Editorial: Not all it’s cracked up to be

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Many of us grew up watching what we consider to be the peak of Disney and Nickelodeon television. From Hannah Montana to Wizards of Waverly Place, we found ourselves relating to and idolizing teenage celebrities, envious of their seemingly perfect, yet somehow relatable lives. 

Now, around 15 years later, the celebrities we admired years ago are in their twenties and thirties, no longer bound by strict Disney contracts. 

Taking to social media to discuss their childhood experiences, several of these beloved figures have made it clear that growing up in the spotlight wasn’t as glamorous as we may have imagined. 

ICarly star Jeanette McCurdy’s August 2022 novel, I’m Glad my Mom Died, shocked and captivated readers. While the book’s title may sound extreme, it begins making a bit more sense once you start reading. 

The memoir discusses McCurdy’s experience as a child star, namely the misery brought on by her controlling mother. As the primary breadwinner of her household, McCurdy was put under a ridiculous amount of stress, battling both eating disorders and addiction. 

Even when she wanted to step out of the public eye and resume a more standard adolescent experience, it wasn’t an option financially. 

And McCurdy is not the only child celebrity who endured this sort of stress.

Through public statements and appearances on podcasts and shows, many other celebrities have come forward regarding their own issues adhering to television network’s rules. 

Former Disney star and musician Demi Lovato shared her struggles on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast. She recounts how her manager controlled what food she could eat to “keep her skinny,” which had detrimental impacts on her self-esteem and ultimately led her to develop a drug addiction. 

Miley Cyrus has similarly described the pressures of being forced to be a “role model” for young girls and the difficulty of shaking this reputation as she embarked on her music career as an adult.

It’s a bit unsettling to think that the stars who seemingly “had it all” on screen were actually struggling like this behind closed doors. Even so, it’s refreshing that these celebrities are now able to freely share their stories and reclaim some of that freedom lost during childhood. 

In today’s social media landscape, the experience of child celebrities has drastically changed. 

With the ability to go viral instantly on the internet, there is no need for any sort of manager or parental “middle man.” Simply posting a Youtube video or a TikTok can result in immediate fame, and many teens have almost full control over their stardom and reputation. 

While the elimination of an adult liaison might alleviate some pressure,  young influencers today are dealing with a new slew of media-driven problems. 

Social media platforms allow audiences to easily interact with celebrities, whether it be leaving a comment or duetting a TikTok video. With such direct access, people inevitably grow attached to these stars. 

They set a high bar for these celebrities to meet, and feel personally affected when they fall short.  

Take Emma Chamberlain for example.

Chamberlain built her brand on the concept of relatability, going viral after posting a clothing haul on YouTube in 2017. Following this video, her internet content maintained a sense of authenticity, as she documented her experiences thrifting and making avocado toast in her kitchen. 

Her authentic lifestyle and raw humor have made her one of the most famous internet celebrities, evident by her 893 million YouTube subscribers and 16.2 million Instagram followers.  

And yet, as she grew a steady following, she inevitably became wealthier — and less relatable. 

She began showing her exotic trips, her hang outs with A-list celebrities and her new $4.3 million home which she purchased at just 21 years old.  

Instead of being excited for her, many fans were annoyed. How could the star they valued for her relatability suddenly be appearing on magazine covers and attending celebrity award shows? 

Regardless of what these influencers do, it often feels like they can’t win. Under constant public scrutiny, there will always be a group of fans who take issue with something, whether it be who they’re dating or what they’re posting.  

If we love these celebrities, we should love them for who they are, not for their relatability. Just as we learn and change over time, our favorite influencers do, too. We have to remember that, while we may idolize and view these people as our role models, it isn’t their job to please us. 

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1 Comment

  1. “We have to remember that, while we may idolize and view these people as our role models, it isn’t their job to please us.” They get paid to please us. it is their job. Your editorial delineates reasons why this probably should not be their job

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