What’s a role model?
“A person looked to by others as an example to be imitated” according to Google. A skinny, size-zero model according to the media. Someone who is healthy, and generally happy, according to what we really want to but sometimes just can’t think.
As per pretty much every other teenager that ever existed (or, at least every teenager since modelling, internet,magazines and 24/7 news became a thing), I have moments, days, times when I get overly concerned by my image, wondering if I can really afford to have a hot chocolate and some cheese-and-onion crisps on the same day, whether I should go out for another run. There are also times when my worries and questions become more internal; is stumbling across a Bastille fanfiction and, surprisingly, beginning to enjoy it, a bad thing? Is staying up till midnight to hear the worldwide premiere of their latest single weird? Is preferring to be on my laptop over being glued to the TV abnormal?
First, lets focus on the external questioning. Interestingly, at the end of last term, our school had a visit from somebody talking about mental health. (unfortunately, I can’t remember his name). One thing he said that really struck a chord was that once he spoke to the editor of Vogue, and she told him that they will never publish an unedited photo. Correct. Everything is airbrushed and edited. Ads, photoshoots…everything.
This really surprised me. I knew, of course, that loads of photos of celebrities were airbrushed, because that’s what everybody tells you – at school, at home, even on the news and in the papers.(quick diversion: don’t you think the idea of a celebrity is so weird? I mean, somebody gets paid tons to, for at least 40% of their time, if not more, have photos taken of them and talk to cameras, just because we, the public, like watching them? Anyway, on with the rambly rant…). However, the sheer enormity of this statement knocked me flat. In the figurative sense. I mean…every photo? Seriously? Wow. And so willingly admitted…it’s not a hidden away fact, something everyone’s secretly ashamed of. I wonder, does the editor of Vogue ever think if she’s affecting the confidence of people, showing them an unrealistic standard for them to try and live up to? Do models ever wish they looked less like boys, and that teenage girls would try not to look like them?
Aside from that, as I don’t think there is anything else I can say on that issue to add something fresh and original to the debate, I’m going to head across to Lauren Aquilina, with this vlog-style post about her thoughts on beauty. Listen to it. It may just change part of the way you think, Oh, and her music’s pretty awesome too.
Right, now for the existentially-charged mental crisis. Is reading this fanfiction on Bastille bad? Logical brain: No. Millions,perhaps billions of people read fanfiction every day, and someone obviously likes it so much they’ve written their own.Illogical brain: yeah, but people read it about Harry Potter and other books, but not bands. Eurgh, weirdo.
Etcetera. Ad nauseum. I now feel vaguely guilty for staying up till gone midnight, waiting for the worldwide premiere of their new track. Which I’m doing now. I think part of this feeling stems from the fact that I have loads of friends, but none with the same music taste as me. I have one with fairly similar taste, Ben Howard with a bit of Bastille and George Ezra’s Budapest thrown in, but nobody I feel I can rave endlessly to. Hence, the blog. The majority of my friends just aren’t that into music – I mean, only about three of them actually listen to Radio One. HOW IS THAT NORMAL FOR A BUNCH OF TEENAGERS!?! (no offence, very nice Taylor Swift obsessive best friend.) So I end up chatting to other fans on Instagram and WordPress, but I’m yet to discover someon else that reads/has read Bastille fanfiction (not that I’ve asked loads of people. I haven’t, by the way.) I also think that part of this stems from the opinions of the world around me. I seem to have the idea fixed in my mind that fanfiction = equals dirty, rubbish writing. I don’t know where this opinion came from, but it’s influenced me a lot. However, as my explorations have shown, some fanfiction is just creative people, who like a book or a band or a TV series, looking for an outlet. (though I will be honest, I have skipped a few pages of one that looked like it was getting dodgy…)
I’ve also lately begun to obsess over my lack of gymnastic ability. I can’t do a forward roll, let alone a cartwheel, and I’ve never even tried a handstand.Somehow, this began to prey on my thoughts, the worry that I wasn’t “physically literate” seeping into my brain, until eventually I confessed to my mum, who helped me put things into perspective. In effect: forward roll ability will not affect your life. We don’t do gymnastics next year at school, and so I shall probably never do one again. Done.
Another way that I’m different to my school friends is my love of writing, blogging, and general technology. But I’m going to skip to the final chapter, and summarise the last couple of paragraphs:
Sometimes, I feel really insecure that I’m not normal. But then I remember: other people are like me. Not everybody can be the same. According to A.A. Milne, “the things that make me different are the things that make me”. Sometimes, I really want a friend who I can talk endlessly to about blogging and music and books. But then I remember: school friends aren’t forever. Maybe some will be, but you will meet other people, and they will be more closely tailored to your interests. Also, I’m lucky I have such great friends as I do. On the whole I enjoy school, I’m generally healthy. I just have an absolute inability to avoid worrying and overthinking things. Hence my tagline.
But back to the title of this post: I’m not sure I have a role model, but if I did I would want it to be someone who is healthy and beautiful, but real, and proud of being so. Someone like singer-songwriter Lauren Aquilina, or vloggers Tanya Burr and Zoella. So many young people idolise impossible people; models, singers, actors and actresses. Admiring somebody for what they do is fine, but you’ve got to make sure you’re not striving for something that doesn’t exist, from an unhealthily thin body, to obeying the stereotype of “normality”.
Eventually, I’ve settled for trying to accept and love me as me, and to always remember this quote: “life is not a rehearsal. Be happy now.” This quote has come to mean a lot to me; what quotes mean a lot to you or affect the way you live your life? What are your thoughts on what I’ve written? Do you ever feel the same as me? Do you have a role model, and what do you admire about them? And, most importantly…have you read any fanfiction, and can you do a forward roll?
An Overthinking Teenager
– please feel free to share your thoughts, I would be really interested in your thoughts and opinions!