Every once in a while there is a book, or a performance, or piece of artwork, that speaks to the heart. Jaime Moore’s photography series of her daughter juxtaposed to historical woman leaders is nothing short of breathtaking. That is, one must stop and take a pause to soak in each pair of photos.
In the recent public outcry over the make over of an animated Disney princess i.e., sexualizing Brave’s tomboyish main character Merida (see previous post), Jaime Moore’s thoughtfulness in brings to bear the very nature of female role models. Who are our role models? Who are our girls’ role models? Are they even real?
I had a great aunt who took pilot lessons late in life. As a girl I had her pictured in my mind as Amelia Earhart. As such, both the images of my Aunt Juanita and Amelia gave me courage when I needed it most as a girl. So when I saw the series on Ms. Moore’s site, I did catch my breath. How brilliant to engage her daughter in dressing up as these historical figures! One can only imagine the conversations that took place during the various photo sessions, assuming all went well.
role model, noun
a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can
be emulated by others, especially by younger people.
(Random House, Inc . 2013)
Many of today’s children look to figures in media and sports as role models, so much so that a new value for Americans today is to be famous. The role models in the media are dominated by performers and celebrities—they are distant and glamorized and in your face. In reality, role models who have an authentic and positive impact on children’s self-esteem are people who are present in their lives and who spend quality time by engaging in meaningful activity.
Historical family figures are also valuable because of the connection to personal histories—stories of where we came from and what circumstances brought us to life. Telling stories of various characters in the family history can also make a strong impression and give a sense of resilience, fortitude and grit. The time we take to share stories among family is, in and of itself, wonderful. If only we spent more time choosing stories to share—those that evoke the values we would like our child to hold: courage, compassion, kindness, industriousness, and responsibility, among others.
So while most of us will not be setting up photo shoot—no matter how alluring such an idea is for mothers, Jaime Moore’s work certainly forces us to reflect on who our role models are. Thank you, Ms. Moore, for sharing your world.
Now what stories will you share with your children?