OPINION: Maisie Williams, The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus are not and were never role models for your kids
“I did, quite early on, realise that I had become a sort of role model and I think that does come with a lot of pressure. You want to inspire people to do good things.
“But I also think I was really keen to just stick to what I wanted to – how I wanted to represent myself. I don’t think there is any worse role model than someone who isn’t being authentic and I would never want to try and pretend to be anyone other than myself because I don’t feel like that’s what girls should do.”
At the Women of The World festival this month, Maisie Williams spoke about the immense pressure young celebrities feel when it comes to being a good role model. The Game of Thrones star admitted she’s made mistakes, but says she’d rather fall and get back up again “like a normal human being”, than try and make herself someone “glossy and perfect”.
She says it's more important to teach kids to be their true selves, and we can’t think of a more grown-up response from the 21-year-old.
Because although the sword-wielding, Faceless Man-slaying Arya Stark is easily one of the show's most mature and brave characters, in real life she was just 14 years old when she first graced our screens in 2011 – House Stark intact, none the wiser to any red weddings.
We watched her grow up right in front of us, so completely invested in her storyline for 8 years that we feel like we know Arya better than she knows herself. Maisie, on the other hand, we don’t know from a bar of soap.
“Clean cut, butter-wouldn’t-melt, sugar-coated" role models
When we see actors – ahem, children – grow up on screen, for some reason we type-cast them in real life as good role models for our kids. We did it with Britney, then Miley, Selena, Demi and The Jonas Brothers.
In Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, the Jonas Brothers got real about the same “glossy and perfect” image they were compelled to embody. Nick explains to Corden, who appropriately described the band as “clean cut, butter-wouldn't-melt, sugar-coated", that he took pride in their image until he realised years later that he wasn’t being his own person but a Disney robot – “a politician at age 13,” Joe added.
They did a little exercise in which James asked challenging questions and the brothers responded in true Disney-training fashion, and it’s interesting to hear just how rehearsed – and completely fake – their responses were. And then James brought up Disney channel’s purity rings that the brothers infamously removed... to everyone’s shock horror.
When most Disney stars are done with that chapter of their life, they tend to distance themselves from it. So it’s no surprise that every one of these Disney stars removed their rings.
Also read: Disney encourages girls to dream big
Of the brothers, Kevin was the first. And it’s none of our business or anything, but Kevin was a solid 18 years old when the band first appeared on Disney Channel in 2005. He was a young adult by then and they slapped a purity ring on his finger too.
Shortly after, he got married to Danielle.
The brothers all admitted that, initially, they did believe in waiting until marriage or for the right person to have sex. But in the industry you also have to do things a certain way – projecting that image was something they had to do regardless.
So when they removed their rings, and Miley stuck her tongue out for the first time, the media dragged them and parents were notably upset.
Were they still not aware that Hannah Montana was just a stage persona?
They knew Hannah Montana wasn’t real, right?
It was in the theme song!
Real talk: You wouldn’t know the real Miley if she was sitting next to you on a wrecking ball smoking a blunt. Because you may think you know Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers and Arya Stark, but Miley Cyrus, Nick, Joe, Kevin, and Maisie Williams are not and were never role models for your kids.
And why would they be? They were just kids, and they had no responsibility beyond their characters to meet anyone’s expectations of who they should be.
Or is that what we’d teach our own kids?
Do you think it's fair that we put this kind of pressure on teen celebrities? Tell us and we may publish your comments.