Fans Pressure: Celebrities Nightmare
Words By – Yemisi Suleiman
Last Wednesday, International Womens Day, IWD, was globally celebrated with the theme, DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality. Like any United Nations Day, it was focused on highlighting issues about the theme; this time women in Tech and how to bridge the gap.
Although many women and girls shy away from tech, over the years, tremendous progress in the quest for gender equality in a sector that is male-dominated.
In celebration of the IWD and womens month, we feature today, six young Nigerian women who have made their mark in this sector, and have, helped to lift more women into the field.
jWhen on August 11, 2004 news of the death of world renowned comedian and four-time Oscar nominated actor, Robin Williams, broke, the world was left in shock. But even more shocking was the revelation by the autopsy report that he died of suicide arising from depression.
While it is often believed that it is lonely at the top as the popular saying goes, the truth is that in the case of celebrities, findings reveal that is is very crowded at the top. Celebrities are never really alone and have hardly any privacy: on a daily basis, they are pressured by the public image makers or advisors, swooped by paparazzi on sight, and closely eyed by uncountable fans and often merciless critics, no thanks to social media. Although fans can make celebrities feel loved and appreciated, the constant scrutiny, criticism and, sometimes, obsessive behavior they get from their fans, can strongly affect their mental health.
Celebrities are on some sort of surveillance: rarely does the star have a moment alone, loving fans can make celebrities paranoid, and in the worst case, these anxieties can cost them their lives. Mental distress is part and parcel of being a famous individual. As human beings, of course, celebrities can live under the same conditions as any other person, such as depression, personality disorders or panic attacks. Yet at the same time, they are confronted with forms of mental distress that are arguably the result of their fame. They struggle with high expectations of fans, for instance, they are not supposed or expected to wear an outfit twice, they cant be caught with certain kinds of cars, or seen in some kind of apartments that does not befit their status.
A split between their public and private life, as well as building the perfect personality around their work and image is always an issue. Celebrities also tend to try to live up to the expectations of fans and attempt to be perfect all the time. says Dr Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, also known as The Celebrity Shrink, a Mental Health Physician, Medical Director and Psychiatrist-In-Chief at Pinnacle Medical Services. This can cause them a lot of anxiety and stress and it could make them feel exhausted, depressed and extremely overwhelmed because it is absolutely impossible to live up to the expectations of every human being.
While some celebrities are forced to live a lie to please their fans and followers, the result of this, is the bashing they get from fans when some truths are revealed unknowingly. Recall that Nigerias top female singer, Tiwa Savages 2-year-old marriage to ex husband and music producer TeeBillz, went sour after Teebillzs rant on Instagram where he accused Tiwa of infidelity. But in reaction, the mother of one granted a 45 minutes tell-it-all interview to an online media, in which she made shocking revelations about her husband.
Following the fallout, Teebillz had attempted suicide, by attempting to jump from the Ikoyi link bridge, but was rescued by R&B songster, Banky W. Teebliz had reportedly gone on a rehab thereafter, for alleged use of hard drugs, depression and his suicide attempt, while advising people in such situations to seek help. We look down on people who seek help who are suffering from mental health and depression, or drugs and alcoholic abuse or even gambling but the truth is most of us are fucked up and need help for real. he wrote on his Instagram page. While the social media; twitter, instagram, facebook and most recently Tik Tok might have significant advantages in terms of technological advancement and providing the much needed visibility for these celebrities and their crafts, it has on the other hand, been a source of sorrow and depression for many as well. Dr Kadiri told Allure Celebrities are constantly at the receiving end of cyberbullying.
Day after day, negative comments are made about them and their work, rumours are always being spread about them and their private information is always being leaked for the world to see and give their unsolicited opinion. This she says can lead them to a state of depression because believe it or not, celebrities are human beings just like everyone else. They have feelings and emotions. Constantly feeling like they are being judged or criticized can also lead them into depression.
