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Role Models today – who deserves our admiration?

12 June 2012

Role models are seen as very important in children’s lives and some would say the true power of strong, ambitious role models has been lost in society today.

The Florence Nightingales and Rosa Parks figures that once would have stood out as meaningful, inspiring individuals have been replaced by reality TV stars and famous-for-nothing faces. Women who have fought for our rights are overlooked or simply unknown by girls today, whereas girls from “TOWIE”, ITV’s popular reality show (The Only Way is Essex) would be recognised instantly.

I don’t think the girls themselves are to blame, having a good, strong role model is purely based on opportunity, who you know and how they affect you as an individual.  We are constantly being fed by the media, from MTV’s “The Kardashian’s” to Channel 4’s “Made in Chelsea”, to the faces of fake, size zero models filling the pages of magazines instead of independent, successful businesswomen. It is no wonder girls struggle to find exciting professions when they simply aren’t aware of any.

I am a regular viewer of “The Only Way is Essex”, a programme which is deemed misleading and a bad influence to young girls.  But I disagree. Yes they are full of Girls with boob jobs, fake eye-lashes and armoured in make-up, but what critics fail to see are the positive aspects of the show, such as the family units, the strength of the bonds that they share and the clear true friendships which are shown. Just because their exteriors may appear fake, what strikes you about the show is that they are all down-to- earth, genuine people.

I can see how for some girls the lifestyles of those on “The Only Way in Essex” might be viewed as ideal. They’re rich, popular and glamorous without the need for qualifications and many without ambitious careers, but not everyone takes the show so literally. I do however think there is a desperate need for more programmes like “The Apprentice” and “Junior Apprentice”, to represent driven, determined young people and to widen the horizons for young people at home, to give them aspirations to be successful.

Women such as Karen Brady and JK Rowling are both role models for me. Karen because she has earned her place in what they call ‘a man’s world’ and not only is she a businesswoman but she’s also a motivational speaker and campaigner, and so uses her hard earned authority to promote ambition in other individuals. And JK Rowling because as a result of talent, perseverance, and determination she worked her way from the bottom and managed to land herself as one of the richest women in the world. She showed that you don’t need money or possessions to succeed, all you need is a dream and she managed to fulfil hers.

Individuals in the music world such as Tulisa and Jessie J also inspire me, not because of their musical talents but because of their eagerness to be controversial, out-spoken and stand out from the crowd instead of allowing themselves to be labelled as just another pop singer. They have also both experienced quite difficult childhoods and the way they have used it to drive them to be successful is really inspiring.

I believe that the role model you chose should be based on how they impact you as a person and how they help you to succeed. Pick carefully who you have as a role model, don’t go giving your admiration to those that don’t deserve it.

Anna, Forster work experience pupil, May 2012