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Brintey, Beyoncé and me – primary school girls’ role models and construction of the ‘popular’ girl

– Barbra Read

I have been reading a paper on the construction of the popular girl in school and what school girls look up too in order to be a ‘popular’ within her school life.

‘Popular girl at school – a position of power an influence amongst girls’ peers’ [page 1]

This paper also looks into

“…at the ways in which the gendered social construction of the ‘popular girl’ infused girls’ ideas as to who (at a particular moment in time) they would like to be when they ‘grow up’ – called here for simplification their ‘role models’. I will be looking at the ways in which the  gendered characteristics that are seen to be of most value to girls (often embedded by ‘celebrities’ such as Britney and Beyoncé) often reflect socially dominant constructions of femininity.” [page 1]

From reading this I have taken from it that a lot of girls in primary school (as this paper was based on interviews on year 3 pupils) look up to celebrities as they come across as popular in their media life therefore these young girls and guy want to be the same as their idols and symbolise this ‘popular’ character.

“…Not surprisingly with commercial interests paramount, the presented image of many of the most popular ‘celebrities’ in the film, TV and music world reflect/reenforce dominate cultural discourses of masculinity (for men) and femininity (for women)…” [Page 3]

Here it states that the way celebrities are commercially constructed they are showing dominate traits of masculinity and femininity. From this it goes onto say how ‘pop music videos overwhelmingly tend to deal in the familiar, that is in images that their audience are likely to find comfortable and unchallenging..’ . So if music videos are trying to coney an image for their audiences to feel comfortable with of course younger girls and boys are going to want to idolise the star that is in them. Although I don’t fully agree with this statement as I dont believe that all music videos show a ‘comfortable’ and ‘unchallenging’ image to their audience. Infect a lot of music videos these days are over sexualised therefor portraying a ‘bad’ image for a younger generation to look up to and idolise.

It says on the next page that male stars are appealing to girls as “…they provide them with fantasies of (hetrosexual) romance ‘without the hassle of a relationship or the monotony or marriage’…”  (Ehrenreich, Hess, and Jacobs). This brings up the idea that girls are also idolising male celebrities to fantasise about what potential boyfriends could be or what a future marriage could be like, but of course this would never be the sae as celebrities are constructed through the media and like in the previous blog post some stars actually claim that their lives are completely different to their media life.

– Ehrenreich, B., E. Hess, and G. Jacobs. 1992. Beatlemania: A sexually deviant subculture. In The subcultures reader, ed. K Gelder and S. Thornton, 523-36. London: Routledge.

This paper was based around an interview that ‘asked pupils about those they admire in popular culture and in their daily lives; their views of their class teacher; and their opinions on gender and teaching. In this paper I will mainly be drawing from pupils’ answers to the following questions contained in the interview schedule: ‘Would would you like to be when you grow up? why?…’ [page 4-5]

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You can see the results in the image above (the table). It was shown that teachers were quite high on the list but female singers also ranked in quite high. It showed the importance of music and celebrity culture to primary and secondary. Some of the students said that they had chosen their role models because they had valued their clothes, hair figure and the majority of answers were about celebrities and their ‘prettiness’. As you can see in the images below an interview with a girl ‘Sally’ explains why she liked one particular celebrity…

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Overall in the paper it has ‘been concerned with exploring the links between the people young girls choose as role models and the characteristics most likely to make girls ‘popular’ amongst their peers. Many of the reasons discussed by the girls in our study as to why they have chosen stars such as Britney or Beyoncé as their role models related to aspects of their appearance, to their ability to perform for an audience in terms of singing and dancing, and (to a Jesser extent) to a personality traits such as ‘niceness’ and ‘kindness” [page 10] – what I have taken from this is the fact that young kids in only year 3 who are of ages 7/8 are already looking up to such influence women in the industry for ‘life’ role models but they have a more ‘innocent’ take on it. They take aspects of these celebrities seeming ‘nice’ as something to look up too or the fact that these celebrities can dance.

‘…As we have show in the paper, marketing the singer in such a way appeals not only to masculine fantasies of the sexual precocious school girl but also discursively constructs the singer as the epitome of what many schoolgirls themselves desire – to be the leader of the gang, to acquire the status capital of holding the most coveted of positions – that of the popular girl’ [page 11]

Overall this paper spoke about how girls are looking up to such celebrities in order to try and make themselves more ‘popular’ in school and to be the ‘leader of the gang’ as they can see this in for example music videos from Britney and Beyoncé so they want to take the same role and their idols and be the ‘main’ girl in the group.

Although I may not use all these research in my symposium it has been really useful to research into what the younger generation are looking up to as their role models and what the results showed, even though I am looking more into the media represents a celebrity and how this constructs them into role models.

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