I had a conversation recently with a co-worker who happens to love Beyonce and believes that she is such a great role model for young girls and women. Now, I don’t begrudge the sista for her success, she’s a good entertainer and is apparently a good businesswoman, or at least has competent, knowledgeable business folks working for her. But… A role model for young girls?? Hmm…
So I asked my co-worker why she felt Beyonce was worthy of being held as a role model, because to be quite honest, I was a bit confused. So she explains how her song lyrics are all about female empowerment, and her videos show how fearless and strong she is and how she isn’t ashamed to show her curves, in fact she embraces her sexuality and makes it work for her.
As I stood there listening to her, I realized that perhaps what she really meant (on a subconscious level) was that Beyonce was a great role model for Women, not young girls! I mean let’s think about this for a minute. Everything that she described was appropriate for late teens and adults, not elementary school aged girls! When I suggested this to her, she paused and silently contemplated what I had just said. She replied that she hadn’t really thought about it like that.
The funny thing is, I bet a lot of women who are fans of Beyonce and have made similar claims to her in terms of being a role model are on the same page. And again, although I am not a big fan, I do acknowledge her talent as an entertainer and the fact that as a grown woman, she has the right to present her image in any way she chooses. The issue I have with her and other celebrity women that follow suit, is the fact that they do not seem to take into account the state that our young women are in right now. Yes you have a great shape and yes you should celebrate it and embrace it, but when you know you have thousands of young girls watching you, emulating you and listening to your every word, do you not feel as if you have the responsibility to find a healthy balance of staying true to the image you want to portray and the image that will help cultivate healthy, socially conscious young women?
Or perhaps if you feel you don’t have that responsibility, how about putting a disclaimer out there that your concerts and specific songs are not appropriate for young girls under the age of 15/16?
People love to say it takes a village to raise a child, but where’s the village at? If you know you are in a position that is deemed celebrity status, why do you not feel responsible for what you put out there? Be it lyrical content, movie roles, tv or radio interviews, whatever you put out there to be witnessed. Not what the media takes and transposes to fit their own agenda, but what YOU put out there? For what you take part in? I’ve heard countless athletes, actors, etc stress that they are not and should not be held to any standards and should not be considered role models, but you know what? You are! These kids look up to you whether you want them to or not.
And I’m not suggesting that celebrities be held to a higher standard of living than anyone who is in a line of work that has young girls and boys looking to them as people to emulate. I am suggesting that more folks be mindful of this and do a little more than just living their lives for themselves. I mean, really, think of it as a privilege, the fact that you are in a position to have an influence on someone’s life, to be a motivational and inspirational voice or image for a young girl or boy. You never know, you just might help steer a young soul in a better direction.