Toxic Celebrity Worship

By Annie Lane

May 1, 2020 5 min read

Dear Annie: I am so tired of fake people on the internet. Every day we see countless stories about the latest gossip on certain celebrities and athletes. Is it necessary that we have to know about everything they say and do, who their latest "soul mate" is, the expensive things they give their kids, who broke up with whom, where they ate out, how much money they have?

Their faces are constantly pushed in our faces (along with their other body parts). These "famous for being famous" women seem to have had a lot of cosmetic surgery. I think that sends a very negative picture of life to our children and teenagers. I know that a lot of people feel the same way that I do; just look at the comments section of any article about these types of people. Why does anyone care about these celebrities? — Ordinary Real Person

Dear Real Person: Be the change you want to see in the media. When you click on a story and leave a comment (even if it's a negative one), you're effectively encouraging the publication of more stories of that ilk. Don't interact with content that you find frivolous or toxic.

Cosmetic surgery is on the rise in this country (Americans spent $16.5 billion on it in 2018 alone), and our celebrity- and image-obsessed culture is no doubt fueling that trend. But anger and judgment are not productive. Focus instead on modeling healthy self-esteem, especially for the young people in your life. Self-acceptance is contagious.

Dear Annie: I just read the response from the parents who seemed to be patting themselves on the back for how they handled their child who dropped out of school. I'll bet most of your readers, including "Been There, Done That" are unaware that, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, 1 in 5 children who have learning or attention issues, including disabilities like dyslexia and dyscalculia, drop out of school. These disabilities affect reading, writing, math, organization, focus, listening comprehension, social skills, motor skills or some combination thereof.

If you have a disability that has gone undiagnosed, you are three times more likely to drop out of school. I would almost guarantee their child is one with a disability. Children with disabilities, diagnosed or not, can usually push through to high school. Eventually, they want the torture to stop.

Here is my recommendation for any parent in a similar position, who wants to really help their child:

—Start by requesting, in writing, a full and comprehensive neuropsychological testing including all academic areas.

—Hire a tutor with a background in learning disabilities.

—Find a therapist who specializes in adolescent behavior.

—Enroll your child in virtual school or private school.

Again, the story you printed was hardly uplifting or inspirational; instead, it was a sad commentary on why we have such an explosion of drops out and addicted young people in our country. It is a parent's job to figure out why a child would want to drop out of school, not let them. I hope parents will instead try the tactics outlined above. — Dawn W.

Dear Dawn: I appreciate your thoughtful insights and regret not speaking to these points myself. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act helps ensure that students with disabilities are granted the accommodations they need, and coming up with an individualized education plan. Parents who wish to learn more can visit the Department of Education website ( and enter "FAPE" (short for "Free Access to Public Education") into the search bar.

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

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