Whether it’s Kanye buying yet another over-the-top gift for Kim, or Caitlin crashing one of Kendall’s fashion shows, for better or worse—I’m definitely voting for the latter—the Kardashians have dominated American pop culture. Given that everything started with Kim’s “leaked” sex tape, the Kardashians are certainly not at the top of my list for positive role models. The Kardashians’ endorsement of waist training promotes unhealthy beauty standards, and their video games prioritize becoming an A-list celebrity as the main purpose in life. Yet what truly bewilders me is that the Kardashians seem to be famous for no real reason. They’re simply famous for being famous. I promise you America has so much better to offer in terms of strong, positive female role models on reality TV. In fact, look no further than Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper and Dr. Jennifer Arnold of TLC’s The Little Couple.
As the co-owner and co-founder of Magnolia Homes, Joanna Gaines co-stars on Fixer Upper with her husband Chip, where they renovate homes for families in Waco, TX. While the program centers on the home makeovers, the heart of the show stems from Joanna and her family. With four kids and a thriving business, Joanna’s ability to balance both her career and family with a smile on her face is absolutely amazing.
As a Baylor University graduate with a degree in Communications, Joanna’s talents seem to never end. In addition to the interior design business, she’s opened several more stores under the Magnolia name including the garden shop Magnolia Seed and Supply and the bakery Magnolia Flour. Joanna’s dedication to making her clients their dream home can be seen in the amount of time and thought she puts into the details. Whether it’s a certain theme throughout the house, or the couple’s favorite quote on the wall, Joanna’s creativity truly makes the homes one-of-a-kind.
Fixer Upper is such a joy to watch because Joanna’s eye for interior design complements her husband’s construction and realty background. Together, the two create beautiful homes with rustic characteristics and perfect for the clients to make new memories in a place to call their own. I always love watching Fixer Upper because Joanna and Chip’s dynamic is pure fun, especially seeing Joanna’s reactions to her husband’s hysterical antics. Even more inspiring is the support Joanna and Chip offer one another. From deciding where to open Magnolia Market to what new pets to get for their family, their open communication shows what a loving relationship looks like.
Though small in stature, the love in Dr. Jennifer Arnold’s family is larger than life. The Little Couple follows Jennifer, and her husband Bill Klein’s on their journey together, and as new parents to adopted children. Jennifer was diagnosed with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia (SED), a type of dwarfism that affects the spine, long bones, and joints. Jennifer had her first surgery when she was around two years old, and the number of operations would increase in an effort to give her full mobility.
While reading their book, Life is Short (No Pun Intended), I was constantly in awe of how no matter how much Jennifer and Bill have gone through, they continue to see the best in people and remain positive in the face of adversity. The couple adopted their two children, William from China and Zoey from India, in 2013. Unfortunately, that same year Jennifer was diagnosed with cancer and underwent intensive chemotherapy. As a graduate of Johns Hopkins, Jennifer works as a neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, and is the Medical Director of the Simulation Center. While Jennifer and Bill are little people, they’ll let nothing get in their way, especially when it comes to giving their children every experience they can. From throwing their kids adorably themed birthday parties (I am particularly jealous of Zoey for having Elsa at her party) to participating in sports and dance, the family is just like any other. As huge fans of the show, my mother and I find the sheer determination and strength, within Jennifer especially, incredibly inspiring.
Successful in both their careers and at home, Joanna and Jennifer are the true queens of reality TV. If the goal is to reflect “real life,” both Fixer Upper and The Little Couple are more relatable than Keeping Up With the Kardashians can ever hope to be. Balancing work and home life is no easy task, yet these women manage to do so beautifully. More than that, their passion for their professions and families is something I hope to one day emulate as well. These women both show that the small moments in life, the seemingly “little things,” are the ones that end up mattering the most in the long run. If I had my way, I would just be best friends with both of them. But, alas, since we don’t live in Texas, my mom and I will just be content to tune in with our favorite families by turning on the TV.
image courtesy of HGTV