In a society where news of politics, war and terrorism take the backseat to which celebrity is dating who or which pop star is the latest to get lip injections, whose responsibility does it become to make sure our children turn into good, socially conscientious adults? We have made Kim Kardashian into one of the biggest celebrities in the world, and most of us have no idea why. With over 41 million followers, Kim owns the second most popular Instagram account in the world, second only to Beyonce. Even those who aren’t a fan can’t seem to shut up about her, her marriage, or what she ate for breakfast.
Psychology says that humans learn from imitation, and biology says that we are most susceptible to good or bad influences in our pre-teen and teen years. People in this age range often partake in celebrity idolization, the consequences of which are becoming alarmingly apparent. Just take a look at our media-junkie, iPhone obsessed kids who can’t sit through a conversation at the dinner table without checking their phone every two seconds and who can’t distinguish real life from what they see on the internet.
A 15 year old girl takes a look at Kim’s glamorous selfie-filled Instagram feed and thinks to herself, “Am I good enough”? With Social Media becoming an integral part of how we operate as human beings, now more than ever we need to make sure positive female role models are being put in front of young girls during their formative years. We need to teach our daughters that intelligence is beautiful and that they are capable of changing the world.
One such inspirational figure is Nellie Bly, an American hero who dedicated her life to fighting for social justice and standing up for women’s rights. Bly is the first person in history to ever go “undercover,” paving the way for investigative journalism. For her first assignment in 1887 for New York World, she risked her life and feigned mental illness in order to get herself committed into Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for women. There, she witnessed inhumane treatment of women, violence, and even murder. When Bly got out, her self-sacrifice and heroic efforts paid off. As a result of her news reports the mental hospital was deeply investigated and the so-called doctors who put patients in harm’s way were brought to justice. Bly immediately shot to fame. She was applauded for her unprecedented courage and determination to take down an oppressive system.
Two years later, Bly took the Jules Verne novel Around The World in Eighty Days and turned it into a reality. She was originally told by her editor that they did not think it was wise to send a woman to travel around the world, let alone without a male supervisor. She insisted and ended up breaking the world record for fastest time. Bly went on to detail her experience in Around The World In Seventy-Two Days.
Nellie Bly has become a symbol of the original feminist and gender equality movement. In 1998, Bly was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She has been called “one of America’s most fascinating women” and was also named by Life Magazine in 2015 as one of “100 Women Who Changed The World.” Numerous books, plays, television shows and movies have been inspired by her story, the latest being 10 Days In A Madhouse, which releases in US theaters November 20th.
Forget Kim Kardashian, let’s bring powerful and empowering women to the forefront of media. Let’s teach our children to not glorify people who have hardly made a contribution to society, but instead to honor people who have changed peoples lives for the better.
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