Twilight's Bella Swan: Role Model or Not?

What do you think? Is Bella a good role model for young girls who treat these books like the Bible?
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My life has been very much about The Twilight Saga: New Moon recently -- I saw the movie last week, followed by an afternoon with the cast (well the majority of the players anyway - Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson were all there). During one event -- a press conference with Kristen and about 25 reporters - I couldn't help but think the young star, who plays the series' heroine, Bella Swan, is a bit like her character - flustered, self-conscious, but witty and thoughtful. Kristen is petite and fidgets a bit -- on this day she wore three rings to fumble with. When it comes to her character, she stands behind her assertively: "She's awesome and she doesn't know it. She's confident but not arrogant. She has a lot of innately female qualities. She's fickle and unabashedly so..."

Someone asked whether Kristen sees Bella as a good role model, taking into account her reckless behavior in New Moon. (For those of you who need a quick plot recap, the only way Bella can "channel" her lost love, Edward Cullen, is when she's doing something careless, like riding a dirt bike, hanging in the bad part of town or jumping off a cliff.)
The 19-year-old actress reacted as if insults had been hurled at her best friend: "I'm so defensive of her," said Kristen, who acknowledged that she thinks "Bella's a great character for girls to look up to - not even look up - she's normal." So, she's more someone to relate to, less of someone to aspire to be. In response to the question, Kristen argued that while she doesn't condone near-death stunts, she said, "Be extreme and go for it. You live once." I get it - sometimes, we all need to do something crazy to deal with our overwhelming emotions.

What do you think? Is Bella a good role model for young girls who treat these books like the Bible? On the one hand, she is very honest with her feelings, good in school and seems like an all-around good kid (ya know, minus the vampire boyfriend issues). On the other hand, she's a glutton for rash behavior that not only endangers herself, but at times, endangers her best friend Jacob Black. Whether you're a tween or a parent, do you think Bella Swan is a good influence or role model for girls?

On Monday, I'll be heading (along with screaming rabid teenagers) to hit the red carpet at the movie's premiere in L.A. I'll report back on that, followed by a review of New Moon.

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