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7 Role Models From TV You Didn’t Realize You Had Growing Up

Sure, your mom and your second-grade teacher all helped shape you as a child; they were great figures for little you to look up to. But some other places that maybe don’t immediately come to mind also serve as a source of inspiration. For example, we find people — uhm, I mean characters — we looked up to and can continue to learn from on TV.


1. Sandy Cheeks

Don’t let anyone tell you that Spongebob is a bad influence on kids. Exhibit A, Sandy Cheeks. She is a strong (not only emotionally, but also physically!), independent lady squirrel who is not afraid to speak her mind. She’s great at science, too! 10 points for early exposure to women in STEM!


2. Dobby

Listen, I know you expected Hermione, but we all know she’s incredible. She’s strong and brilliant, and she made the events of all seven books possible — you don’t need me to tell you she’s the best. Someone who I think deserves a little more credit, though, is Dobby! Dobby is the most loyal friend you could find. Just like Dobby, you, too, can be a free elf. Don’t let anyone hold you back!


3. Mulan

Mulan not only teaches us the value of Being Yourself™, but she also kicks some serious hun-booty. This badass lady protected her father, defended her country and stood up to the freaking emperor of China! Stay true to yourself and your beliefs — this princess who refused to take anyone’s business sitting down did.


4. Phineas and Ferb

No one embodies the phrase “Carpe Diem” quite like our favorite step-brothers. Phineas and Ferb teach us to make the most out of every day, and their perpetual optimism is something we could all learn from.


5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t eat that extra cupcake! The Very Hungry Caterpillar ate as much as he wanted to, and he ended up turning into a beautiful butterfly. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a champion for body positivity before it was trendy.


6. Tommy Pickles

Sometimes a baby’s just gotta do what a baby’s gotta do. Tommy was the fearless leader of his baby group; but he was also the kindest and most loyal baby a kid could find. Tommy was a baby friend to all, and he can inspire us to be our best selves.


7. Kim Possible

Kim Possible was somehow a star cheerleader and an active member of her community who managed to have great grades and low-key saved the world every day. Yesterday I slept for 4.5 hours, had pizza for dinner at 6:30 and then different pizza again for the second dinner at 8:00. Kim, please teach me your ways.


Looking back, I realize how many role models I had. It turns out, I can give TV a little credit for who I am today! 

Katie Semack

Wisconsin '21

Katie grew up in New York City and is a senior at University of Wisconsin- Madison studying Political Science and Communications. Her favorite pastimes include doing yoga, watching Golden Girls with her puppy, Gatsby, and empowering other women. 
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