After a few hectic months of completing exams, writing my thesis, doing an internship and ultimately graduating cum laude with my master’s degree, I finally have time to do other things, like reading the Vanity Fair issue of November 2013. It has a feature in it about Jay Z that, surprisingly, changed the way I perceive idols and ideals.
Idol = Ideal
I’ve had plenty of idols, especially as a teenager. I remember my bedroom door being covered with posters of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, not to mention the fan blogs that I created about them. I bought every magazine featuring these famous girls with my pocket money and collected the articles along with almost all their films and series.
Everything Mary-Kate and Ashley did — be it as the fictional characters they played or as themselves — was what I strived for. I wanted their gorgeous, chunky curls (which, ironically, I have now and I don’t even need a hairstylist like they did), their clothing style and what have you not. They were my idols and thus my ideals, and I think I am not the only one having gone through phases like these.
Shape, size and style
While my fan phase has passed, there are still some celebrities that I admire for several reasons, and who consequently do shape some of my ideals. Yet this feature about Jay Z made me realise something very important: my idols and ideals were all about looks — shape, size and style. I find this celebrity’s outfit inspiring, I wish I had that celebrity’s curls and if possible, I’d like to have that model’s killer legs as well (preferably slightly toned).
Jay Z and his achievements
Then there’s the Jay Z article. I know some of his music, I am able to recognise his picture, and I know who he’s married to, but that’s as far as my fandom and knowledge about him go. Unexpectedly, I decided to read the interview and as I was reading, I felt a growing admiration of who he is, what he stands for and what he has done – what he has achieved. As Vanity Fair lists, Jay Z is a:
…son, brother, husband, father, entrepreneur, mogul, sports agent, rapper, performer, movie producer, author, nightclub owner, Broadway producer, festival organizer, watch designer, soundtrack and video-game executive producer, and art collector (Robinson 162).
He has accomplished all this at the age of only 43! I haven’t even mentioned that he has eighteen albums to his name, accounting for 75 million copies sold worldwide, or the artists he collaborated with.
Change and progress
These successes were not just thrown in his lap, though. He has worked hard for them, coming from a bad place having been a drug-dealer and having made mistakes. He has used his past and changed as a person to get where he is right now. What I admire most about Jay Z’s achievements is not that he became a rapper, but that he has used this to set an example:
He said that his biggest initial music goal was to have an album and go gold. “The next one was to build a company and to represent the culture and change the perception of artists. It became more of a ‘Let’s change the exception of rapper turned businessman; let’s show people that you can be a player-coach.’ And you can be successful at it. You can show a different example of how it ends. It usually ends on one of those ‘Where Are They Now’ specials. Let’s show a different ending” (Robinson 215).
That is precisely what he does: he shows that there doesn’t have to be an ending, but that there is more. I admire his “There’s always another mountain” attitude. I like that Jay Z the rapper does not just lean back after having accomplished his initial music goal, but that he keeps reinventing himself. This is an ideal for me. This is what I want to do, too. And have you noticed how I have not once mentioned his shape, size and style (because seriously, those big gold chains probably weigh more than I do)? Instead, his attitude and achievements are what have my admiration.
Even in this Vanity Fair interview, he sets an example and has changed my perception — not on the ending of a rapper, but on idols and ideals: how I should admire them for their inner instead of their outer beauty.
Robinson, Lisa. “Jay Z Has the Room.” Vanity Fair November 2013: 156-163, 212-215. Print.