Girls Magazine

Our Children Need A New Kind Of Role Model!

posted on: September 05, 2018. posted in: Mindfulness

Over the last few days social media has blown up with the debate around Tess Holliday appearing on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.

I shared the magazine cover to our fan page to show our support, and as you might expect it was flooded with responses from people outraged to see a morbidly obese person being glorified in such a way.

Their reasoning?

"Tess Holliday is dangerously unhealthy and not a good role model for our children!"

This got me thinking.

What exactly is a role model? And who exactly is a good role model for our kids?

The dictionary definition of a role model is "a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated."

I think back to when I was growing up, and the faces I saw on the cover of magazines, and the celebrities that parents were happy to see pinned up on their kids' bedroom walls as "healthy role models".

They included...

Paul Gascoigne
Jonah Lomu
Lance Armstrong
Linford Christie
Kate Moss
Naomi Campbell
Yasmine Bleeth
Pamela Anderson
Whitney Houston
Michael Jackson
Kurt Cobain
Vanilla Ice
Macaulay Culkin
Corey Haim

Were they role models?


They were talented, motivated, driven, successful people who had established careers worthy of admiration and glorification on the cover of magazines.

Were they healthy role models?

Absolutely not.

Their success often came at the cost of their mental health, with many of their careers and lives wrecked by alcohol and drug abuse. A trend that continues throughout celebrity life to this day, from Amy Winehouse to more recently Chester Bennington and Tim Bergling (Avicii).

So here's the next question.

Was the fact that they were unhealthy a reason for them to not be on the cover of a magazine?

Of course not.

Their health is their business, and shouldn't detract from their career success in any way, shape or form.

And for me, this is why I believe Tess Holliday's supposed ill health as a result of her obesity shouldn't detract from her career success in spreading the message of body positivity.

Whatever you think about this woman's weight, shape, size and health shouldn't distract you from the fact that she has led the world in the field of body positivity...

Anymore than your thoughts about Paul Gascoigne's alcohol and drug use should distract you from the fact that he once led the world in the field of football.

He was one of the most talented footballer's this world has ever seen. That he was unhealthy makes me feel sorry for him and want to help him, not start shouting that he doesn't deserve to be on the cover of magazines.

When my kids grow up I'd love nothing more than for them to have a poster of Gazza on their wall, and I'll tell them...

"He was the best, but something was missing."

My guess is that he didn't have very healthy role models himself, which might explain a large part of why his career and life spiralled out of control.

He might have had "successful role models", just as he became a "successful role model" himself. But my bet is that all those celebrities I listed above didn't have mentally healthy, balanced, self-loving, self-accepting role models. People to show them how to look after themselves and be kind to themselves, rather than focus 100% on their careers.

To me it's clear...

The world has enough "successful role models" and our kids have been exposed to their faces on the front cover of magazines for far too long.

They don't need to see more talented musicians, more talented footballers, more talented models or celebrity six packs.

They need to see more people who are teaching them that it's ok to not be in a rock band, it's ok to not be a professional footballer, it's ok to not be a size 8 or have rippling abs...

Because the chances are?

They never will.

Which is why they need to see more people showing them how to love and look after themselves, and feel grateful for all the things they have in their lives.

Like family. Like friends. Like health.

Which I'm sure all those celebrities I listed above would swap their successful careers for in a heartbeat.

So what I'm trying to say is...

Our children need a new kind of role model.

And it is the void in this self-loving, self-caring, self-accepting type of role model that to me explains the rise in so much of our society's mental ill health, and yes, even the rise in obesity.

The stress and pressure of constantly seeing the faces and bodies and achievements of clearly very talented people, but also vary rare people, is no doubt driving a lot of the Western World's dissatisfaction with life, and our compensatory eating behaviours that are no doubt driving obesity.

How many young girls and boys are ploughing through the biscuits as they stare at the latest superstar on the cover of a magazine, feeling nothing but shame and disgust at the fact they don't look the same?

Our children need a new kind of role model.

And as we see evidence that a quarter of 14 year old girls are self-harming, self-loving role models are what parents should be pushing for on the cover of magazines.

Not just people who conform to a certain shape or size.


p.s. What do you think? Who would you like to see on the cover of magazines? Who do you think are the best role models for our kids?

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