The New Role Models? The Real Influence Vibe's Latest Vixens Are Having On Our Girls

I have grown very disenchanted with media and print publications over the past few years. Between the obsession with media vixens and the disparaging attacks on black women, I've felt beaten down, overwhelmed and just fatigued. But yet, a small part of me hoped the media would cease and desist and return to the publishing of gem pieces on issues and individuals that matter. I think this hope died faster than Herman Cain's presidential ambitions after seeing the cover of the new Vibe Magazine. The cover of the June issue of the publication is graced with a group image of reality television actors: Tamar Braxton, Chrissy Lampkin, Kandi Burruss and Evelyn Lozada who have donned boudoir-esque ensembles to be heralded as "...Your New Role Models." No need to go check your calendar, it is way past April and this is not a joke.

I read the accompanying article, and honestly received nothing from it. The women (Evelyn, in particular) admitted they grimace every once in a while at their actions on the show, but I suppose my naivety died a long time ago because I took everything I read with a grain of salt. These women are paid thousands (and some like NeNe Leakes, garner millions) to behave badly.  I am sure the checks and nice balances on their accounts make up for their "cringe-worthy" moments.

My issue with these women are that it all seems to boil down to money. Kandi, in response, to being told about Star Jones' petition against women committing violent acts on reality television: "She may not be violent, but I’m sure she goes off on people in her day-to-day. I just don’t think it’s fair to block somebody from getting money." This statement illustrates that at the end of the day, these women choose to not even take a glimpse at the bigger picture; its all about making sure they can live as comfortably as their sass, pettiness, cruelty, and violence will allow them to.

Last week, I had the pleasure to be a guest speaker for a junior high school's career day. When I asked a class of eighth graders who their heroes were, I was bombarded with responses that revealed they were avid viewers of the shows these "cover girls" are in. I was shocked at first, and tried to figure out a way to understand why and how this came to be. But before I could do that, I realized girls were practically screaming over one another to tell me of their love for the shows' fight scenes, and how they had seen duplicates of them on Youtube by girls who were their age. These shows may take up one hour time-slots, and air for a few weeks at a time, but their influence is powerful and lasts much longer than any of us could imagine.

I am not going to get into the "parents should monitor what their children watch" argument. After years of working with children of different racial/ethnic backgrounds and class levels, its safe to say that even the honor roll child will find a way to watch something their parents' disapprove of. I understand that TV hasn't been full of wholesome-family shows since the good old days of ABC's TGIF Friday lineups. But the fact that its content has degenerated to something that is "inspiring" our girls to physically beat the crap out of each other is highly alarming. And in naming these women "role models," Vibe Magazine has helped validate their crude behavior to plenty of young girls in this country who see them as such.

Valerie Jean-Charles is a 23 year old community servant and writer in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a BA in Political Science from Fordham University. Follow at @Empressval to join her never-ending conversations about everything and then some.

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