I can usually manage to go for days, weeks, even months if the X-factor is not a factor without thinking about Cheryl Cole, but I was prompted to consider her again today courtesy of this article by Charlotte Metcalf in the Daily Mail calling her a "pathetic excuse for a female role model". Let's jump over the fact that the survey in question - that named Cheryl the most Influential Woman of the Decade - was commissioned by a website called, wait for it, Good Surgery Guide, let's also jump right over my personal opinions of Cheryl's talents (I think she has lovely skin) and that the article somehow manages to blame the parents, the schools, Elizabeth Hurley and Big Brother for this travesty. I refuse to accept the entire premise. One, Cheryl is not such an awful role model and two, this is not a new problem.
When I was a little girl I pretended that I wanted to be Princess Diana just like everyone else my age (I didn't really want to be Princess Diana, I wanted to be Darrell Rivers but she was fictional) My mother in her turn wanted to be Grace Kelly. Thanks to the Cinderella story of moping around doing the housework until Prince Charming transforms our lives women have never had far to look for pathetic role models. Interestingly the article only manages to suggest one contempary alternative, Laura Tenison, a woman who has made a fortune selling baby products. Yawn.
Hundreds of people rely on Cheryl for their income, in this regard celebrity should be recognised as a perfectly respectable form of entrepreneurship. Cheryl was raised on a council estate, her parents split up when she was eleven. She made her first national commercial whe she was seven and was accepted into the Royal Ballet's summer school at the age of nine. She has been following her dreams for a long time and though I'm not sure who her role model was as a child, I'm willing to bet all the money in my pockets that it wasn't Indira Ghandi. Does that really make her pathetic?
What's pathetic is believing that because a young girl admires Kristin Stewart she can't also admire Anne Frank, that our schools should be able to convince our teens that Queen Victoria is as relevant as Victoria Beckham, and that because Ulrika Johnson's children have different fathers that somehow automatically makes her a bad mother. It's pathetic to demonise all the young girls who want to be pop stars whilst ignoring all those want to be vets, teachers, athletes or hairdressers.
Or fictional characters.