Do You Have To Be Perfect To Be A Role Model?

This week, Alicia Keys had a few choice words for Adam Levine when he jokingly commented on the fact she was applying make-up backstage on The Voice. "She was putting on a little bit of make-up and I go, ‘Oh I thought Alicia doesn’t wear make-up,'" Levine revealed of his co-judge, during an appearance on The Howard Stern Show. Keys's reply?

"I do what the fuck I want."

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While many have applauded Keys's no-nonsense shut down (Levine included), others have pointed out that it was just a few short months ago that she hit headlines for speaking out about her decision to stop wearing make-up, instead letting her bare-faced shine in photo shoots and on the red carpet.

In a Lenny Letter explaining her choice at the time, Keys wrote: "My desire to listen to myself, to tear down the walls I built over all those years, to be full of purpose, and to be myself! The universe was listening to those things I'd promised myself, or maybe I was just finally listening to the universe, but however it goes, that's how this whole #nomakeup thing began. I hope to God it's a revolution. 'Cause I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."

Her statement inspired a wave of women to follow her make-up free footsteps, but is her message of empowerment somewhat lessened if she decides one day, say, to use a little concealer to cover a blemish? Or is she bound to practice what she preached forevermore?The Defining Beauty Moments Of 2016

The Defining Beauty Moments Of 2016


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Keys's response echoes the sentiments of Emma Watson who, a few weeks ago, found herself having to defend a Vanity Fair shoot in which she had the "audacity" to bare her almost-naked breasts. Even though she's a feminist. And speaks out for women's rights. And encourages others to do so. Perhaps we missed the point when she pledged to wear only high-necks and calf-lengths for the rest of her days. Her sin, unsurprisingly, provoked a trolling tirade, the kind reserved especially for those who dare raise their head above the parapet for a higher cause and need knocking back down by those who sit at home behind their computers.

"Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women," Watson said in an interview with the BBC following the furore. "I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing."

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Time and again women in the public eye are held to account over their suitability for role-model status. Is she too thin? Too fat? Too sexy? Male celebrities are not entirely exempt from such scrutiny, but the expectation for them to be role models is considerably less (which is unfair to the women and insulting to the men) and it is very rarely to do with the choices they make over their bodies. While male rock stars, should they choose to, live their rock and roll lifestyles in relative boys-will-be-boys understanding, the tabloids go into a frenzy at the sight of a female celebrity leaving a club looking a little worse for wear or, even more terrible, if she's wearing something they call "daring". The online rabble of "What message does this send to our girls?" invariably ensues. If these are the pressures that we're putting on well-known figures, then what does it say about the burden of unattainable faultlessness that we're giving ourselves and those around us.Feminism And Nudity: Why Are The Two Still At Odds?

Feminism And Nudity: Why Are The Two Still At Odds?


While it's clear that this is an issue that society needs to address, on an individual level what it really comes down to is this: Do we want to set expectations and aspirations for so-called "perfection" on ourselves, and on our children? If so, then yes - let's put our role models on pedestals where they must adhere to our exact criteria of flawlessness and swiftly knocked off when they put a toe out of line. Or, alternatively, would we rather allow ourselves and others to know our minds, to make our own decisions and to speak up for them and, even occasionally, to make mistakes? Put like that, the answer seems perfectly simple.

Vogue

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