Recently I was asked the question “Who is your role model?” I automatically responded with my parents, unable to choose just one figure. My role models are the people who have a strong work ethic, determination and strong morals – traits that I believe pave the way for success. This is true of my parents especially. Their level-headedness, strong sense of self and happiness has helped shape the woman that I am today.
I was once told that the most important thing in life is to be self-aware; to be aware of how I am acting and the way it affects the people surrounding me. I was secondly told to be a good person, and I believe these are qualities we should all aspire to have, regardless of what path we want to take in life. Obviously, your role model will be influenced by your circumstances and personality, however I want to raise the questions: “What makes a good role model?” and “Who are the role models of today?”
On reflection, I was wondering how people today may respond to these questions, especially the younger generation. As I look around, I see girls as young as 11 dressing in hot pants and skimpy t-shirts with a full face of make-up. I understand that different trends circulate amongst teens, perhaps after seeing someone like Rihanna’s latest outfit on the internet. But is this really something that should be important to a girl of that age? I just wish that these teens looked up to, and were more exposed to, more traditional role models for their fashion and behavioural choices. Thanks to today’s far-reaching media, these young girls are exposed to gossip magazines and suggestive music videos of so-called ‘role models’. Rihanna and Ke$ha, for instance, tend to be half-dressed and sing not only about the materialistic aspects of life, but often sex and promiscuity. The lifestyle of these celebrities are unrealistic to the average girl and their outfits unacceptable in the real world. Although this may be desirable for many people, what some young girls, and indeed even women need, is a cold hard dose of reality and a total revaluation of aspirations.
Then we come to the reality television stars from T.O.W.I.E. to Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Now, I can watch reality T.V as much as the next person, but these people, who fall to fame by simply acting out their lives, are the minority. This, again, should not be a goal for your life. These role models leave young children with no incentive, when an incentive is something that everyone desperately needs to have. I believe that we should all take a glance back at figures such as Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Rosa Parks and Mother Theresa. These figures of grace, elegance, work-ethic and above all, kindness and consideration, are who we should look up to. Even if you like a bit of a bad girl, take Marilyn Monroe for example: she was sassy, yet classy; naughty, yet nice. The Florence Nightingales in this world are soon to be long gone if the media does not give us all exposure to better role models. These women were not perfect – nobody is – but are good examples of people who aspire to be the best that they can be.
Charity workers are excellent examples of good role models; the ordinary people who voluntarily give up hours of free labour for the benefit of others. Their selflessness and sacrifice provide opportunities and a better quality lifestyle for the people who are less fortunate than themselves. These people are living everyday lives, all around us, and these people are the ones that we should be looking up to. These are the people who deserve to get recognised unlike some of the greedy, money-driven people that the media are so intent on gossiping about. Although, saying that, it is also important to recognise the change in the media’s representation of the ‘celebrity’. Nowadays, celebrities face a lot more harassment than in previous times, when there would not have been of phone hacking for instance; celebrities seemed to have more of a private life than celebrities now. The recent rise of the popular press has also led to the media becoming more about exposing scandals to shock and entertain rather than inform people. In addition, with the introduction of new digital technology to airbrush celebrities, various media portray celebrities in an unrealistic state of perfection. Previously, women were depicted as they really were and this is something that needs to be resurrected.
Now, I’m neither a clueless nor a negative person. I recognise that there are many inspiring modern-day role models. Take J.K. Rowling: a headstrong and talented woman who has not let fame get to her head along. Or Jennifer Lawrence with her healthy attitude toward appearance and positive outlook on life. These are the women we should look up to today. I feel that the media tends to deny children of their childhood and set themselves and adults alike, with unrealistic aspirations for how they should live their lives: what size they should be, how they should talk, how they should dress and how they should act. I think that we need to turn this convention of being ‘perfect’ on its head. Be who you are, not who others want to you be. Individuality is interesting. It is not a bad thing. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, people who you can learn from and laugh with, and above all people who inspire you. Enjoy your life, every minute of it, and aspire to be a good person. Have dreams and work hard to achieve them. We are all capable of it with the right attitude, a little faith and a lot of determination.