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Are Celebrities Good Role Models?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
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A role model is someone who is looked up to by others, and regarded as a person to be imitated. A celebrity is a person with a highly visible public profile that many people find fascinating. Strikingly similar definitions, but whether these two concepts make happy bedfellows is open to debate!

Parental Role Models

For most children their earliest role models are their parents. If there is any doubt about how children copy and mimic behaviours you only have to consider what happens when a swear word slips carelessly from your lips – your little angel has a sixth sense for these things and spends the next few days repeating it loudly at every opportunity. Harmless, and in most cases funny, this does illustrate how influential role models can be in children’s lives.

David Beckham and children

Your child learns how to act from initially watching and listening to you. If you are calm, he is likely to be calm. If you shout a lot, he probably will too. If you show kindness, he will follow suit. A child’s ability to subsume behavioural traits is extraordinary, and is no different once people other than their parents enter their consciousness.

Celebrity Role Models

Irrespective of their particular talent or expertise, celebrities make their living from existing in the public eye. They thrive on the attention they receive, and will often actively court the media to ensure that they and their actions remain visible. In many ways this is a grown-up form of attention seeking. It is something that is familiar to most children, and a trait they find easy to relate to.

So far so good, we all want our kids to have responsible adults that they can look up to and engage with at some level, but celebrities do not always behave responsibly, and that’s when the trouble can start.

Negative Role Models

Celebrities tend to do things to extreme – they want the biggest wedding, flashiest car, most expensive house. Moderation is not their strong point. This often results in behaviours that are extreme too, and there are many ways that celebrities become negative role models, including:

• Body Imageeating disorders are on the rise, and some of the blame for this lies in the way that celebrities treat their bodies. Ultra-skinny-size-zero bodies are often seen in celeb-land, and the media perpetuate the hype. Youngsters are left believing that a skeletal body is something to aspire to, and the underlying message is that you will only receive attention and be considered beautiful if you look this way

• Alcohol and drug abuse – a session in rehab has almost become like a badge of honour in the celebrity world. To get there they have to hit the bottom, and they often do this in a very public way. The message to your kids? Drinking and using drugs is okay, especially in the extreme

• Promiscuity – changing partners regularly is a common trait of celebrities. As role models this sends out a sad signal to young people about commitment and love. It teaches them that break-ups are the norm. The way in which many female celebrities dress, particularly in the music industry, is also very sexualised. Young girls keen to stay on-trend adopt their style, without understanding of the connotations that accompany it

Positive Role Models

Fortunately there are many celebrities out there that DO act as good role models for our children, in some of the following ways:

• Putting their name to positive campaigns – for example to stamp out bullying. If kids see their favourite celebrity working to combat such issues, they may assume similar attitudes

• Commitment to a goal – many celebrities have worked long and hard to get to the top of their industry, and that persistence and commitment sends out a very positive message to our children

Bradley Wiggins role model

• Encouraging positive activities – top football stars may not always act in a wholesome manner, but their dedication to the game is unquestioned. Young people following them see that exercise and eating healthily is good, and many sports promote team-working for positive results

Celebrities will remain part of our children’s lives. The key is to encourage and guide our kids towards recognising which of the behaviours exhibited by their heroes are desirable, and which are not. Easier said than done perhaps, but as the primary roles models for our children it is vital that as parents we do not give up trying.

 

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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