This morning I made a pancake for my Grandma. She is 91 years old and her taste buds reflect her personality-extremely sweet. She has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, Reagan, and yes even the reign of Kim Kardashian. It is odd to put Kim Kardashian in a sentence with major historical events but sadly enough there are several parallels between them. These parallels surround how our society perceives what is and isn’t important-essentially what is newsworthy. It seems like my everyday life is saturated by the Kardashians or some sort of celebrity news that concerns cosmetic procedures, divorces, products, real-estate purchases, and general gossip. Our society is obsessed with celebrities and to better understand this obsession I read Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty and Happiness by Timothy Caulfield. Caulfield wrote this book for two reasons: firstly to point out the falsehoods in celebrity endorsements and secondly to point out the falsehoods that celebrity life is an attainable/desirable goal to pursue. Let’s first talk about the illusions of celebrity authority. Everyone has seen those commercials where (insert sexy female celebrity) tries to sell (insert product) which will make you (insert life-altering result). My favorite advertisements are the ones with middle-aged celebrity women who sell anti-aging wrinkle cream. Caulfield systemically looked at the beauty industry and their pseudo-scientific claims that their products can prevent aging, skin damage, etc. In short, it is all BS and women/men are wasting their money on the health products toted by celebrities to make you younger and more beautiful. There is almost no scientific evidence that you can improve your skin outside the big six: don’t smoke/alcohol in moderation, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, wear sunscreen, and sleep between 7-9 hours a night. Everything else is just a waste of time so don’t go out and buy these products. We are in an arms race of outward comparisons that has gotten so intense that the human body is no longer good enough for magazine covers-photoshopping and computer enhancement is now the norm. This obsession with advancing beauty is so great that people opt for permanent beauty alterations through plastic surgery . One of those trends, set by Kim Kardashian, is a big butt. Butt implant procedures increased 98 percent between 2013-2014. Thanks Kim. Of course these trends are only temporary and now women who got over sized breast augmentations in the 80’s (think Pamela Anderson) are getting reductions. Sadly though, not all procedures are reversible and people are many times stuck with their celebrity-body modifications.
Yes we are obsessed with beauty but we are also obsessed with becoming famous. The likelihood of becoming a famous athlete, musician, actor, singer, or writer is essentially zero. You are more likely to be simultaneously struck by lightning while dying of a flesh eating disease than you are of becoming famous. The statistics are dismal but that doesn’t stop millions of people each year in their attempts to reach “stardom.” When children are polled on what they want to be when they grow up the answers are almost always some variation of celebrity. Parents, in many cases, push their children to pursue these desires-many living vicariously through them. We are told to “shoot for the stars” and “never give up on our dreams” but is being famous a good thing for any person to pursue. Study after study shows that the famous are more prone to depression, suicide, unhappiness, stress, and discontentment compared to their non-famous counterparts. When we think of being famous we think of the positives: being popular, living in fancy houses, travelling to exotic locals, mingling with important people, etc. However we fail to recognize all the negatives: limited privacy, constant pressure to perform, unrealistic expectations of beauty, constant hedonism. etc. All in all, the pursuit of celebrity is not only statistically impossible but in most cases guarantees an unhappy existence. If you are passionate about something, pursue that passion for its own sake and not for the sake of fame. Happiness is cultivated internally and contentment will never be reached by comparing yourself to others. If you are content you will never envy Kim’s butt and your butt will never go out of fashion 🙂