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Re-Evaluating Role Models

Posted Aug 26 2011 12:11pm

Who did you look up to when you were younger? Don’t laugh but I was always a huge fan of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They were born on the same day as me! I loved Full House and all their silly straight-to-video movies. I just thought they were super cool. Then as they got older and started engaging in behaviors that weren’t so healthy, or appropriate for two underage females, I didn’t pay them as much attention, but still idolized pop-princesses and teen celebs.

Even today I am guilty of flipping through magazines wishing I could have the body of someone famous, who pays chefs and personal trainers out the wazoo to make them ultra thin, and toned, or the gorgeous hair of actresses who pay thousands of dollars for extensions and highlights on a weekly basis. It's sad that I do this, but what’s worse is that we as a society are bombarded with images of an unattainable life and look, making "normal" and average, seem inadequate.

I guess this popped into my head a little bit on monday, when I was writing about setting goals, because I can remember back in college when I was working with a trainer to gain strength for cheering. He asked me what my physical objectives were and instead of telling him I wanted to be strong so I could lift my teammates safely, I told him I wanted Jennifer Aniston’s arms. Seriously CJ?! Jennifer Aniston is absolutely breathtaking, I am not denying that, but to me it is wrong that that was my first response when he asked about my goal for working together.

The one thing I am proud to say, now that I am getting a little bit older, and hopefully a tad more mature, is that my idea of a role-model has changed slightly. Yes, I still have thoughts that I wish I could exchange my body for another, but instead of only looking for exterior beauty, fame and fortune, when finding celebrity examples, there are other aspects that catch my attention more.

I was thinking about this topic this morning as I was enjoying my daily view of The Today Show. While watching the opening remarks it occurred to me that a female I consider a picture of intelligence, grace and dignity, is Anne Curry. These are all qualities I would like to have, and find absolutely beautiful, so why didn’t I consider before that I should look to her for inspiration, rather than Giselle Bunchden and Meghan Fox. I obviously don’t know any of these women personally, only see them in interviews, movie roles, or in the glossy pages of US Weekly, so I cant confirm if they are smart, funny, nice, etc. But at least with a news anchor you can somewhat validate brain power and affection; at least I think so.

Another place to look for a role-model is athletics. I LOVE the Olympics. In fact, my husband and I are pretty much obsessed with them and are glued the entire time they are on. One of my favorite events to watch it swimming and the last summer Olympics I was enthralled with Dara Torres and he phenomenal performances. She was one of the oldest competitors out there but had a rockin’ bod, held her own against others half her age, and the best thing, she had an AMAZING spirit. I can only hope to be that cool when I am 40. To me, her drive and desire is a way more admirable quality than botox and plastic parts.

So between Dara and Anne, I have two pretty awesome women to look up to; however there are other aspects of this subject we need to consider.

First, celebrities have a ton of resources, and one could argue, are a smidge lucky. They can train extensively, have teams of people helping provide information to assist them in their careers, are not built like the average woman, or have some of the daily stressors of a working mom with three kids, which is why I think it is important to find examples in our own lives.

The blog world, particularly healthy living sites, can provide amazing inspiration. Susan, from the Great Balancing Act, has a seriously touching story. If you are in need of a good cry, or want to appreciate your life, check out her site. Her fight and will are attributes I have not seem in many people, and her attitude is pretty much second to none. She is an excellent role-model and I need to remember that any time I want to complain about my medical situation.

The second thing to remember is I/YOU have great qualities too. Why am I sitting around envying the lives of others when I have a life going on right here! I have a family, a job, a house, and luxuries I am super blessed with. So what if my bra size isn’t a C, or I don’t have a six pack?! Ryan loves me regardless, and those things have nothing to do with my integrity as a human-being. If you are trying to make positive changes in your life then yes, I think it is good to have someone to look up to as an illustration, but don’t forget yourself in the process. There are tons of things you/I have to be proud of on a daily basis (remember PTG, I will totally remind you every day if I have to!). So maybe next time I go to flip open a tabloid I will either a) grab a way better source of material…hello a newspaper or book?! Or b) do something more productive like post an answer on Wellsphere to help someone else struggling with their meal plan and negative self-talk.

The point is, instead of getting stuck wishing I was someone other than what God made me, I need to appreciate the things I have and live in the present. Life is happening all around me, and by idolizing others I am missing it!!!! It is good to have goals, examples, and an idea of your values, but don’t waste time dreaming of who you could be, but instead love who you are, and make positive alterations of the things you might want to change. Focus less on the physical, and really think of what you feel are important qualities of a good person. As my favorite quote says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You obviously cant do that if you are sitting reading a magazine, planning how to get Jennifer Aniston’s arms.

So today I am going to remind myself of one of the many blessings I have in my life, and consider a change I can make, to start being a better person, wife, sister, daughter, and friend.

I am blessed with a loving family, functioning body and the ability to learn.

One thing I would like to do is register for a NEDA walk in the near future, to educate and promote eating disorder awareness to the general public.

(THE NYC WALK IS COMING UP AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER! In case anyone else wanted to participate J )

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