(This is part two of a two part blog post. If you would like to read part one please go here: Celebrity Addiction Part 1)
This raises the question: Has the media gone too far? Since television and movies became mainstream in America, teens have tried to emulate the speech, dress, and behavior of their favorite celebrities. And now, scientists have even found a correlation between celebrity worship and depression/anxiety. Does depression lead to addiction, or does addiction lead to depression? Or does it matter? The bottom line: A generation of teenagers feels entitled to become famous. For what they will become famous has become irrelevant. Teens believe that becoming famous is a cure-all for all of life's challenges. Our society is raising a generation of narcissists whose only sense of self rises around entitlement and fame. Healthy relationships will be replaced with illusory relationships that lack intimacy and real connection. Teens will continue to seek temporary relief in substance abuse and celebrity worship to ward off the pain that normal adolescence brings. This practice of "numbing" is dangerous and will result in a generation that is unable to function in the real world.
Another difficulty many adolescents face today is eating disorders. Television, Hollywood, magazines, the Internet, and the fashion industry portray slender women much more often than women with normal body types. Children and teens then develop distorted images of what a body should be. Once these idolized perceptions are accepted as truth, thought distortions may develop, which can lead adolescents to self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, self-injury, and excessive exercise.
How can we prevent our teens from idolizing tragic celebrity figures of fantasy and deception? How can we reduce substance abuse and eating disorders among teens? Self-esteem is a major buzzword. Low self-esteem can increase the odds that a teen will look to numb or suppress discomfort, frustration, or pain. When a child is comfortable in his own skin, he can reach inward for well-being and strength rather than relying on outside sources to dull the senses. Having an open dialogue with your teens, without judgment or criticism, allows them to feel more comfortable discussing substance abuse, peer pressure, and sex. They will feel heard and understood, which will allow them to trust you with their deepest and darkest demons. Otherwise, they may look for validation elsewhere, joining groups or gangs where drugs and alcohol are the norm.
Another solution to this growing epidemic might be getting to know our neighbors. Creating deeper bonds within our own circles might alleviate the need to search for outside validation.
There are numerous causes of addiction, such as trauma, a genetic predisposition, peer pressure, a divorce, or a significant loss in one's family. Celebrity addiction is not as dangerous as drug or alcohol addiction, but it is another way that teens avoid what is really going on in life. It can prevent or delay teens from forming identities; rather, they opt to emulate a false self based on a favorite idol. Such a teen will never develop a true core self. If your teen shows warning signs, such as isolation, eating changes, depression, excessive sleep, or new acting-out behaviors, seek professional help. It could be a sign of addiction or an eating disorder. A professional can assess if there is a serious problem.
We all want to be loved for who we are, not for who we wish we could be. Being aware of the signs of celebrity addiction is a proactive way to curb negative behaviors before permanent damage occurs.