Female role models are more than pretty faces

I worry if my girls will be influenced by shallow images and articles about women

Inspiration comes from all kinds of places, but positive role models are one of its most powerful sources.

With 24/7 news, reality television and more gossip columnists than you can count, we see thousands of potential role models everywhere and every day.

It’s something I am so much more aware of since becoming a parent. I look at how women are presented individually and generally, and I wonder what that could teach my child.

Of course both sexes will be role models to my children, but because they are girls I believe they will inevitably look to their own gender group more and emulate what they see.

Too often these days I am left worried that when they watch television or engage with social media, they will think their looks are their most important gift and they should strive to perfect them.

For me it’s not a question of whether there are enough bright, talented and fierce women to look up to today, it’s how they’re portrayed.

I wrote recently about the tendency for celeb stories to focus on “post-baby bodies“, including  Amal Clooney who I believe has way more to celebrate than just snapping back into shape after having twins.

Guilty pleasure

Now, I’m not saying I’m not guilty of pouring fuel on the fire with this problem.

Take Love Island, my guilty pleasure over the summer. It’s a brilliant, brain dead, no thought required programme. It’s like watching a nature documentary about mating, but with humans.

However, it reduced the Love Island girls, who had a lot of brains, drive and talent, to nothing more than sexual objects.

I know I’m guilty of encouraging this, I’m one of the millions who tuned in and loved it as the girls and boys fell out, spoke about dumb things and churned out catchy slogans.

But I would argue the show was delivering what it said on the tin – light-hearted entertainment, a dating reality show. It’s when women are reduced to nothing but looks in their every day lives that I object.

Women who have a voice, something amazing to say, an incredible talent to shout about are reduced to a picture caption pointing out their boobs are saggy, they look awful without makeup and they’ve “embraced their curves”, which we know is a roundabout way of saying they put on weight.

Stacey Solomon

Over the summer the brilliant and funny Stacey Solomon posted a video while on holiday of herself pointing out all the parts of her summer beach body that others might find fault with.

She hilariously mocked her supposed “imperfections” to help encourage young girls to be proud of their bodies and comfortable in their own skin.

It caused a media storm after going viral.

And yet by the next day once again social media and celebrity gossip had turned back to all-but ranking famous women based on their looks.

Jennifer Lawrence

Actress Jennifer Lawrence is one of my heroes. I think she’s funny, talented and a brilliant role model for young girls. She says what’s on her mind, stands up for herself and isn’t afraid to laugh at herself too.

Yet nearly all coverage of her latest film is centred on how “flawless” her complexion was at the premiere, how great her figure was in her designer dress and how stunning her hair looked.

I get that it’s a picture story and you have to describe what’s in the picture. The problem is these things are ALL about the looks, with so little exploration of any further detail.

She’s made a powerful movie, but who cares about that, what is she wearing?

I’m not naive. I know that Hollywood stars and other celebrities dress to turn heads and get headlines. Publicity keeps their pay high.

I just hate how relentlessly this shallow image of success is churned out day after day.

Cate Blanchett has confronted it best by refusing to answer “who she’s wearing” at red carpet events, asking journalists if they would ask men the same question.


I just worry its all got too much. We’re confronted with the shallow, flawless beauty image so frequently that it begins to look like it’s all there is to life.

It also gives young girls the wrong impression that this sort of beauty is attainable. Often it has been achieved through a lot of clever lighting and airbrushing.

Its scary the kind of thing this can encourage. Eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety. And for what? To look perfect.

We all know there is no such thing as the perfect face or figure. Even supermodels have flaws and things they don’t like about themselves.

When I look at the world around me now I can’t help but picture how my girls will fit into it when they have flown the nest.

Obviously this is a long way in the future, but what will they be like, what will they become and will they seize every opportunity presented to them.

What I hope for them is:

They will find a hobby they love and pursue it.

They will find a talent and practice it.

They will find friends who like them for who they are.

They will find someone to love them fiercely.

They will find a fulfilling career they love.

They will be happy in their own skin.

And I hope they will see the amazing female role models – the Olympians, the scientists, the teachers, the doctors, the volunteers, the fundraisers, the marathon runners, the politicians, the entertainers – and recognise that beauty is only skin deep.

