After Cinderella

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The princesses don’t work any more. I realise that’s a good thing, but we’re at another strange crossroads in this world of growing up. Suddenly, Cinderella isn’t the first option when she thinks of who she’d like to be on dress-up day.

My daughter has started looking for real life role models. She’s hunting for someone of substance to look up to and yes, I know you’re going to say she should look up to me. I like to think she does, and she expresses her desire to be “like me” in some ways but – and this is the scariest part for me – she’s looking into the world now too. Her horizons stretch beyond the women in her family, and her friends. She’s looking out into the world to find someone to look up to.

Whilst it is important that she have male role models too (and she does) – for the purposes of today’s column, I will focus on the female role models.


I’m hell-bent on making sure it’s NOT someone from the world of “celebrities”. Whilst there are many celebrities who do good work for the world, I just can’t justify role models who are portrayed more often in the media as skeletal fashion icons, than they are as humanitarians.

As we spoke about it the other day, I asked her to tell me why she thinks the women in her family are important, or why they are good to look up to. She spoke, far more eloquently than I expected (kids – they’ll surprise you!) of the characteristics she sees in the women of her family.

She said that in her world, she sees women in her family as hard working, loving and “you always listen. Moms and grannies listen”.

So she’s given me a little bit of mom-homework. It’s time for me to show her and tell her about women in the world who are making a positive impact on their communities. I’ve made a list of people I’d like to tell her about, and I count myself lucky that some of them are in my phone book!

I’ll be delving into history with her soon, to tell her of Amelia Earhart and Marie Curie. I’ll gander into current affairs and talk about female presidents and activists. I will be listing my own personal superheroes, like Tracy Engelbrecht, who founded Young Mom Support.

But I’ll tell you this much – this part is far more difficult than hitting play on the Cinderella DVD and hoping she’ll find a handsome prince one day. This is the part where she begins to learn about the type of person she’d like to be.

Now that we’re living beyond Cinderella, I hope she’ll see that true greatness lies far beyond the glass slippers, and rests entirely in the world of hard work and making an impact on the world around you.

Who are your children's role models? Are they celebrities or people of more substance?

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