why do we idolize “It” girls?

Photography done by: Lisa Helland & Evan Seabeck

What makes a celebrity an “It” girl?

Sugar, spice and everything nice. Or rather money, plastic surgery and everything she wants. An “It” girl has the means to make herself into whatever she wants — model, actress, entrepreneur, YouTuber, singer. Speculations about her relationship status and latest vacation can be found in tabloids and all over social media. She comes from a wealthy family, whether the money comes from generations of business or a celebrity parent. She has the “it” factor and everyone wants what she has.

“It” girls have existed in every period of pop culture, from ’60s Twiggy, to ’90s Cindy Crawford and even 2000s Paris Hilton. Today, the Jenners, Kardashians and Hadids have inherited the “It” girl throne. Their paparazzi shots end up on Pinterest boards and Instagram inspiration accounts of fashion lovers. 

Thanks to the thriving celebrity culture in America, famous style icons always garner a mass following. Their faces are plastered across every magazine cover, gracing every perfume commercial and seen on billboards from miles away. Celebrities are impossible to avoid and easier to idolize. 

As a society, we reward the rich and famous with our respect and even admiration. We look up to them as style icons and images of what we aspire to be. This is not to say there is anything wrong with looking up to these “It” girls, or with being one. Using them for inspiration can be a healthy way to set goals and improve our lives. Kent State students are no exception. Junior fashion merchandising major Jaclyn Lord sees “It” girls as style icons.  

“I wouldn’t say that I look up to any specific celebrities, but I do follow a lot on social media because I find their content to be interesting or funny,” Lord said. “I would say that I look up to Kylie Jenner, Noah Cyrus and Tana Mongeau as my celebrity style icons.”

While most people have a healthy appreciation for “It” girls, it’s easy to get lost in comparison. Gazing at shots of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid sunbathing on a yacht or Lily-Rose Depp having lunch in Paris makes it easy to be jealous. These women are living the life of luxury and fame we’ve all dreamed of, after all. On paper, their lives are perfect and their full time job is making sure we keep believing that. 

Measuring an average life against that of a famous socialite is both unfair and unhealthy. We already spend most of our screen time scrolling through Instagram, contrasting our lives with the filtered photos posted by our peers. Add Kaia Gerber in a bikini and a Kardashian house to the mix and it’s enough to damage anyone’s self-esteem. In a time when mental health is at the mercy of overly-edited social media posts, keeping in mind that normal people don’t have to live like celebrities is more important than ever. 

“It” girls aren’t born, but made. An entourage of stylists, hairdressers, makeup artists, dieticians and plastic surgeons stand behind every famous girl found on magazine covers. These elite women can only achieve their perfect front because of their well-compensated team of professionals. How can we compare ourselves to a person whose appearance is designed for the limelight?

“I think instead of ‘looking up’ to or idolizing celebrities or influencers, I simply like them and find inspiration from them,” said Lily Kjellander, a junior fashion design major at Kent State. “I think it is more healthy to take fashion inspiration from celebrities rather than lifestyle inspiration as celebrity lifestyles are often manufactured, glamorized and unrealistic.”

Not everyone can be born into this lifestyle — few are. Maybe the appeal of “It” girl culture is exactly that — we want what we can’t have. A life of luxury and wealth is an unattainable dream for most people, but a girl can dream.

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