7:00AM Western Time – Los Angeles, California. You’re 18. Your alarm wakes you up to start the day. You get out of bed and close your shades to ensure that nobody peers in your room while you’re getting ready. You can’t go outside without a hat and a pair of sunglasses, so after you grab those items, you prepare yourself for the walk to your car.
You can hear the clicking of the cameras in the bushes but you keep walking. You quickly crawl into your car and shut the door, hoping that there will be no reporters hiding in your trunk today. It has become second nature to lock your doors. There’s a black Sedan clearly following you on your drive to work. You just want to be left alone.
But you suck it up. This is the price you pay for being famous.
Could you handle this lifestyle? I know I couldn’t. Yet as children, fame is all that many kids want. Growing up, we watched actors and actresses grace our screens with the assumption that they had it made. We thought that life looked so easy for them; why can’t it be that way for us?
What the media hid from us as children, however, is the reality of fame. Just like any other job, acting, music, athletics, or anything else in the public eye, comes with stress; now imagining experiencing all the stress of your job while also being constantly watched by the public eye. If you mess up, the whole world will know. And in many cases, that stress leads people to mess up even more.
From Michael Jackson to Britney Spears, we’ve seen celebrities let fame get the best of them. And when explained, it’s very clear why. A contributor to this article explains reality of fame in a multitude of understandable ways:”lonely; not secure; you have a bubble over you; family space is violated; a sense of being watched; living in a fishbowl; like a locked room; and, familiarity that breeds inappropriate closeness.” How glamorous does fame seem now?
Now imagine having to deal with “living in a fishbowl” before you’re old enough to make your own decisions; before you know what fame fully entails, you have to experience it full force. This is what child stars have to deal with and it’s likely the reason why we see so many of them fall.
The article linked above talks about the psychology behind growing up famous and besides the standard obstacles that celebrities deal with, there are multiple other problems that child stars must overcome.
They’re growing up on screen. I’ll use Lindsay Lohan as an example. She began acting before she turned 13. She started her career before she started puberty and from that moment on, the whole world was watching her grow up. Every excruciating painful memory we have of adolescence is what stars like Lohan had to experience in front of the whole world.
So yes, Lindsay Lohan has made mistakes and still isn’t perfect. But can you blame her? In many instances, she is just being a normal young woman growing up and finding herself in this world. Just recently, she was scrutinized for supposedly editing a photo of herself. Would a 20-something year old of little or no fame get so intensely criticized for such a seemingly insignificant act? Probably not. But because she’s under the public eye, any little thing she has done or will continue to do will be meticulously dissected. We all make mistakes; yet it’s believed that just because celebrities are perfect on screen means they have to be perfect in real life. And that unrealistic expectation can seriously damage somebody.
While there are celebrities that have been able to rise above the doom of fame, they have to make an immense effort just to stay normal. Think about it: the child stars who have maintained a positive reputation are being praised for doing what the rest of us normal folk do every day: maintain a sense of normalcy.
The pressure of being famous is clearly extremely difficult to handle and in many cases, is an unrealistic expectation. In some cases, for example Matthew Perry, talks about how acting is what’s kept him healthy. Although it was likely the pressures of fame that led to his notorious drug problems, he has learned how to deal with fame and his acting career is now what keeps him healthy.
It’s okay to strive to be famous. There are a lot of positive aspects of fame. And it’s possible to maintain happiness as a celebrity. But it’s difficult. There are a lot of negative aspects of fame. Fame comes at a cost.