Celebrities as Role Models: Yes or No?

kim_kardashian5On Fridays I get out of work about the same time that school lets out for younger students. My subway ride home is filled with kids of all different ages, shapes, sizes and races who remarkably all look exactly the same. Every single Friday, I can find at least one girl rocking a Miley backpack, some leggings and lots and lots of lip gloss.

It’s a comforting constant in my life, much like passing a Starbucks on every corner or finding an episode of Sex and the City on at any time of night. I’ve come to expect it, even enjoy the high pitched squeals, sickeningly sweet smell of body spray, and live rendition of “See You Again.” But after catching a clip of Sean Hannity praising Kim Kardashian for her role model status in young girls’ lives, I started thinking about the idea of celebrities as role models.

I was left with a lot of questions, the most obvious being: does the fact that Kim Kardashian isn’t a hot drunken mess like the rest of young Hollywood really make her a role model? I mean, has Sean Hannity seen the sex tape that made her famous? And what does she do exactly that young girls should look up to? Her reality show? Her curvy body?

It took me a few moments (and a couple shots of whiskey) to get past the idea of  Sean Hannity doing “research” in front of his laptop in a dark room at midnight, and once I did I still had no idea what to think. The whole celebrity-as-role-model thing has me totally torn up.

On the one hand, my biggest fear may soon be realized: a generation of Mini Mileys all grown up. Slim girls in blond wigs walking around chomping on gum and talking with a Southern twang. It’s an image that haunts my dreams.

But I know how irrational that is; I mean, I grew up along with Britney and I’ve yet to shave my head or pump out two babies, so who’s to say girls aren’t smarter than we give them credit for? Maybe people aren’t looking to celebrities to learn how to behave, but actually learn how not to behave. Maybe watching Lindsay Lohan wither away to nothing isn’t inspiring kids to diet, but rather showing the world of impressionable kids that it’s not cute to skip a meal…every day….for a month.

And isn’t it a parent’s job to sort out the good stuff from the bad? To explain to their kids that it’s OK to be an innocent and well-mannered teenager (a la Taylor Swift) and totally not OK to get drunk and show off your panties (a la everyone else in Hollywood)? But at the same time, if we leave the parenting to the actual parents, does that leave celebrities off the hook? Again, I’m perplexed. I can’t even sort out my own thoughts!

What I do know is that no one in the spotlight signed up to mold the minds of an entire demographic, yet it’s something that comes with the job (kind of like celebrity stalkers, papparrazzi, and free gift bags, except, you know, more heart-warming). Everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and it’s only celebrities who are forced to do so on the cover of Us Weekly. I can see how that could be a lot of pressure – lord knows I wouldn’t want some of my not-so-finest moments caught on camera and smeared all over the media. But at the same time, is it really that hard to remember how to put on a pair of underwear?

Come on, celebrities, you can’t control everything but you can control some things, and I’m pretty sure undies fall into the latter category.

I know it’s unfair to ask people to change who they are simply because young people are impressionable, but young people are impressionable. They haven’t learned their own god awful, embarrassing, I-will-never-do-that-ever-again, lessons and I don’t think they should have to just yet.

As you can see I’m still a bit torn. I’m not even sure where I stand on the topic.
What about you? Do you think celebs should be more careful as role models?



  1. Sean says:

    No, not in my opinion. I never look up to the glamorous male Celebrities like…Morgan Freeman. But I do think celebs should be more careful as role models. I know a girl who totally adores Amy Winehouse, and when she found out what she got up to she started to do the same :(

  2. CM says:

    I think kids now-a-days need to look at the celebs and know that they should NOT be doing all that stuff. They need better role models and they are hard to find but they are out there and not all celebs are horrible. Look at Reese Witherspoon, she's a great example of how hollywood did not get to her :) she's one of my fave actresses.

  3. Casey says:

    Mariska Hargitay is a great role model. :)

  4. Casey says:

    I see what you mean about being torn. Ideally we should not be looking at celebrities as role models because, what do they do exactly? They make movies and TV shows, and sing. And while they may be inspiring to the people who dream of singing, or acting, how are they role models to the rest of the population? They aren't. But that doesn't change the fact that they are always in the limelight (although who puts them there? We do!)

