Reading Between the (Head)Lines

A different take on today's top stories

Today's Female Role Models: Lindsay and Kim

What does the behavior of Kim, Lindsay and other female role models teach girls?

We all know the importance of positive male role models for boys. Statistics show when a responsible man is present in a boy's life, the child does better across the board. 

Though it's not publicized as much, the same goes for a positive female role model in a girl’s life. In today's world, what exactly are we saying about what it means to be a woman?

Look at the women in the media who capture the most attention. If their life is a train wreck, they get the attention, and it’s well known in the TV world that negative publicity is better than no publicity when it comes to ratings -- hence profit. Take Lindsay Lohan, for example. Though her resumé consists of being an actress, designer, model and recording artist, we know her best for her DWIs, shoplifting and other hefty legal issues. Some of her greatest headline moments are the paparazzi shots of her without panties.

To the delight of said paparazzi, the list of celebs who have been caught without their skivvies are Beyonce, Paris, Miley, Kate, Britney and Kim. And it's big news, too, bringing in top dollars -- sometimes hundreds of thousands -- for the photographer who catches it. Let’s face it, sex sells, and our little girls are watching.

Lindsay's playground seems to be shifting from the club scene towards the courthouse and she has a total disregard for the law, but why not? Judges don't treat her the way you or I would be treated. The latest controversy involves her refusal to sit down long enough to give a deposition on an assistant's hitting a paparazzo with her car. Anyone else would have been picked up by police or in jail already. 

Teens and even pre-teens want to look good, look sexy, look desirable by today's standards. This is what's popular in today's culture, and we're sitting back, watching and letting it happen. What about brains? Intelligence? Creativity? Entrepreneurship? Aren't these more important than makeup, miniskirts, stilettos, tattoos and breasts? Instead of congregating in the library, girls are gathering in the ladies' room, applying lipstick, hair spray and dissing the girls who study and are so “not cool”.

This is personified daily. Take the Go Daddy commercial aired during the Super Bowl. Go Daddy claims to have two sides -- the sexy side (supermodel Bar Refaeli) and the intellectual side (the geek, Walter). To the disgust of the majority of viewers the two have a close up make out session, right there during prime time.

What brought about Kim Kardashian's fame and fortune (and Paris Hilton’s for that matter)? A sex tape. That's where it began, and girls know it. Chris Humphries gave her a 20.5 carat, $2 million engagement ring -- which she kept. She wore a beautiful designer wedding dress which was given to her. Her wedding turned into a celebrity circus. The cost of said circus was 20 million donated dollars and lasted a whopping 72 days.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians is what our girls watch. Now Kim, not even divorced, is pregnant with Kanye West's baby. Kourtney, unmarried, has given birth to her second child. Positive role models? You decide. Is this the behavior you want your daughter to mimic? If not, you'll actually have to use your parental control, because the Kardashians are getting paid $40 million for three more seasons. 

Recently Kim posted an Instagram photo of just one of her many junk food indulgences, a McGriddle breakfast sandwich. For those who don't know, the McGriddle earned the nutrition rating of D- because of its 420 calorie count and a third of the daily acceptable fat intake. If you don't believe Kim Kar has an effect on girls, check out some of the comments. One proclaims "She is not fat she is an amazing role model to all the girls." Exactly what kind of role model is that?

The answer seems so clear: Rather than raising our little girls to talk like Honey Boo Boo, dress like a prostitute and watch 16 and Pregnant -- let's teach them how to be intelligent, important, contributing leaders who can make a positive difference to others.

Lady GaGa is entertaining, to be sure, but Hillary Clinton proves she can make a difference in the world. The basketball wives may fight it out amongst themselves, but Condoleezza Rice has accomplished so much, all the while keeping it classy. I dare you to ask any teenager who Condoleezza Rice is, and my money says they'll respond with "WTF? Who is that?" Ask them who Madonna is and they'll quickly respond "The woman with the cone bra."

Sex will always sell, but we need to start also appreciating the women who use their brains to get what they want and to make a difference. The media can slap this in our face, but we don't have to buy it. We can push back and demand better. Condoleezza Rice said, "We need a common enemy to unite us." While that is a profound statement regarding other countries, perhaps it applies here as well.

Dale Archer, M.D., is a clinical psychiatrist and author of The New York Times bestseller, Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional.

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