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True Colours Shining Through

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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.

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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.    

Published inEnlighten EducationMediaParentsSexualisation of children

5 Comments

  1. Sonia as a fellow 80’s tragic I sooo hear you! I loved growing up in an era where we could seek out women who were creative and the sum of so much more than just their parts. Although not all 80’s female singers were empowered, at least alternatives were offered. I don’t see many alternatives for girls today – it is heavy on the raunch, light on the reflection.

    As someone who knows you well – both professionally and as a valued friend, I think you are an exceptional role model. You live a joyous life and bring possibility with you; you make everyone around you belive that they too can shine.

    I love you beautiful, multi coloured Sonia. 🙂

  2. Sonia Lyne

    Thank you Danni … what an amazing compliment. I know that the many beautiful friends, family and colleagues who read this will also be able to relate and see themselves as the exceptional role models they are too.

  3. Jane Higgins

    My Darling bright Sonia,
    As you know, I don’t have daughters but every time I work with “our” girls, I know that they are watching everything I do and say and am! I want them to really see me as a woman, who like you, has a wonderful life, doing what she loves and is briliant doing it! And you are!
    It was a priviledge and honor (as well as loads of fun) to work with you and “our”girls this week.
    Long may you shine
    Jane xx

  4. storm greenhill-brown

    How many times as a total teen of the 80’s did I dance to these songs! Sometimes with a heavy heart and other times as a free spirit but always with melodrama and total sincerity! I was a dance/drama queen of the classroom. It seemed that we were presented with diverse images of ourselves – we were given creative and colourful girls that were active and funky. I don’t remember feeling “like a genie in a bottle” waiting to be freed and nor was I going to wait in a very uncomfy, tiny outfit thanks very much Christina! Yes, I did feel invisible and lost and desperate to be understood and valued – “What about me?…it isn’t fair, I’ve had enough now I want my share….” rating as one of my top 10 songs to be dramatized at school during lunchtimes. As a teen, “Rage” and “Countdown” were the only places I ever found role models that spoke to me and fit with me.

    Only when I went to Uni did I see and meet powerfully intelligent women who shared their vision of how the world could be and what sort of role I could play within it if I chose. I was equally lucky to be mentored by two extraordinary teachers when I was a young prac teacher. They taught me how to be a role model to my own students by being my authentic self. Women sharing truths and wisdom with each other is very powerful and transforming. This is at the heart, I believe, of the work we do at “Enlighten” and it’s so incredibly uplifting to be active agents of change. Sonia, you are one amazing woman, so real and generous – a little angel on earth!

  5. Claire Clements

    I nodded through all of that post. Very well said. I especially like the idea of the human being as a work in progress, an art form, shaped by inspiration and other art works. 🙂 Lovely imagery. I get quite irked by the fact that my nieces (aged five and eight) look up to the modern day “role models” who are mostly teenagers themselves and I’m afraid I’m not much of a role model at the moment with all my health problems and past issues but I do try and share my love of books and stories and the people I see as inspirational, who don’t follow the crowd. I hope one day I can be a better role model for them. And it’s not just my nieces, some of my 20 year old friends also love the modern day “role models” as well, and, are not happy with the way they look, always trying to lose weight.

    On a different note, my father is a teacher at a primary school here in SA and he has just learned that one of his students (who is in about yr 7 I think) has been put in to hospital for bulimia. I was shocked to hear this. I was wondering whether there’d be any chance of seeing your program go to his school. I won’t write the name of it here but if perhaps contact me if there’s any interest?

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