Bristol Palin vs Lady Gaga

Warning: most of this article is opinion.  My opinion.  Take it for what its worth.

Bristol Palin has been offered a very lucrative deal as a public speaker, raking in $15-30K per speaking engagement to talk about teen pregnancy!  Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?  Surely we can find a better role model for today’s young women!  I know!  Lady Gaga!

Enter Bristol Palin. Bristol’s accomplishments in life so far include:

  1. graduating high school,
  2. being the daughter of a vice presidential candidate,
  3. becoming a teen pregnancy statistic,
  4. and enduring a nasty and public custody battle and a broken engagement with the father.
  5. All this before she was old enough to drink!

Uhhh…..did I miss something?  Bristol Palin is not a hero.  She is a statistic. I pass no judgement on her until she becomes willing to walk into my daughter’s school as a paid speaker and talk values / life skills.  Her choice to earn money this way is an insult to the professionals out there actually trying to reduce teen pregnancy and help teen girls become successful women.

Enter Lady Gaga. A truly controversial public figure, her videos are risqué, she is openly bisexual, and she’s now accused of hindering the Mideast Peace Process! What better contrast could we possibly get?

  1. Lady Gaga started piano at age 4, wrote her first ballad at 13, and started performing open mikes at 14.  At 17, she was accepted into NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
  2. When Lady Gaga felt she outgrew the school, she left.  She made a deal with her parents to go on her own for a year or go back to school. In her words: “I left my entire family, got the cheapest apartment I could find, and ate shit until somebody would listen.” (as a small business owner I respect that)
  3. Lady Gaga is successful!  Her music has topped charts around the world. She accomplished what she set out to do!
  4. Lady Gaga is living openly with her sexuality, is comfortable in her own skin, and is a confident woman in the world.
  5. Most of what she has, she earned herself.  And she has been generous and charitable to others in need.
  6. To be fair, Lady Gaga has allegedly had a drug problem, something I could not endorse or overlook. But then, Lady Gaga isn’t taking in money speaking to kids about her drug use.  She isn’t being rewarded for hypocrisy.

So who’s the better role model?  The teen statistic that is getting paid ridiculous money to say she’s sorry?  Or the current symbol of America’s lost soul?  Lady Gaga’s story is mostly a success story of a self-made person.  Bristol Palin’s is not.

Let me be clear:  I’m not elevating Lady Gaga up as a symbol for all girls to emulate.  I’m calling out a hypocrite where I see one: Bristol Palin.

As a Daddy, I have to.

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9 Responses to Bristol Palin vs Lady Gaga

  1. Brett McCoy says:

    This is great! I am not a fan of Lady Gaga’s music, but I admire her and respect her for many other things, which you point out. And yes, she did have a cocaine habit in her past but she purportedly stopped it on her own volition and became a stronger person for it when she realized having a successful music career was more important than listening to The Cure and getting high. There’s a lot to be said for that.

  2. Darren M says:

    Seriously? Do you not remember being a teen at all?

    I have no love lost on Bristol Palin, but she’s not being invited as a speaker because people think she’s heroic — quite the opposite.

    Most teens (and especially at-risk teens) sneer at heroes. Heroic folks seem to be special, different than normal, leading a charmed life. When they come and speak to at-risk teens, the teens just roll their eyes and crack jokes.

    Bristol Palin, on the other hand, is relatable. She’s not a hero. She’s made the bad choices, and when she stands in front of a school and says “hey, I’ve been through this — it’s hard. I had all kinds of bad information, that’s how I got into this. So here’s some good information”, people will listen.

    When someone makes mistakes, learns from them, and sets out to help prevent others from making those mistakes, that does not make them a hypocrite. If it did, then every single skeptic or atheist that used to be a believer has no business speaking about their experiences.

    • philosodad says:

      Except that Bristol Palin is disseminating bad information. She hasn’t learned from her mistakes at all.

      Basically, she’s taking the message that didn’t work for her and sharing the exact same message with the world. She was told not to have sex, because she might get pregnant. She did it anyway. Now she’s going out to the kids and telling them not to have sex, because they might get pregnant–as if these kids don’t know that and possibly even know people who have gotten pregnant.

      That isn’t hypocritical, but it is an act of dangerous stupidity and dogmatic reality denial. And it’s absolutely ridiculous that any school would bring Bristol Palin in to share her current state of useless stupidity with the students.

    • philosodad says:

      “Most teens (and especially at-risk teens) sneer at heroes.”

      My information and research leads me to think this is not true. Why do you believe that it is true?

      • Steve says:

        I’m not so old to have forgotten some of my teen heroes; Walt Disney, Jim Henson, Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston… And if any of those guys had shown up to my High School I would have been riveted. Especially Walt Disney, since he had been dead for two decades.

        Seriously, most teens I know have heroes and don’t sneer and I certainly never did.

    • Darren M says:


      Of course teens have heroes — but they are usually those that are either culturally or sub-culturally universal, or they’re extremely personal. When an authority figure (like a school) brings someone in and says “this person is a hero, you should listen to him/her”, there is immediate distrust by a great many teens.

      These kinds of heroes are very different from the kinds teens choose for themselves.

  3. [...] Science-based Parenting has an interesting article about the relative merits of Bristol Palin and Lady Gaga as role models for young [...]

  4. Elizabeth says:

    As a young woman interested in science and the liberal arts, I looked up to Madonna for most of my adolescence, primarily for the same reasons you extol Lady Gaga. Of course, I didn’t think she was the be-all and end-all of womanhood and I always knew I’d never be a rock star. (Okay, not always, but by the ninth grade, and never having made first chair in band, I let reality have its place.) The point is, successful women musicians can be great role models.

    “Bristol Palin, on the other hand, is relatable.” Her mom was the GOVERNOR. They had a MAID. She is a rich girl, and got everything she wanted. How is that relatable? Ugh. I remember being a teen, non-white, of a single parent, in a low-income household, and I remember hating hypocritical speakers and thinking that boys and girls who couldn’t get their butts to planned parenthood (but somehow managed to obtain alcohol, funny how that works…) were pretty much full of it.

    • Joe says:

      Bristol Palin may not be relatable, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be emulated. Look a Paris Hilton. How many young American girl look up to her? Most of them can not truly relate, but they are still charmed by her. As much as I think teaching abstinence only is ineffective, I could see the validity of her say something like, “I’ve been there. It was tough. It’s not something you want to go through.” I remember listening a similar lecture from an ex-drug addict in high school. It was very effective. However, my fear would be that regardless of her message she might be perceived as glamorous and/or as a role model.

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