When I was younger, I admired Whitney Houston. Although Whitney eventually took a turn for the worst (that’s another story), in her younger years, she was poised, talented, intelligent, and beautiful. As I grew older, I admired the women on A Different World. Although a lot of the admiration stemmed from my anticipation to one day be a “Hillman” student at the fictitious school, there was still a part of me that admired the intelligence of Kimberly Reese, the classiness of Whitley Gilbert, and the free spirit of Freddie Brooks.
There were many other women, outside of the women in my family, who I admired, and they all possessed many of the same traits: they were successful, intelligent, classy, and strong. In my eyes these women were what I aspired to be. That was then. Now images of these women are replaced by vulgar pop figures and overnight reality celebrities.
My role models as a young girl wouldn’t appeal to most young girls today. While some argue that there is a lack of positive black female role models, there really isn’t. However there is a lack of admiration for these figures today as there was in the past. Instead of wanting to be the independent woman who makes her own money and attempts to remain a lady in the process, many young girls are idolizing the women with no identifiable career, whose claim to fame is their attachment to a man. Strength is confused with vulgarity or a “I do what I want to do” attitude, even if it means taking one’s clothes off; and success is no longer linked to hard work.
The rise of reality television has jaded the images of positive black women. Instead we’re glorified for the bickering and backbiting and admired for the superficial qualities that may often come in the form of the longest hair extensions and the latest handbags. In the assorted mix of women on television or in the public eye, somehow the Michelle Obamas are less appealing to many young girls. Instead, it’s surprisingly more attractive to become a Basketball Wife.
While this isn’t a knock at any woman’s hustle or chosen career, it is slightly disappointing when society neglects to acknowledge the women who have climbed their way up the corporate, social, or political ladder through determination and hard work, and instead expose us to the women whose success is largely attached to the celebrities they’ve slept with or the hefty child support or alimony check that affords them a superstar lifestyle.
Our society idolizes superficiality and disregards the traits that once made a woman admirable. There really isn’t a decline of positive black female role models. In fact, the positive black female may be just as prevalent as ever. It’s not that they’re not there, but the admiration for them has decreased.
Do you think there is a decline in the black female role model?
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