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When did materialism overtake substance in the race to be a role model?

Sitting on the sofa, snuggled down watching The Help, I should have been enjoying the beauty of the strength behind the Civil Rights struggle. The love, the hope, the compassion.  Instead, all I could think about was my admiration for women of this era and their strength in continuing to be true to themselves and their community, in spite of the constraints of the society they were living in. But as I sat there crying as Skeeter realised her maid, the woman she loved – her role model – had died, I couldn’t help but think about the role models of today and the ones history forgot along the way.

Nowadays, we find ourselves in awe of the Love Island contestants, who have thousands of Instagram followers and a smoking body to compliment it. We idolise the superficiality and materialism of these women, who don’t have a clue what compatibility or Brexit is. Women of today tend to compare themselves to these women, as opposed to aspiring to be like those strong-minded, independent women current generations seem to have forgotten. 

Aren’t role models supposed to be someone to look up to? Someone who embodies courage, bravery, gumption, compassion, and desires not only to better themselves but to strive to make a difference in the process? And if that’s the case, how on earth did we go from admiring Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, or Amelia Earhart to the overly sexualised women of today like Kim Kardashian? I can’t help but wonder why in an era where gender equality is at an all-time high, we value Instagram likes more than personal accomplishments?

If I could offer any woman in this world one piece of advice, as you begin this new journey at university, it would be to stop trying to be Elizabeth Leefolt and following the Hilly Holbrooks of the world. Be the Minny Jacksons and Aibileen Clarks. Be the change, make the difference and stop caring so much about how many people double tap, to validate your decision. Because at the end of the day, Hilly is left holding nothing more than a ‘chocolate’ pie and Skeeter is off to New York to chase her dreams and find her own path.  

Shannon is a fourth year history student studying at the University of Aberdeen. When she isnt in class or working as a waitress, you can find her walking the dogs around the country, trying out new dinner recipes or scrolling endlessly through ASOS. Find her on Instagram: Shannyd100
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