At about 8years old, little me decided Iwas the world’s biggest “Harry Potter” fan.
Naturally, as a little girl, I was very drawn to the female protagonist of the story, Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson in the eight-film franchise.
Eight-year-old me therefore decided Emma was her “role model,” though I don’t think 8-year-old me even knew what a role model was.
Ten years later, I do know what a role model is.
And little me knew what was up 10 years ago.
Child stars are knownfor going off the rails.
Even if they don’t, you can’t deny it’s a cloud that follows them around.
People wait for them to reach their breaking points and when they do, everyone agrees they were just ticking time bombs in the first place.
You have your Lindsay Lohans and your washed-up Disney stars, so the expectation they’re all going to let fame go to their heads is very real.
As I grew up with the “Harry Potter” films and fallen stars, I distinctly remember thinking I really hope Emma doesn’t go that way.
She did not let me down.
I grew up as what you might (and many others did) call “the good girl.”
I worked hard in school, and I didn’t like getting on the wrong side of people.
I was conscious of doing what I was told and not breaking rules.
I did not piss anyone off or make enemies.
And throughout high school, this was a tough mindset to stick to.
Many times, I thought about giving up the “good girl” routine because I was worried I was boring, and I wasn’t making any good memories because I was missing out on something.
But I just kept thinking, “Emma Watson didn’t chuck out being the ‘good girl’ for the wild parties, drugs, drinking and criminal charges, so why should I?”
No, Emma doesn’t get as much publicity or make as many headlines as Kim Kardashian.
She doesn’t post selfies.
She doesn’t take her clothes off for attention.
She was a bit too busy being tutored daily on film sets and taking her GCSEs in 2006 (receiving10 As) and receivingstraight As in her A Levelsin 2008.
In 2009, shefilmed “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” andworked as a creative advisor for People Tree, a Fair Trade fashion brand.
In May 2014, shegraduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
But perhaps most impressively, in July 2014, Emma made the greatest headlines someone of her age, status and situation could possibly make.
She was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.
In September, shedelivered her address to the UN Headquarters in New York, launching the campaign HeForShe, which calls on men to take a stand for gender equality.
The campaign launch made news worldwide.
It made news for all the right reasons in a world where the right often takes a backseat to the shocking and the controversial.
In my living room, as my mum shouted, Emma’s speech is on the news! all I could feel was relief and pride that people like her exist and that little me made a good call.
Recently, on her official Facebook page, a 23-minute long video was released of Emma interviewing 18-year-old female education activist Malala Yousafzai.
Upon seeing this post, I was hit with another wave of relief.
It was relief that my role model had come through once again.
It was relief that she’s still working toward her goals.
It was relief that this interview would be noticed and talked about, and that my little sister might see it and take note of the values the incredible duo are promoting.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t like the Kardashians or be interested in what they’re wearing, saying or doing.
But, it’s the incessant attention given to them that is perpetuating this myth of the Kardashians as the archetype of the modern woman to young girls.
Of all the things that suit the Kardashians, the term “role model” does not.
For her 18th birthday, Kylie Jennerreceived a $320,000 Ferrari.
On Malala’s 18th birthday, she opened a school for Syrian refugee girls.
The 18th birthday of one of these women made headlines worldwide.
No prizes for guessing which.
It’s because of this I worry about the type of role models young girls have today.
I don’t want my little sister looking up to Kylie Jenner.
I don’t want her thinking her importance on this planet is determined by a number of likes on social media.
I don’t want her thinking being smart or talented is something to play down.
I don’t want her thinking money is the beginning and end of everything.
I don’t want her to think she should sit down, shut up and care only about superficial things.
It scares me to think young girls everywhere are growing up so surrounded by these types of women.
These womendon’t promote values worth promoting. They aren’t role model material.
It worries me there aren’t enough Emmas and Malalas.
To me, Emma is the best and most relevant example of someone using herinfluence to the best of her ability.
I’m not saying all female stars should suddenly start campaigning, but her example of humility and morality can do a world of good for the young girls who look up to her.
Even if other stars don’t do what Emma has done, I hope they are inspired as I hope women everywhere are inspired to become an inspiration for young girls.
Young girls needwomen like Emma.
They need role models who promote the greater good over plastic surgery.
They need to hear there is so much more respect to be gained from using your talents and your brain overyour looks and money.
They need to resist going off the rails by looking up to role models like Emma, who proves that despite beingurged to act a certain way, having the courage to go against the tide results in greater success.
Because here she is, on the other side, living a much better life with a sh*tload more respect.
I know which side I’m on.
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