The recently concluded general elections put paid to the fact that fans pressure and bullying of celebrities is rife. Celebrities were attacked for not supporting fans preferred presidential candidate. Some were even threatened with death and upon their families, for simply having their preferred candidate. Actress Toyin Abraham came under heavy criticism on social media, with some cursing her and her kids, following her endorsement of the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate.
Few years ago, BBNaijas star Ka3na Jones succumbed to the pressure of reaching out to a fan that made a tattoo of her name, This came after fans on social media blasted the self-acclaimed Boss Lady of being a hypocrite and a bad example after requesting fans to tattoo her name and rebuking a lady after she did. Ka3na accepted her mistake, swallowed her pride and reached out to the dejected fan on twitter I made a request for it on social media which is now regrettable. However, I still do not wish for anyone to have tattoos of me on their bodies. My dear fan (yet to know your name) kindly reach out to me on my official email. I Care she wrote.
In a bid to deal with such pressures and to curb fans menace, some celebrities, over the years have decided to step away from social media completely for their sanity. While some have deleted their accounts, some other celebs havent deleted their accounts completely, but they have taken a break for the sake of their mental health. American super star Selena Gomez, for one, has been vocal about her love-hate relationship with social media. Selena recently opened up on why her assistant mostly posts for her on social media in an interview with Vanity Fair from February 2023, explaining that she went through a hard time in a breakup and she didnt want to see any of the feedback and peoples opinions.
People can call me ugly or stupid and Im like, Whatever, she told the outlet. But these people get detailed. They write paragraphs that are so specific and mean. I would constantly be crying. I constantly had anxiety I couldnt do it anymore. It was a waste of my time. The only thing I have on my phone is TikTok because I find it to be a little less hostile, she continued. There are wonderful things about social media – connecting with fans, seeing how happy and excited they are and their stories. But usually thats filtered through [for me now]. I created a system. Everything I do I send to my assistant who posts them. As far as comments, my team will put together a few things that are encouraging.
Back home, popular Nollywood diva, Genevieve Nnaji in May, 2022, it would be recalled that rumours had sparked on the internet that the actress was battling with mental health issues after she had deleted all her posts and unfollowed all accounts on her verified Instagram account. Meanwhile, the actresss team later debunked the claims. The actress who has more than 8 million followers on Instagram deleted all the pictures on her page. Months later, the iconic actress was spotted at the 2022 edition of the Creative African Nexus in Abidjan, Côte dIvoire where she spoke to diplomats about the importance of development in Africas film industries.
In order for celebrities to handle pressure from fans and care for their mental health, Dr Kadiri believes setting boundaries is paramount: This simply means letting the public know what they are comfortable with and what they are not. They can communicate their boundaries via social media or through a publicist.
While taking breaks from social media and public appearances can help celebrities recharge and take care of their mental health, it is advisable to use social media mindfully: Celebrities can use social media mindfully by limiting their time on it, not engaging with negative comments, and focusing on positive interactions with their fans. says Kadiri.
While this is effective, Kadiri says celebrities can seek support from their friends, family, or mental health professionals. Talking to someone who understands their struggles can help them feel less isolated and overwhelmed.
On the other hand, practicing self-care activities such as meditation, exercise, and spending time with loved ones, she says can help celebrities relax and recharge, while focusing on their strengths and accomplishments and, also reminding themselves that they are human and not perfect, will go a long way in maintaining their sanity.
I have always been myself and I keep it a hundred percent real. I dont let the fans influence my person. I dont bring my private life to public. What I put out there on the social media space is mostly about my work. This way, I am able to remain sane and not be pressured by what fans think or say because that will be them having too much power and control over my private space.
“I was bullied a lot while in secondary school and it was a terrible phase in my life; so, I decided I will never leave my life again in fear of anyone. I often use the delete button, reply with firmness or kindness, whatever fits the situation. On how I handle the pressure from fans? I do whatever the he-k that I want, and, need to do.