We can argue until we’re blue in the face that parents alone should be their kids’ role models. But the reality is that unless your kids live in a bubble, they will likely and inevitably look up to public figures like athletes, politicians, musicians and actors for what they accomplish on the field, in office and on stage and screen — as well as what they do in their free time.
Some in the spotlight do their best to ensure their overall professional message is in line with the wholesome image they project on a daily basis, like, say, Taylor Swift and Daniel Radcliffe. Then there are those don’t seem to care much what others, or kids in particular, must think of them. Perhaps what’s hardest to explain to little ones is when the stars they admire are setting bad examples.
I don’t fault famous people for doing what they do for a living and then ensuring their private lives remain out of the glare of the paparazzi — in fact, I applaud them for that. But the ones who go after our kids’ wallets and then set poor examples by living their lives publicly and poorly is disgraceful.
Take a look at some of at some of the new worst young role models for kids (and no, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Heidi Montag, Tiger Woods, Snooki, Ke$ha, Taylor Momsen and the cast of Teen Mom aren’t on the list — they’re old news):
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Bristol Palin 1 of 7Don't fault Bristol, 21, for becoming an unwed teenage mom — what's done is done. It's what she's done with herself after the fact that counts, and that's just about anything for money — including publicly disparaging her young son's father (no matter how much of a wretch he appears to be). Get an education, get a respectable job, and raise your kid by setting a good example of how hard work pays off. Earning a quick buck off a tell-all interview is doing your son — and the thousands upon thousands of kids who have access to reading or watching it — no favors.
Julia Hurley 2 of 7The State Representative (R-Lenoir City), 29, from Tennessee boasts it's her experience in tight t-shirts that got her elected last fall. "If I could make it at Hooters, I could make it anywhere," she told Hooters magazine. Make a living, sure, but what kind of message are you sending to young girls when you tell them that a job where people are supposed to ogle your breasts and tip you accordingly is how you gained experience to serve as a leader? It doesn't boost her image that since taking office she got in trouble for carving her initials into a desk in the state House chamber. Isn't that more of a freshman in high school antic, not the act of a freshman elected official?
Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin 3 of 7That athletes are sponsored is not news. But for two young women to allow their butts to be sponsored is disappointing. Zara Dampne, 24, and Shauna Mullin 26, are female beach volleyball champions out of England who are allowing quick response codes to be emblazoned on the bottoms of their volleyball bikini attire for a company called Betfair. This comes after pro volleyball players complained the women in their sport were seen primarily as sex symbols, not athletes. For their part, the duo says they want to be taken more seriously in their sport. Is drawing attention to their rear ends the way to do it? And what is the message that young people are getting when all eyes are now purposefully drawn to their teeny bikinis instead of the volleyballs?
Lady Gaga 4 of 7Yes, she stood up loud and proud for gay marriage and regularly makes it clear that she won't conform to how most people think they should look and dress. But why'd she have to ruin it last year when she admitted in a Vanity Fair interview that she uses cocaine occasionally? Even though she emphasized she doesn't condone her own behavior, she is idolized by so many that it'd be ignorant to think some followers won't start glamorizing (and using) the drug as a result. Plus, she's made no secret of the fact that she essentially starves herself to stay so thin. Aren't there some things she can keep to herself for the sake of the impressionable fans who look up to her?
Justin Bieber 5 of 7His voice sounds like bubblegum, but as the teen idol is growing up, his public persona is quickly losing its sweet flavor. He was recently photographed in a t-shirt slapped with the F-word. And the Biebs, 17, is not-so-quietly earning a reputation for being a general brat, like allegedly refusing to take his seat on a recent flight. It's exciting to earn worldwide fame at a young age, but he has to keep in mind when he gets dressed in the morning and throws public tantrums that it's 9-year-olds who are paying his salary. Like any company with a popular brand, don't you owe it to your shareholders to maintain some kind of decency standard?
Miley Cyrus 6 of 7Is there any current worse example for kids than the former Hannah Montana star? Between the pole dancing, salvia smoking, dressing in next to nothing and smoking cigarettes, Miley, 18, come a long way since her days on the Disney channel. The thing is this: like Justin Bieber, her fan base is still young, so if she wants to keep making money by entertaining them, she's going to need some image rehab, asap. Not too many young stars transition into adult roles successfully, and she seems to be dangerously close to transitioning out of the spotlight, and not by choice.
Venus Williams, Apolo Ono, Eli Manning and Shaquille ONeal 7 of 7Promoting sugary sports drinks, which have been proven to be bad for young kids, is one thing. But a cookie that's loaded with 100 calories and 4.5 grams of fat each? I suppose it's OK to eat the new Triple Double Oreos them if you're a professional athlete who will burn that off in no time. But a sedentary kid? Or even an active kid? What were these athletes thinking when they signed on as the super group promoting the new artery clogger? And to promote the fat bombs as some kind of a super human racing league? Like it's sport to eat them? Ugh.
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