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The myth of homeless celebrities

Some people may call it the riches to rags story. The latest version is the tale of Heidi Montag, the MTV star of “The Hills,” who just announced she is bankrupt and homeless. She went from living in a mansion to being without a home.

She blames it on too much plastic surgery. Funny, that is the first time I have heard a homeless person use plastic surgery as the cause of their homelessness. Typically, it is domestic violence, loss of employment, or perhaps substance abuse. But plastic abuse? That is a new one.

A few months ago, Teresa Guidiz became her own riches to rags story. Guidiz was the star of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” who lived in a 16-room, 16,000 square foot mansion. She is now $11 million in debt, and homeless. I am sure her plastic abuse was via a plastic credit card.

What is with these reality television celebrities?

In 2006, the celebrity rags were claiming Michael Jackson was homeless. They said he was homeless and living in isolation. I am sure he would have been the king of reality television, if he had wanted to.

And then there was the picture of Gary Coleman, that cute little boy on the old TV show “Different Strokes,” sporting a security guard uniform because he claimed his parents pilfered his child-star bank account.

But did these celebrities really go from pitching products on television to begging on the street with a tin can? I don’t think so. A homeless celeb begging on the streets would have been a paparazzi’s dream.

Hollywood’s definition of homelessness is warped. Losing ten million dollars does not make a person homeless. Especially, when the brand of their name could fill their bank account again.

Moving out of a 16,000 square foot mansion and into a World War II stucco-clad two bedroom suburban home does not make a person homeless. You might feel homeless, after getting used to ten bathrooms, a seven car garage, and a theater room. But you are not.

You may feel you are poor, but you are not homeless. It is all relative. One person’s wealth could be a rich person’s poverty.

When you move out of a million dollar home perched on the edge of the Hollywood Hills, and end up sleeping in a tattered sleeping bag under a bush on the hill, then you can call yourself homeless.

Homelessness is extreme poverty. No home, no healthcare, no safe place to sleep. It is not squandering $10 million. It is not losing a ten bedroom mansion.

Homelessness is finding a safe place to sleep on a hill overlooking Hollywood, only to have law enforcement sweep you away.

Homelessness is standing in an outdoor line along with two hundred other needy people just for a free meal to fill your hungry stomach.

Homelessness is being rooted on the ground, not in an ivory penthouse.

No myth here.


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