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Role Models Vs. Supermodels

July 24, 2010

Perfection is boring. Perfect bodies, perfect noses, perfect lives. Yawn. In America, we may be obsessed with celebrity, but we celebrate and gravitate to the flawed, the imperfect, the human. We like our heroes to have problems, like us. Our sports heroes, our entertainers, our artists, we like them best when they’ve overcome adversity, when they’ve tasted defeat and succeeded nonetheless. When they’ve made a mistake, when they’ve gotten into trouble, we connect with them better. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so obsessed with being a part of their personal lives. We want to know something about them that makes them seem more like, well, the rest of us. The people we put on a pedestal have made mistakes and persevered. I can agree that to some degree this phenomenon has to do with an all-too-human desire to bring those who succeed down to a level that makes us feel less unsuccessful. But I think there’s a positive side to this. Supermodels don’t inspire us, role models do. We want the whole story, not just a two-dimensional facsimile of a human being. Rather than looking at supermodels and wanting their perfect cheekbones or bodies, I’d prefer to look at those who have stumbled and realize that I can stumble too and get up again and again.

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