In a world where women are already predetermined to be the “weaker sex” (and the sex that is destined to be paid less for the same job), it gets hard to find inspiration sometimes–and even harder to find a role model in an entertainment-crazed society that only seems to value beauty, sex and gossip. But I believe if we take a step back to see beyond the veil of couture and veneered smiles, it’s possible to find role models within the mainstream who can uplift our female spirits.
Anyone who knows me will attest that I am a huge Beyonce Knowles fan. And why not–Beyonce’s one of the hottest stars of our time, right? But is that all? Sure, her music is always on the radio, her concerts sell out and her body is coveted by both men and women (April’s issue of Cosmo listed Beyonce’s body as one of their “Most Coveted Star Body Parts”). But behind the flawless hair, famous designer clothes and fabulous shoes, I think there’s a lot more to Beyonce that helps her stand out as a role model in a culture diluted with negative images of women.
She is a role-model, not because she’s some brazen star out to make a scene, but because she is a scene. She’s not afraid to express her spiritually, sexuality, and she’s definitely not afraid to write a song that will piss off men (and some women too). And somehow she does all this while maintaining her “sweet-as-Texas-tea” demeanor.
What makes Beyonce a role model? I think it’s a formula of four elements that all positive role models need to possess.
1. She takes a stand.
The star is a believer in Christianity and will readily admit it. Unlike most stars, who seem to only be concerned with anything spiritual when they’re making acceptance speeches on the MTV Music Awards.
And this goes beyond religious beliefs. Beyonce supports music programs within schools by auctioning products to benefit VH1’s Save The Music. She is also involved in Live Aid charities and donated $1 million to benefit displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Openly taking a position on an issue, when most celebrities don’t like to touch on anything that might make people uncomfortable or tarnish their public image, is a big deal to me, and really says how close the issue is to the celebrity’s heart.
2. She’s her own biggest cheerleader.
When most of us think of the lyrics “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly,” we immediately think of Beyonce and her rump-shaking anthem “Bootylicious.” Well, Beyonce thinks of the song she wrote as a teenager when she was insecure about her weight. Regardless of how you feel about the song, you have to admit, writing an anthem to help you accept the natural beauty you were given is a lot better than trying to change to fit some unattainable image.
I would have writen my own “Skinnylicious” if it would have helped me accept my boyish-build as a teenager.
3. She’s a little weird.
The star didn’t back down when “fans” started a petition calling for her to re-shoot her “Deja Vu” video because it was too far from her traditional video style. In truth, Beyonce's gyrating dance moves in the video were actually her tribute to a female pioneer, Josephine Baker.
Again, people found her a bit weird watching her in the“Ring the Alarm” video when she sings “To know you give it to her like you gave it to me, come on…”
But what real woman isn’t a little weird? I find it delightful that after all these years of being in the spotlight, Beyonce has finally found the stones to be a little weird, to not hold back, to be herself.
Stepping outside the box is what all women should do, because we won’t get anywhere by playing it safe.
4. She doesn’t limit herself (or let anything else limit her).
Beyonce’s most admirable characteristic to me is that, she never stops; she’s always looking to accomplish something new. She’s written #1 records, starred in box office hits, directed videos and she still wants more.
That’s why I love her, because she doesn’t stop aiming higher. And why should she? If Oprah would have stopped at being a local news anchor we would never know the greatness that is The Oprah Winfrey Show.
If Beyonce would have just been satisfied with being one-fourth of a girl group, we would have never seen just how important the star is in bringing a new face to pop culture.
Beyonce is a star among many plastic giants, and one chic role model for women everywhere. Being able to stand out in Hollywood and maintain the poise and the respectable reputation she has, really means something.
I think most college women need a role model like Beyonce, who shows them it’s okay to be yourself and you can still get where you want to be by being respectable, humble and gracious.
There is so much pressure on us to only be beautiful and sexy, but we should make a conscious effort to change the way others look at us and the way we look at ourselves. Don’t be afraid to take a stand or be your own biggest cheerleader. Never limit yourself. And remember sometimes you need to be a little weird to get where you want to be.