Influential leaders, not public princesses, deserve admiration
When I was younger, I wanted to be a princess.
And not a real princess, such as Princess Caroline of Hanover, who has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and speaks five languages. I wanted to be the type of princess portrayed on TV and in movies — the ones who wear glass slippers, live with dwarves and are woken up from a deep sleep by a kiss from a charming prince.
These fictitious girls are living the life, and at one point, I wanted to live it too. I wanted to take a walk in their glass slippers, wear their fancy gowns and live in their fantasy land some place far, far away.
But then as I grew older, I realized how childish my dream sounded, and I started to set more realistic goals for my future. I began to admire the lifestyles of women worth idolizing — accomplished women who have made a difference in the world — and not just made-up characters in a fairy tale meant to entertain young audiences.
On Sunday, with the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — a U.S. Supreme Court Case that legalized abortion in certain situations and ultimately gave women control of their bodies and reproductive health — I was reminded of a role model of mine who truly is deserving of admiration.
Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is one of the nation’s most influential leaders in the field of women’s health and reproductive rights.
Although she does not reside in a castle or wear a crown, as the leader of Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest provider of sexual and reproductive health care and sex education, Richards is making a name for herself by advocating for women.
Unlike the women I once was enthralled with, Richards — and those like her — give young girls something worthwhile to aspire to.
But not all girls trade in their childhood dreams for something more realistic as I did.
Too many young girls today look up to celebrities — the teenage girl’s version of a fairy tale princess — for everything from fashion tips to relationship advice and wish they could be living a similar glamorous life.
My younger sister, who is about to graduate from high school and begin college, is one of these girls.
She is a die-hard fan of celebrity-centered shows such as “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”
To me, the women starring in these shows are spoiled, over-the-top and at times, difficult to watch. But to my sister, they are superstars who everyone should want to be like.
What troubles me is the fact that most of these stars have done absolutely nothing worthy of praise.
Take Paris Hilton for example. At first glance, I can see why women might want to be like her. She’s rich, beautiful and lives a seemingly carefree and luxurious lifestyle.
But Hilton didn’t rise to fame because of her talent or hard work. She was thrown into the spotlight because of the wealth she inherited from her father, who is the founder of Hilton Hotels, and her controversial, party-filled way of life.
Richards, on the other hand, worked hard to get where she is today. She didn’t earn a spot on TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world by looking pretty or freeloading off of her father.
She was dedicated and set goals for herself. And with this determination, she made a difference in the lives of millions of Americans.
She deserves the recognition stars such as Hilton receive, but unfortunately, I bet many people my age never even have heard of Richards. But I’m sure they’ve all seen an episode or two of ‘The Simple Life.”