It’s no surprise that Emma Watson has been dubbed a role model thanks to her activism for gender equality and consistent efforts to apply feminism to every aspect of her life. She even brought Gloria Steinem to an advance screening Beauty and the Beast to ensure that her portrayal of Belle got the feminist stamp of approval.
Although the traits we admire about Watson may appear effortless, she admits that being labeled a “role model” comes with a great deal of pressure. In the latest issue of Interview, Jessica Chastain praised the example that Watson sets for girls and young women by prioritizing “education and authenticity over the empty calories of what social media can be.”
In keeping with her trademark authenticity, Watson got real about it all: “When people call me a role model it puts the fear of god into me, because I feel like I'm destined to fail,” she explained.
Watson has rightfully received high praise for her work as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, her feminist GoodReads book club, and careful consideration about the characters she portrays onscreen. But she’s also come under fire for certain issues — most recently, her participation in a braless photo shoot garnered criticism. Some claimed it made her a subpar feminist, while others labeled Watson a hypocrite because she questioned the "male voyeuristic" aspect of Beyoncé's self-titled album in a 2014 interview.
The bottom line is that you can’t please everyone all the time. Being under a microscope 24/7 means that all of Watson’s actions and words are scrutinized — and that pressure would affect anyone.
Chastain reminded Watson that “you can teach people that our failures are our greatest gifts in life.” Like everyone else in the world, Watson isn’t perfect and she’s bound to stumble once in awhile. But that in itself can be an important lesson to the young women who admire her — everyone makes mistakes and we can use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.