Charli and Dixie D'Amelio put mental health on display like never before. What experts say about their raw reality show.
Kerry Justich
September 21, 2021·9 min read
Dixie and Charli D'Amelio shed a light on mental health issues stemming from social media. (Photo: Getty Images)
TikTok's most famous sisters, Charli and Dixie D'Amelio, went from typical Connecticut teenagers to Los Angeles-based celebrities in record time. Despite the fact that many might think they're living the dream, the transition from relative anonymity to global phenomenons hasn't been easy and the young women, along with their parents Marc and Heidi D'Amelio, are opening up about the true toll that internet fame has taken on their mental health with their new reality television show.
"Tea pages and negative comments and checking who's talking about me every day has a big part of my anxiety," Dixie, 20, shared in an episode of the premiere season of The D'Amelio Show on Hulu. "I do try to hide those feelings by putting out a strong face. But I do get very upset."
The highly anticipated series was released on the streaming service on Sept. 3 and quickly surpassed people's expectations of how well viewers would get to know the newly famous family. For most, the show's unfiltered look into the negativity that both Charli, 17, and Dixie face and the ways in which their mental health has suffered as a result was shocking. However, as research comes out about the inherent danger of social media apps — most recently surrounding the photo-sharing platform Instagram — experts are intent on bringing more awareness to the repercussions of using them.
"Social media has many benefits for adolescents like a space to share their story, to express themselves, to advocate for change, to connect, to find friends. It can also have a negative impact on adolescents. Recent research shows that spending more than three hours a day on social media may result in an increase in anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Social media can also impact adolescents' sleep and body image," Lindsay Fleming, a licensed therapist based in Illinois, tells Yahoo Life.
Fleming has worked to create a more effective dialogue about mental health on TikTok in particular as she grows her own platform that focuses on conversations that teens might be having about anxiety, depression and related issues. What's highlighted on The D'Amelio Show has more to do with the way that negative comments on social media trigger those responses.
"Many teens report online bullying as a major issue in the social media world. When you have a million followers and more than a million people commenting on everything you do it can have an immense impact on your mental health," Fleming explains. "When speaking specifically of adolescent teenager girls with millions of followers the scrutiny and standard of perfection is even higher. Teenagers are not only more impulsive, they are also trying to figure out their identity and who they are."
While Charli and Dixie, in addition to numerous other online creators, have spoken about the criticism that they face on a daily basis, people have praised the Hulu reality show for illustrating their emotional reactions in a more unfiltered and authentic way. The show even gives a glimpse into one of Dixie's panic attacks triggered by hate that she received after being photographed while walking out of a workout.
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