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The celebrity shock

Josephine Dadeboe
Staff Writer

Really, what is the fascination between our society and celebrities? I have to wonder if there was ever a time when celebrities did not exist. How did they even come about?

Whether one would like to admit it or not, celebrities have a great effect on people. Celebrities influence fashion trends, political views, media and the communities.

The obsession with the celebrity culture can also start at a very young age. Many children tend to be captivated and fascinated by huge superstars such as the boy band One Direction, Britney Spears, and Justin Bieber. As a result, young people may grow up to imitate a celebrity’s lifestyle and expect celebrities to serve as role models.

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Throughout history, people have looked at public figures as a means of self-definition where military heroes, politicians, and romantic fictional characters were idolized for their values of self-reliance, selflessness, and virtue. With the rise of the celebrity culture in the early 20th century, the face of fame no longer belonged to the war heroes or to the politicians.

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The rapid social change of popular fashion and the mass media culture introduced the American nation to “celebrity personalities.” According to the Confessional Culture Exposed article, the transformation from the hero to celebrity based culture was possible because of America’s shift from a producing based society to a consuming based society. The population’s focus was also shifted from a person’s character to his or her personality. Instead of admiring a person for his or her accomplishments, celebrities were admired for their fame and recognition.

With the help of the media, celebrities have the ability to affect people’s decisions and interests. Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign was and still is one of the most covered and studied developments in history. Winfrey is best described as the most influential woman in the world because of the impact she made in American culture and the television media. Most people, like myself, look up to her as an inspiration, motivation and encouragement. One would say that the influence Oprah Winfrey has on people is a positive effect because her inspiration and drive would pressure someone to achieve their dreams or goals.

On the other hand, there may be several people who pay attention to celebrities in the media that obsess over how they look and do everything they can to fit into the “norm” of the celebrity lifestyle. The influence these celebrities have is a negative belief because young people may be pressured to achieve the cultural ideals of attractiveness that is not reasonable.

A recent study explored how college students’ use of media, peers and family pressure might influence body esteem. The study suggested that social comparisons with media images of celebrities or fashion magazines increases body dissatisfaction which in turn leads to more comparisons.

As young people, we find ourselves living in a culture where social support seems low, self-esteem is small and the on-going pressure to look or dress a certain way just because a celebrity is doing it. The media, along with celebrities, have partnered together since the very beginning to indirectly or directly influence young people’s decisions and lifestyle choices. It is important as the future public of tomorrow that we are not swayed so quickly by the wave of deceit that the celebrity culture has immersed in our society.