How Social Media Turned ‘Prioritizing Mental Health’ Into a Trap – The New York Times

Back in January, Vogue posted a video documenting a day in the life of a TikTok star named Dixie D’Amelio. Inside her antiseptic luxury apartment, D’Amelio, then 19, scrambles eggs, applies eye shadow and delivers a monologue sprinkled with false bravado. Dixie drafted to fame behind her younger sister, Charli — but while Charli has reigned on TikTok, dancing for 126 million followers, Dixie has assumed the role of whipping girl, earning her own 55 million followers in part by absorbing the public floggings regularly directed at her family. When the Vogue video dropped, commentators diagnosed her as talentless, boring and “a bratty white girl who has leeched off her sister’s fame.”

Then, last month, a different document of Dixie’s life appeared. Her family had acquired a Hulu reality series, “The D’Amelio Show,” and its first episode culminated with the fallout from the Vogue video. A hand-held camera navigates the hallways of the D’Amelios’ home, a modernist slab wedged into the Hollywood Hills. A flatlining noise suggests the chaos of a medical emergency. We find Dixie crumpled on a bed while her parents, Marc (more than 10 million TikTok followers) and Heidi (more than nine million), comfort her. “I’m trying to do anything I can to better myself, and it just gets worse,” she says through jagged sobs, lifting her crimson face to the ceiling. “Everyone just picks apart every single thing.” “It’s going to get better,” Marc assures her. The screen goes black, and a message appears: “If you or someone you know is struggling with mental-health issues, you are not alone.”

A new celebrity mode casts mental health as an appealing badge of vulnerability.

This disclaimer soon becomes a refrain. “The following episode tells a real story of people who have struggled with mental-​health challenges,” the next episode begins. Framing the family’s social media rise as a psychological crisis makes it seem both relatable and acutely serious, even important. If Dixie is tortured by the idea that her fame is undeserved, filming her suffering presents a solution: Now the intense focus on her raises awareness for a cause. The show has found not just a dramatic crux but an excuse for existing. It can justify paying even more attention to this family by revealing how all the attention affects them.

Not long ago, signs of mental distress in young female stars — Britney …….


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