Though every person has the ability to affect social change, celebrities have the unique privilege of reaching a vast audience. Through the click of one button, they can access thousands of loyal fans who value their treasured celebrity’s opinion. While this comes with tremendous responsibility, it can effectively get important messages across to society.
According to an article from SAGE Journals, celebrities have the ability to “...bring about changes in attitudes and beliefs in the audience” (Lindberg, Jolly, & Stapel 1). As people look up to their favorite athletes or singers, they are likely to listen when they have something to say. Given this privilege, these people must use their platforms to affect positive social change.
Naomi Osaka, arguably one of the current best female tennis players, is a perfect example of this. With almost 3 million followers on Instagram and over a million followers on Twitter, Osaka has the opportunity to reach and impact millions of people. Additionally, her status as an athlete opens more doors for her to appear on national and international news sites viewed by many.
After withdrawing from the French Open, Osaka opened up about her struggles with anxiety and depression. In a USA Today article, she expressed that preserving her mental health and practicing self-care was more important than her tennis career (Gleeson 1). Though she was met with tremendous backlash from the tennis community, “Osaka said she heard from a plethora of people who struggle with their mental health who felt inspired by her” (Gleeson 1).
Seeing an accomplished and seemingly happy woman be vulnerable about her mental health can help give others the courage to do the same. Though Osaka recognizes that she does not have all the answers to mental health, merely sharing her struggles can help others feel less alone.
Like Osaka, iconic musician Beyonce provides another example of a celebrity who uses her platform to spread important messages. Amassing over 30 million listeners on Spotify and a considerable fanbase, Beyonce uses her music to address issues such as racism and sexism.
For example, in her 2014 performance at the MTV VMAs, “...she launched into a rendition of the female anthem ‘Flawless,’ with lines from poet Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay “We Should All Be Feminists” plastered on the screen” (Penrose 1).
Additionally, in YouTube’s global virtual graduation ceremony, Dear Class of 2020, she encouraged graduates to continue supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement and the broader fight against racism in our society (BBC 1).
Like Beyonce and Osaka, other celebrities should use their voices to lift people up and ultimately make the world a better place. They must recognize the weight of their words and the tremendous privilege they have in being a celebrity. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these opportunities or platforms, so it is vital that they take advantage of them.
As mentioned in the introduction, everyone can affect social change. Many brilliant activists are not afforded the same platforms as celebrities, yet they are still able to move mountains. That being said, the task of social justice should not be given to celebrities alone, but, it is important to acknowledge the pivotal role that celebrities such as Osaka and Beyonce can play.