We now live in a period where social media is a hot topic of conversation more than ever. Nobody can talk to you for more than a few minutes without bringing up "have you seen this on tiktok?" When I think of celebrities, what first comes to mind is the illusion that celebrities present on social media. According to the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma" (which I strongly recommend everyone watch), there is an epidemic of young teenage girls committing suicide in America, with suicide rates peaking in the years 2011 to 2013, around the creation of facebook and twitter. Suicide rates among young Americans have reached an all-time high. Exactly what is the root of this? The social media comparisons we create between ourselves and these individuals. We can see celebrity posts about their new sports vehicles, Gucci clothing and accessories, new mansions, and even expensive shoes all over social media.
We have reached a point where we have completely abandoned our own identities in an effort to live that of others. This is the truly terrible risk of social media. Women today can no longer simply gaze in the mirror without equating their bodies with those of celebrities who have had plastic surgery. We are so accustomed to seeing the body parts of women who have undergone plastic surgery all over social media in order to have these "perfect" looks, while the natural body parts of women are viewed as "unusual" and are degraded. We now value the bodies created in laboratories more than the ones we already have. But are just famous people at fault for this problem? Should we view ourselves as having significantly contributed to this epidemic? We are all to blame for the societal norms of what is considered "perfect." In order to determine how we should look and live, our society has established these beauty standards, which focus on the physical appearance and way of life of celebrities. As a society, we must dismantle these "beauty standards" of unrealistically unnatural bodies and lifestyles that are not our own. We must unite to promote healthy lifestyles and self-loving lifestyles and to inspire one another to live within the lifestyles that we have in order to achieve our own lifestyles and not to live in the fictitious reality of someone else's.
I met one of my favorite band members Richard Camacho from the latin boy band CNCO. When I went down to Miami for my internship CNCO was performing at some charity event. I was waiting outside the event and when another fan came up to me and said she knew where they were, so I followed her and we snuck into the charity event venue. I got to see them perform through a door instead of going into the venue because we didn’t want to get in any real trouble. It was actually a full hour and a half set, basically an entire concert. When I was finally leaving at 1:00am, I had been waiting there to see the band for at least 6 hours. I was just texting my friends that I didn’t get to meet any of them when, all of the sudden, I heard a motorcycle’s engine rev. I looked up, hoping not to get hit, and it was Richard from CNCO. I called his name to see if it was him, and sure enough, he said yes. We had a 10 minute conversation about life, and it was so great. He is from New York like me, so we could talk about that. Then I took a picture with him and went home.
During my childhood, I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. I had a menagerie of collectibles from Vidler’s, and my bookshelf was adorned with every adaptation of the story I could find—my favorite being a pop-up book with Emerald City glistening off of the page—and, of course, I had the DVD set. It was a collector’s DVD set, and the jacket had the Wicked Witch’s bony green fingers and rigid shadow menacingly hovering over a crystal ball. But a year into my Wizard of Oz infatuation, I was still terrified to finally watch the 1939 film because—for whatever reason—the flying monkeys sent chills down my spine. In lieu of the actual film, I think I nearly burned a hole in my household’s DVD player from the amount of times I watched and watched and watched the disc’s bonus features (so much so that I can still watch pieces of them in my head today).
In 2007, the Lancaster Opera House was hosting a Wizard of Oz festival. Naturally I begged my parents to take me, and both they and my grandmother happily obliged. Aside from another young brunette girl (who was also dressed as Dorothy), I don’t remember many attendees there that were around my age. But I do vividly remember walking into the building just as someone I immediately recognized was walking out. I froze in my steps and whipped around, announcing and pointing at the man, “You’re the guy from The Wizard of Oz bonus features!” Upon now Googling it, the man I remembered from the bonus features is named John Fricke. I’m not sure what he responded with, but I like to think a 6-year-old recognizing him made him at least smile a bit, perhaps in confusion. I’ve crossed paths with a few semi-niche famous persons since, including the Munchkin Coroner at the same event, but my encounter with the guy from The Wizard of Oz bonus features will always be my favorite.
Growing up, my grandparents were snowbirds, meaning they would fly from Pennsylvania to Florida each winter to escape the cold weather. Up until I graduated from high school my parents, brother and I would go visit for a few days once a year, usually on Easter break. I looked forward to these annual trips very much, counting down the days until my dad and I could go wading out to the sandbars in water warmed by the sun, where we would find little sea creatures to pick up and terrorize my brother with. Even now, I look back on these trips with extreme fondness and long for the days when my parents paid for absolutely everything in life.
One year, my family’s seats were a little separated on the flight down, so my mom and I sat on one side of the plane, while my brother and dad sat on the other. I was very young, so I don’t remember much, but I do know that my brother – only three years older – was kicking the back of a seat flanked by two men in black suits. I couldn’t see the individual sitting in the seat he was actually assaulting, but I could see my dad getting a little panicked about it. In retrospect, I’m pretty impressed he was able to keep his temper so cool, seeing as the passenger my brother kicked for two and half hours was Billy Idol. Only years later, when I finally began to appreciate real music, did I realize how cool this was. Nice Day for a Long Flight, I guess.
This isn’t really my story to tell, but I happen to have a friend who lives in Los Angeles who went to high school with, and was sort of friends with the actor who played Gibby in iCarly. When I went out to visit him a few years ago, I joked around that we would meet up with Gibby just so I could take a picture to show my friends. My buddy got really serious and said, “He’s actually really insecure about that. After the show ended, he got super depressed. I mean, think about it – he had to run around shirtless as a little fat kid, which was super embarrassing for him.” I nodded empathetically, having been a chubby child myself, and dropped the premise. Needless to say, I have never met Gibby.
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