Why I Love Taylor Swift: A Great Role Model

Taylor Swift now’s She’s a Role Model and is Actually Good at It!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

We’re hard pressed these days to come up with great, normal role models for our daughters.  Parents are continually frustrated by the celebrities out there. Miley Cyrus. Lindsay Lohan. Selma BlairAli Lohan. Yes, some are just being young, carefree and “teenagery” while others are simply careless.

Here’s my opinion, take it or leave it.  If you’re in the public eye, you are a role model.  You might be a great role model or you might stink at it.  Perhaps you’re even an anti role model.  You might hate that you’re a role model– that doesn’t mean that you aren’t one.  When you’re in the public eye, people are not just looking at you, they’re looking up to you– especially children and teens.  It frustrates me when people tell me that just because they’re celebrities doesn’t mean that they’re role models— they are– they just might not be very good at it.

When I heard a rebroadcast of The Ellen Degeneres Show today while at the gym, I was taken by something Taylor Swift said. Aside from her music that steers clear of racist, sizeist, bum-and grind that so much music seems to have today, it was nice to know that she embraces her role in shaping the lives of young people.  Thank goodness she does it with some class:

ELLEN: How do you feel about being 18 years old and knowing that there are young girls out there who you are influencing? Does that give you pressure? Do you think about it?

TAYLOR: I think that when you do that one song or you’re in that one movie, you don;t realize that no matter what, you’re a role model whether you choose to embrace it or you choose to ignore it.  And I just choose to embrace it because I think it’s the biggest honor in the world when a Mom comes up to me and says “my 8 year old daughter listens to your music and I think it’s so great that she looks up to you.”  You know that’s not just a compliment on my music or on a show that I did. That’s a compliment on my character.”

Well said. Sometimes just knowing that you’re a role model and that girls are looking up to you is enough to keep your values in tact and your character at the forefront. Nobody’s looking for perfect– but normal would be nice.

Your thoughts?

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Dr. Robyn Silverman answers: How do I know if my friend has Diabulimia?

What is Diabulimia and how do I know if I should be concerned?

Dear Dr. Robyn,

My best friend was diagnosed with Diabetes about a year ago. She was always pretty skinny but since she was diagnosed, she started to put on weight. I know this made her kind of freak out a little even though I thought she still looked fine. Recently I noticed that she was losing a lot of weight and she told me that she’s finally “figured out” a way to take her medication and lose weight at the same time. I’ve asked her if what she’s doing is OK and she tells me that it’s no big deal. Is it? How do I know if she really is having a problem?                                                –Jennifer, Cherry Hill, NJ

Do you or does someone you know need help?

Please take a moment to comment below about Diabulimia, talk about your concerns, or tell your stories. We always like to hear your take.

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Media-Not Just a Body Image Problem- A Health Risk Too


Media Exposure Causing All Sorts of Problems for Children

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Well, we knew it was a problem for our kids to be exposed to too much TV– we’ve heard it associated with  poor body image and pressure to grow up too fast in previous articles.

Now– more problems. A study has been released that shows that children who watch a lot of TV, play a lot of video games, and spend a lot of time surfing the web are more likely to be in for lots of health problems and compromising behaviors. In particular; obesity, smoking, and early sexual activity– among others.

Who? The researchers from U.S. National Institutes of Health, the California Pacific Medical Center, and Yale University worked together on this study.

What was studied? Going through 173 studies since 1980, the researchers looked at how exposure to a variety of media sources impacts the physical health of children and adolescents. This was one of the largest assessments in this area done to date.

What did the researchers look at? These (mainly U.S.) studies, typically largely on TV. However, some also looked at the impact of video games, films, music, and computer and Internet use. Of these, 75% found that increased media viewing was correlated with negative health outcomes for children.

What were the indings? Young people who are exposed to more media are more likely to become obese, start smoking and begin earlier sexual activity than their peers who spend less time in front of a screen. They also found statistical correlations with high media exposure and low academic achievement, drug use, and alcohol use.

“The fact that it was probably more a matter of quantity than actual content is also a concern. We have a media-saturated life right now in the 21st century. And reducing the number of hours of exposure is going to be a big issue.” — NIH bioethicist, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel

What’s this about early sexual activity and media exposure? In the study, a whopping 13 of 14 studies that evaluated sexual behavior in young people found an association between media exposure and earlier initiation of sexual behavior.

Do you remember the recent RAND study that showed that teens who watch more sexually themed TV are more likely to have a higher risk of teen pregnancy? So we must have seen this one coming.

What’s this about obesity and media exposure? There have been connections between obesity and media previously—we’ve heard explanations such as children tending to mindlessly eat (and eat high calorie food) in front of the TV. We’ve heard that children who are watching a lot of TV also are not outside running around or participating in some kind of physical activity. One study cited in this report found that children who spent more than eight hours watching TV per week at age 3 were more likely to be obese at 7 than their peers who watched less than 8 hours of TV per week. Research also shows that many U.S. children, even toddlers, were said to watch far more than children elsewhere and far more than is recommended.

“The average parent doesn’t understand that if you plop your kids down in front of the TV or the computer for five hours a day, it can change their brain development, it can make them fat, and it can lead them to get involved in risky sexual activity at a young age,” –Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media, financer of the study.

Speak your mind! Tell us what you think!

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picture: Jupiter Images