As a general rule I don’t really like to idolize/put other people on pedestals because you never know when it’s going to be revealed that your favorite celebrity is actually racist or used to harvest organs in their basement. It saves me from some disappointment and prevents me from having cloudy judgement when they do fuck up. I’ve seen people defend some pretty sketchy behavior just because they happen to like/admire the person involved in the scandal and on top of that being harmful to the people affected negatively in the situation (i.e abuse victims or the recipient of hateful language) it also doesn’t really change the facts. I mean if you’re in Public Relations or you’re getting paid then that’s your business, but when someone does wrong nobodies safe from scrutiny in my book (see my thoughts on criticism here).
With that out of the way I do think it’s important for people to be able to look up to and be inspired by others for the sake of their own self discovery. Celebrities are often in the limelight which is why many people latch on to them. I’m not completely immune from this as there are plenty of actors I like based off of their choice of roles and off screen interviews. Sometimes rather than put all my eggs into one basket and fawn over the actor I tend to choose specific characters instead.
For example one of my favorite females in fiction (probably since high school) is Morticia Addams.
It might be kind of silly, but so are the Addams, and the best part about them is they don’t care and they’re not real. This is probably the biggest appeal to having fictional role models. Who they are is in the hands of the writer, and development that feels off can easily be put on the them. For example many people are huge Steve Rogers (Captain America) fans and Marvels idiotic decision to have him be a Hydra agent* (temporarily) was one many people could ignore in favor of more legitimate cannon. The things I love about Morticia are her dark style, her dedication to her family, and her confidence. Those are the most consistent parts of her character and until someone puts pen to paper and decides to write her again (hopefully casting Eva Green in the process) they will remain so.
This is also one of the many reasons I talk so much about representation in Media. It means so much to see someone like you live a great life while being authentic and fictional characters who live happily ever after may not always be realistic, but they give a lot of people hope. For minorities who’ve had to fight and struggle just to have basic rights seeing on screen a love story where they’re the love interest or a story of triumph where they’re the victor can be enough to uplift them and make them want to keep fighting.
As a kid a lot of the characters I related to the most (personality wise) were white, and in all honesty the knowledge that I’d never look like them or be seen a pretty in the way that they were was disheartening. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gained confidence through other avenues, but ultimately I’d love it if young girls of color never had to feel that way at all. The 2013 movie Belle was probably the first time I watched a movie and felt in every sense of the word ‘representation’ that I was seeing someone like me. One of the most notable lines in that film being the titular character saying she wasn’t really sure she fit in anywhere (spoken from the perspective of a biracial black girl).
Seriously why the fuck wasn’t she Belle in BATB!!!!! She already played a character named Belle!!!!!
Obviously some fictional liberties were taken with her story, but the fact that it took me about 19 years to find this gem says a lot about media’s tricky relationship with race and gender (which is an ongoing conversation for another time). I try to write characters that reflect what I wanted to see growing up.
Having a good role model can really inspire you to not only become a better person, but also identify what it is that you want to be. I’m not sure how I feel about mothering, but I love family and I think there’s plenty of beauty to be found in the dark (except bugs, that’s not very Addams of me but I’m not a bug girl). This is what I get from Morticia. From Belle (as in the girl above) I take the desire to be unapologetically me and find beauty in my blackness in spite of societies standards.
See Disney black girls can be pretty princesses without turing to frogs first 😎
Who are your role models, and what makes them so? Are they real, fictional, or are you too cool for school and are your own role model? As usual stay informed and I don’t know what I’m going to recommend on Wednesday but I’ll figure it out by Wednesday. Happy Monday!
*Captain America was created by a jewish man and in comics Hydra is a branch of a Nazi organization. Many people found Captain America secretly being a Hydra agent to be shitty story telling and in poor taste.
***Featured image: me casually dressing as Wonder Woman (I think I was going grocery shopping)