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Guest Post: Justin Beiber & the Big Bang Theory

Justin Beiber may be saving lives with his hairdo.
I never thought I’d ever type those words but there might be something to that statement. According to this article, the Beib’s trademark bangs have inspired scores of teenagers to sport similar forehead covering ‘dos. And an observational paper written by dermatology experts suggests this is potentially lowering their risk of developing melanoma. Longer bangs = more skin covered = better protection from harmful UV rays. 
This is purely incidental but all the same—thank you, Justin Beiber!
It makes sense, when you think about it. Celebrities have a tremendous impact in influencing human behavior. And in this age of social media, they are more accessible than ever. They have the power to start trends with a simple tweet or post on Instagram. But with this power comes great responsibility. In a perfect world, celebrities would take ownership of this and use their powers for good. In that world, celebrities would model healthy behavior and influence teens to make good choices for themselves.
But in this less-than-perfect world, teens are bombarded with images of models and actresses who are impossibly thin and tan; who have perfect teeth and hair. Of course, most of these images have been Photoshopped, and the message might not be explicit but it is certainly clear: without these attributes, you are not beautiful. A quick Google search of “How do celebrities…” will auto-fill things like “stay so thin” and “tan.” It’s sad, but quite telling. 
Kim Kardashian is promoting her new sunless tanning product but admits to regularly using a tanning bed. Wouldn’t it be great if her message was consistent? By mixing her messages to her fans, she is dodging the potential fatal results of UV exposure. She, like many other celebrities, has the perfect opportunity to drive positive outcomes in health. 
Our teenagers deserve better role models. Wouldn’t it be great if someone famous felt a sense of responsibility to the millions of people who look up to them?
I think so, too.
Written by Mary Antonucci, the MRF's Director of Advocacy & Volunteer Services