I work as a Speech and Language Therapist in a school and as a result often have to deal with the fall out from teenage dramas. The main problem is teenage girls bitching about each other behind their backs. One of my students came to me today and told me how she had been watching The Only Way is Essex over half term. This student was telling me all the intricate details about how some 25 year old woman wanted her dog to be baptised. A dog baptised! I am also 25 years old and was horrified to see that this TOWIE lady was a role model to my student.
I then had an epiphany; this is why our young people and teenagers spend so much time bitching behind each other’s backs. They believe this is a normal way to behave and communicate, as they have had it modelled to them on TV. I mentioned this to my student who shrugged it off, but it got me thinking. We are creating a future full of women who believe that you have to look great on the outside before you can feel good on the inside. Women who believe that it’s ok to gossip behind someone’s back, as the people on TOWIE always end up friends at the end of a season. We are creating women who thrive on drama.
I went on to question her about who her positive role models were in the media. Her answer was Kerry Katona and Jordan. Women whose lives are fueled by drama. I explained who I thought would be a good role model: Malala Yousafzai. To my utter dismay she had never heard of Malala, a young woman who is two years older than my student, but whom I believe is a role model worth aspiring to emulate.
Today my eyes were opened to the lack of role models for our young women to look up to and be inspired by. Of course, everyone in education should work hard to be positive role models for our students, but my biggest concern is what the media is doing to them. They look at TV and there is drama; Hollyoaks has apparently has a 13-year-old pregnant teenager on it, TOWIE, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore are all aimed at our teenagers. They read sensationalised stories in The Daily Mail, Closer and HEAT magazine, all of which are focusing on the latest gossip.
Where are the positive role models?
This is a countrywide problem and it necessitates a shift in the way the media portrays women and their relationships. As for me and my student, I will try and make an effort to give her at least one positive role model to emulate; me.