Picture this: Your favorite fashion blogger posts a picture of her brand new outfit at 9:30PM on the dot (that’s Instagram prime-time—the more likes, the better). She looks absolutely stunning—her hair perfectly tousled, her makeup flawlessly done (but impossibly effortless), and there’s not a stitch of imperfection on her meticulously pressed garments. Without a second thought, you double-tap on the image, then hurriedly type in the following words before the rest of the comment section drowns you out:
“How to be u po?”
Now, it’s more than likely you’re saying these words in jest. You don’t actually want to be them, although in some ways, you’d like to be like them (because damn, it wouldn’t hurt to have her wardrobe). But the words are a form of expression more than anything else. You’ve seen the articles. You’ve read the stories. There are people out there whose fixation with becoming just like their favorite celebrities has reached ridiculous, self-harming proportions.
Now, humans are social creatures by nature. We identify ourselves in relation to others. So naturally, there’s a tendency to aspire to be like the creatures at the top of the food chain. For the vast majority of us, celebrities are a large but easily ignored part of our lives. But as the Kylie Jenner lip challenge, the plastic surgeries, and the sold-out clothing lines have proven, there’s definitely a level of physical danger and emotional mania that comes with celebrity obsession for some people.
Celebrity worship, a term coined by psychologists in the early 2000s, sounds laughable at first glance, but is actually a very real phenomenon. When The Beatles said they were “more popular than Jesus,” they were referring to 1960s Beatlemania, an intense form of fanaticism that practically hailed the English quartet as divine figures. When Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrived in Paris for Balmain’s Fashion Week show in 2014, they were practically mobbed to the ground (surely you’ve seen the memes). There are countless stories of celebrities feeling unsafe, threatened, and even used, all because of some fans who couldn’t keep their cool.
This is also the reason celebrities seem to be magnets for hate. Because many of us have hoisted them up on pedestals in our minds, along with that comes the misplaced assumption that they are invincible from pain and insecurity. Celebrities are people, too—and though they do their best to put up a front, don’t ever think for a second that one small hateful comment doesn’t get to them.
It’s okay to scream at the top of your lungs at a concert. It’s okay to keep photo albums of your celebrity crushes on your phone. It’s okay to have a separate social media account dedicated to the object of your fangirling. What’s not okay is invading your idol’s personal space. What’s not okay is throwing hate at them for being unable to keep up with their legions of fans who want a tweet or follow-back. And most of all, what’s not okay is sacrificing your personal identity to worship some actor or musician.
So here's a gentle reminder: Let your little obsessions nourish—not consume—you.