Resolution: Be a Model & Mentor
Like I wrote before, I’ll be documenting how I’m applying five resolutions to end sexism and eradicate gender stereotypes, as set out by MissRepresentation.org. The third resolution for 2012 is this:
Be a model, be a mentor – Being a model is about personifying the characteristics we hope to see in the world around us. It is as simple as remembering that every time we look in the mirror and criticize our looks, it is very possible that a young girl or boy is watching and learning from that behavior.
I had a friend lose a significant amount of weight one summer in college. I thought she was just as gorgeous before as she was after, but when I saw her at the beginning of the semester, I heard the words come out of my mouth: “Did you lose weight?” I didn’t even think, I just word vomited. I felt ashamed that I was remarking on a dear friend’s appearance, as though her “old” appearance hadn’t been good enough, as though girls heavier than her aren’t worthy of praise, as though our worth is determined by our weight. When she said, “Yes, I did Weight Watchers,” I stammered, “You look great. And I thought you looked great before.”
When friends ask me how to be a role model, how to show those in their lives what it means to be feminist, I give a simple answer: Be kind to yourself. Show those around you that self-love is righteous, and that you believe you kick all kinds of ass—in the looks, heart, and brains departments.
Being a role model doesn’t mean doling out advice as though you were Gandhi. Instead, being a role model means exhibiting important values, like belief in gender equality, self-confidence, and authenticity. Don’t just tell your friends that they look great after losing weight, tell your friends NOW that they look great, that their hair is pretty, that they’re the smartest person you know, that their voice rivals Adele’s, that they have the best shoe collection, that they’re really good drivers and make a mean veggie lasagne. When they say, “I’d really like a margarita, but I’m cutting calories,” ask them why… and when they solemnly covet your fancy marg, offer to share.
Be honest with yourself, don’t try to be something you’re not. Call out bullshit when you see it. That’s how to be a role model.