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?