Pop culture infiltrates the lives of teenagers in influential ways. Celebrities are elevated to a status akin to American royalty, and as such can become role models for younger, impressionable audiences. While there are some celebrities who flounder their opportunities on very public falls from grace, some celebrities take this influence very seriously. Some even go the extra mile to shine a light in some very dark places, ensuring troubled teens that it does, indeed, get better.
It Gets Better
In 2010 the headlines were filled with the tragic suicides of youths bullied for being gay. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres made an emotional plea for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) kids to hang in there and stay strong, because the world needed them. Columnist Dan Savage went a step further and created the "It Gets Better" movement. LGBT adults recorded videos to let the kids know that despite the problems, isolation and criticism LGBT kids face, they could grow to be successful, happy adults. Both straight and gay celebrities, such as Adam Lambert, Kathy Griffin and Chaz Bono, contributed to the ongoing project.
With so many teen girls influenced by the airbrushed models they see on their favorite magazines, it stands to reason that celebrities can influence how girls feel about their own bodies. More than half of teenagers see themselves as overweight, and 80 percent of 13-year-old girls have dieted. Former "Sopranos" star Jamie-Lynn Sigler battled bulimia, then became a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association. Ellen DeGeneres' wife, actress Portia De Rossi, also spoke about her journey towards health in her book, "Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain."
While some celebrities make the headlines going through their own revolving door of rehab, some celebrities take pride in abstaining from drugs and alcohol. "Straight edge" celebrities do not drink, smoke or do drugs, and as such provide clean role models for kids who are desperate for a reason to say no to peer pressure. Comedian Hal Sparks is very outspoken that he has never done drugs, smoked cigarettes or had one alcoholic beverage in his life. C. J. Wilson, pitcher for the Texas Rangers, also is straight edge, and uses his Twitter account to change the world "one Tweep at a time."
Some criticize Hollywood for "glamorizing" teen pregnancy and influencing young people to start families before they are ready. Some celebrities, however, promote chastity as an alternative to teen sex that could result in an unplanned pregnancy. Celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow and "General Hospital's" Lucky, Jonathan Jackson, stayed chaste until marriage. The Jonas Brothers also famously promised to remain faithful to their vows of abstinence. Actress Natalie Portman concentrated on career and education before motherhood in her 30s.