December 10, 2013

Stars Stuck: Why Role Models Go Bad

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“Help us stay strong”

Dear Demi Lovato,

You’ve taught many to stay strong in hopes that it would save young lives that are overwhelmed by insecurities and judgment. I admire you because of your recovery and the stability you show through your actions and music.

But let’s be honest. I’m sure you have those moments of weakness, days you don’t want to start and moments of negative recollections. I know I do. How do you cope? There are so many people who have to deal with this daily, and to them, there is no hope. Back when, how did you muster the courage to step into school? Why must girls feel the need to be perfect? The standards of being accepted and beautiful enough are breaking teens from the inside out.

I write to you for words of wisdom. You have lived this and you overcame it and you are growing stronger every day. I want to grow stronger and so do millions of people who see themselves as useless. How do you tackle your daily struggle? It would be nice to do what you do in a song and change lives on an unimaginable scale. Help us stay strong.



“People only see you as what’s on their screen”

By Janice He
Teen Voices Rising commentator

Dear Rachel McAdams,

I noticed after your big-hit movies like “Mean Girls” and “The Notebook” that your popularity has grown dramatically. You have this incredible talent to capture a variety of people’s interest within the movie industry, presented in teen, romance, comedy, family, and thriller movies.

However, people only see you as what’s on their screen and they aren’t aware that you had to work hard to get where you are today.

They wouldn’t have known that you worked hours — in fact three years! — at McDonald’s behind an orange juice machine. But once your name grew big, things began to flip. And as your success grew along with your fans, so did jealousy and hatred. How did you react to Eva Mendez’s uneasiness toward you over Ryan Gosling? Or how about when those surgeons made confident claims that you undertook plastic surgery?

Despite all the chaos and these troublemakers, you continue to amaze me with your strength and your talent in addition to your charities and environmental activities. But does it hurt you when others try to bring you down? Or have you just become used to it? Do you feel pressured when millions of young females, including myself, aspire to grow up just like you? Or has it become natural?

You have had a huge impact on my life. How did you find such a big future, coming from just a small town? You are heroic in the sense that your progress and growth has created footsteps for girls, like me, to follow and look up to. You are my role model because you play that role perfectly.



“You were the ‘perfect’ image”

By Diana Karamourtopoulos
Teen Voices Rising commentator

Dear Miley Cyrus,

In your transformation over the last few years, did you realize what effect you would have on the young children who admired you?

Many children, including myself, idolized you when you were the character of Hannah Montana.

You were the “perfect” image. Your music was appropriate, as were your clothes, and parents approved of you. Everyone loved Miley Cyrus.

So, why did you change?

Did you feel pressured to be perfect all the time — and break? If you had this respect, why would you want to throw it away to be like stars who you saw did not get as much respect? Did someone convince you that living this way was better, or were you just imitating what you saw others do?

You must have imagined that those who idolized you might repeat your actions and change the way that you did.

I wonder about your objectives. If you had a quiet, well-led life, why did you change? We, your fans, feel sad and that we have lost someone we admired. We want the Miley who we loved back. We don’t love this foreign Miley who sends completely different messages to her fans. We also feel that you are putting a negative name out there for our generation by being so inappropriate.



These three letters were written by participants of the Teen Voices Rising program of

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