The Image of Success: What Roles are We Really Teaching Our Children to Model?

There is this big controversy right now about some lyrics in a newly released song from singer/songwriter Beyonce’.  Some of her so-called fans (I say so-called because her real fans would understand that it is directed towards the people who are “haters” of her) are saying that the language in it is out of character for her, a little vulgar, and a little hypocritical because although she claims to be about women empowerment the lyrics seem to be pitting women against one another.  Some fans also state that because of this new song they no longer see her as a role model for their young daughters.

Let me say first say that I am a fan of Beyonce’s singing (I think she has an amazing voice) and I am a fan of her business savvy, but I am not a fan of the image that she has come to display throughout the years of her success.  Her fans say that they no longer see her as a role model because of the song but I am wondering why they are just now starting to not see her as a role model as opposed to when she started promoting the image to young girls that sex sells and that if you want to be more successful you have to perform half naked to do so.  I personally felt that she was more of a role model when she began her career or the moments when she performed with her clothes actually on because she showed class.

After thinking about that controversy for a while it got me thinking about why it is that the entertainers who go around performing half naked and with looks that are way too eccentric for young ladies are what these young girls are looking up to.  Why, when we have such successful women like Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, J.K. Rowling, or even First Lady Michelle Obama, are we choosing to allow our kids to look up to entertainers who don’t know how to present themselves in a way of class.  That train of thought made me wonder even further, why aren’t we encouraging our children to see us, their own parents, as role models instead of some outsider that has nothing to do with how they actually turn out in this world?

Someone asked my daughter one day who she considered to be her role model or her hero and she turned to them and said her mommy.  It was the most wonderful moment (particularly because I was having one of my “I can’t do this for my child so I must be the worst parent” days) for me and it made me proud and let me know that despite the days where I think I’m not doing a good job, maybe I actually am.  Now I know that all parents, plain and simple, are just not role models and clearly their children are going to need someone to look to for guidance but shouldn’t we be teaching our children that success is not equal to how much clothing we can take off for attention, or even that wealth does not necessarily equal success (although let’s be honest, money would be nice).

We have to stop relying on these celebrities to be the guidance for our children.  It shouldn’t matter what the lyrics of Beyonce’s new song is because that particular fan that said that it made her no longer consider Beyonce as a role model for her young daughter, should be striving to be her own daughter’s role model and not leaving it in the hands of a total stranger.  We have to be careful what we are telling (and not just with words but also with our actions) our children success is because if we are telling our young girls that Beyonce is what equals success, we can’t then wonder why they start imitating her half naked image as a way to reach it.  We can’t allow our young boy’s to listen to rappers and other music that degrades women and disrespects them and who have become successful doing so and then wonder why they turn around and grow up to do the same things.

We can’t just keep saying do as I say and not as I do anymore because our children are watching us.  They are paying attention to who we are listening to and what we are doing and allowing and they are taking their cues from us.  We have got to get away from having our children look up to some celebrity that they don’t know and get back to the days where our children are looking to us for the guidance they need.

Jimmetta Carpenter


The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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