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Teenage Girls and #CutforBieber: Idealizing Pop Icons

Justin Bieber Smoking?

It looks like Justin Bieber smokes weed. Honestly, I’m having a really hard time caring at all. So what? That’s his problem. Let’s get one thing straight – Bieber is just a pop star. He’s not the Pope. He’s not the President. And he’s not your best friend. As far as I’m concerned, teens can still like his music. Personally, I find it simplistic and pandering but, if your teen likes it, she should keep rocking it.

But I want to say to his mostly teenage girl fan base, “You don’t know him. You might have imagined what he is like, but you don’t really know the guy.”

As adults, it sounds simple and obvious but for a teenage girl, it isn’t. To idealize is to disregard facts. We all know that nobody is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. But we tend to respond differently to our idols, even Justin Bieber, when they show their flaws.

I think that Bieber and others like him can produce enjoyable music while showing their imperfections. Bieber as a private individual is different than the image that is carefully constructed by the music industry. Realizing this is part of growing up.

Worrying About Bieber Obsession

But adoration of Bieber, like adoration of the Beatles in another generation, can cause confusion. Some girls tied their devotion to the “perfect” Justin Bieber and they feel deeply disillusioned by this proof of his humanness. In extreme cases some of his fans have resorted to this horrible #cutforbieber stuff.

I worry about these girls. They seem so caught up in the worship of an idealized version of Bieber. And the revelation of his flawed self has led to this unhealthy movement of girls cutting themselves. It might seem like the center of your universe now but trust me, the world is wonderfully able to tolerate human failings and maintain enough positivity and joy for you to live a content life.

Justin made a mistake. Maybe he just needs someone to talk to. Thanks Akon, for responding with some compassion and rationality.

Miguel Brown has been working with teenagers for more than 10 years. You can find Miguel at Miami Teen Counseling or on Facebook and Twitter.

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