Oh, how I long for the innocent days when Paris was just a city you hoped someday to visit and panties were a staple part of every girl’s wardrobe. Or how about the days when that cute, freckle-faced girl in the Parent Trap was known for being cute, freckle-faced, and a fabulous little actress rather than a cocaine-snorting, rehab grad. And the Olsen twins were back to living with their dad, Uncle Jesse and Joey instead of nightclub hopping and dragging on a cigarette every time the camera flashes. And Vanessa Hudgens was not only the “good girl” in High School Musical but someone your daughter still thought was a “good girl” in real life. And Britney was just a Mouseketeer and singing in the church choir on the weekends. Remember those days? Back when it was good to be good?
Welcome to the new world where bad is the new good. Consider what Helen Grieco, director of California’s National Organization for Women (NOW) said in defense of the spring break, boobie-flashing, Girls Gone Wild videos in an interview: “I think it’s about being a rebel, and I don’t think it’s a bad notionâ¦ Flashing your breasts on Daytona Beach says, ‘I’m not a good girl. I think it’s sexy to be a bad girl.’” Yet another fine example of the “girl power” message that has been shoved down our daughters’ collective throats. Since when is it considered “empowering” for college women to lift their bikini tops in response to the drunken catcalls of immature frat boys? Did I miss something here?
Is it any wonder that our world is run amok with girls gone wild? Whether it’s another news story about a beauty queen caught kissing another girl or an American Idol contestant with nude pictures on the Web, the glamorization of bad behavior is nonstop. As Hollywood plays rehab, it begs the question: Where are the good role models? Is the “good girl” persona now extinct, gone the way of shoulder pads and spiral perms? Possibly so, but it certainly doesn’t mean we put our hands up and surrender.
Pantieless Pop Stars and the Never-Ending Rehab Relay
In a Newsweek poll, 77 percent of respondents say pop-star celebrities like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan have too much influence on young girls. However, perception and reality are two different things. In a related Newsweek article addressing the girls gone wild, Emma Boyce, a seventeen-year-old junior in high school, commented, “They’ve got great clothes and boyfriends. They seem to have a lot of fun.” But the fascination stops short of admiration. Boyce went on to say, “My friends and I look at them and laugh at themâ¦Our lives seem pretty good by comparison. We’re not going to rehab like Lindsay.” Mind you, her commentary was prior to Britney’s self-implosion that followed shortly thereafter, including her head-shaving stunt and repetitive visits to a psych ward. Surely Miss Boyce has reevaluated her original assessment that these girls appear “to have a lot of fun.”
I imagine if these pop stars were honest, they’d be the first to admit that “fun” is not a word to describe their plight. If you ever needed proof that one can’t buy happiness, take a look at any one of the above pop stars and their respective infomercials for misery. The truth is, while the girls gone wild effect has touted bad as the new good, most level-headed girls are not rushing out to emulate the pop stars’ brand of bad. There is nothing glamorous about rehab, drug and alcohol addictions, puking in hotel corridors, flashing your privates in public, shaving your head bald, losing custody of your two children, going to jail, having a sex tape leaked to the World Wide Web and so on. Unfortunately, I fear the list will only get longer in the years to come. Should this pack of pop stars clean up their act (and I certainly pray they do), there are, no doubt, others waiting in the wings to rack up their own inventory of wild deeds.
There was a day not-so-long-ago past that I would have sent Miley Cyrus a thank-you note for being a positive role model to young girls. It was during the time when other pop stars were self-imploding before our very eyes. Miley was a breath of fresh air, garnering fans worldwide with her wholesome character on the Disney hit, Hannah Montana. Had I written that thank-you note at the time, I would have thanked Miss Cyrus for having the decency to wear panties in public. I would have thanked her for knowing how to exit a limo gracefully without flashing the paparazzi her private parts. I would have thanked her for steering clear of the nightclubs and tattoo parlors. I would have thanked her for dressing with “decency and propriety” (1 Tim. 2:9). I would have thanked her for not having a cigarette in hand every time the camera flashes. I would have thanked her for having a track record that doesn’t include rehab. I would have thanked her for being famous for an actual talent. I would have thanked her for singing songs with lyrics that don’t make your grandma blush or your mom rush to change the channel on the radio. Â I would have thanked her for making my daughter smile at a time when most other pop stars left her shaking her head back and forth in utter disbelief.
That was then. Like, you, I got my hopes up that perhaps there was on positive role model left in Hollywood, but it turns out that Miley Cyrus is human, after all. Like any one of us, she’s a sinner saved by grace and capable of falling at any given moment. By the time this book hits the shelves, she could have gone the way of Britney, Lindsay, Paris, or one of the many other fallen pop stars. That is exactly why we should remind our daughters not to put anyone on a pedestal. Miss Cyrus has had some less than “picture perfect” moments where her actions left some mommas angry and disappointed. Rather than wringing our hands and tearing our robes, let’s take advantage of the teachable moments that can occur as a result of celebrity “role model” mishaps.
A Teachable Moment
Miley’s mishaps began with some racy pictures that surfaced on the Web only to be followed by Vanity Fair photo shoot where she bared her back for the camera. Many have chalked the pictures off to momentary lapse in judgment while others have speculated that they signal a craving for rebellion and will only get worse over time. So, what is that teachable moment? Like Miley, my daughter owns a digital camera that came equipped with a memory card that holds more than five hundred pictures.
Role models will come and go, so it’s wise to keep a balanced perspective. Even those who appear to be good will disappoint at times (such as in the examples above). While it’s nice to be able to point our daughters to someone else’s positive example, we want to make sure our daughters’ admiration of the role model du jour doesn’t go overboard and border on idol worship. And I would certainly caution mothers to exercise caution when it comes to looking to pop stars as role models. Most are not worthy of the following.
Today much of the vision of mentoring our young ladies in the art of virtue has been lost.
As an additional twist, my daughter has also been able to serve on the role model side and influence some younger girls through babysitting, mission trips, and a summer camp where she worked. Whether she is the babysitter or the fun camp counselor, mentoring is taking place all the same.
While the antics of those in Hollywood may leave us with the impression that virtuous role models are in short supply, I want to encourage you that they are out there. Our job is to find them and expose our daughters to these fabulous women as much as possible.