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4 Rags-to-Riches Success Stories That Are Full of Crap

#2. "The Weight Just Fell Off!"

Did you know that a big part of being "successful" in our society consists of being thin and good-looking? Now that everyone's jaws have undropped from that shocking revelation, I'll go on: Every week, dozens of magazines feature "weight loss secrets" from various formerly slightly fatter celebrities, and these secrets always seem ridiculously easy. Usually, this weight-loss wisdom consists of comments about how they "do yoga occasionally" or "go to Jazzercise twice a week." Every actress and model in the world stays in rake-thin shape simply by exercising a normal amount and not stuffing their face with every roll of unbaked cookie dough they see.

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"I cut down to five dough rolls a day. Six, tops."

Sorry, Skinny Magazine People, but this is bullshit. The human body is extremely good at conserving energy and remaining in a lumpy, dumpling-like state. Losing a lot of weight quickly, especially after age 25 or so, usually requires a huge amount of effort. I'm talking hours with a personal trainer every day, personalized diets, and (sometimes) just plain starving yourself. And indeed, several celebrities have come out and admitted that their publicists instructed them to wildly exaggerate the ease of their "easy" weight loss. One catwalk model admitted that she spent years telling magazines that she simply ate healthy to maintain her figure, when in reality she and most of the models around her were literally starving themselves. Maintaining the "model" figure can be so hard on the adult human body that magazine editors have even been caught editing out signs of poor health and starvation in catwalk models.

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"Just edit those teeth right back in."

So what's with all the lying? Most of these celebrities give out their dieting advice via publicists. It's not a publicist's job to get their clients to tell the truth; it's their job to make their clients likeable, and people like celebrities they can relate to. Extreme dieting, or an exercise regimen that's more demanding than a full-time job, does not exactly make you come across as one of the common people.

Why It's Ruining Everything

This "Losing weight is easy!" bullshit is about as good for society as a no-calorie diet is for your health. People who want to lose weight and try to follow celebrity advice will soon discover that the weight isn't "falling off" as promised and give up. Women who aren't rake-thin two months after having a baby are left looking like they're just too lazy to walk around the house now and then. Even people who successfully lose weight probably won't get any credit for it: After all, that stuff is easy, right?

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Ten minutes ago, both of these women were 200 pounds heavier.

You might be thinking, "Well, it serves people right for listening to celebrities!" But like it or not, models and actors are considered the professionals of being thin and good-looking. If Olympic runners started lying about how easy it is to be an Olympic runner -- they didn't train at all, and "the seconds just flew off" -- we'd probably have a problem. But these professional non-fat people keep dishing out shitty dieting advice year after year, and everyone's OK with it.

#1. "I'm Here Because I Followed My Bliss!"

From businessmen to best-selling authors to the billionaire whose ruby-encrusted shoes you're currently shining, every successful person hands out this same piece of career advice: Follow your dreams. Be passionate. Believe in yourself, and one day you can be where I am now.

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"Assistant manager of the Giant Rubik's Cube Storage Yard, bitches."

Why It's Ruining Everything

It's not that this advice is bad, exactly. It's that it's useless.

Felipe Dupouy/Digital Vision/Getty Images
You will never be this man.

Imagine you're watching the end of a bear-triathlon. Ten thousand people started this great annual event, and 30 managed to get past the swimming-away-from-bears, cycling-away-from-bears, and running-away-from-bears components and finish. These 30 people then give speeches telling us that the key to finishing the bear-triathlon is to believe in yourself. And they would know, right? They haven't been eaten by a single bear!

Until you consider that everybody who entered that triathlon believed in themselves. And it wasn't enough. Some of the losers hadn't trained enough, some ate bad Mexican food the night before, and some just weren't fast enough to outrun a bear. Similarly, everyone wants to be successful enough to be able to give speeches telling others how they can become just as awesome. If it were that easy, everyone would be that awesome already, and these speech-givers wouldn't have an audience.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't try to do what you're passionate about. That's for your earnest working-class parents to tell you as they beg you to take over the family air-conditioning business instead of starting your own naked hipster circus or whatever. But we should stop putting so much weight on this "having passion" thing, and instead accept that passion is the first step, one that makes absolutely no guarantees. If you can't get what you want despite throwing bucketfuls of passion at it daily, the problem might not be as simple as you not passioning hard enough. Maybe there's something else that's getting in your way. Or maybe your passion object just isn't suitable for you and it's time for you to move on and try something else.

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Like making cat jewelry.


C. Coville has a Tumblr here and a Twitter here.

For things celebrities aren't fooling about, check out 33 Facts About Famous People You Won't Believe Are True.

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