Media

Role Models

Do you have a role model? If so – who are they? Where did you meet them? Do you even know them? Did you see them on TV? In a movie? Did you read about them in a book? A magazine? Are they old? Young? Alive? Dead? Whether you are aware of it or not, you probably have some sort of role model in your life – or you have in the past. With the current state of technology and mass media, we talk a lot about “role models”. Who is one. Who isn’t one. Who should be one. Why?

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I’m going to assume you know who the people are in the above image. Yup – the Spice Girls! They, along with Britney Spears, were the Miley Cyrus’s of my generation. Now, compare that picture of the Spice Girls with the recent photos from Miley’s MVA/VMA whatever-it-goes-by-today performance and you will be like – Woah! Miley is so much sluttier than the Spice Girls.

The funny thing is though, even though now Spice Girls may stand for “girl power”, back in the day they were considered inappropriate, slutty,  bad role models. If you don’t believe me, here is a link to an article from 1998 saying this exact thing.

In fact, I wasn’t allowed to listen to the Spice Girls or watch them on TV. Now, I know my mom meant well. Yeah, maybe she was a little too influenced by those mouthy over-protective mothers from church (who also thought that the Care Bears were evil), but I know she thought she was protecting me.  She didn’t want me to be influenced by “bad role models”. The thing is, I didn’t even want to listen to the Spice Girls. I was about as Tomboyish as you can be. Pretty sure if I could, I would have chosen to be a boy when I was a kid. So I didn’t care. But what if I did care? What if I really wanted to watch the Spice Girls on TV and listen to their music? What would have happened?

I don’t know. Probably nothing. I probably would not have turned into a boy-crazed, sex-crazed, belly-top-wearing whore. I don’t think that’s what anyone thinks. But young minds are impressionable. I will give you that. And my Mom didn’t want me looking up to people who she thought weren’t worthy to be role models.

But why do we give so much power to celebrities? Why do they have to be role models? What have they done to EARN role model status? Most of the time, absolutely nothing. Being in the limelight doesn’t make you a good person. It doesn’t make you a bad person either, but you definitely don’t deserve to be looked up to by millions of little girls or boys.

Supposedly, Miley Cryus is a bad role model. Well, who is a good role model by today’s standards? Apparently, Jennifer Lawrence is! Why? Because she doesn’t twerk on stage or smoke pot or dress inappropriately. Apparently, that’s all it takes to be a role model.

Which I think is absolutely ridiculous. I personally do not think Jennifer Lawrence is any more of a role model for young women than Miley Cyrus is. Being on the big (or small) screen should not automatically make you something worth aspiring to.Here’s the thing: YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ROLE MODELS IN THE WRONG PLACES!

I don’t care if media is “all around us” and you “can’t avoid it” and “that’s the responsibility you have when you chose to become a star”. Well maybe if we, as the public, stopped placing so much emphasis on entertainment and entertainers, we wouldn’t have this problem. Why don’t we teach our young girls to look up to people who have actually made a difference? Why don’t we teach them to look up to people they actually know? (e.g. Mothers, Aunts, Grandparents, church leaders, community leaders, etc.)

And if that’s not possible, why don’t we teach them to look up to people who’ve actually DONE something besides pretending to be something their not on the big screen and getting paid ridiculous amounts of money for it? People like Hillary Clinton? Or Amelia Earhart? Or Rosa Parks? Or Nelson Mandela? Or Marie Curie? Or Winston Churchill? Or Jane Goodall?

We need to stop criticizing people like Miley Cyrus for being “bad role models” and instead, really think about what it MEANS to BE a role model in the first place.

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