Opinion | Young celebrities have it rough

Taylor+Swift+during+her+RED+tour+in+2013.

Photo Courtesy of Jana Beamer

Taylor Swift during her RED tour in 2013.

By Sanjna Menon, Columnist

The story of the child-star-gone-wrong has almost become the cliche American story. It seems like, time and again, young celebrities experience a sudden rise to stardom but experience a similarly rapid fall from grace. Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana,” the Youtube Red original series, “Justin Bieber: Seasons” and the documentary following Demi Lovato’s career, “Simply Complicated,” have all attributed the self-destructive behavior of these three young stars to one source: the scrutiny of media and audiences. All three of their stories show how growing up in the limelight caused them to lose focus, succumb to their vices and ultimately lose control.

America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift kick-started her career at the age of 14. With millions of fans and numerous sold-out tours, Swift had the life millions dreamt of. The success she has had is incomparable, making her life and her story nothing short of remarkable—a life many would regard as perfect. Behind the curtain, however, her life was nowhere close to perfect.

As a young girl growing up in front of the entire nation, her every move and decision was constantly scrutinized and under review. 

In her documentary, she talks about how the views of “toxic” media and the audience became the driving force that lead her into the world of eating disorders. She talks about how she made her entire life’s worth dependent on the thoughts and comments of the people who watched her. She overanalyzed her every picture and calculated her every move to perfectly fit into the mold crafted by what the media wanted for her. 

The other aspect of Swift’s life that was constantly under scrutiny was her relationships. She was labeled as a “serial dater” by the media and was always under fire for her choices in men. Right after wrapping up her world tour in 2016, Swift decided to take a break from music and the world of stardom entirely to make time for and work on herself.

The trope of the teenage heartthrob was epitomized in the 21st century by Justin Bieber. He was another child star who rose to astronomical fame in his early teenage years, and, much like Taylor Swift, faced numerous trials and tribulations throughout his life. Painted as the “good boy gone bad,” Bieber adopted the lifestyle associated with the title. 

Through his documentary it was revealed that, due to his skyrocketing career and the pressures that came with it, he turned to drugs at the age of thirteen. His public image and persona fell quickly thereafter. Once the media caught wind of his downfall, they capitalized on it and spread the news of his every misstep like wildfire. He mentioned that it was the media that put pressure on him to behave and act like a clean-cut, innocent young boy, and a part of him just wanted to rebel and not be the person everyone wanted him to be.

Demi Lovato, unlike the other two, actually began her career even younger, as a child actor in the PBS hit show, “Barney,” and rose to fame from there on. For her, too, the primary reason for her addiction and eating disorder was the scrutiny she faced growing up in the public eye. 

Fame is directly proportional to the magnifying glass used to look at celebrities. Being a teenager in such an environment does not just seem hard, but impossible. Having your every move, statement and outfit criticized, scrutinized and commented on can and will have an effect on anyone’s mental health.

These children are treated like adults and are expected to be perfect. They are supposed to make no mistakes and are endlessly publicly shamed when they do. Growing up, people need to be able to make mistakes so they can learn and grow from them instead of being shamed and blacklisted for them. It is important that we, as a society, cultivate the growth of these young talents and give them space to grow and learn from their mistakes and misdirections.  

Sanjna is a junior in LAS. 

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