Catherine Scott: Would you chose Cleopatra or Kim Kardashian West as a role model for your daughter?
So who would you have as a role model for your daughter? Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey or Cleopatra?
Well many young girls have far less worthy role models. Zoella (ever heard of her?) and reality stars such as Kim Kardashian West are more likely to be on the list of today’s teens.
I am constantly telling my daughters - one 11 and the other 13 - that most of the lives these Instagram generation revere bear no resemblance to real life. That their obsession with hair straightening, eye brow shaping and the latest fashion trends really isn’t important.
But to them it is. However I cannot help but think this increase in reality stars on television and internet has a lot to do with a sharpe decline in young women’s self esteem.
Research by Girlguiding found that just 61 per cent of girls and young women aged between seven and 21 are happy with their bodies, a decline from 73 per cent in 2011.
Possibly more worryingly more than a third of girls aged between seven and 10 say that they are made to feel their looks are the most important thing about them and that 38 per cent felt they were not pretty enough. For those aged 11 to 21 an astonishing 80 per cent felt looks were the most important things about them. A headteacher today said that young women should use Shakespeare’s heroines, such as Cleopatra rather than the likes of Kim Kardashian West as their role models. Jane Lunnon, from Wimbledon High School in west London, said teenagers could learn more about projecting a positive self-image by studying the female lead in Shakespeare’s tragedy than by following the social media posts of the American selfie queen. Kardashian West, who is married to rapper Kanye and was robbed at gunpoint in Paris this week, has become a totem of both acclaim and derision for her fashion sense and lifestyle after rising to prominence with fly-on-the-wall TV series Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Speaking at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, held in the Bard’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon, Mrs Lunnon said: “I think Shakespeare was saying with Cleopatra that you are allowed to be flawed and powerful and brilliant and still have enormous influence.”
I’m not sure I would want my daughter going around killing people with an asp, but I get where is coming from. Mrs Lunnon believes their is a shortage of good role models for today’s young women and we have look back at Shakespeare’s heroines to find them.
I do believe that there are positive role models among today’s generation - you just might have to look a bit harder to find them.