Who do we really aspire towards? Role Models, A role model should be someone we aspire towards and even hope to emulate their success regardless what it may be, but what I ask myself is what is aspiration and who do we regard as a role model? With money comes fame and with fame proceeds the inevitable success and power. The sensationalist media highlight those in the famous and popular industries such as: sports, acting and music. The Usain Bolt’s, Nicki Minaj’s and Jay Z’s, could you tell me what makes them role models? Apart from the evident fact that they train exceptionally hard and made huge sacrifices to be successful, even sacrificing morals and their own self respect. Are decent roles models as rare as flying pigs, a silver lining in the clouds?
Firstly role model definitions in my perception seems to have slightly changed and is changing more by the second. It seems to have grown and influenced a society that encourages and promotes seductive role models who flaunt their assets. Sex is everywhere from the media, to every day life. It even shockingly is in the clothes that we wear. Organisations are making clothes that expose more skin from the youngest of ages. The logos “Don’t be a dick”, on jean shorts, “I’m a good girl”. These provocative comments insinuate the wrong messages, but we see those with money, power and fame promoting this without realising the butterfly effect it has. Therefore we try to emulate and strive for tangible rewards whilst forgetting the very morals that were once so revered in the traditional society.
Is a role model to young women someone who flaunts her assets to attract the masses of males and females? Isn’t a role model someone we can look up to and sets an example and preaches modesty, have morals and virtues? Understandably we have to admire their determination to succeed, drive, desire and ambition, but there is always more than meets the eye. In my opinion it seems the rise of women has been influential on the media, as it has allowed and preached more equality whilst presenting a fairer society for the future. In contrast as I have carefully researched and analysed I have noticed that it seems to have become the norm for some sectors of young teenage girls to accessorize themselves with make up, piercings and even cosmetic surgery. The list seems endless. Shouldn’t we select for them to have better role models with value and principles who teach them they don’t have to be covered in make up to be beautiful? Isn’t it deeper than the skin?
Presently the media has had a distinctive effect on the presentation and appearance of role models. We now live in a society that is even more conscious and obsessed with appearance. A large proportion of males now have changed from the stereotyped “heterosexual male”, to now the newer and updated “metro sexual male”. A metro sexual male means a “heterosexual urban man who enjoys shopping, fashion and similar interests associated with women or homosexual men”. Women equally have been greatly affected by this immediate change in our society by how they dress, act and what they see on the various media outlets. Internet, TV, magazines and many more. “Get the London Look”, one of the many adverts that entice young women in the 21st century.
Predominantly on our screens is a generation dangerously obsessed with visual attraction rather than what counts which, is the heart as beauty is not just skin deep. “But I don’t want to be a nun”, “It’s my body I can do what I want”, is an answer from many young girls like they are unaware and naïve to the consequences. It’s quite a defensive answer to why they are wearing such revealing clothes. What happened to a little dignity and self respect? There’s no harm in having fun, but first impressions do count massively? First impressions leave a lasting impression. Besides can we really blame the young women when that’s what is being advertised on our screens? The organisations use those in power to influence and poison the mind of these young girls with falsified ideologies of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century.
As a result of success even in the field of sports in particular athletics Usain Bolt inspires other for change and to aim high. Coming from the so called “Third World countries”, in the Caribbean has burst onto the map thanks to these sporting achievements. There are the selected few sporting stars who genuinely love the sport and they help to contributed to those who are in disadvantaged positions. I conducted my own research and I was amazed by the fact that some of my sporting heroes have actually contribute back to sport. Inspiring legions of sporting stars from the Caribbean such as: Kirani James, 400m champion from Guyana and fellow country man Yohan Blake. Usain Bolt exudes confidence, belief in his own ability which he has used to give back to his country. This shows the humility of the man to provide opportunities for other youngsters to make their sprinting dreams a reality. He hasn’t forgotten about his upbringing and where he was raised. This in my opinion shows humility after his achievements showing his selfless nature to help others achieve their same sprinting dreams.
Also did you know that Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t have any tattoos because he is a blood donor? Did you know that ManchesterCity’s midfielder Yaya Toure has never forgotten his roots in Ivory Coast and he consistently gives PUMA football equipment to the children in West Africa. Even infamous bad boy Craig Bellamy has his own football academy in Sierra Leone which is a non profit organisation. This has dramatically changed and saved lives, allowing those at great disadvantage a way out of poverty, with something that seems as insignificant and small as a hope and a dream. That means more to them than anything else I am sure.
However many people have the impression that sport is a massive money making industry that has lost honesty, integrity and decency as it has become about the love of money. From the massive sponsorship deals to the price tags put on the sporting stars. But we can’t all brush everyone in the industry with the same brush, can we? Sport has paved a way out for many individuals.
Bearing this in mind have we not seen the amazing role models right in front of us or do we forget about them because they aren’t in the public spotlight as much as many of the invalids we currently have. I had the greatest misfortune of stumbling upon the renowned reality show “The Valleys”. It was a shambolic compilation of immature youngsters partaking in ludicrous and awful behaviour. In my own critical review it was a group of individual’s failed attempts at being a celebrity and they degraded themselves in the process unassumingly. I witnessed “three and four way kisses, sexual activities with various different people”, this is on our televisions. I am fully aware that many of the 21st century youngsters regardless of age, race and background desire to emulate this so called “cool” lifestyle. “The Valley” show epitomises some of the males and females of our generation. For the men they have adopted the habit and mindset that it’s manly to sleep around with many girls. On the other hand for the girls it seems the same, but with the addition of partying like there isn’t more to life. However, it is just one of the many shows that have no substance and they aren’t what the young people should aspire to be in the slightest, From “Jersey Shore, Made in Chelsea” and many more.
In spite of this, what do we even define as a role model? In my belief a role model has virtues, morals and ethics. They stand up for the right and proper thing. A role model promotes a positive impact and change for the right reasons. Role models to some of the older generation entail “someone who you can trust, open up to, discuss with and confide in”. The young generation seem to find a role model “somebody we can emphasise with who knows our situation, but has used it to propel themselves further past doubt and disbelief”. The closest role models are usually right next to home like “ mother and father”, because they raised them in a proper manner, fought tirelessly and strived to give them the best upbringing as possible. As we think our parents can be “annoying”, but as time went on the older generation came to the sensible realization that their parents were in fact correct about various things when they were young. “If you don’t listen you will learn the hard way”, “If you don’t listen you will feel”. Two of the most common quotes my own Mum told me. Those words used to resonate in my head.
For this reason have we not seen many real “role models” under looked and brushed aside because they don’t meet the current trends. Those who encourage positive change in the present and help to brighten the future for all of mankind. Individuals such as: Doreen Lawrence, who fought admirably for 18 years for justice as her son Steven Lawrence was a victim of a racist attack. Secondly even Jay-Z who was previously selling shoes on the streets of Brooklyn, living the gangster lifestyle. He grew up without a father. He has accomplished great achievements, nearly a billionaire and as global superpower who has showed dreams can come true.
Personally my biggest role model in the public spotlight is Barack Obama, The 55th President of the United States of America, but he made history by becoming the first ever Black President of the US. I admire what he stands for because his attitude, positivity and seeming less undying commitment and passion for “change”. His trademark words “Yes we can”, has inspired many blacks not only in America, but all over the world. “Hope is one word which sums him up”. He inspires a generation to believe in better and he has defeated the odds which were highly stacked against him. Colour I want to highlight isn’t important, but it holds a degree of significance as many “blacks” don’t aspire for better because they feel they can’t. That is further reinforced by the lack of Dad’s who run away from the role of being a father and the responsibility of having a child. Fathers are some of the biggest role models to children. A father is like superman, the strongest person alive apart from Mum.
In conclusion role models are everywhere and there are positive ones we should aim to aspire towards. We just shouldn’t forget our self worth and values. Follow the right models and we in ourselves will see the right roles to undertake. Don’t look at what car a man drives, but what drives a man.
By Shaun Flores