''In a world starved for proper icons and mentors, most young women find idols like the Kardashians or the scandal kicking singers and movie stars as their inspirations''
The entire world knows about the everyday lives of the Kardashian clan. Not a day, an hour or a minute goes by without the many female members of the world’s well-known reality show going online on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to share their various thoughts, moods and acquisitions. These vary – from lip injections to a car as a birthday gift or at the extreme end, photos of themselves in various compromising poses. They know the art of making money off a global audience hungry for more and more information on their idols. Their audiences running into millions happily lap up everything Kim, Khole, Kourtney, Kendall and the youngest, Kylie, who at 18 has taken to the family business like a duck to water, post on social media. Their mother, Kris, the momager who started it all and made sure the family continues to earn their millions, watches in happy abundance.
Elsewhere in the world, media recently reported about a mother and a daughter who were spending thousands on plastic surgery to make them look like their idol Katie Price. The daughter had quit school at 17 and is working as a stripper and has a sugar daddy to take care of her, all so her mother and she can spend their money on looking like their idol. All in the happy hope that no matter the consequences socially and physically, looking like their idol would somehow make them content.
These are but just a few – everywhere, young women are spending time, money and effort in going along with the next trend, be it hair extensions, lip enhancements or buying the products touted by these celebrities – all in the hope of looking like their idols. Media is filled with such stories that paint a disturbing picture of the downside of being connected 24/7.
Social media has fuelled the fires of idol worship, no doubt. Long ago, the young women following their idols were content to grow or cut their hair, colour it and wear the clothes. That’s how major trends came to define fashion and beauty standards. From Levis jeans to Audrey Hepburn elegance, the beauty and fashion markets have been driven by star ratings and endorsements. All within safer borders though – things have now changed for the worse.
With the power of the Internet and social media, the adoration has taken a new and a dangerous shift. It is no longer sufficient to wear the clothes – one must have the plastic surgery done. Lip enhancements like Kylie, fat injections in the back like Kim and Khole or liposuction as almost all of them have had done. The downside of it all is that is it no longer just the young women but the older ones too who are buying the dream.
Slowly but surely, social media is setting in a motion a never seen before market that seems to be growing all the time. With online purchases made easy, the audiences are all but a click away from following every move of their idols – one click away from buying everything that could give the false and vain hope of looking like a million bucks.
The stars are shrewd too – they know and are paid for endorsing products and driving the sales of products they prefer. All it takes is one picture posted on social media and their eager followers rush to the shops to make the purchase.
In a world starved for proper icons and mentors, most young women find idols like the Kardashians or the scandal kicking singers and movie stars as their inspirations. The bigger the scandal, better the exposure. In the process, these stars are happy that their Instagram accounts acquire more and more followers and their wallets grow bigger.
The same insatiable appetite goes where showing off skin is concerned. More flesh showing and less cloth in a dress is the trend – as expected, women in this part of the world where we still like to think some form of decorum exists, are not spared either. It is no longer uncommon or shocking to see women with daring and plunging neck lines at various plush events. If J Lo or Rihanna is seen on social media with clothes that barely consists of cloth and shows almost all of skin, then that’s a trend. One that must be somehow, followed.
Social media can do great things and empower young women to follow great idols too – Sheryl Sandberg’s posts on Facebook and Dr. Caroline Leaf’s social media posts seek to empower women with the right way of doing things, among others.
There’s nothing wrong with following idols like the K clan either – what can go wrong is when some can mistakenly assume that they can in fact, become those stars. Instead of reading and enjoying their posts and leaving it at that, fun becomes a worry when one feels compelled to resort to drastic measures such as body altering surgery in a desperate bid to become a star.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)