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10 Teen Celebrity Role Models for Kids
For better or for worse, we're living in the age of the celebrity. But, the good news is, with platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, celebrities don't have to come in the traditional sense of the word. More than ever, smart, inspiring teens—who, let's face it, use the Internet the most—are making their voices heard and getting their messages out, all while influencing our kids in the process.
Think it's all about the Kardashians? Think again. Here are 10 awesome teen role models. Let's hope these are the kids our kids are looking up to today.
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In early 2012, Gabby Douglas was relatively unknown. But, after her display at the summer Olympics, she became a household name. Not only did Douglas, who's now 19, remain calm, gracious, and poised under the pressure of the judges (and the millions of people who were watching), she made history when she became the first African-American gymnast to win both the individual all-around gold medal and a team gold at an Olympics. She's currently gearing up for the 2016 Olympics, and for what it's worth, she has seriously cute, seriously positive Twitter and Instagram feeds.
Earlier on this year, Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg schooled society—and her classmates—on cultural appropriation. Stenberg and a classmate created a video called "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows" for a project for their history class, in which Stenberg waxed poetic about black culture and how it's been appropriated by the media, as well as other celebrities. "What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?" Stenberg asks. Pretty insightful for a 16-year-old.
Malala Yousafzai, who is known as just "Malala," needs little introduction. At 18 years old, she is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate and the personification of the word "brave." Malala stood up (against the Taliban!) for the educational rights of young girls in her native Pakistan and got shot in the process. Now living in the UK, Malala continues to tirelessly work as an activist for female education. Now, that's a role model.
Wonderland star Elle Fanning isn't just a talented actress, she's insanely relatable and admits that she doesn't always feel like one of the cool kids. Recently, when asked about her then-private Instagram profile, 17-year-old Fanning told i-D magazine, "It just seems like such a hard job. People always have witty captions and great photos, and mine does not look like that, at all. Oh, the pressure of being cool...." We think you're cool no matter what, Elle.
Chloe Grace Moretz
In addition to being a great actress who takes on killer roles, Moretz has her head screwed on straight when it comes to young love. In 2014, the Kick-Ass star told Flare magazine that there's more to life than dating. "It's a tough age to fall in love: people change so quickly," the then-17-year-old celebrity said. "I don't want to have to feel like I have to watch my step, 'cause I'm 17 and I shouldn't have to." Preach!
At 15, Jazz Jennings is the youngest national transgender figure. Jennings, who was born male but identified as female "as soon as she could speak," is one of the most powerful transgender activists right now. In addition to having her own reality show, Jennings has co-authored a book; started a foundation; and is a bona fide YouTube star.
Lorde burst on the scene two years ago with her hit song "Royals" and has been proving that she's not going anywhere ever since. More impressive than Lorde's incredible voice though, is her unwavering confidence and the commitment she has to teaching young girls that being strong is good. The 18-year-old singer made waves a few years ago when she criticized a song of fellow pop star Selena Gomez, but stood by her values, saying, "I'm a feminist and the theme of her song is, 'When you're ready, come and get it from me.' I'm sick of women being portrayed this way."
At 14, Mo'ne Davis has broken all sorts of records. Last year, Davis appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, making her the first Little League baseball player to grace the mag's cover. And not only that, she's a girl—a girl with a wicked arm. Davis is one of two girls who played in the 2014 Little League World Series and is the first girl to earn a win and to pitch a shutout in the series. And if that wasn't enough, Davis also earned the Best Breakthrough Athlete Award at the ESPYs and the BET Young Stars Award. Oh, and she recently signed with the Harlem Globetrotters. No biggie.
Whether you agree with her policies or not, one thing is unarguable: Saira Blair is impressive. At 19 years old, Blair is the youngest state lawmaker ever elected in the United States. In 2014, Blair, who did the majority of her campaigning out of her dorm room at West Virginia University, became a Republican Party Delegate in the 59th district of the West Virginia House of Delegates. How's that for ambitious?
OK, at 25, Taylor Swift may not technically be a teen, but she's certainly a great celebrity role model to teenagers. Swift not only refuses to show more-than-a-little skin, she continually shows young girls that feminism is cool and girl-on-girl crime isn't. Also, let's not kid anyone: her music is amazing.