Guest blog post by Sonia Lyne, Enlighten Education Program Director, Victoria.
I grew up as a teen in the 80’s. It was an era with A LOT of great female role models. When I was a little girl, I looked up to female musicians who expressed their individuality, but rarely got into any real trouble. My all time favourite was Cyndi Lauper; her fashion was outrageous and her songs amplified fun and girl power.
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Today the Top 10 female singers for many young girls include the likes of Britney Spears, The Pussycat Dolls and Christina Aguilera. Yes, they are singing about girls who just want to have fun – but it is fun of a very different kind. The new idea of having fun involves looking glam, sexy, and living a life without consequences. Now it is all about girls going wild: “Gonna get a little bit dirty…”, ‘Dont cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me..”, “I’m Miss bad media karma, another day another drama…”
What infuriates me is that these artists have been able to achieve role model status simply by cultivating and conveying an image based solely on their overt sexuality rather than earning it through talent, hard work and integrity.
Don’t our girls deserve higher caliber female role models?
For me a role model should not just be a person or character who is in a position to influence us. There should also be an expectation that this person will show us an alternative way to live and challenge us to be our personal best.
As adults WE ALL serve as powerful role models for our children. They watch our every move, they imitate, they “try on” our behaviours and see which best fit.
I have chosen to put myself forward as a role model for young girls through my work with Enlighten. Do I feel qualified? I have put myself through university twice. I have travelled extensively. I married a great man, I mother amazing twin boys. I take care of the environment, I own my own business, I stand up for myself and I try not to focus just on my appearance. I am not the sum of my achievements though. Perhaps more important than any of these are my positive intentions. I want to be a great role model for my children and all the girls I work with.
Am I perfect? No, but I am ok with that. I am a work in progress. I have a strong background in the arts – everything from dance to design and am married to a very talented sculptor. I know that all truly beautiful works of art take time to develop. They are inspired by other works and enriched by the artist’s own experiences, dreams and challenges. I think girls love seeing my authentic quest to be the best person I can be – I too am inspied by them and feel they add brushstrokes which enhance my own personal development.
Our children don’t have the luxury of seeing as many powerful role models presented to them in the media as we did growing up. It is more important than ever that we step up and put ourselves forward. We cannot wait until we are “complete” for who is to say when that might be? There is beauty in our rawness too.
I find the Beautiful Women Project, an American initiative, inspiring in its passion to show the beauty and wisdom inherent in all women.
Beautiful Women focuses on the life experiences of thirty-five woman of all ages, and what truly makes them beautiful in their present moment. They are the mothers, daughters, wives and neighbors you see every day – at school, at work, in the grocery store, in a doctor’s office waiting room, or walking through a mall. Through their stories women can realize that they are not alone in their insecurity and quest for self-acceptance. These women redefine the word “beauty” by showing us that what makes us beautiful is how we choose to face both the trivial and the monumental moments in our lives.”
Enlighten is planning to work closely with the Project’s founder Nancy Bruno to bring this initative to Australia in 2008.
We want to encourage all women to realise we can become the role models and the celebrities in our daughter’s lives. Because we are “all that” and then some!
Move over Paris and all her “bad gal” party cronies – here come women with real, true colours.
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P.S. This week myself and Jane Higgins (Enlighten’s South Australia Program Director) worked with 200 beautiful girls from Mater Christi College. You can click on the links below to read their evaluations of the event. We had such a wonderful day … it was honestly a privilege to have been a part of the energy. Their comments make me tingle with joy; they help shape me and fuel my desire to be the best role model I can be.
P.S.S Speaking of role models, what a wonderful role model Victorian team member Brooke Parsons is! Brooke inspires me, and many others, not only through her work with Enlighten but in her role as the co-founder of the Young Victorian Stroke Support Group. She was featured in the Herald Sun on Feb 18th.