2013 saw a number of Hollywood’s leading ladies speak out against unrealistic portrayals of women in the media, and these celebrities are offering new role models for young girls, to inspire positive self-esteem for the year ahead.
With the unparalleled power of social media, images of women who are waif thin, with flawless complexions and scant clothing saturate computer screens and smartphones, representing a largely unattainable body image.
These images can negatively impact the self-esteem of young girls, especially those who are struggling with their personal identity and confidence.
“The media needs to take responsibility for the effect that it has on our younger generation, on these girls that are watching these television shows and picking up how to talk and how to be cool,” says 23-year-old Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence.
Lawrence has stated that she believes labelling someone ‘fat’ on television should be illegal, because of the potential impact it could have on a person’s self-esteem.
Jennifer Lawrence at the Academy Awards in 2011
“I mean, if we're regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren't we regulating things like calling people fat?” she says.
Lawrence focused on personal fitness for her lead role in blockbuster film 'The Hunger Games,' in order to be a positive role model for young girls.
"I don’t want girls to be like, 'Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner...' I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed,” Lawrence says.
Another leading lady that considers being a role model for young women incredibly important is Demi Lovato, who recently opened up about her personal battle with anorexia.
“I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that she’s worthy of life and that her life has meaning,” says Lovato.
Demi Lovato performing at a concert in Springfield
Lovato has acknowledged that unrealistic portrayals of celebrities can contribute to poor self-esteem and eating disorders in young girls, but says she hopes to be a positive and authentic role model.
“That’s what being a role model is about… It’s not about being perfect, it’s about speaking about your issues and inspiring others to get help,” she says.
Having recently won a Grammy award for best pop solo performance at just 17 years of age, Lorde has shared her own frustrations about Hollywood's depictions of seemingly flawless women.
Lorde playing live in Seattle last year
“There’s a lot of importance placed on physical perfection in this industry, and I wish my favourite stars didn’t look perfect because I think fans (me included) have these feelings of worthlessness, like they’ll never be as pretty, talented, whatever, as a result of this intense Photoshop culture,” Lorde says.
Lorde has openly expressed what she describes as “strong morals and opinions,” and in doing so has already provided an excellent role model for young girls.
Similarly, Emma Watson of 'Harry Potter' fame, believes that most young girls “have these unbelievably high expectations… when actually we're human beings and our bodies have a function.”
“I keep telling myself that I'm a human being, an imperfect human being who's not made to look like a doll,” says Watson.
It is these refreshing perspectives of a-listers such as Lawrence, Lovato, Lorde and Watson that are offering positive role models for young girls in 2014 and beyond.
These roles models will only continue to inspire positive self-esteem and confidence within a new generation of youth.
Emma Watson at a film premier
--- Why Is Self Esteem Important? ---
Self esteem helps people feel positive about themselves and their lives.
Self esteem translates into self-belief, which provides the courage to try new things.
Self esteem means that people respect themselves, and are more likely to make decisions that reflect their personal values and beliefs.
Self esteem enables people to make decisions that honour their mind and body, including a regard for personal health and safety.