The New Role Model

By: Minda Harts

I was listening to the song “No Role Modelz”, by rapper J. Cole. He raps about women from the 80’s and 90’s vs. the role models of today, and how they are comprised of reality TV stars. He wished he was old enough to experience “good women” like Aaliyah, Jada, and Sade. I respect J. Cole for writing a song like this; however the irony of a man writing a song to women about the lack of role models is unsettling. I almost wish a female singer had written this anthem because it would have been more impactful. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and we had so many great women to look up to, I mean who didn’t want to grow up and be Claire Huxtable? I don’t recall rappers calling Sarah Michelle Gellar, Candace Cameron, and Gabrielle Union derogatory names in their songs, but now some won’t hesitate to do so about the women on television. I see what the younger generation of women has to look up to and I didn’t realize it then, but I sure do appreciate what I had now. These young girls are bombarded with images of women flipping tables over and if you dated and/or slept with an athlete then you can be an overnight celebrity. Unfortunately these women are the most visible in our culture today, even though contrary to those images there are women doing amazing things who aren’t pimping themselves out for a red-bottomed shoe.

Some celebrities say they don’t want to be anyone’s role model. I realize that’s a huge feat to take on. But, as my Pastor Carl Lentz at Hillsong NYC says, “If you ain’t helping, then you ain’t helping”. Speaking of helping, I love that recording artist Tori Kelly is singing about similar topics. Tori is so talented and I am happy that young girls are exposed to talent that doesn’t require dumbing yourself down for a dollar. I appreciate women like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift that make songs about female empowerment, because they have such a large reach and women around the world listen when they speak. I wish more famous women saw their platform from the same lenses.

I write this article for various reasons. One, it’s exhausting seeing how women are idolized due to the lengths they have gone to be famous and the message it sends to our young girls. Some girls don’t get the fabulous life of being on MTV as a teen mom, so they need to see what it looks like to become a Marissa Mayer or Ursula Burns. These women are the real bosses! And they don’t walk around telling everyone that they’re a “boss b*tch.” They own it by their actions and the lives they live, not by how many selfies they take on instagram. I don’t follow a bunch of YouTube stars on twitter, I follow real women that are making a difference and leaving a legacy that will exceed 15 minutes. I want more young women to think about what pops up when they are Googled. Would your grandma be proud?

Let me tell you about some awesome women that are total bosses. If you’re looking for a few good role models, start with Dina Habib Powell, Lydia Fenet, and Beverly Bond. I am inspired by how they inspire women across the world. They don’t tweet all day about being a boss. Their values and the work they do for other women is the legacy I hope I can leave. Dina Habib Powell serves as President of The Goldman Sachs Foundation, she also runs the 10,000 Women Initiative, which helps women entrepreneurs across the globe, and she is helping women chip away at the glass ceiling. Lydia Fenet is the International Director of Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s Auction House and not only is she a boss; she started as an intern in the Events department and never looked back. And Beverly Bond, the founder of Black Girls Rock, is a well-respected DJ for A-list celebrities who decided to create a youth empowerment mentoring organization. I hope we get back to the days where we celebrate outstanding women who are making a difference in the lives of other women.

I salute these women and others that hold the mantel of being a boss and a role model we can all be proud of. I respect these women too much to boil them down to a “boss b*tch,” “boss chick,” or a “boss babe.” They are phenomenal women--that’s it!