Who Will They Idolise?

Go into any newsagent or supermarket these days and you will see a whole host of magazines on the shelves. And there seem to be progressively more of the ‘entertainment’ type magazines; Heat, Now, Reveal, Star, New to name just a few.

And this is great – we all want to be entertained and they are extremely popular. But look on the front of any of them and it’s almost inevitable that there will be someone who has hailed from a reality tv show.

And not X Factor or The Great British Bake Off where you do sort of have to prove your worth.

I’m talking about shows like TOWIE. Made in Chelsea. Geordie Shore. Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Love Island

Now I used to watch Geordie Shore religiously (I so desperately wanted Char and Gaz to be the Geordie Shore version of Ross and Rachel. A drunk, promiscuous, progressively volatile Ross and Rachel. Alas, it is apparently not to be. I can’t imagine why.) I filled our Sky Planner with episodes of Love Island. I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of Made in Chelsea. I’ve caught odd snippets of KUWTK and seen a few episodes of TOWIE.

I’m not saying they’re not entertaining programmes. They absolutely are.

But with Heat magazine’s biggest demographic 15-34 year olds (I’m still in there – just!), with a reach last year of over a million people in this age range, it worries me that the people you are likely to find on the cover are Katie Price. Or Gemma Collins. Or Kim Kardashian.

And the other entertainment magazines have similar figures.

So what message is this sending to the very bottom end of that demographic? The fifteen (and likely younger) year olds who are buying these magazines to see pictures of Ferne McCann’s baby (whom she may name whatever she likes as long as it’s not offensive!)

It sends the message that you can be famous for being on a scripted TV programme and pretty much being told what to say. When they see Charlotte Crosby or Holly Hagan advertising make up or their own clothes range, it sends the message that by getting blind drunk and having sex on tv, you can go on to make a lot of money.

And it’s not just magazines. Social media is amazing but it’s also opening up the world to our children at a far younger age than it was ever opened up to me and my generation. And it’s also the reason for the rise of these reality tv stars.

When a 16 year old sees Kylie Jenner making millions by posting photos of her putting on lipgloss on Instagram, they think that’s normal; that it’s a viable way to make money.

They begin to follow her and idolise her. And for me, it is just fuelling the ever-growing sense of entitlement that young people seem to have (I’m generalising. Go with it.)

What has happened to our normal role models? The parents, the teachers, the friends, the woman you learnt about in history lessons who fought for your right to vote? That guy your Nan told you about who stood up in America on 28th August 1963 and made a speech which started with “I have a dream.” That man you watched run the 100m sprint even though he’s an amputee (not the one who shot his girlfriend in a bathroom – pick another).

People who have made the world (even if it’s just your world) a better place. People who have impacted your world so much that, without them, you and your world would not be who you are today.

These are the kind of people we should idolise. I don’t want my children growing up telling me they aspire to be like Spencer Matthews or Gary Beadle or Joey Essex. I’m sure they’re all lovely people (benefit of the doubt and all that) but they are not inspirational or aspirational. Maybe they have used their fame for wonderful causes. But there are so many ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the world every single day who work tirelessly to make a difference. Not because they’re paid to. Or because it’s good publicity. Or because they want to give back to the world which has made them famous for throwing drinks over their ex boyfriend at an orchestrated birthday party. But because they are inspirational.

One of the biggest news stories of the past couple of weeks was about Gemma Collins falling through a trap door on a stage. Meanwhile, there were nurses at my local hospital saving dying people’s lives. I know it’s entertainment. I know it was pretty funny. But I’m just saying, it’s not aspirational news.

I want my boys to idolise their dad. My husband who sets an amazing example to them. I want them to idolise their grandparents who have played such a big part in their lives and their upbringing. I want them idolise their teachers and authors they learn about. Musicians who don’t have to release albums laced with profanity. Actors and actresses who take on gritty, hard hitting roles which actually make you think, question things or make you feel something. I’m not saying we shouldn’t idolise famous people. I just want my children to pick wisely.

Because I have a dream.

A dream that my children reach their adult years without ever saying “When I grow up I want to be like him off TOWIE.”

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  1. Oh boy I totally agree with you! My boys don’t really watch regular TV so have never seen the likes of TOWIE but I’m pretty sure their friends have. I just hope that we are teaching our children there is so much more to life that being famous for the wrong things, or even being famous for that matter! 🙂

  2. I completely get where you’re coming from with this! I don’d watch TOWIE so I never really know whats happening, but my husband does so I know who the characters are. we can only try and steer our children to having great idols! hopefully you and your hub will inspire them enough to realise the TOWIE characters are pretty shallow and boring! x

  3. It does worry me when my daughter grows up the kind of idols and where they’ve come from that will be thrust upon her. There’s so much focus on reality stars these days and not enough on real life people doing good things. #Honeybeelinky

  4. This is my biggest nightmare! I am a nurse so I hope my daughter grows up to have a lot of nurse role models, but it seems inevitable that she will see these reality tv nimrods. I agree social media is scary for a number of reasons but this is definitely one of them! X

  5. I completely agree with you. Teachers, nurses, doctors, researchers– so many people to admire, yet culture is so focused on pop culture. Ugh. May we change this with our children and may we let them grow up kind and empathetic #bigpinklink xoxo

  6. You’re right you know…it does seem like there’s very slim pickings when it comes to finding role models for our kids these days. I mean, Trump anyone?!lol. Closer to home sounds like a lovely place to start though. I hope my boys end up as caring and hardworking as my other half too. Thank you for linking up with the Honeybee linky! Hope to see you next time! xxx

  7. rawsonjl

    My kids don’t know a lot of the people in mainstream media but they do watch a lot of YouTube an I’m already sick of hearing them wanting to be like all the people who make a living doing YouTube videos. I’m fine with the idea of that being where they end up but I honestly feel like they just want to do that because they think it’s easy.

  8. I love this. I don’t watch “reality tv” (unless cooking shows count) for this exact reason. I’m not interested in people who fell into these so called reality shows. Give me an actor or actress who has worked hard to get where they are, portrayed interesting roles and hopefully make an impact with their fame.
    Raising girls is hard enough with the “beauty” ideals and body shaming that is already out there. Please don’t let their role models be the Kardashians! (I’m happy to say my girls, ages 6 and 9, don’t know anything about the Kardashians, and I hope to keep it that way!)

  9. You are so right. I guess it is down to us as parents to try and show them the real people who they should admire. Even though I used to be a huge TOWIE fan, I do hate this new ‘celeb’ culture where really, they aren’t celebs at all! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  10. Absolutely 100% agreed. It’s frightening that this is being normalized and idolized by young children. We used to have the same issue of who our role models are (90’s kid) but it just seems to be worsening. We had idols such as Britney spears and such, but at least they had real talent. Lol.

    PS. I don’t know all of the shows you mentioned because they’re not from the US, but i absolutely love watching the Great British Bake off!! Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry woo!!


  11. mackenzieglanville

    Like you say “I want them to pick wisely’ who they idolise, I do my best to be a strong role model to my children as does my husband. At the moment my eldest is 13 and still does not watch reality TV, I will keep it that way for as long as possible. Really well written post and I totally agree with you! #FabFridayPost

  12. This post is so spot-on! Kids these days seem to idolize the wrong people! Take Simon Cowell for instance – my son thinks it is cool to be rude and sarcastic.


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