The Effects of Childhood Stardom

Most people have wished to be famous at least once in their lives or wondered what it would be like. Fame is one is of the most alluring drugs in modern day society but, is it a blessing or a curse? Mental breakdowns among celebrities have become so common that society has become numb to it but, what is their cause? Fame is often associated with power and wealth  but, what are the down sides of celebrity? Is it true that these things equate to happiness? There is a lot of evidence that supports that childhood stardom is not worth the cost.  The negative impact it has on a child’s life outweighs the positives of the lifestyle.

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Fame may begin with a moment of splendor but leads to a lifetime of pain suffering. Fame in ones early year often results in alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression which can eventually lead to suicide.The human body can only handle so much stress which is why, the lifestyle celebrities lives can be dangerous to their health.“The experience of too much stress over time can have adverse consequences on health and behavior, but never experiencing any stress would result in inactivity, boredom, and an inability to adequately respond to internal/external demands.” (Blackwell 41)  Stress can lead to physical illness because stress uses all of the body’s energy reserves therefore draining the body of the resources  that it would normally use to fight off disease  ( 42-43).

“Stress will suppress the formation of new lymphocytes and their release into the circulation, and shorten the time preexisting lymphocytes stay in the circulation. It will inhibit the manufacturing of new antibodies in response to an infectious agent, and disrupt communication among lymphocytes through the release of relevant messengers. And it will inhibit the innate immune response, suppressing inflammation. All sorts of stressors do this—physical, psychological, in…humans.” (Sapolsky 168-170) The immune systems is suppressed because of glucocorticoids that are released into the bloodstream. They stop lymphocytes that help the body fight disease from forming and stop the ones already in the blood stream from doing their job. The cells in the body have the ability to kill themselves if they could possibly harm the body and glucocorticoids have the ability to activate this response and force lymphocytes to kill themselves. (168-171) In the long run stress can have serious negative effects on the body. A suppressed immune system can lead to a variety illnesses ranging from minor to serious (Carey). The stress that happens in the day to day life of celebrities has been linked to depression. Depression is  a crippling mental illness that can hijack a person’s life.“But when it comes to the bread and butter of human misery, try a major depression. It can be life-threatening, it can destroy lives, demolish the families of sufferers…his is a vastly crippling disorder that leads people to attempt suicide; its victims may lose their jobs, family, and all social contact because they cannot force themselves to get out of bed, or refuse to go to a psychiatrist because they feel they don’t deserve to get better.” (Sapolsky 289-290) Depression robs a person of the pleasures that often motivate us to keep going. For example, people who play sports are faced with many challenges such as exhaustion, pain, and loss, but they continue to play sports anyway because of the joy it brings them through winning, being a part of a community, and the sense of accomplishment. Depression however eliminates all the positives and pleasures that a person experiences leaving them with nothing but sadness and negativity.

Another example of the effects of depression is someone finally receiving a promotion or award that they worked hard and long for, but when they finally achieve their goals they do not feel any happiness because they feel like they do not deserve it. (290-291) The body releases many different hormones under stress. “Another natural defense mechanism that evolved during vertebrate evolution is the activation of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system. Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) released from the terminals of the sympathetic nerves, together with epinephrine (adrenaline) released from the adrenal medulla, regulate the activity of many organs and the cardiovascular system.” (Blackwell 558) When something highly stressful occurs the body responds by releasing hormones and once the stress stops the body stops releasing those hormones and everything returns to normal. The problem occurs when extreme stress, such as the stress experienced by celebrities, occurs often because the more stress that occurs the less likely the body will be able to return back to normal so the body’s defense hormones remain activated. Although the body can still recover from this, if extreme stress continues to occur the body will eventually halt the production of the defense hormones which causes mental issues such as depression.  (Blackwell 558-560)Child stars are more likely to struggle with developing good morals because of the many dishonest and corrupt people that are in show business. (Cherry 152) Child stars are often thrown into a world that they do not fully understand, therefore forced to learn how to navigate it.  They have to undergo the 5 stages of fame love, hate, addiction, acceptance, and adapt all on their own. (152)  Which for an unprepared child can be confusing and overwhelming.Child stars are put under large amounts of stress, making them more likely to develop addictions, such as alcohol. Alcohol is one of the many substances that puts the body under just enough stress  for the user to experiences pleasure. (Sapolsky 353-354)

