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 October 8

by Carolina

Steve Israel
 |  For the Times Herald-Record

Who doesn’t love those online puppy videos – like the one where the big golden retriever takes the little pooch off the couch where he’s cuddling with his human master and gently deposits him in the trash container? Big pooch can then cuddle with master instead.

And you’ve gotta love those cute baby videos – like the one where the toddler tries with all his mini might to lift his bucket of toys to get one, and the bucket ends up toppling him.

In these incredibly stressful times, we all need an innocent laugh.

But there’s another pop culture phenomenon that not only isn’t so innocent, it can be downright harmful for us and our kids – our obsession with celebrities like Britney Spears, the countless Kardashians and any of the so-called influencers.

Not only do these celebrities contribute virtually nothing to society, they – and their handlers – fool us into thinking we know them. In fact, we mainly know what they, those handlers and/or their PR people want us to know – whether that’s through images the celebs or their people release in old-school outlets like print and TV or online spots like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter. We don’t see Spears or the Kardashians waking up in the morning or lounging in their cruddy sweats – except in those occasional “gotcha” shots. The images we’re bombarded with are those that have been styled or staged. So what we know about them isn’t real – perhaps with the exception of that well-documented court case about Spears’ controlling father.

You might think this is harmless star-gazing, except millions of us are influenced by what celebrities like Spears, the Kardashians or so-called influencers say, wear and do. We buy the stuff they want us to buy – from Britney devotional candles and face masks to Kardashian slimming underwear and lipstick. And we hope we’ll look as glamorous, thin, or in-shape as Britney or a Kardashian, when most of their images are actually the result of more artifice – of countless hours of staging and body and face work.

When we can’t measure up to that artificial reality, we may feel there’s something wrong with us. This is especially true for teenage girls, according to many experts, including a psychology professor from Virginia Wesleyan University specializing in factors related to body image and eating disorders, Taryn Meyers. She stresses that while all social media “isn’t evil… if we’re looking at images that are made up – whether or not we know it – it can make us feel bad about ourselves.” This is particularly true, she says, for images of celebrities. In fact, leaked internal research recently revealed Facebook apparently knew that the images on Instagram, which it owns, make one of every three teenage girls feel more insecure about their looks.

Of course, our growing fixation with image isn’t limited to celebrities.

You rarely, if ever, see a messy, tired-looking friend, acquaintance or anyone you know on Facebook or Instagram. We don’t see anyone screaming at their kids, cleaning their messy houses or lounging in dirty sweats.

But at least we know that our friends, acquaintances and relatives live real lives, like us.

If this obsession with image – celebrity or whatever – is a real problem for you, your child or someone you know, please don’t ignore it. Talk to them about the difference between reality and image and/or seek help from someone you can trust, like a psychologist or social worker.

As for the rest of us, let’s stick with those cute puppies and babies.

steveisrael53@outlook.com

Original posted at www.recordonline.com

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