Why is Everyone Obsessed With Being Famous?


Famous: [fey-muh s] 

adjective; Having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature;renowned; celebrated:

I’m so over being normal. I just need to be rich and famous and then I feel like all my problems will go away.
— Young woman to friend, Soho Starbucks

What does being famous even mean anymore? More importantly, why do I feel like everyone is obsessed with it? The concept of fame has become so watered down over the years, if anything, it's easier and easier to become "famous". I attribute this primarily to social media and the explosive popularity of reality television. Living in such a large city such as New York, I find myself thinking about fame often, mostly because the vast majority of the people around me are infatuated with the idea of it.

Do you know who that is? She’s like, famous. She has over 10 thousand Instagram followers. And she didn’t even buy them.
— Girl to boy, Bloomingdale's 59th Street

Go into any college classroom and pose the question "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" or "What do you want your future to look like?" I guarantee you, a handful of students, if not more, will respond with something along the lines of "Rich and famous!" Why do we act like fame is the ultimate American dream/goal? Furthermore, why are we making completely mediocre and unextraordinary people famous? Why do we glorify the idea that if you look a certain way, own certain items and go certain places, you've got what you need to skip down the yellow-brick road to infamy?

My promoter said that Justin Bieber and Scott Disick would be at Oak tonight. We have to go, oh my god.
— - Girl on cellphone, Fulton Center

There are varying degrees of fame beyond the age-old A,B and C lister scale. Each degree has different criteria and requirements.

Social Media/Internet Famous: I credit YouTube for inciting this phenomenon. It quickly expanded to other platforms such as Twitter, Vine (RIP), and Instagram (we all have a few "Instagram Models" on our feeds). These people achieved fame through sharing their thoughts with the world, whether that be through comedy, pretty pictures, video rants, you name it. Fame is measured based on how many followers, likes and views one receives.


Examples: Jenna Marbles, Patrick Starr, Blair Fowler, Kayla Itsines, Grumpy Cat

Famous by Association: This is a like a shortcut to fame, and it rests entirely on hanging out and being close with pre-existing famous people. *cough Jonathan Cheban cough* You don't need to be extremely talented, attractive or special but it certainly helps. It all starts with being photographed alongside said famous friend a few times, tagged on social media with/by them, and tagging along to events and social outings. It's that simple guys. The smart and savvy famous by association people turn their newfound fame into a propellant for furthering their personal brand and business endeavors. Some even land brand ambassadorships and collaborations. Then there are the truly innocent few who have no desire for the limelight, such as family members, close family friends and significant others.

Examples: Jonathan Cheban, Jordyn Woods, Gayle King, Malika Haqq, Nicole Richie, Scott Disick

Rich Famous: This can also fall into the category of "Socialite Famous" because the two go hand-in-hand. These are people who are ridiculously wealthy, or come from incredibly rich families. This includes children of politicians, CEO's, and basically any and every person with Kennedy lineage. . These people thrive off the glitz and glam of showcasing their lifestyle and often exude an air of exaggerated importance. They're often impeccably dressed and in the front row for Fashion Week.

Examples: Paris Hilton, Ivanka Trump, Olivia Palermo, Nicole Richie

Actually Famous: I like to also call this "Talented Famous" because their fame is well-deserved. This includes actors, musicians, athletes, artists, etc; These are the people that dedicate their life to being successful at their craft, and fame was never their primary goal. These people truly love what they do and they're damn good at it. The majority of these people don't even like fame, and simply wish to share their creativity and work with the world.

ExamplesRihanna, Kanye West, Angelina Jolie, Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant, Madonna, 

Industry Famous: These are iconic industry figures that have changed the game as we know it. They're CEO's, inventors, entrepreneurs, creative directors, etc; Bottom line is they're extremely talented, hard working geniuses that run the game (or did at some point). These people hold an incredible amount of power and clout in their designated field, and are often household names.

Examples: Anna Wintour, Martha Stewart, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Pat McGrath

Reality TV Famous: Ah, there's nothing quite like a good ole' reality TV star. As much as we all hate to admit it, these shows are our guilty pleasures and we've all thought about what it would be like to get paid to literally just live our lives on camera. The criteria for becoming a reality tv star seems to get looser as time goes on. *cough Corinne from The Bachelor cough* Love to hate or hate to love them, these folks are cashing out regardless.

Examples: Real Housewives, Dorothy Wang, Morgan Stewart, The Kardashians, Teen Moms, Kate Gosselin

Admittedly, I've often ruminated about the notion of becoming famous. When I really put it in perspective, I value my privacy and freedom far too much to ever be comfortable with that level of exposure and attention that so often accompanies fame. I really don't need paparazzi documenting my morning Starbucks run. I can envision the headline now: 'Ashtyn Tardif Mistaken for Homeless Cave Woman on Morning Coffee Run.' Yeah, no thanks. At the end of the day, I've come to the conclusion that I want to be respected and well-known, perhaps even a dash of industry famous. (Okay I'm not opposed to being Twitter famous either, like the non-model version of Chrissy Teigen).

If your lifelong ambition is to become Kardashian level famous, power to you my friend. Carpe Diem. Just remember:

Fame and success are very different things. Don’t confuse the first with the latter.
— Enya