She was just a girl from Connecticut dancing in front of a screen. Now, she has modeled for Prada in Italy, formed sponsorship deals with companies like Louis Vuitton and the NFL, created her own Hollister clothing line, and has a net worth estimated to be more than 8 million dollars. Meet Charli D’Amelio, the not so average teenager. Over the past year and a half, the D’Amelio family has accumulated a significant amount of media attention and fans. However, with the overwhelming amount of support, they have also encountered thousands of “internet trolls.” Most critics question what makes this family so special and believe there are a myriad of other celebrities who are more deserving of recognition and fame. For example, Dixie D’Amelio’s first single “Be Happy,” quickly became viral, playing on every popular radio station and reaching top charts on streaming services. Vogue even featured her on their Youtube channel, filming a day in her life. However, many were quick to highlight the small artists who have been working for years but have never had these same opportunities. Charli has received similar hate for accumulating millions of dollars and brand sponsorships, while many established dancers struggle to succeed. Ultimately, the most pressing criticism against the family is their evident privilege. Many viewers believe they should be using this privilege to do something more beneficial than creating TikTok videos and online drama.
While I think much of this criticism has validity, it is critical to consider how this feedback is delivered. In today’s digital age, the internet trolls hold nothing back. Both sisters have received death threats, been harassed about their physical appearances, and received personal insults. It can be easy to join the bandwagon and question their fame. That’s why, when I heard the family was partnering with Hulu for a reality show, I was ready to be underwhelmed by a plot featuring nothing more than two carefree teenagers dancing in front of their phones. I had created my own narrative of their lives - one I believed to be a complete paradise. I mean, who else gets to make millions of dollars by filming ten-second videos? I told myself that I was never going to watch the show. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. Looking for ways to procrastinate, I suddenly found myself engrossed.
The series consists of eight episodes, capturing the everyday lives of the D’Amelio family. In each one, there is an honest conversation about mental health. Dixie opens up about anxiety and depression, candidly describing her frequent panic attacks. One of the most poignant scenes depicts her breakdown following the hateful comments on her feature with Vogue. It might be easy to mindlessly scroll through the troll videos that make fun of her “musty” look or poor singing abilities. But, this show demonstrates the long-term consequences of such bullying. Similarly, Charli describes her struggles with eating and body-image, highlighting how people have openly criticized her body since her beginning on TikTok. She has resorted to using food as a method of control, feeling incapable of controlling the hateful comments she receives. Both girls discuss the expectations of perfection they face everyday. They live in a world where they are always “too much” or “not enough.” When outsiders view their content on social media, they only see the glam and the glitter. However, this show offers a new perspective on how “influencers” should not be treated as an idealistic figure. Dixie and Charli are real people and their experiences remind us that social media is capable of obscuring that reality.
Whether or not you believe Charli and Dixe deserve their fame, their new reality show emphasizes that mental health struggles need to be discussed. Their stories have the potential to motivate other young viewers to be vulnerable and seek help when needed. We often pretend like mental illness only impacts a few people, but in reality, all of us have likely had our own struggles. It is so important that we open up this conversation and stop believing the lies social media perpetuates. We all struggle. If we can share that, we can support one another.
So, what is my final verdict? Would this show be my first choice? No. However, I am glad I came across it and got a glimpse into the lives of these sisters. It highlights that nobody’s life is perfect, and we are all complex individuals who deserve to be understood beyond the surface.