Role-model

Why I Won’t Be Saying Sorry Anymore

…and I’m not going to apologize for it, either.

Should Young Girls Be Idolising Taylor Swift?

Love her or hate her, if there’s one person you want your daughters to look up to right now, it’s Taylor Swift. Sure, she’s got a self-admitted “long list of ex-lovers” but any Instagram follower of hers will see she’s strong, funny, and independent. Sure, that might just be a social media persona, but with an estimated worth of $200 million, she’s got to be doing something right.

RELATED: Is Miley Cyrus A Good Role Model For Kids?

She knows her worth

In the week when she sold 1.3 million copies of her album 1989, Swifty famously decided to pull all her songs and back-catalogue from streaming site Spotify.  “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is,” she wrote in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal.

More recently, she wrote an open letter to Apple Music stating her music would not be available on the platform, because it was not going to pay artists during their three-month trial period. “We don’ t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

Apple did an about-face on the same day, announced it would be paying artists for the three-month trial, and 1989 can be listened to on the platform. A woman who values what she does and stands up for what she believes in? Tick. Having the power to trigger a hundred billion dollar global company to change a policy? That’s a feat anyone would be inspired by.

She has female friends

A quick look at her Instagram feed, and Tay Tay is always hanging out with her friends. A network including Haim, Karlie Kloss, Lorde and Dunham makes her #squad look like plenty of fun. Close female friends are crucial for daughters of any age, and seeing Taylor with her inner circle encourages all girls to spend more time with their girlfriends, support each other, and keep that network strong.

She’s real

Whether it’s granting the Sydney Belvoir Theatre permission to use her song in a performance, making multiple references to hanging out with her cats, or just generally making fun of herself, T-Swizzle just seems like such a nice, approachable person. Someone I could hang out with. Someone I want to hang out with. From all accounts, she writes her own songs, plays her own instruments and is heavily involved in the production process.

Working hard and being nice seem like a pretty simple combo, but it’s amazing how many people still haven’t nailed it yet. We could all do with a little reminder from Swift every now and then to not take life too seriously.

Is Miley Cyrus A Good Role Model For Kids?

Miley Cyrus is controversial, outspoken and isn’t afraid to take her clothes off. Hosting the MTV Video Music Awards yesterday, Cyrus’ choice of outfits left little to the imagination as she donned itsy-bitsy garments that revealed all but her nipples and lady bits. It’s clear the girl’s got body confidence, but is she setting a good or bad example for youngsters?

RELATED: Chrissie Hynde Slammed: Victim Blaming Amongst Victim

While many accuse the star of sexualising the pop industry with her out-there antics and clothing attire, Cyrus recently told TIME magazine that she does it to challenge people. “I’m using it as a power stance,” she said. “It’s funny to see people try to look me in the eye.”

It’s clear the 22-year-old knows exactly what she’s doing and why she’s doing it, but is her message of self-acceptance being relayed in the wrong way? In an article by the Sydney Morning Herald which referred to Cyrus’ “overtly sexualised performance” at the 2013 VMAs with Robin Thicke, she was slammed for appeasing “her mostly male management” and portraying a negative image of women.

“The view of some young people whose thoughts I sought in schools last week was that it was less an expression of sexuality than of ugliness,” read the article. “For them, Cyrus’ performance represented a distorted version of female sexuality.”

Since then the popstar’s statements have become more profound, however what’s interesting is that Cyrus has refused to apologise for not wanting to be someone that she’s not. “People try to make everyone something,” she told TIME. “You can just be whatever you want to be.”

And be that she may. Recently the 22-year-old revealed that she didn’t identify with neither a female or male gender and opened up about the realisation that she was bisexual at the tender age of 14. Yes, she’s pushing the boundaries by being open and transparent in all that she does, but isn’t her confidence refreshing?

She’s previously said that she’s celebrating her life by living it the way she wants; isn’t that what we all want on some level? If she wants to take her clothes off then power to her, we salute her body confidence and non-conventional attitude. She’s not doing it for proactive reasons that popstars like Rihanna are, she’s embracing all that she is as a person and is encouraging self-acceptance. Can’t we all learn something from that?

Image via Popsugar

How To Develop A Better Body Image

There’s not a woman alive who doesn’t experience a love-hate relationship with her body at times, even if it’s merely fleeting. We all have “fat days” – when how we perceive our bodies doesn’t often equal the image in the mirror. “Wow, you look great!” a loved one might say. “Ugh, really?” you respond, grimacing at yourself in the mirror. “If only I was thinner, bustier and less curvy…” and so the list continues.

And in this pursuit of self-improvement and unattainable perfection, in 2012, Australian women are said to have spent $850 million on modifying their looks and bodies. Australia’s leading organisation for eating disorders and body image, the Butterfly Foundation, says poor body image is significantly linked to dieting. In addition, dieting is the major factor in the development of disordered eating, eating disorders and a significant contributing factor in the development of obesity.

Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan stressed the critical importance of prevention and early intervention strategies in limiting the development of, and suffering from, negative body image and eating disorders. “Body image is not what we look like – it is how we feel about how we look,” Ms Morgan says. “Someone with positive body image is comfortable in their own skin. Conversely, someone with negative body image is often dissatisfied and fixated on trying to change their actual body shape.

“Unfortunately, in many instances negative body image descends even further and the person suffering from it believes they will not be successful or worthwhile, so long as they have that body shape and size. Pretty heavy stuff for most people; almost unmanageable if those thoughts are striking in the teen or primary school years.”

So, how do we teach our sons and daughters to have a positive body image? How do we, as mothers, curb our own issues so as to help our kids? “There are a number of pressures within our society that can contribute to negative body image and parents need to be mindful of everyday talk at home about food, body shape and self-esteem,” Ms Morgan says. “Children tend to learn more from what parents do than what they say.

“Adulation of physical appearance is a recipe for disaster. When parents talk about their own body images, they are fostering the same beliefs with their children. The strongest and most effective way parents can deliver a balanced and positive message around body image is by role modelling healthy behaviours.’’

Here are some tips on how to be a good body image role model for you and your child:

Love and accept your own body: Being aware of your attitude towards your own body will help you be conscious of the messages you send to your kids. Try to avoid looking in the mirror and making negative comments about the way you look. If your child sees that you feel comfortable and happy with your body, this can help them feel comfortable in their own skin.

Don’t talk about diets: Dieting is the biggest risk factor for an eating disorder. Try to avoid talking about diets, your “naughty” eating habits, or your weight and size. This can give kids the impression that weight and size are highly valued by you and they might feel pressure to look a certain way or be a certain size. Celebrate diversity and emphasise how loved and valued your child is no matter what their weight, shape or size.

Talk to your child: Encourage your child to talk with you about their feelings regarding their bodies. If your child feels safe talking to you, then they are more likely to share feelings about their bodies with you.

Visit thebutterflyfoundation.org.au.

By Nicole Carrington-Sima

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