    Celebrities didn't sign up to be role models, they signed up to pursue their dreams of acting and singing. Nothing more. So based on that should they be more careful, NO. But since they are constantly in the public's eye they need to be more careful of what they do.

    The real role models that we should be teaching our kids about and to look up to are the people who are out there doing things for the environment, politicians that are making changes, scientists who are making breakthroughs, anyone who is contributing to society by doing more than entertaining it. (and that is not to put celebrities down, because we all love movies and TV) I want to hear a kid of today say, "I want to grow up to be like Harriet Beecher Stowe!", or Hilary Clinton, or anyone else who is trying to make a change for the better. But you know what? we don't hear that today. And that's sad. What we hear today is "I want to grow up to be like Miley!" Which is even more sad, especially considering Miley isn't even grown up yet.

    We live in a sad sad world that is only getting sadder.

  5. […] som new make up techniques, hit up Forever 21, and watched lots of TV. Too bad Miss California and Kim Kardashian were taking over the […]

  6. Ariana says:

    yes and no,

    we like our role models because they are beautiful and cool but we do need more inspiring role models. if our role models (e.g paaris hilton and britney spears ect..) change and become better. Children need better role models; nice, kind friendly people (like the people of play school or the wiggles) who are educated and smart enough not to act like a dumb blonde to get attention, the celebrities who want to be role models need to also keep to themselves and don’t have their ‘drunk weekend’ posted on every magazine the next day.

  7. Shea says:

    Not all celebs are bad role models. Some of them are good. and some acctually get through their school work.

  8. Courtney E. says:

    i totally agree with CM. I am actually writing a scholarship essay about celebrities being role models. My example of a good role model is Reese Witherspoon. She is my favorite actress as well!!!

  9. tony says:

    but all people, young or old, need SOMETHING to look up to.

  10. Julie "C.J.&quo says:

    Thank you, Casey! I couldn't agree more! It almost amuses me when people are just so shattered when a nasty sex scandal about our favorite entertainer goes public. What did they expect? You'd think that people would get it by now and think to themselves, "OMG! Maybe entertainers aren't the best choice to consider as role models." That's right- WE MAKE THE CHOICE to put people of whom we know nothing personally and put them on a golden pedestal. And sex scandals didn't start with today's celebrities. Anyone remember Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy? He was married. These affairs and the like among the famous and beautiful have been going on since the onset of modern entertainment. And guess what? I'm willing to bet there was plenty of naughty business going on with theater troupes before the invention of the motion picture (the movies). I also like what Casey says about people making real change- like Greg Mortensen and Richard Pimentel.

  11. dekeboo says:

    I have just read Casey's comment that….

    Celebrities didn’t sign up to be role models, they signed up to pursue their dreams of acting and singing. Nothing more. So based on that should they be more careful, NO. But since they are constantly in the public’s eye they need to be more careful of what they do.

    People who want to pursue their dreams of acting and singing on the world stage need to accept that being a role model is part of that job. So many people whink it is easy to be a celeb because they dont have to answer to anyone – well I think they should. They are in a position of power and influence and they need to take that responsibility seriously.

  12. […] may be a horse, but she’s got more class in her little hoof than most of today’s celebs/”role models” put together. She’s a classy broad and an inspiration that we can all learn from…who […]

  13. […] Zenyatta may be a horse, but she’s got more class in her little hoof than most of today’s celebs/”role models” put together. She’s a classy broad and an inspiration that we can all learn from…who just […]

  14. Paul H says:

    I believe that celebrities have a responsibility to act like role models because they are of influence to so many people. I do not think that society should necessarily presume that they are role models just because of their status though. It's a very personal thing. You have to be selective of who you follow and the choice of a role model should be individual http://wp.me/p1EsHM-75

  15. Bhanu says:

    as in my opinion all are not same and wat i think is, it's just a work for them to which they have to perform for their living existence. As you all know that celebrities are to a human being and we are the one who give them such a importance and make some of them as an ideal in our life, it can be done by any way like by seing their life style,dressing,behaviour,attitude etc. This is only we to decide whether we have to take out bad or good habits out of them so that we can apply it to our livinghood.

  16. Soph says:

    I'm doing a debate on this

  • You Might Like