I am just an icon, living.

By Joshua Webster

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This is not the image on your computer that you double click to open Safari.
This means a great deal more than the word itself as it carries significance to its definition within society.

But why in the world does it hold such a heavy influence?

Well, an icon can have great personal meaning to an individual. However, the reason that it holds such importance, is due to the impact it has often on a global scale.

An icon is something or someone that represents an object of worship.
For centuries, this definition was tailored towards religious devotion, whether to Christ, Buddha or Vishnu perhaps.

In the modern era, we define this word more appropriately towards individuals who have either achieved greatness in their lifetime, influencers who can motivate and inspire us or even successful people who can bring happiness to us in the form of music, movies or art work.

Whatever the case may be, we hold these characters to a high standard and cherish them for what it is they do, boasting about them to everyone we can and “taking a page out of their book”, attempting to learn from and imitate the things that they have done to create success. According to a detailed definition, a trait of an Icon is the flawless achievements that emphasise greatness.

Can you think of any icons that have this value to you? Would you consider friends or family icons in their own right?

However, an icon doesn’t always hold such positivity. Having discussed this topic in a lesson with two incredibly smart students, they challenged the defining terms of an icon which caused a debate I feel worth mentioning. Tucci posed the point that, if you consider some of the world’s most iconic personalities, they’re not as perfect as we are lead to believe. His example was Bob Marley, a musician who was a pioneer of reggae using unique song writing that assisted in his political and spiritual agenda. However, he was known to have a dark side that hindered his image. This caused the further discussion of what makes an icon?

Famously, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned (with the death sentence) for being a political activist against the South African government’s Apartheid regime. Naturally he was released, later becoming the first leader of a democratic government, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work ending racial segregation. Is he an icon?

We also discussed Winston Churchill, famously the Prime minister of UK during World War II. His relentless persistence to defy Hitler, ultimately assisting in the victory and later, being honoured with a Nobel Peace Prize, also had a dark side. Believed to be a racist and a sexist, the hero of the UK was uncovered to have a more twisted view on society. It’s sometimes difficult to consider these people icons in their own right when there are connotations of a dark, more sinister background.

Alas, I feel it’s important to consider that these people were brought up in a very different time and, through all of this controversy, the good can often overtake the bad, if we look at these people through a subjective lens.

Now this doesn’t justify those negative actions at all. But what it does, is allow us to learn from the mistakes made by our predecessors, knowing that these iconic people of the world encourage us to grow, taking the best traits and learning from their mistakes, in order to assist in our positive development.

Two of my most beloved influencers are Russell Brand & Jameela Jamil, who are both comedians, actors and activist who have also had a bad reputation in the past. They are spiritual believers who regularly address audiences about mental health awareness, fighting for the good of humanity and encouraging and expanding knowledge of self. To me, their role as an icon is the positive characteristics they display that assist in development and growth.
Now, more than ever, these iconic individuals of the 21st century are here to guide us, motivating us to believing we are capable of greatness, so long as we work at it and stick to our beliefs of what is right.

So, who would you consider to be an icon?

What characteristics make someone iconic? It’s worth thinking about, to understand the attributes in people that you look at and even aim to hold yourself.


Agreat deal: much or a lot

Due to: Caused by, because of

Wheter …or : indicating that a statement applies whichever of the alternatives mentioned is the case

Either…or: conjunction. It connects two choices ( ‘either’ can be omitted) . There is a negative version too neither… nor

Whatever the case be: whichever of the given alternatives is the case, either way

Hold someone to a high standard: have expectations from them

Cherish: implies a deep and active appreciation of the person 

Boast: speak with exaggeration and excessive pride

Take a page out of somebody’s book: Idiom. to copy something that someone else does because it will bring you advantages

Trait: a distinguishing characteristic or quality

Flawless: having no defects, faults or shortcomings. Being perfect

Worth: sufficiently good, important, or interesting to be treated or regarded in the way specified

Agenda: an underlying often ideological plan or program ( also a list or outline of things to be considered or done)

Hinder: to be an obstacle or impediment. To prevent from doing, acting, or happening; stop:

Relentless: Implacable, persistent, continuous

Defy: to confront with assured power of resistance

Twisted: mentally or emotionally unsound or disturbed  (cruel, twisted mind)

Alas: exclamation. Used to express grief, pity, or concern (IT ahimè)

Bring up: to bring a person to maturity through nurturing care and education (upbringing)

So long as: provided that. Only if.

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