We often think of role models as people to look up to. We place them on a pedestal as images of perfection to be admired, and we tell ourselves that is how we should strive to be.
Often the media influences our choice in role models, particularly for women.
You only need to flick through the celebrity magazines or social media plastered with the beautiful, skinny, rich and famous. It is these images that young girls mistakenly believe to be role models. However, it only serves to ignite the belief that we are not enough, unless we can be like them.
What women need are realistic role models. Role models who are valued for what they bring to this world. For not only what they have achieved but for their honesty, self belief, and their ability to stay true to themselves, despite all else.
In thinking of female role models, I realised that the most important ones are not perfect. Which is a good thing. They don’t fit the normal mold of prim, proper and perfect, but they all share something in common: strength, self-belief and perseverance, all gained through living and experiencing what life throws at you.
Role models that we can learn from and not just admire.
P!nk. She doesn’t have technically perfect voice, she’s not your typical pop-star pretty and she certainly likes to break the rules. She swears, she goes against the grain and she wears her emotions on her sleeves, but most of all she is strong. Her strength and resolve in believing in and staying true to herself is one of her most inspiring qualities. She’s been down and out, risen from the bottom, had broken hearts, done some stupid things but she has come through stronger than ever.
“I want to see more women executives. I want to see more women playing instruments. I want to see more women running magazines and running TV shoes. I want to see a woman president in my lifetime.” – P!nk
Julia Gillard. Whether you loved her or hated her as a politician, Julia Gillard deserves respect. She may not have been able to turn the country around, but she certainly was going to to give it a good shot. Julia proves that you don’t need to be married, have children or talk with a plum in your mouth to make a difference. She is the ultimate feminist; proud, confident and a believer in her cause. She brought the topic of sexism and misogyny to the forefront and stood for everything she believed in and did not back down. Even in her fall from grace she was still, just that, graceful.
“I am what I am and people will judge that.” – Julia Gillard
Angelina Jolie. Although she fits the typical role model mold in many ways; she’s attractive, intelligent, has fame and fortune, Angelina has a dark side. She has had family issues, addiction problems and allegedly stole Brad from Jen, but she has risen from her transgressions. Now as an ambassador for UNICEF, a devoted supporter and campaigner of women’s rights, and a tireless proponent for those suffering poverty, hunger and the atrocities of war, Angelina is selfless. She also stood proud when she shared with the world her decision to undergo a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting Cancer. A decision that proves her humanity in the Hollywood world in which she lives.
“[My kids] give me so much joy and I want to make a better world for them. I’m just grateful every day that I have the chance.” – Angelina Jolie
Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen isn’t necessary flawed, but she isn’t your typical role model either. From a modest family, she worked her way into the temperamental American comedian circuit and rose to stardom winning respect of fans and peers alike. When she ‘came out’ as a lesbian in 1997, what should have been a freeing choice for her, instead led to depression when advertisers began pulling out from her TV show, and the backlash from the tabloids overshadowed the momentous event. Ellen though, battled through these years, grew into her skin and now is one of the most successful TV personalities in the world. Ellen is now a role model and visionary for gay and lesbians of the world, proving that being true to yourself is all that matters, no matter what.
“Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods, and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.” – Ellen DeGeneres
J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter author’s story is certainly one of the best rags to riches tales there is. As a divorced, single mother she penned the first novel of the Harry Potter series while collecting welfare benefits, living a day to day existence. But her dedication to her writing despite suffering depression and contemplating suicide, that paid off. Even after 12 rejections and being told her ‘children’s book’ wasn’t very commercial, Rowling’s persevered and as they say, the rest is history. Now Rowling’s empire, according to the Sunday Times UK Rick List, is estimated at a net worth of $1 Billion dollars. Even so, she shows herself to be grounded with regrets and fears, just as we all do, and she still admits to taking the bus.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling.
Who are your ‘role models’? Are they flawed?