Young, Famous, Rich…and Happy?

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As a little girl I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a singer, a rock star. I’d have loads of cash, I’d help out those I loved, it would be glamorous and life would be easy.

It turns out the path to achieving fame and success at a young age seems to have a nasty aftertaste. The teenage years are awkward for everyone. I’d hate to have mine played out in the public eye, being scrutinized and torn apart by the media and lurking paparazzi. Maybe that’s what has sent so many young ‘starlets’ over the edge. Possibly it’s the access to millions of dollars and nobody willing to say, “no, you don’t need that.”

For whatever reason, many young celebrities don’t live a life that I envy. Their money and fame don’t appeal to me when I see the price they pay to have it. I fully expected to see Amy Winehouse’s death splashed over the news. It wasn’t me being cynical, it was obvious that she was fighting demons that all the money and success in the world couldn’t save her from.

I’ll never forget Britney’s head shaving meltdown and subsequent hospitalization: strapped to an ambulance gurney in restraints with a blanket the only thing keeping her modest, eyes wide with fear and confusion while the cameras kept snapping, the flashes giving her a genuine sense of a deer trapped in headlights. All these years later and she still isn’t in charge of her own finances- her father is her conservator. Her children will become old enough to see the pictures and read the stories of her fall from grace. Fame? You can keep it.

Lindsay seemed to be a genuinely talented child actor. But her quick rise to fame and the VIP status that accompanies it were clearly too much for her to handle. The substance abuse, the stupid decisions made (how many DUI’s does one person need before they stop driving drunk?) have made it hard for me to feel sympathy for her. For Lindsay, going to court is just another part of her daily routine. She is contrite. She attempts to use her celebrity status to excuse her idiotic behavior. She’s been ordered back to rehab in May, but recently told David Letterman that she doesn’t “need it”. She is in her mid twenties, but her hard living lifestyle and penchant for plastic surgery have destroyed her once pretty face.

Vanessa Hudgens could be forgiven for taking nude selfies at least once. But she didn’t stop and those pics are on the internet forever. Rihanna parties hard enough to be hospitalized for exhaustion and tweets pics of herself with an IV in her arm, her instagram account is packed with photos of her partying, flashing body parts, sucking face with Chris Brown and she’s even had her knuckles tattooed with the title “thugs life” (I don’t think this was the kind of life Tupac was referring to).

Christina has been arrested for public intoxication and driving offences. The media have harassed her over her body for as long as she’s been around as well as her questionable choice in clothing- she has bared so much: her ‘Xtina’ years, complete with chaps and rhinestone undies will be hard for anyone to forget. The fact that she (and Britney) felt they needed to be sexualised so young is absolutely tragic. Both started out on the Mickey Mouse club as kids, but their teen fame came with the burden of the world seeing them grow from girls to women. I don’t doubt for a moment that they had management and svengali type PR teams turning them from fresh faced tweens with a wholesome image into tacky, slutty jail bait to appeal to a particular demographic, but at the end of the day, your talent should stand alone. (Cue Adele, who I don’t think would be caught dead stripping off for money.)

The women I have mentioned all have talent, or had it at some stage.  But they lived out the awkward years in the glaring eye of the media, every mistake printed on glossy front pages, every quote ‘from a reliable source’ splashed on tabloid pages. People unwilling to protect them from their own excess. No rules. No curfew. No structure. No being held accountable. No guidance. Just ‘yes men’ and stage mothers (think Dina Lohan).

Asked by an interviewer if her fame was “all it was cracked up to be?” Britney sighed and with the most intense honesty looked away from the camera and simply replied, “I’m sad.”

I remember watching the interview and thinking “me too.”

Do we put too much pressure on young celebrities? Do they bring it on themselves? Where have good female role models for young women gone?

  • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

    It always makes me sad when you see child stars go off the rails but I hardly blame them. I am very grateful I didn’t have to live my teen years in the spotlight, having all my awkward stages or embarrassing outfits splashed over the front page of every tabloid.

    I’m even grateful Facebook didn’t exist back in my teens and whatever awkwardness displayed online was done so back when no one used their real names so I at least can’t be tracked and hopefully my awful awful angst can never be found.

    Growing up is cringe worthy enough. I feel for the teens of today, in many ways their awkward stages are on display for the world to see.

    • maree Talidu

      I dont blame the girls either. My heart has broken for Britney the most, because I believe she is a victim of a horrible fame machine that tore her apart. Lindsay & Rihanna lost any sympathy I may have had because they just don’t STOP. And Lindsay seems to be continually flipping off the American Judicial system, as though the rules don’t apply to celebrity citizens.

      I remember when Britney and Christina hit the big time, in a mainstream way, there were actually 4 blonde teenage girls breaking through- the other 2 were Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore. I’ve always wondered what made Mandy Moore different. She didn’t end up all over the tabloids. She just got on with her career and seemed to keep her clothes on in the process, which in turn would have meant less commercial success, but it’s probably worth it to be able to lead a fairly normal lifestyle.

      • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

        Yeah I remember when they all broke through. Jessica Simpson didn’t go off the rails either. Mandy Moore I think has achieved more lasting success, especially with her acting career.

        • maree Talidu

          Jessica didn’t go off the rails per se, but she’s battled the tabloids with her weight, her marriage, divorce, her flings etc. Compared to the others she’s come out of it relatively unscathed though. Mandy Moore is just super delightful.

  • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    Kate Bush recorded her first single in 1975 (The Man With The Child In His Eyes) when she was 17… but then EMI held back the release of this song until she recorded her debut album (The Kick Inside) in 1977, when she was 19… that’s when Wuthering Heights was released… (She was the first woman to have a UK number one with a self-written song…) It was only after this that they released The Man With The Child In His Eyes…

    I always thought that was really clever of EMI – they could have pushed her straight into the studio to record her first album when she was 17, but they decided to let her grow up a couple more years before putting all that pressure on her…

    I couldn’t imagine that happening nowadays…

    • maree Talidu

      I don’t think it would either. Fiona Apple was a teen when Tidal was recorded, but she’s such a straight up hater of the media and is so protective of her privacy that she didn’t end up like other young women in the industry. I’m also appalled by Willow Smith in general, whether she’s whipping her hair or mouthing off, she’s got a massive ego and a full blown diva attitude and she’s a CHILD.
      And then there’s Miley, Ke$ha……… I’m grateful I don’t have kids, especially girls. I’d hate for them to think you need to strip off and shake what’s left of your dignity to be respected in the industry.