Friday, April 14, 2006
In this day of celebrity icons, look- alike make-overs, and pop stars, I began to wonder who the female role models were in the long ago dark ages of my early impressionable youth and that of my peers. I am talking about the '40s and '50s. We did have movie stars and singers, but they and their life styles were not considered role models.
Our families had just been through a Depression and a war. We were the "make do" kids. We gladly wore hand- me-down clothes, had one pair of dress- up or church shoes, and even darned socks. This was the life we knew. There was no television to show us what to wear or think. We did have radio and the family really did gather around it each night. We were taught to work hard, go to school, and try to go further in life than our parents had.
I have spoken with many of my contemporaries about female role models and thought it interesting that all of them named people on my list: Betsy Ross, Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Zaharias, Clara Barton, Frances Perkins, Maureen Connally, Florence Nightingale, Margaret Chase Smith, Florence Chadwick, Amelia Earhart, Willa Cather, Althea Gibson, Juliet Lowe, Pearl Buck, Marie Curie, Marion Anderson, Queen Elizabeth and Susan B. Anthony.
For those of us who grew up with these role models, I think that the list holds up well after 50 years or more. We still remember and admire them. What is your list like? How does this list compare to the role models and icons for young girls today? How does having your navel pierced compare with being a senator or starting the Girl Scouts in America or the American Red Cross? Today's heroes for girls seem to be money- and sensation-driven, good for shock value and youthfulness. I wonder how many will be remembered in 50 years or even five years from now.
I realize that television has added to the homogenization of the American public. We see every sensation as soon as it happens. Who does what and to whom, what scanty little piece of cloth is someone wearing that we would probably have been arrested for in the past? Do we have to admire this fluff?
Maybe I'm just an old lady with old- fashioned ideas and morals, but at least what we looked up to was real and attainable. Beauty really is only skin deep, and what's inside is what counts. As Clara Pella said in that TV commercial, "Where's the beef?"
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito