Role models for girls: Who do your daughters look up to?
In a culture of celebrity, who can we turn to as a role model for our daughters?
As a single mum to two daughters, being a worthy role model is hugely important to me. It’s a tough balance though – I want to be a ‘good parent’, to have time to cook proper meals and help with homework, but at the same time I need to provide a roof over our heads and enjoy working. I want them to see me as a woman as well as a mother, with interests outside the family. I want them to appreciate the importance of putting yourself first sometimes, but at the same time as caring about others. I want the moon on a stick basically…
So whilst partly hoping they grow up just like me (without the tendency obviously to procrastinate and drink too much), and resisting the urge to turn them into the woman I will never be (internationally respected author, ballet dancer etc etc), what positive female role models can I point them towards that will help them develop worthwhile aspirations and goals?
In a heavily celebrity dominated culture, many young girls look up to women like Cheryl Cole. I have mixed feelings about Cheryl. On the one hand I feel we should clutch at any woman who manages to rise to the top of their game, but when this is done primarily based on appearances, on being pretty and thin and having nice hair, it feels a little shallow. Also, I don’t especially want my children to aspire to be charged with assault at any point in their lives.
Yes you can defend her, tell me she can sing and dance a bit, but would she have got where she is purely on her ability to hold a tune? I think not. And besides, is it her determination and independence that young girls really see, or is it just the glamour, the pretty dresses and the unrealistically voluminous hair? When you read that polls suggest 63% of young women aspire to be glamour models or lap dancers you can’t help but worry about the quality of role models we are offering them.
On Ready for Ten recently we wrote about the fact that boys were looking up to TV stars such as Harry Hill, rather than pop stars. Harry Hill has one very important quality that Cheryl lacks entirely in my opinion – humour. The boys clearly know what’s going to score them points with the ladies later in life…
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, The Guardian is currently putting together a list of 100 inspirational women, based on public nominations. These are women who have achieved success in their field, who have influenced governments and policy, have made strides in science and technology, and who have fought to support women across the globe. A spray tan and a picture in the tabloids, or a Nobel Prize for Physics? I know which I’d rather have my daughters aspire to.
Who do your daughters look up to? Let us know...
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