The Cost of Fame – Psychological Challenge or All Around Luxury?

I think that almost everyone at one point in their life has had a hidden dream of becoming a celebrity. I know that I find myself sometimes picturing what life would be like if I had millions of devoted fans, assistants and managers waiting on me hand and foot, and more money than I could count. At a glance, being a celebrity seems pretty easy. Everything is virtually handed to you, and whatever isn’t you can probably buy anyways. It seems unfair in some cases that people like the Kardashians, (who many say are famous for essentially nothing), get to enjoy this luxury. However, what is the true cost of fame in one’s life? The obvious answer would consist mainly of the loss of privacy in one’s life, but what else is sacrificed in the making of a “celebrity”?

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I recently encountered an article on Psychology Today that discussed the psychological burdens of being a celebrity. The article refers to psychologist Dr. Ganz Ferrance to dissect the mental stresses involved with fame. According to Ferrance, in order to be a healthy and functioning celebrity, you must be able to handle immense negativity in your life. If you are not the type of person that can fall down seven times and stand up eight, being a celebrity may not be a viable career choice for you, (apologies for any crushed dreams). According to research from marketing Professor Marlene Morris Towns at Georgetown University, being turned down and vehemently rejected by professionals and the public alike are a key factors in the foundation of a celebrity. One’s mental ability to handle opposing forces and backlash is essential in the make-up of a sustainable celebrity. With the overwhelming presence of social media in today’s society, this ability to handle denial becomes even more relevant. Today, rejection and internet “hate” floods different social media platforms every minute, this alone demands celebrities to adapt and to develop less sensitive mental processes.

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Kendall and Kylie Jenner, two of the most famous teenagers in the world, continually complain about their lost chances on being “normal” kids. Both of the teens were practically born into the spotlight. Kylie in particular seems to constantly bemoan her lost opportunity on being a regular kid. At the age of 16 the star began getting cosmetic surgery on her face, starting with lip injections. The plastic surgery continued for the teen up until not too long ago at the age of 18. The reality TV star seemed to go through a complete transformation due to cosmetic surgery throughout the years where her body was still growing and developing. Whether this was simply a personal choice or a coping mechanism to deal with the rejection that coincides with fame is up for debate. But, Jenner does have one of the strongest social media followings, with over 74 million followers on Instagram alone, making her an incredibly easy target for daily online backlash and hatred.

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So, what is the real cost of fame? Is mental stability a pre-requisite or must it develop as your celebrity status culminates? And even when you are born into fame, does that still mean that you must train yourself to ignore the constant rejection and persevere? Whatever the case may be, psychological toughness most definitely is a factor that can attribute to the rise or fall of any celebrity.

8 thoughts on “The Cost of Fame – Psychological Challenge or All Around Luxury?

  1. Melanie Noemi Campos

    Fame is something that i can imagine is emotionally, physically, and psychologically draining. Time after time we have seen child stars who become “nobodies” after loosing all their money, fans, and working opportunities. That too, must be a big shock for them to have to adapt to life as a “normal” person. I as a criminology major imagine it to be like prisoners who are coached on how to re enter society once they are released from prison. They are hit with the realities of a world that was unknown to them. We see these failed stars and just think they will live their life with the millions they have made, happy away from the public, i am sure this is not the case. We study the way prisoners re enter society and how it affects them, fame would also be something interesting to study and would perhaps help these stars stray away from that dangerous path. The following is a link with interesting information about prisoner re entry into society, this is provided by the National Institute of Justice.

    1. Hannah Katherine Morrissey Post author

      This is a really interesting point! There are so many celebrities that fall out of the limelight and fall off the deep end and the public is more than ready to taunt them for their obvious psychological troubles. Stars like Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan had immense trouble adapting to normality and received such public backlash when really they probably really needed help and support. Thinking of them as similar to prisoners trying to adapt to normal life is a great comparison. These stars lived their whole lives in the public eye and probably thrived off of the attention so once they start to fall out of the public eye they must have such a difficult time trying to adjust. Great comment!

  2. Madeline Elizabeth Dittrich

    This was a great article to read. I love finding articles that relate to science but still discuss matters that are interesting to me. I must admit that I, too, have wondered what it would be like to be famous. A great example of fame is definitely the Kardashian family. They are famous for practically nothing, yet they are still one of the most recognized families in the world! I really enjoyed this article. Here’s a cool article I found on why being famous isn’t that cool after all: Check it out!

  3. Justine Arlexandra Cardone

    I have personally always wondered what it is like to become famous! I like how your article lays out the positive and negatives of the dream that many people have. While it would be cool to have many fans and endless amounts of money, I don’t think I would want to live that lifestyle. I personally take negative comments right to the hart and I could not handle millions of people saying bad things about me. I would probably end up like Britney and have a psychotic episode where I shave my head. I, like many others, follow Kylie Jenner on social media and I see all of the hate comments she gets about changing her hair, getting lip injections, outfits she wears, etc. Although it seems ridiculous that she would maybe want to live a normal life, I understand what she means. She was born into the spotlight and she couldn’t do anything about it. I 100% see how fame could be a burden to one’s life.

    1. Hannah Katherine Morrissey Post author

      I totally agree. Especially in Kylie’s case, fame obviously seemed to be something she was not able to handle without the support of cosmetic surgery to help her self esteem. It is strange to think that someone’s life that appears to be so glamorous can actually be filled with struggle. It must have been incredibly hard for Kylie because I remember when people made fun of how thin her lips were on Twitter and once she got injections people ridiculed her for that as well. Her sister Khloe dealt with the same issues in a sense because the media at one point claimed she was “too fat” and now they claim that she is “too skinny”. Although there are obviously bigger problems in the world, it is interesting to see how celebrities who seem to have it all still deal with day to day problems with their image no matter how perfect they may seem.

  4. Amanda Voirrey Rust

    I remember growing up and teachers and parents always asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many responded with “I want to be famous!” At a very young age, being famous seems so luxurious. You would have so much money and attention, so it has to be great, right? I’m not too sure about that anymore. I can name at least 5 celebrities who have died from drug overdoses, probably due to their stress levels. This article lists a bunch of them,
    Although it seems like all fun and games, fame puts so much pressure on people to be “perfect” and look a certain way. They are not necessarily free to express themselves because if it strikes the media’s eye, they will have to hear a lot about it. This is probably what is going on with Kylie Jenner now. She felt the pressure to look a certain way, but now she is getting criticism for it.

    1. Hannah Katherine Morrissey Post author

      Jonah Hill once made a point in an interview with Howard Stern that he believes some people are meant to be celebrities whilst others are not. Hill claimed that he thought he was pretty good at making movies, not so much at being famous. Although we may think being a celebrity is the easiest “profession” to have, in reality you are dealing with constant criticism. I think you make a great point in mentioning their lack of being able to have self expression. Many celebrities must shape themselves in order to avoid public backlash, which must be a huge strain on their mental health.

  5. Xander Roker

    I think the psychological damage that must come with being a celebrity, especially a child star, can be more detrimental than the fame is enjoyable. As you showed in your picture, both of those Jenner girls radically changed their natural appearance. Psychologically, I think having so many eyes on you at such a young age must do you in. The amount of child stars that went off the deep end is to high to count

    Also, many celebrities feel a dangerous back and forth of love and hate with the admiration and the hate, which is a tough mental seesaw for your body and mind to experience

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