Category Archives: Celebrity

Why Would Everyone Want to Look The Same?

The internet is surfeit with galleries of celebrities, from A-listers to Z-listers, who have changed their appearances in order to achieve or maintain a particular kind of prettiness. And I say “prettiness” because I think beauty is so much deeper than what you see when you look at a person. Always with the nips, tucks, facelifts, cheek implants, engorged lips, and narrowed straightened noses that I could slice cheese on. The “after” pictures of these celebrities always show that they were shooting for very similar looks.

For a society that incessantly preaches individuality, there is an inordinate amount of people trying to copy a certain idea of what “good-looking” means. It may have started in Hollywood, but it is slowly and steadily spreading through to the rest of the population.

Homogeneity of any kind, in the big picture, is not usually a great thing. It is not always a good thing to maintain a non-changing culture among a homogeneous group of people. What does a community become when their culture or appearance is not allowed to evolve with some introduced heterogeneity? A cult? Another extinction? See Elif Shafak’s talk on fiction, if you wish to get a better understanding of what I’m saying here.

Also, think about it from the perspective of a scientist for instance. There is a reason a wide and varied gene pool is necessary for the survival of the human race. It is one of the medical/biological reasons close relatives are discouraged from getting married and/or having kids with each other.

There is a reason every individual person was created to look different from the rest of the population. Even with identical twins and doppelgangers, there are still little ways of telling them apart. We have varied blood types, genes, facial and bodily features and shapes. And let me not forget the whole finger print thing – no two people have the same one! Is that not indication enough that we are not supposed to be one big homogeneous soup pot of creatures?

I’m just trying to stress the importance of heterogeneity, I might have gotten carried away, but I’m sure by now you get the point. We should not all be trying to attain that particular narrow-nosed, fair-skinned, full-cheeked, full-lipped, skinny-but-shapely image of good-looking. And for the guys, not everyone can be or should be a tall beef-cake with washboard abs. I personally know a few girls who are not big on the whole sculptured abs thing.

I strongly believe that the attractiveness of a person is not, and should not be a universally agreed-upon idea, because that saying – beauty is in the eye of the beholder – has a lot of merit.

At the end of the day, it comes down to being comfortable and confident in your own skin and your own looks. It comes down to accepting the fact that no matter how you look or don’t look, there are going to be people out there who find you good-looking, and people who do not. And, you should not always take the fact that someone doesn’t find you attractive or good-looking as something to be internalized. Those kind of comments are more about what people see than about what is actually there. In the same way, how you feel about your looks, and your confidence level, are actually more about what you see than about what is actually there.

Ngozi Adichie – My Public Personal Person

It’s like when you find out the private spot you discovered on the beach, which you’ve been showing to only those people who might appreciate it, has now been discovered by the whole town. On one hand, you’re glad more people can now enjoy what you’ve known to be pretty great, but on the other hand you fear a certain level of abuse.

Read my post on celebrity worship, HERE, and get a better sense of what I mean. This is why I’m not particularly thrilled with the level of popularity one of my favorite writers has recently achieved – not just by her own doing of course (she was featured in a Beyoncé song). I am happy that she has gotten so much exposure that she could do more with her career and reach way more people than before. The cool professors at Universities now read her works in classes and seminars, and I am really thrilled about that part of her popularity. I have been a big fan of hers from the very beginning – back when she published a play in Nigeria which she recently said she hopes no one ever finds or reads! I hope to work with her someday, so she’s not my problem here, at all!

However, at the same time, I realize that most of the people who “absolutely adore” her, have no idea what her literature is like – they don’t like her for her work, or her intellect. They like the image of her as the poster-child for the cool, educated, strong, Nigerian woman who has made a name for herself in America of all places! A big enough name to make it into a Beyoncé song! Can you believe it?! It’s like her name (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) has become a symbol for something other than her self, or even something other than the artist.

A smart Nigerian woman on her way to becoming a household name in America sounds like quite the achievement for her – except it may not be. The person behind that image cannot claim that success as a personal achievement any more than a raffle winner could claim his win is as a result of his incredible talent. Because at the end of the day, it’s the image that people worship, not the person.

I guess you could say I feel a bit protective of her, because I know if care is not taken, then it’s only a matter of time until people get over her brilliance (which most people would have never discovered the depth of since they won’t read her books) and start attacking every little “flaw” and “non-flaw.”

And yes, this is a rant, and I’m proud of it!

What is Idolatry?

I remember when I was younger and we would read the list of sins we should definitely stay away from, or maybe even the Ten Commandments. I’d think to myself something along the lines of, “I’m not sure what “covet” means…lying and stealing would be a little difficult to stop, but murder and Idolatry – God Forbid! I would never do that!” Because I could not picture myself killing anyone or building an actual graven image and worshipping that! Who does that?* However, I’ve long since come to discover that worshipping Idols isn’t just a thing of the biblical times.

Most people partake in a different kind of idolatry, in the form of celebrity worship, whereby devoted fanatics worship the image of a public figure personified in the human body of an actual person, who has come to fame one way or another.

They build pedestals or altars and set these celebrities on top of it; worship the idea and image of the person; set up shrines; pay tributes; make sacrifices and offerings; build up expectations based on the image, not the person; attack everything about the “person” that doesn’t match up with the unreasonable expectations; then when a new, better god/goddess comes along, they go ahead and tear down that pedestal (altar) brick-by-brick as they build a different one around the new god/goddess, not even giving a second thought to the emotions and life of the actual persons behind these images. *Ahem* Hathaway à Lawrence à// Nyiong’o *Ahem* Bieber.

The celebrity almost never has much of a say in this procedure – it just happens to most of them. The only thing they can decide are tactics to keep the fame, and stop it from transforming into infamy. Thanks to the wonderful media network, fame has become like a wave, which picks up whomever it wishes, and as that lucky/unlucky person you could either ride it out – reveling in the sensation of being up-lifted by a whole nation – or crash into it.

The latest of these images being worshipped is that of a certain Kenyan-Mexican whose name is Lupita Nyiong’o. While I can’t go as far as saying that I love her – I hardly know her, and I never saw her work, including the Oscar movie – I do appreciate the fact that she’s brought a different kind of beauty into the Hollywood Glamour canon. (I try to avoid incredibly sad true-life movies because I get emotional enough with the fictional stuff. Did someone say, “For Colored Girls”?)

However, I also see that it is the image of this dark-skinned African that is being worshipped, and celebrated. Do I think that her fame will give way for more similarly dark-skinned women in Hollywood? – Not really. You see, if more dark-skinned girls made it into Hollywood, that image would lose its novelty – then what would be the point of celebrating it and her, right? As callous as that may sound, that’s just the way image-worshippers would think. Her image is famous for its novelty, because most people only talk about how much they love her gorgeous dark skin, which has become a sort of fetish. I don’t know much about Alek Wek’s fame, but I get the feeling the beginning of her fame was much like Nyiong’o’s. I also realize that they look nothing alike, although some people have sworn that they do. Anyway…I digress.

My point is, Idolatry is still very much prevalent, and not just as a metaphor! So, where do we draw the line of admiration?

*Just Kidding, I know a lot of religions have images and sculptures they kind of worship in one form or the other