Essay by huydosy October 2004

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Last week, a woman signing herself "Want the Truth in Westport" wrote to Ann Landers with a question she just had to have answered. "Please find out for sure," she begged the columnist, "whether or not Lena Horne has had a face-lift." Fortunately for Ms. Horne's privacy, Ann Landers refused to answer the question. But the incident disturbed me. How awful it would be to be a celebrity, I thought, and always be in public eye. Celebrities lead very stressful lives, for no matter how glamorous or powerful they are, they have too little privacy, too much pressure, and no safety.

For one thing, celebrities don't have the privacy an ordinary person has. The most personal details of their lives are splashed all over the front pages of the National Enquirer and the Globe so that bored supermarket shoppers can read about "Liz and her new love" or "Burt's deepest fear."

Even a celebrity's family is hauled into the spotlight. A teenage son's arrest for pot possession or a wife's drinking problem becomes the subject of glaring headlines. Photographers hound celebrities at their homes, in restaurants, and on the street, hoping to get a picture of a Jackie Onassis in curlers or a Burt Reynolds in a fistfight. When celebrities try to do the things that normal people do, like eat out or attend a football game, they run the risk of being interrupted by thoughtless autograph hounds or mobbed by aggressive fans.

In addition, celebrities are under constant pressure. Their physical appearance is always under observation. Famous women, especially, suffer from the "she really looks old" or the "boy, has she put on weight" spotlight. Unflattering pictures of celebrities are photographers' prizes to be sold to the highest bidder; this increases the pressure on celebrities to look good at...