are forced to deal with the pressures of peers, parents, and society, teens are also forced with the questions of “Who am I?” and “Who am I becoming?” They cannot be blamed for their bad decisions and actions when they have idols like Snooki and the Situation.
Teens are confused as to who they are and who they want to be. Because teens are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be, they look to what is popular for ideas. This is where celebrities have the most influence. They turn to their idols to gain inspiration and insight into what they want to grow up to be. Teens’ strong desire to be “cool” has them willing to do, say, and act how they see fit. Teenagers are so obsessed with having the perfect image that they will go to any length to acquire it. They have put an emphasis on how important material objects are, and how they can boost their self-esteem and image. They must have the best and most popular designer brands, hairstyles, cell phones, purses, etc. Teenagers at this point in their lives find their identity through these material objects.
Brands have infiltrated preteens and adolescents’ inner lives. As long as they have the most popular items and are up-to-date with the latest trends, they have obtained great self-esteem, and for that moment in time, their identity. Teenage girls do not have wholesome idols to look up to. When mothers ask their daughters whom they want to be like, many of them will answer Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and Taylor Momsen. All of whom dress provocatively. Miley Cyrus got a tattoo before she turned eighteen, performed at the Teen Choice Awards on a stripper pole in booty shorts, and was caught sending inappropriate pictures. Britney Spears has been to rehab, caught driving with her son on her lap, and had a mental breakdown. Taylor Momsen is known for her bad and rebellious attitude. Should these people be idols to easily influenced teenage girls? No. But they are the ones the media likes to constantly broadcast.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of celebs and pop stars who have adopted the mindset that there is no such thing as negative publicity. Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton’s statuses were catapulted once they had sex tapes leaked. Another reality show that has given teenage girls another misconception on life is The Real Housewives. On The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim Zolciak is supported by her sugar daddy, Big Poppa. She lives a lavish lifestyle provided by a married man with a family. Zolciak flaunts this, making it seem OK to young girls. Celebrities and advertisers know how vulnerable teenagers are and how much they yearn for acceptance and a “cool” identity. They know that whatever they project teenagers will follow.
Alissa Quart, author of Branded: the Buying and Selling of Teenagers, believes that times have changed from when she was a teenager. She gives an example of popular movies then, and popular movies now. She says that popular teen movies these days do not teach a lesson or depict real-life difficulties. Instead, they are filled with “un-people” who are scantily clad and have the nicest bodies and are the most popular. Not only are these “un-people” in movies, but also have begun to be shown on reality television. She’s All That and Bring It On are two of the movies she uses as examples.
Magazines, designers, and marketers all feed off the needs of teenagers for a “perfect” and “cool” self-image. Advertisers believe that teen girls are “copycats,” so Seventeen magazine assured advertisers that if they were to advertise in their magazine their brands would become super popular. They know that teenagers are so easily influenced that they believe it is best to “get ‘em while they’re young.” This is not fair to teenagers because they are forced to grow up fast. Instead of spending their time having fun and taking advantage of their youth, they have become fixated on acting and looking older.
Teens today are more body conscious than ever before. Girls are fixated on their weight and size of their breasts, while boys are focused on their muscles and height. Plastic surgery has become more prevalent than ever, and parents, along with their children, seem to find it acceptable to have a procedure done at a younger age. Thousands of girls are going in to see surgeons to have their breasts augmented, noses reshaped, ears pinned back, as well as have laser hair removal and microdermabrasions done. Heidi Montag, a star from The Hills, was shown throughout the show having surgery after surgery. She finally came out looking like a completely different person.
Stars on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills were shown having procedure after procedure done. They detect one little flaw and off to the surgeon they go. There is a need for perfection these days, and teenagers aren’t even living their lives and aging before they see a need to fix an imperfection. Along with surgery, teenage girls worry about their weight because of all the skinny celebrities they see in the media. Eating disorders are the most deadly among mental disorders and even though it is a mental health problem, the media is a major contributor to the disease. Alison Miller, a writer for Collegiate Times at Virginia Tech, believes that promoting healthy weight loss at a young age is a great way to prevent teens from following the negative footsteps of today’s role models. She also feels that it is the duty of the celebrities to educate teenagers on “ridiculous dieting, drugs, and alcohol.” Teenagers struggling with the hardships of adolescence will be more prone to listen to someone they idolize.
Teenagers seemed to be faced with many difficult decisions and harsh perceptions. They are expected to do well in school and be a good person, but they also want to be popular and confident. They feel they are supposed to look “perfect,” and spend the majority of their time stalking celebrities to find out what they need to buy and wear. Teenager’s lifestyle of simplicity seem to be a thing of the past. While they used to be busy worrying about playing sports and going to school, they are now busy worrying about that, plus their weight, wardrobe, and social status. Teens are growing up faster and are becoming immune to the negative and irrational ways of life the media project. It is not their fault they have succumbed to the glorification of unhealthy habits like smoking, drug abuse, unprotected sex, and alcohol.
It seems as though these celebrities and their ways of life are here to stay, but there are new sites launched for teenagers that give them tools to think critically about media messages they’re exposed to. Without the help of parents, peers, and most of all society and the media, teens will continue to be overcome by the negative monster that is celebrities.
*STOP KILLING YOURSELF: HOW TO OVERCOME A MUSIC ADDICTION*