Lily Allen – role model?

// 12 October 2007

Whilst doing my customary skim-read of the Times website this morning, I saw a standfirst that really annoyed me:

We caught up with Lily Allen at Chanel’s Paris salon. Here she talks about Lagerfeld, her weight and being a role model.

It seems that there are two massive issues for any young women with a prominent position in the media – her weight and being a role model – and that the two are inextricably linked.

Be too thin, and you will be continually derided for being a poor role model, as if young girls have nobody to look up to but vacuous pop princesses whose every coke-snorting escapade is lovingly splashed across the latest issue of Heat, as if you are directly responsible for the existence of anorexia.

Be a healthy size 8-12 though (no fatter than that, because of course that would be, like, gross!) and you will be lauded as a great role model for young girls and your ‘gorgeous curves’ will be lovingly praised in patronising drivel that implys that until the reader saw your ‘rubenesque’ figure in a bikini they were locked in a cycle of hating their figures so much that their only solace was an entire box of Krispy Kremes consumed alone in front of America’s Next Top Model.

When I clicked through to the article though I was pleased to see that Lily Allen has some intelligent things to say about both of these issues:

Even though I’ve lost some weight [unintentionally she says – she dropped a few pounds after splitting up with her boyfriend], I’m not thin. I’d be really upset if a magazine airbrushed me. But they do, don’t they? I’m about to do a shoot for a magazine that has airbrushed its cover girls in the past. If they do that, I’ll get my press girl to call them and have a go about it.

Right on, sister.

When I saw Lily Allen on Never Mind the Buzzcocks a while back, I was really surprised by her. I’d read so much about her being an obnoxious little brat that I wasn’t expecting her to come across as intelligent, articulate and really rather charming. So it’s not that surprising that when asked about ‘being a role model’, she explains that the negative press she has received is unfair and possibly damaging:

I’m not that rebellious, I just don’t like to conform. It really annoys me that people say I’m rebellious when I just speak my mind. The word rebel has negative connotations, which is why it annoys me.

If young girls read that Lily Allen talks about what she wants to talk about and that is rebellious, then maybe they’ll think that they shouldn’t speak their minds, too.

Good for you Lily, for realising that being a ‘role model’ entails rather more than just maintaining the requisite slim-but-not-too-slim figure.

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