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Why We Obsess Over Celebrity Weight

celebritiesRecently names like  Oprah, Kathy Ireland, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Love Hewitt and even Seth Rogen have made headlines for their struggles with weight, and in some cases, the “struggle” seems a little far-fetched. Why are we so obsessed with celebrity weight changes, even minor shifts? Why do we judge them so harshly for even a five pound weight gain or loss? Do we believe it is a job requirement of fame to maintain a personal peak condition? On one hand, we want to believe that it is so “easy” for celebrities to lose weight and stay in shape because they don’t have “real jobs” and can afford to hire professionals to help them out all day every day. On the other hand, do we feel better about ourselves when celebrities are not perfect?

So much has been written about the dangers of exposure to extreme images, accepting those as the norm, as well as of being focused on your own weight, excluding BMI and health as measures. Yet we continue to analyze paparazzi photos for even the hint of a change. A shift in fabric, poor posture, normal bloating, or ill-fitting clothing could all explain a less than flattering photo more than a body change. Focusing on someone else’s weight and making comparisons is just as damaging as criticizing yourself.

People focus on celebrities as a way to escape mentally from their life. Having an opinion about designer dresses, fashion choices that we can never afford, what is and isn’t a healthy body choice, and relationships that are not available to us allow people to feel as if they might have an opportunity to make such choices at some point. When we have a negative assessment of another person’s life or choices, we can feel as if we have more value because we would make “better” choices. Even such negative comparisons do not build self-esteem.

People tend to idolize celebrities for their talent or beauty or luck. When you look up to someone for one reason, you often give more weight to their opinions in other areas as well. We also want to be as much like the people we idolize as possible. Even if we realize that our bodies are different and some bodies react differently to different diets, people see to want to try what their favorite celeb is trying. Again, it gives them more connection to the life of fame and fortune.

Unfortunately, this obsession is not really helpful for every day folk or the rich and famous. Although there are some that enjoy such attention, the majority of people do not want their every choice observed and critiqued. Comparing yourself to others, regardless if the comparison is positive or negative, will never help you improve your personal self-esteem. Every individual has our own strengths and endearing flaws. That is your beauty, not how much you resemble some standard. Finally, I always wonder how newsworthy such stories really are when we consider all that’s going on in the world with pirates, death, disease, and proposed restrictions on organic farming.

April 16th, 2009