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Want to improve the wellbeing of young women? Show them the darker side of fame, says Daisy Buchanan.

When selling celebrity is bad for teens

By Nic Hopkirk 12/09/2012 14:51

Picture by Erik C. Pendzich/Rex Features

 

Sometimes it seems as if everyone wants to be famous - and these days, pretty much anyone who wants it can take a shot at the big time.

 

At the high profile end of the scale, wannabes can enter the X Factor and be in with a chance of winning record contracts, video shoots and exotic promo trips. And if that doesn’t work, you can always appear on Take Me Out, Top Dog Model or Come Dine With Me. Being on TV is hugely aspirational, and millions of young women believe that 15 seconds of exposure can lead to a lifetime of fame and fortune. But there’s a darker side to it all. Just ask Jael Strauss.

 

Jael’s sad story could serve as a cautionary tale to any young woman seeking celebrity

Jael is a former finalist in America’s Next Top Model, and following her appearance on the show she’s spent the last few years battling an addiction to Crystal Meth. She recently filmed an episode of the talk show Dr Phil, and the host did his best to get to the bottom of Jael’s problems, as her family say that she’s close to losing her battle with addiction.

 

As an ANTM contestant, Jael had a lot to deal with, including the death of one of her best friends and a nude photo leak. It’s rare that a single factor forces a person to become addicted to drugs, but Jael’s sad story could serve as a cautionary tale to any young woman seeking celebrity.

 

We might live in a world in which women can be doctors, astronauts or engineers, but we can’t ignore the fact that women are rewarded for trading on their looks and bodies

We might live in a world in which women can be doctors, astronauts or engineers, but we can’t ignore the fact that women are rewarded for trading on their looks and bodies.

 

Fame is glamorous. Why should a teenage girl dream of a career in medicine when she’s shown that dressing up and having your picture taken can get you instant access to success, money and attention?

 

But all the exposure can expose you to the wrong sort of people. If you do well, you’re going to be surrounded by people who want to make money out of you. They won’t have your best interests at heart. And if your success is short lived, the disappointment can be crushing - and no-one in the industry will care about cushioning your fall when they could be out looking for the next big thing.

 

X Factor Rebecca Ferguson is currently trying to break her record contract because she feels the demands of her management have kept her away from her family and damaged her health. As a result, she is being sued for 20 per cent of her future earnings.

 

Young women crave fame because they only see the positive parts of it. The industries that rely on the celebrity cycle aren’t going to present both sides of the story.

 

Schools and government bodies have a responsibility to promote the health and wellbeing of teens. Perhaps they also have a responsibility to show young women exactly what they’re getting into before they send off each audition form. They could at least encourage more teenage girls to consider becoming police officers and mechanics, as well as models and pop stars.

 

Watch the shocking trailer for tomorrow’s Doctor Phil episode (which airs in the US), showing Jael Strauss battling her addiction the meth.

 

 

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