Children are more likely to become alcoholics because they tend to drink twice as much alcohol as adults  and  alcohol has stronger effects on them. (linda 1) Alcoholism is especially dangerous to children because it can alter the way their brain develops.(2)  The stress child stars are put under also makes them more prone to abuse a variety of other substances for example, cocaine or heroin.Celebrities are often forced to put aside their ideal which leads to self destructive behavior. “For instance, there is evidence that people may use alcohol and other drugs strategically as a means of escaping the aversive state of self consciousness (Hull, Levenson, Young, & Sher, 1983; Hull & Young, 1983; Hull, Young, & Jouriles, 1986). This analysis suggests that, although self-consciousness may have a number of possible consequences, for celebrities the consequences may be particularly unpleasant and enduring and may place the celebrity at greater risk for strategic self-destruction.” (Schaller 294) Normal people can normally lower their ideals to more realistic expectations to deal with their self consciousness. Celebrities however, are held to unreachable standards and are not able to, or in some cases not allowed to lower their ideals.(294) This forces celebrities to be acutely more self aware than normal which increases their self consciousness. (293) These impossible expectations of perfection can be severely damaging to a young adolescent already struggling to find themselves. This pressure can lead to them to having anxiety and self esteem issues.Celebrities often feel as though fame has trapped them in a cage. Fame often feels overwhelming, it happen to a person suddenly not allowing the  time needed to properly adjust. (Rockwell) Justin Bieber talked about the feeling of being trapped saying, “[I get depressed] all the time and I feel isolated, You’re in your hotel room and there’s fans all around, paparazzi following you everywhere, and it gets intense.

When you can’t go anywhere or do anything alone you get depressed. I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone.”(howard) Kylie Jenner also spoke about being trapped and feeling as though she can not do what she truly desires because of her fame stating, “If I could do whatever I wanted, I would have a successful makeup line, and I would want to hopefully start more businesses, and just be, like, a businesswoman. And then, hopefully, I’ll go off the map. When I’m, like, 30, I want to go off the map, have a family, and live in Malibu with a farm, and just raise my own chickens.” (Corinthios) She also addressed the pressure she feels to be flawless saying, “I would probably just never dress up…I would never wear makeup, because I honestly hate wearing makeup. Lately, I’ve just been so over it. I feel like I’m way too young to wear such heavy makeup all the time. It’s just bad for your skin, but I’m always doing photo shoots or red carpets and events, so I just obviously want to look good.” (Galivane) Children celebrities grow up without privacy and are faced with constant judgment.The hardship caused by fame  can have lasting negative psychological effects on children.(Blackwell 378) Kylie Jenner talked about the self consciousness she felt saying, “There’s an image that I feel constantly pressured to keep up with. In order to stay relevant for the public, I have to be on Instagram and I have to be on Snapchat just keeping people entertained. And then there’s who I really am around my friends. … It’s way easier for me to post on Snapchat or Instagram than it is to be out in public. I just feel like for so long I’ve been putting on this different persona to the world — I felt like I started to depend on social media, feeling the need to post all the time.

I feel like I have to keep up this idea of who I am.” (Gavilane 2) Willow Smith talked about the decisions she was forced to make at an early age and the effects fame had on her childhood stating, ”Growing up and trying to figure out your life … while people feel like they have some sort of entitlement to know what’s going on, is absolutely, excruciatingly terrible… I feel like most kids like me end up going down a spiral of depression, and the world is sitting there looking at them through their phones; laughing and making jokes and making memes at the crippling effect that this lifestyle has on the psyche. When you’re born into it, there are two choices that you have; I’m either going to try to go into it completely and help from the inside, or… no one is going to know where I am… and I’m really going to take myself completely out of the eye of society. There’s really no in-between.”(Galivane 2) Justin Bieber expressed how he did not understand what fame truly was until it was to late in an interview saying, “Then I started out I just wanted to sing and make music. I was young, did not read celebrity blogs or see what…was going on, but when I got famous and people started recognizing me. I was like, ‘Dude, I didn’t sign up for this’.”(Howard)

Fame has huge negative effects on children both physically and mentally. The human body can only handle so much stress which is why fame can be dangerous. The stress that comes with celebrity has been linked to depression. Evidence shows that people that are put in stressful situations repeatedly stop emitting stress hormones and that can leads to mental health issues. Child stars are more likely to struggle with developing good morals because of the many corrupt people that they are surrounded with because of show business. Child stars are put under a lot of stress, making them more likely to develop addictions such as alcohol.Celebrities are often forced to put aside their ideals which can lead to self destructive behaviour. Celebrities often feel as though fame has trapped them and put them into a cage. Stress on children as they develop has lasting negative psychological effects. People need to be made aware of the serious and lasting effects of childhood fame and the stress that show business puts on children. Awareness can help bring change to the industry.

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