Saturday, June 02, 2007

Embracing Celebrity

If you have no idea who Allison Stokke is (before the Washington Post article, that is) then good for you. You're not one of those people who frequent blogs that exchange photos of hot teens. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In this digital age, any image that touches cyberspace is fair game. And if it's a post like this, which doesn't go overboard with the horny and calls attention to her athletic and academic achievements, then it's cool. They're just admiring her.

But Stokke doesn't want the attention. Unlike Paris Hilton wannabees her age who desperately want to be noticed, she just wants to be left alone. But that doesn't seem to be an option now. With close to 700,000 hits on a simple Google search (I clock at 239), her pictures have made her a minor internet sensation. The fact that, unlike Tila Tequila, she isn't skanking it up for the cameras just makes her even hotter.

Like Alyssa Milano years ago, she wants some degree of control over what appears about her online. Unlike Milano though, her photos aren't doctored and were taken during public events. So instead of going all legal on the websites, she goes on a PR offensive, getting published in the Post and appearing in Fox News.

Which, I think, is the proper way to deal with these things. The first thing her PR counselor probably told her is that her identity is already out there. She's a winning athlete, a model student, and beautiful to boot. Unless she decides to live in a mountain somewhere, she will get exposed to media. So the best option she has is to plan ahead and try and exercise some influence over what goes on in the press. In other words, embrace celebrity and manage your public appearances.

And that's a good thing. There is a dearth of positive role models out there for girls. An authentic athletic and academic achiever glorified by the alternative media serves to counterbalance all those damaged socialites shown in print and TV getting wasted all the time. If anyone deserves to shine, she does.

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