Upon hearing a celebrity with a current net worth of $35 million talk of their struggles with mental health problems, you can be forgiven for rolling your eyes slightly. After all, what do they have to complain about? Ask anyone if they’d trade places with someone famous and guaranteed the majority would say yes without any hesitation.
I was guilty of a slight internal exasperation when I read Ariana Grande’s Vogue article, describing her struggles with PTSD and anxiety following the attack on her 2017 Manchester gig. Though I am reluctant to admit it, the first thing I thought was, surely she can afford the best help, she can deal with it.
We all have an unconscious bias to not believe famous people struggle with mental health. It’s a side effect of the toxic cult of celebrity. We glamourise and enshrine celebrities to such a level that we do not view them as people, capable of common issues and mental health problems. It’s a dangerous game to play denying people, who happen to be famous, a voice and any legitimacy for their struggles.
They are fundamentally people, just like us. And, just like us, they struggle with mental health problems, regardless of their dizzying net worths. There is a great deal of value in people like Ariana Grande sharing their struggles with mental health. Like me, many people have reacted by undermining her honesty and delegitimizing her claims. Grande herself stated she does not feel like she has a right to say she’s affected due to her privilege compared to the other victims.
Yet the fact she has shared is vital. Firstly, because she has every right to. Regardless of her net worth, regardless of her fame, and of her luxe lifestyle, she is a victim. She also experienced a traumatic event, a bomb attack, and is as entitled to claim she is affected as anyone else involved. Her status did not shield her from the attack; it does not shield her from the mental impact either.
Moreover, Grande has a unique involvement in the attack. As the fundamental reason for the concert and thus for the crowds to be there, Grande must feel a huge amount of shame, guilt, and responsibility for the event, even if in no way intentional. To then deny her the mental impact of this is undeniably cruel.
Grande should be celebrated for her honesty and sincerity, as well as supported. As a former Disney star, she has had to grow up in the public eye, feeling this constant pressure. This must exacerbate the effects of the attack, as the media and the public feel entitled to her every action and yet equally feel qualified to legitimise them or not.
This has lead to some moronic and disrespectful media insights. Ever controversial and, lets be honest, idiotic, the Daily Mail had the audacity to question whether Grande’s revealing stage outfits were the cause of the attack. Yes, really – they tried to explain an international terrorist attack by slutshaming.
So to the media and to the public – including myself – who feel entitled to deny Grande’s struggles, I ask you to respect her honesty and validate her experiences. (And to the Daily Mail, I kindly implore you to fuck off.)
Celebrity culture is a toxic one. Our infatuation with the famous often leads us to belittle any real and negative aspects that make us question the shiny vision we receive from the media and popculture.Mental health is important and it affects everyone, regardless of status. It is important to have open, honest discussion about it. The recent news about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain highlights the urgent need for this. Grande should be celebrated for her honesty, not punished for it.