Role Models

Topics: 21st century, Psychology, Sociology Pages: 3 (669 words) Published: November 19, 2013
Being a Role Model Isn’t Always a Choice
Celebrities need to take responsibility for their positions as role models Published on October 8, 2013 by Azadeh Aalai, Ph.D. in The First Impression

I always find myself peeved when in the aftermath of negative publicity, or “bad behavior,” celebrities offer the disclaimer that they never set out to be role models. For instance, in the aftermath of her provocative (pornographic?) VMA performance, Miley Cyrus has reportedly stated, “My job isn’t to tell your kids how to act or how not to act, because I am still figuring that out for myself” (as reported in OK Magazine). Similarly, Rihanna has posted on Instagram that, “’Role Model’ is not a position or title that I have ever campaigned for, so chill wit dat!” (Here’s hoping that nobody is modeling her grammar).

While it is true that neither female performer has necessarily set out to deliberately be a model for other girls, intention is only one of many factors that determine which figures are elevated to role model status in our culture. Who is following, and who is leading or setting the trends? It may not always be the people who want to be the leaders, or the individuals who are exhibiting the behaviors we would like to see modeled in the larger society. Guess what: The reality is that in today’s ubiquitous celebrity culture, public figures with a spotlight on them, whether for good behavior or bad, are the role models of the 21st century. To suggest otherwise is not only willfully ignorant, but also wildly irresponsible.

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While it is well and good to assert that parents need to do the parenting, such a disclaimer fails to take into account the pervasiveness of the media, and digital media in particular, among our youth today. In fact, in the great irony of this century, it is...
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