“He’s so inspirational.” “She is so empowering.” Having people to look up to is important, especially at times when we are struggling with our own identity. Heroes, enable us to see our aspirations being lived through other people, and create kind of a mental roadmap toward that goal. However, all too often, admiration and justification get mixed up.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in women’s fashion magazines. Amongst the skinny models, and plastic movie stars, there is the inevitable “normal,” person. She doesn’t exercise, or make an effort with her appearance. She drinks too much, eats unhealthy food too and still has a good time – she is seen as an empowering role model, a stance justified by phrases like, “She doesn’t care what other people think,” and “She accepts herself for who she is.”

Whenever I see things like this, I feel like I’m going slightly crazy. This woman isn’t empowering, she’s just a fat drunk. Being too lazy to not care what other people think isn’t inspired self-confidence, it’s just being lazy. The thing is, young girls who previously had aspirations of being healthy, working hard, or remaining sober, find a new god – justification of existing circumstances.

You see, if I have a role model who’s poor behaviours mirror my own poor behaviours, then my problem is solved with the least possible effort. I don’t need to change, I just need to accept myself for who I am. My problem all along has been a lack of appreciation for my own individualism and authenticity.

Except, that it’s nonsense. Saying your weight problem doesn’t matter because you love yourself just the way you are, doesn’t reduce your chances of getting heart disease. Likewise, partying like a rock star doesn’t make you one.

This week, I’ve been looking at some of the people I look up to. I wrote a list, and then beside each name wrote why I look up to them. Some of the answers were quite upsetting, and telling in relation to my own behaviours. I suggest, if you have a spare moment that you do the same – and beware heroes, often they’re the last people you should be looking up to.