Pop Stars Never Asked to Be Your Role Models

When young female artists develop into budding pop stars, they’re thrust into more than just the limelight – they’re faced with the responsibility of being a role model whether or not they wanted it. And pop stars never once asked to be role models.

In 1999, Britney Spears stepped onto the world stage, walking the line of a polished, youthful pop star on the verge of womanhood. Britney as a brand could be a prim and proper role model marketed to kids, but this left no room for her to grow into a woman or make mistakes as an adult.

This week we’re discussing the pressure placed on pop stars to be role models, the ways in which we all contribute to this expectation, and how the idea of a role model has changed from the early 2000s tabloid era to the 2020s era of social media. 

Past episodes of Name 3 Songs we think you’ll enjoy The Lasting Impact of Toxic Tabloid Culture & Like a Virgin: When Pop Stars Become Women

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Sources for Pop Stars Never Asked to Be Your Role Model

Why Teenagers Obsess Over Pop Stars (Child Mind Institute)

The Influence of Celebrities on Children’s Upbringing (Novak Djokovic Foundation, Anne Steinhoff, 2016)

Our Illusions of Role Models, Heroes, and Idols (Psychology Today, Saul Levine MD, 2017)

Girls Gone Bad: Celebs and Kids (Newsweek, Kathleen Deveny, 2007)

Hey Ladies: Pop Stars Vs. Role Models (NPR All Things Considered, Nedra Ulaby, 2010)

New rules: the destruction of the female pop role model (The Guardian, Laura Snapes, 2019)

Music Artists Don’t Exist To Be Role Models To Your Kids — Don’t Project Your Morality Onto Them (Scary Mommy, Sa’iyda Shabazz, April 2021)

The Deconstruction of the Female Pop Star (UMusic, Kellie Given)

Miley Cyrus and the death of the female ‘role model’ (Dazed, Brit Dawson, 2019)

The Two-Sided Reality of Being A Famous Role Model (Affinity Magazine, Magda Gonçalves Lança, 2017)

The Great Role Model Debate: How Celebs Feel About the Label (People, Grace Gavilanes, 2018)

Lorde Opens Up About the Pressure to Be a Role Model (Cosmopolitan, Lauren Beck, 2014)

Britney Spears 2002 interview with Oprah 

Britney Spears 2000 TV spot about MTV VMAs

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