Cocaine. Womanizing. Kardashian egos. No wonder celebrities struggle with self-esteem. But what about self-esteem for a greeter at Walmart, doomed to no Hollywood stars on the Walk of Fame?
Today at the mall, I went window-shopping. A boutique store-clerk looked at me, horrified, brushing off my chitchat, rushing me out the door. When I looked into the mirror, I could see why. I haven’t had my hair done in months and my pants look ragged. Like Jim Carrey sporting Miley’s hairdo.
As I left the boutique, I stewed to myself, “The first rule of customer service? Treat every customer well!”
But then I walked the corridor of the mall, peering at every women’s hairstyle. Mine ranked as scraggliest. Yet, women in the mall often look plain. Not today. Bikini-clad celebrities look frumpy compared to these women. Tall blonde Swedes, I bet.
When I reported my distress to my boyfriend, he said stop self-cherishing, be happy with who you are. He’s not the slightest vain. He said get a book on self-esteem, so I went into an aisle of books and sobbed.
I returned moments later with a book, but my boyfriend looked distracted. He shared with me a political joke someone emailed him. The punchline? Kathleen Wynne. Yes, in a world of Kathleen Wynnes, I’d rank as a Kardashian.
I no longer felt bad.
But later, I went to get groceries. In the lineup, a young woman’s shirt said, “Your makeup looks terrible.” She peered at me and giggled. Again, I felt saddened. But should we really seek the self-esteem of a Kardashian?
Lawrence Heller, PhD, and Aline LaPierre, PsycD, talk about why celebrities lack self-esteem in their book Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship:
- Emphasizing looks and performance lowers self-esteem. This emphasis is called the Love-Sexuality survival style: “Since [celebrities] base their self-worth on looks and performance, their self-esteem is conditional, underneath their beautiful exterior they feel highly flawed” (p. 79).
- What! Celebrities with low self-esteem? “Individuals with the Love-Sexuality survival style are highly energetic, attractive, and successful. They are the … sports heroes, cheerleaders, top actors and actresses” (p. 79).
- Even non-celebrities suffer celebrity-like low self-esteem: “In certain families, love is conditional, predicated on looks and performance” (p. 79).
- But when love is based on looks, troubles brew: “As a result, adolescents … relate either from the heart or from their sexuality but find integrating both difficult and anxiety-producing” (p. 81).
- And loving looks, not souls, aches the headspace: “Having invested energy in creating an image of perfection, they fear that nobody could possibly love them if their flaws were revealed” (p. 85).
- Plus, zeroing in on looks leads to vicious cycles: Celebrities’ “constant striving for the idealized self-image actually reinforces the shame-based image of feeling flawed and unlovable” (p. 87).
- And vanity makes finding love harder: “They also fear that they aren’t capable of loving anyone, and they constantly question whether love is even possible” (p. 85).
- So, what do celebrities need to do for self-esteem? “Recognize and allow tenderness and vulnerable feelings” (p. 87) and “deepen their bodily awareness, not just beautify or objectify their body” (p. 87).
- The moral? “Love based on looks and performance is not love at all” (p. 87).
A decade ago I lacked self-esteem despite spending hours grooming. I never went outdoors without lipstick and mascara. Why so much fuss? The prefect look meant less rejection.
But one day, we all turn 60, 70, 80, or older. Skin sags. Noses grow bigger. Wisdom widens. So, what matters most? Experiences, not vanity. After all, experiences last even when you can’t afford plastic surgery.