Upgrade Your Daughter's Celebrity Role Models

If your daughter's love of Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, or Selena Gomez is inching dangerously close to idolizing superficiality, introduce her to female role models who have a bit more substance. By Sierra Filucci
Upgrade Your Daughter's Celebrity Role Models

It probably wasn't too long ago that your daughter's pop culture obsession was trained squarely on Dora the Explorer. Now, she's into Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. And though there's nothing wrong with idolizing female celebrities -- especially those who are clearly in charge of their careers -- sometimes you wish she still pined for the backpack-carrying, animal-befriending cartoon, who's so friendly and wholesome.

You may not like all the famous women your daughter chooses to admire. And you may not be able to change her mind (and trying might just make her dig her heels in). Instead, strike up a conversation about whom your daughter likes and why. You'll gain insight into what she values and how she's influenced by popular culture. Share your values, too (delicately, of course).

These conversations also are great opportunities to introduce your daughter to other cool role models -- who might share attributes of the women she already admires.

Like Taylor Swift? Try Missy Franklin!
Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin is a great role models for girls, especially if they're into sports. Girls who learn about Franklin will get to know someone who pushes herself to be great, maintains a super positive attitude, and puts personal achievement above financial gain.

Learn more about Missy Franklin in the documentary Touch the Wall.

Like Jennifer Lawrence? Try Amelia Earhart!
Amelia Earhart was a media sweetheart in her time who pushed past gender prejudice to be the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Talk about a woman who likes adventure and taking risks!

Learn more about Amelia Earhart (and her buddy Eleanor Roosevelt) in the picture book Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride.

Like Nicki Minaj? Try Maya Angelou!
Teen girls will find a lot to admire in Angelou, who wrote poetry, essays, and autobiographies and received over 50 honorary degrees during her lifetime.

Learn more about Maya Angelou's early life in her groundbreaking memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Like Katy Perry? Try Temple Grandin!
Author and scholar Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science who uses her experience of being on the autism spectrum to help others understand the condition. Her books on animals and autism have brought her national attention, and her interviews on NPR's Fresh Air and other shows can teach girls about perseverance and empathy.

Learn more about Temple Grandin in this HBO biopic.

Like Ariana Grande? Try Malala Yousafzai!
Malala Yousafzai has accomplished a lot before the age of 20. She survived an assassination attempt, became a global leader for female education, and received the Nobel Peace Prize. Learning about Yousafzai's triumph over adversity and her willingness to stand up for what's right even when her life is in danger is an inspiring message for young girls.

Learn more about Malala Yousafzai's life in the youth-targeted version of her autobiography.

Like Selena Gomez? Try Dolores Huerta!
Dolores Huerta has a long history of civil rights organizing, including founding the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez. Huerta has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was named one of the 100 most influential women of the 20th century by Ladies' Home Journal. In Huerta girls will find someone who has stood up for the less fortunate and made a real difference in the quality of families' lives.

Learn more about Dolores Huerta in this HBO documentary series about influential Latino people.

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About Sierra Filucci

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Sierra is a journalist with a special interest in media and families. She has a master's degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, and she's been writing and editing professionally for more... Read more

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Comments (15)

Teen, 15 years old written by mondaymornings

I agree that the suggested upgraded role models are fantastic women who should be looked up to by young girls, but I believe that some stars (Ariana Grande, namely), could be looked up to just as much. Though Ariana is not perfect and has made some mistakes (just like all of us), she is an excellent role model for teenage girls, and here's why. :-) 1) She's a feminist and an empowered woman. Ariana passionately believes that all people, especially women, should have equal rights. She attended the Women's March following the 2017 presidential inauguration and has often expressed her beliefs in interviews and onstage. 2) She supports gay rights. Ariana's older brother is gay. He inspired her to take a stand for and support gay people. Ariana speaks out about this cause frequently--she has even been known to bring pride flags onstage at her concerts. 3) She encourages her fans to follow their dreams. Ariana is incredibly talented and she loves her fans. 4) She organized the One Love Manchester benefit concert to raise money for people affected by a terrorist attack at one of her concerts. I personally believe this is one of Ariana's greatest achievements. I think it is incredibly strong of her to rise up and push back against the horrible events that rocked the world back in May. Like I said before, she is by no means perfect. She is, however, a great person that I and many other girls my age look up to.
Adult written by Tundra

Great article and love the fact that you are focusing on real people in the real world. I know most of your articles focus on girls. It would be great if you could do an equally insightful piece for boys.
Adult written by lbbassett

Amy Van Dyken should be on this list too; she is amazing! What an inspiration she is -- she's the perfect person to point to, to show your kids the power of a positive attitude.
Parent written by mhawk271

I really like your articles, but as a GS leader I like to share this kind of information with my girls since parents are often too busy with their lives to read this information. Can you consider writing kid-friendly articles, possibly with teen audience? I have captured them through using a social media site and they actually look forward to my posts and I would love to show them how to read articles that can benefit them. THank you, I love all that you do here at Common Sense Media.
Parent of a 8 and 10 year old written by Sierra Filucci

Thanks! I love the idea of writing for kids and teens. It's not on the immediate horizon, but we do produce a few things directly for kids, like our brand new Digital Compass game for middle schoolers: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-compass
Adult written by chrijeff50

A few more suggestions: Dyan Fossey, the famous chimpanzee researcher, whose life teaches reverence for the concept that we're all on this Earth together. Annie Oakley, who wasn't yet 15 when, by her natural gift as a sharpshooter, she supported her mother and siblings. Mary and Anita Loos, who became powers in Hollywood in the 1950s (Mary co-created the TV series "Yancy Derringer"!) at a time when most women never got higher than costumer or hairdresser. Edith Head, a classic costumer of Hollywood's Golden Age, whose designs will live as long as old movies are watched. J.K. Rowling, who by her creation of Harry Potter and his world introduced thousands of kids to the joys of reading. Bette Midler, who isn't afraid to be exactly who she is.
Adult written by Senser123

I feel that way too we do need more girls and guys too to adopt celeb role models with substance than ever weather real or fictional historic or contemporary
Adult written by Isandxan

Great article, and I would add two others: Isabel Allende and Toni Morrison (the US's only living Nobel laureate in literature).
Adult written by rebma97

I think Demi Lovato would be an excellent person to put on here. She's a superstar like the others, of course, but she's also a big mental health advocate, using her personal experiences to help others. She also encourages positive body image.
Adult written by vinelearning

Nice article...every parent should read this and try to encourage children to opt those women as ideal and try to make some changes. Lets start now to change...


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