The entertainment industry is notorious for placing a high value on image and reputation. In an industry where success is often measured by popularity and public perception, celebrities and performers are constantly under pressure to maintain a flawless image.
From the red carpet to social media, every move and action is scrutinized by fans, media and industry professionals. The smallest misstep can result in negative publicity and harm an individual’s career. This pressure can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health and well-being.
Let’s Talk About Social Media and Society
With millions of followers and fans, celebrities have an unprecedented level of visibility and access to their fans. Social media platforms provide an opportunity for celebrities to interact directly with their fans and promote their work, but they can also be a source of stress and anxiety.
Entertainers are often criticized for everything from their fashion choices to their political beliefs. Negative comments and online bullying can take a toll on an individual’s mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. The pressure to maintain a perfect public image can also lead to a lack of authenticity and a fear of being true to oneself.
An example is Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page) who made his mark in the film Juno and is currently in the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy. In 2014 before the world knew Ellen was going to transition to Elliot, Ellen was giving a speech at a Las Vegas Human Rights Campaign Time to Thrive and came out as gay. You can see the speech and read the article HERE.
The pressure of hiding and wanting to confirm to what society and the acting industry told them they had to be like was overwhelming, hence Ellen saying, “I am tired of lying by omission.” Other news reports discuss how Ellen was forced to wear dresses for events and how uncomfortable they felt.
Fast forward to 2020. Now years later with more of an understanding about strength and mental health, Elliot was able to share that they are transgender. Perhaps Elliot himself didn’t even know he was transgender in 2014, but if he did, there may have been too much fear to publicly jump from the sweet little girl the world knew them as to a male. Elliot’s appearance drastically changed but this time, he was ready to take on any pressure thrown at him from society.
Which brings us to…
High Standards of Physical Appearance and Public Image
Celebrities are expected to maintain a certain level of physical fitness and attractiveness, often resulting in extreme diets and exercise regimens. The pressure to maintain a perfect physique can lead to eating disorders and body dysmorphia, as well as a sense of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
The pressure to maintain a perfect public image can also have a significant impact on an individual’s personal relationships. Public relationships and marriages are often scrutinized by the media and fans, leading to a lack of privacy and constant speculation. Divorce and breakups can result in negative publicity and harm an individual’s career, leading to a reluctance to enter into serious relationships. Think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
The pressure to maintain a perfect public image can be overwhelming, but remember that celebrities are human beings with emotions and vulnerabilities. The industry needs to shift its focus from perfection to authenticity, allowing individuals to be true to themselves without fear of negative repercussions.
This is one of the reasons I like the rapper / hip hop singer Lizzo, who has been a vocal advocate for body positivity and self-love. She has been open about her struggles with body image and has spoken out against the societal pressure to conform to a certain body type. Lizzo often performs in outfits that celebrate her body and encourages others to embrace their own bodies, regardless of their size or shape. She’s also used her platform to raise awareness about the harmful effects of body shaming and to promote body inclusivity in the media and entertainment industry. Lizzo’s positive attitude and empowering messages have inspired many people to love and accept themselves just as they are.
Watch Lizzo’s Official Music Video Good as Hell.
Here’s how I feel about all of this — entertainers should be able to speak openly about their struggles with mental health and body image. The industry should provide support and resources to help individuals cope with the pressures of fame by promoting a culture of acceptance rather than perfection.
Here are some tips for dealing with the pressure of maintaining a perfect public image:
Self-care is essential for maintaining good mental health and well-being. Take the time to engage in activities that help you relax and recharge. This can be anything from meditation and yoga to taking a long bath or going for a walk in nature. Whatever it is that helps you unwind, make sure you prioritize self-care in your daily routine.
Surround yourself with a supportive network
It’s crucial to have a supportive network of family, friends and colleagues who can offer encouragement and support when times get tough. A supportive network can help provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation and stress. It’s also important to seek help from professionals such as therapists or counselors who can provide additional support and guidance.
Focus on your strengths
It is easy to get caught up in the negative feedback and criticism that comes with maintaining a public image. Focus on your strengths and what makes you unique. This will help you build confidence and maintain a sense of self-worth despite the pressures of the industry.
No one is perfect (not even me!), so embrace imperfection as part of the human experience. Recognizing that making mistakes and facing challenges is part of the learning process can help alleviate the pressure of maintaining a perfect public image. Embracing imperfection also allows for authenticity, which can help build trust and rapport with fans and audiences. You may have read how actors get fan mail from viewers about how their character helped them in real life.
Set realistic expectations
Recognize that mistakes and failures are a part of the process and that progress takes time. Setting achievable goals and celebrating small successes can help build momentum and create a positive mindset.
What is Perfection Driven By?
The demand for perfection is driven by the need to attract audiences and maintain a loyal fan base, but it can also be a source of immense stress and pressure. This pressure to maintain a perfect public image can also be seen in the entertainment industry’s behind-the-scenes activities such as casting decisions, marketing campaigns and even production budgets. Studios and production companies are constantly striving to present themselves as flawless, even when facing difficult or controversial decisions.
We must recognize that perfection is not attainable, and that mistakes and flaws are a natural part of being human. As a society, we need to be more forgiving and compassionate towards those in the entertainment industry, recognizing that they too are human and susceptible to making mistakes.