The population of Britain have different opinions on this topic, so we interviewed a selection of staff and students at Colchester County High School for Girls about what they think makes a good role model. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of a role model is ‘a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated’. However, not many of the people we talked to believed that you should ‘imitate’ your role model, but you should instead, as Alex in Year 9 said, ‘look to them for guidance’.
Responses to the question followed a common theme, with answers including ‘they need to believe in and be true to themselves’, ‘they need to be someone you can identify with’ and ‘most importantly, they need to have achieved happiness’.
From these views, we can conclude that what makes a good role model for some does not make a good role model for others – it changes from person to person, as well as with age. Lottie in Year 8 said that ‘what makes a good role model depends on what qualities you value most.’ Yet some people value superficial qualities, such as appearance, over personality and behaviour.
In a world that is infatuated with technology it is very easy to become ‘well-known’ based on a video that goes viral or a TV show that becomes popular.
Take the Kardashian family, for example. In 2007, they rose to fame with their hit reality show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ and many people began to look up to them. However, there is a lot of controversy surrounding them. Kim Kardashian has posted nude selfies on Instagram, generating negative comments, but her fans rebut that she is happy and secure with her body. This confidence could be seen as an excellent quality for a role model.
Despite the fact that many people disagree with Kim Kardashian’s actions, we cannot deny that she is being true to herself and whilst some may see that as inappropriate, others believe that she is inspirational. No matter what anyone does, the media, press and society as a whole will always have different views on things and distort the truth.
Today’s society sets unrealistic expectations about how young women should look and behave. Many people believe that, because of this, we now need role models more than ever. Young girls and women need people to believe in, to help them achieve their goals and aspirations. We should not be twisting how certain women act to force opinions which are not necessarily true onto other people. Instead, we should be addressing what they do and, whether you agree with it or not, accept that that is who they are. As Emma Watson said in her response to the Vanity Fair photo shoot, ‘feminism is not a stick to beat other women with; it’s about freedom and liberation’. Rather than seeking to criticise women, we should be celebrating their resolution to live life by their own rules.
Year 9 student Alex (pictured left): ‘we look to role models for guidance’ (photo by Emilia)