Let’s face it — no one is perfect. This seems like an obvious statement, but it can be hard not to idolize those we think highly of.
Maybe you were disappointed when Rihanna, known for inclusivity in her clothing and makeup brands, used a sample of a sacred Islamic text in a song that played over her Savage x Fenty Fashion Show this year.
Or perhaps Doja Cat’s supposed interactions in racist online chat rooms ruined your image of the popular singer. While these allegations are disputed, this brings up another example of what happens when the expectations for celebrities are higher than they should be.
It’s natural to have figures in our lives to admire or relate to, whether it be our parents, friends or those in the public eye. We might appreciate their talent, success or determination, but we are possibly just a huge fan of their work.
The issue with glorifying celebrities we don’t know personally is exactly that — we don’t know them. Interactions from scrolling through social media feeds turn into one-sided parasocial relationships that leave fans of celebrities feeling like they intimately know who they are a fan of, even if the knowledge they have is limited.
No one truly knows the extent of the personal lives of the famous people they admire. If they did, these celebrities might not seem as perfect and untouchable.
Even Rihanna couldn’t live up to her glorified status. She’s so idolized, even other celebrities are starstruck when meeting her. Despite her acclaim as an inclusive icon in the makeup and fashion industries, one slip-up in her recent show left some fans disappointed. They felt personally offended by her ignorance, perhaps more so because they felt they could trust her.
None of this is to make a judgment as to the harmfulness of her actions or the effectiveness of her apology. Rather, this instance shows even our favorites are bound to mess up.
There is nothing wrong with being inspired by a celebrity for any reason or considering yourself a fan. However, it is important to remember they are not perfect and never will be.
A simple internet search of any celebrity’s name followed by “problematic” could potentially yield results that make you cringe. The disappointment is amplified not only because of the actions, but also because of the unmet expectations.
In the same way that people you interact with in your own personal lives can be disappointing at times, so can celebrities. It’s important to protect your own expectations by keeping them low.
You likely don’t hold high hopes for complete strangers, so how are celebrities any different? Social media usually showcases only the best and most glamorous, leaving out the less desirable. Remember public figures show only what they want you to see. Their personal lives may be much different.
Save yourself the trouble of becoming dismayed by avoiding attachment and managing expectations. Having role models that motivate and inspire you is completely normal, but be mindful of their flaws.