What do you think? Are female role models not given enough of a platform? Are we shown too many images of “perfect women” while also being shown images of women not looking their best with every flaw criticised? I would love to hear what you think.



Lucy At Home

Life Is Knutts

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  • I really feel like this since having a daughter. I think we almost don’t realise it surrounds us. Everything we do, read, see. I remember talking to my Husband about it and he thought I was mad. Then a few days later he came back crazy mad at the thought that our daughter wouldn’t have the same opportunities as our son. Have you heard of the book: ‘Good night stories for rebel girls’? It’s a collection of famous women from around the world who have done brilliant things. Writers, pilots, olympians. It’s really aspiring and they are proper role models not D list celebrities who just care about looks. I’m giving it to every girl I know in an effort to inspire! #BlogCrush

  • I must admit this is something I never really thought about, until I had two girls. Now I think about it a lot, what they see on the television on in magazines can be so harmful, it’s frightening. Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

  • You are touching on so many valid points here. As a mother of two daughters, I always think about this. Somehow what is being projected out there on television, in magazines and on social media is that you need to look perfect and there is so much pressure being put on young girls to look a certain way. Great post! #Blogcrush

    • Ah thanks very much lovely. It is something that really plays on my mind and i find myself getting really wound up. I can accept a bit of it, but it seems this attitude about looks is absolutely everywhere x

  • I totally agree that there’s too much of an emphasis on women’s looks – even when it comes to powerful women in business or politics. People were always commenting on Hillary Clinton’s appearance during the US presidential campaign, but no one said anything about the male candidates. I worry about this a lot as the mum of a daughter – I’m just glad at her age (2) she’s not really aware of her appearance yet. #BlogCrush

  • I love this!!! Such a great post , I gave up my guilty pleasure of trashy celeb mags as I just felt uncomfortable with that nonsense in the house with a teenage girl. It’s relentless #BlogCrush

  • Vicky, this is fantastic. You raise some seriously important issues with this. It terrifies me the world my daughters will grow up in. I’ve always emphasised to my children that beautiful people are people who are kind, compassionate and considerate. I never push jewellery, nail varnish, hair accessories on my eldest girl – if she wants to wear them I don’t stop her but I’m never the first to suggest them. I want her to know they aren’t important. I put the focus in our house on education and equality but I’m all too aware of the traps and snares the cruel world has waiting for our precious children when they fly the nest!
    On a lighter note, I actually laughed out loud at, “It’s like watching a nature documentary about mating” haha!!! xx #BlogCrush

    • Thank you so much Jemma. I feel really strongly about this issue and it genuinely worries me how it could impact on my children’s self-esteem and wellbeing. I hope that things do change, women have such incredible stories and talents to share. It’s a shame it gets lots in the noise. Xxx

  • I couldn’t agree more! I really loved Stacey Solomon’s post – but you’re right, it all gets forgotten too quickly and it’s back to the next bit of cellulite! It’s such a challenging world we’re bringing our daughters (and often sons) into in terms of beauty & perfection, but I guess we have to hope that as parents, we can be the guide that helps them separate the real from the fantasy. If anything, we will have to be the strong, powerful female role-models ourselves – no pressure then…! #blogstravaganza

  • I completely agree with it and I’m glad more women are refusing to answer “what am I wearing” or not talking about the superficial things. I’m glad women like Jennifer Lawrence and Stacey Solomon say what they say and speak their mind. I think as long as we show and tell our children all the wonderful things both women and men do and how they accomplish wonderful things despite their clothes, background and what they wear then our children will grow up to be accepting of each other and to hopefully persue their own dreams.

  • I absolutely love Jennifer Lawrence too! And I completely agree that headlines surrounding female celebrities always focus on ‘showcasing her post baby body,’ and ‘wowing weeks after giving birth,’ and basically anything that focuses on looks. It’s an incredibly difficult mind set to change, as even the public figures who stand ferociously against being judged by looks, are constantly under fire for them. I don’t have girls, but I think if I did, I’d encourage them to look at their role models and admire their looks, but also to look at how good an actress/singer they are/which charities and campaigns they support, and what this means, to at least take the emphasis away from physical perfection!