Back in the day, fangirling moments were so pure and simple. There were no social media, so we only saw our idols on TV and heard them on the radio. We barely saw their lives offstage, so during the times when we weren’t exposed to them, we were busy studying or playing.
But today, kids have so much access to their idols. Fangirling has taken tens of steps further, with children badgering their parents for concert tickets, fan merchandise, or even a trip to their favorite celeb’s city or country. Gone are the days when young fans can only look up to them innocently; now, their admiration is bordering on obsession.
As such, many kids, especially little girls, express a desire to follow in their idol’s footsteps. They may start disliking school, preferring to spend all their time in performing arts workshops instead. Some who are rather passionate even leave their countries or hometowns to train to be a K-pop idol.
There’s no doubt that today’s young celebrities are very entertaining. But when young kids become too exposed to their glitz and glamour, they easily fall for it and tend to seek it for themselves.
Hence, what should you do if your kid tries to chase stardom? Should you hold them back, even if they’ve got the talent?
Understanding Celebrity Obsession
A child’s desire to be a star often roots from a fandom they belong to. While it’s completely normal for them to be fascinated with a celebrity, it’s not always healthy because, at their young age, they still don’t understand that most of a celebrity’s success is only cinematic.
Dressing up as their favorite celebrity is still normal. According to Dr. Timothy Legg, N.P.P., board-certified family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, it’s part of trying on different identities to discover who they truly are. But if your kid’s only interest seems to be on celebrities, to the point where it already interferes with their daily lives, then that’s when you should be concerned.
If they start refusing to do chores, neglecting their studies, and giving up their social lives, all because they’re too busy watching their idols on YouTube, consider seeing a professional for an evaluation. There might be a chance that your kid is developing a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Such is even more likely if they also hint about suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts related to their idol.
Other Psychological Disorders They May Develop
Obsession, coupled with depression due to feeling like they personally know their idol, could lead to eating disorders. This is especially true for K-pop fans, as K-pop idols are known to follow strict rules, such as maintaining a certain weight and limiting their food intake.
A few current and former K-pop idols themselves have spoken up about the struggles they faced to meet the industry’s standards. Way, a former member of a group called Crayon Pop, revealed that they weren’t allowed to have midnight snacks, as well as to eat snacks like candies and chips. But that restriction only motivated them to eat them more, so they would secretly buy them and eat them in the bathroom.
Ho Ryeong, a member of a new K-pop band called Great Guys, admitted that his daily routine only consists of the gym, the studio, and his bedroom. He added that they don’t have much time to eat as well.
Other than Way and Great Guys, many more K-pop idols have lost a significant amount of nutrition due to the pressures of staying skinny. Jimin of BTS is one of the most popular idols who had experienced this.
But sadly, despite the increasing awareness about malnutrition and eating disorders in K-pop stars and other celebrities, many of their fans are still adamant about copying their bodies. And it doesn’t always result in anorexia and bulimia. Their depression, body image issues, and obsession could also lead to binge eating disorder (BED).
Binge eating disorder is actually the most common type of eating disorder in America. People affected by this continue to eat even when they’re already full, usually by themselves, to avoid embarrassment and potential comments from other people. 80% of people with BED suffers from at least one psychological disorder, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
If your child constantly displays hints about being unhappy with their body or being embarrassed to eat with a company, keep a close watch on them without being overbearing, and explore effective binge eating recovery plans. Slowly bring up the subject in a safe environment, and reassure them they can trust you and that you’re not forbidding them from watching their idols on the internet.
Every kid needs to have a role model, but remind them that all they have to be is themselves. They don’t have to follow unrealistic standards because they’re already perfect just the way they are. And if they still choose to chase stardom after everything, actively guide them and ensure that their well-being is taken care of.