Kim Kardashian recreates Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra for Harper’s Bazaar.

I must admit, I know quite a lot about Kim Kardashian. In fact, I know a little about her whole family. I’m not sure how I know about them. I’ve never actually gone out of my way to watch their television program or read an article about them. But the Kardashians are pervasive in our culture. So, I assume I’ve just picked up these bits of Kardashian knowledge just by being in society.

From the bits of knowledge, I’ve picked up, I have deduced that I’m not a huge fan. I’m not sure that she does much to help our culture and I’m not sure we need to contour our face (it seems like a lot of effort). And let’s be honest: she forgets to think sometimes before she speaks. Yet, she seems to be somewhat of a role model for girls. This idea worried one headmistress so much that she decided to set up a project to encourage her students to think about other role models.

Jane Lunnon, the headmistress of Wimbledon High School for girls, wants girls to have role models like Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, so she started a project encouraging students to imagine Shakespeare‚Äòs heroines in modern day settings. She even pointed out comparisons between Cleopatra and Kim Kardashian, saying they were both good at selling their image. But, she noted, Cleopatra embodied power as the queen of Egypt. Although Kim K is well known for her airbrushed image, Cleopatra is someone whose beauty is flawed (nobody is perfect, right?). She also mentions other Shakespeare heroines who battle against adversity, and points out that in these heroines we can see their resourcefulness and resilience. Her idea is to make girls consider these Shakespeare heroines and to put themselves in their shoes.

It‚Äôs great to think about alternative role models. But it can be hard sometimes to find the relevance between a Shakespeare character and your own life. There are some Shakespeare heroines that I love: Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing,¬†Rosalind in As You Like It. But there are Shakespeare heroines that aren‚Äôt the best role models either, such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (melodramatic). And I would suggest Lady Macbeth is perhaps not one of the best Shakespearian role models. I feel the same about Cleopatra. Yes, she‚Äôs powerful because she‚Äôs the queen of Egypt, but she‚Äôs also vengeful. She tricks Antony into thinking she‚Äôs dead and finally commits suicide. So I‚Äôm not sure I want Shakespeare‚Äôs Cleopatra as a role model either. Although it‚Äôs great that Ms Lunnon wants girls to read Shakespeare, let‚Äôs hold off on seeing them as our role models. We can find better role models in contemporary society – role models who aren‚Äôt Kim K (sorry Kim!). Emma Watson is intelligent, motivated and the UN Women Goodwill ambassador. Or Malala Yousafzai for everything she‚Äôs lived through and everything that she continues to do to fight for female education. We don‚Äôt necessarily need to look into the past for our role models. We just have to think about it and not get sidetracked by useless bits of Kardashian knowledge…

-Kate Havard
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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