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12 Best Female Role Models Everyone Should Look Up To

12 Best Female Role Models Everyone Should Look Up To
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In the modern world, female role models are both in plentiful supply and yet hard to pin down as ‘role models.’ Women with influence and power have the ability to transform a generation, as do their male counterparts, but are often placed at either end of the spectrum. These powerful, influential women are either put on pedestals as impossibly perfect paragons or are seen as bad influences, the corrupting moral forces in society. Bajan singer Rihanna has even gone on record to distance herself from the pressures of being a female role model.

However, female role models the world over are so varied and unique that decrying one woman for not being a role model in fact ensures she becomes one by virtue of being different, of going against the norms and challenging perceptions of femininity and feminism in equal measure. So, if you’re interested in looking for some female role models who inspire, challenge, and influence the way our world works, here are 12 of the best women that you could look to as female role models.

1. Sylvia Plath

Author, writer.

lifehackwomen-sylviaplath

    Sylvia might seem to be an unlikely candidate in the realm of female role models, but she was brave and bold enough to put her innermost thoughts and feelings out there for the world to hear and understand. ‘The Bell Jar’ was a stunning, semi-autobiographical novel about mental illness, a taboo subject in those days, and Plath’s timeless poetry resonates long after her passing.

    2. Beyonce Knowles-Carter

    Singer, actress.

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    lifehackwomen-beyonce

      One of the modern day examples of a woman who can do it all and run the world, Beyonce really is one of the best role models a young woman could have. She’s driven, talented, intelligent, focused, and someone who keeps on pushing herself harder. She’s also managing to juggle the pressures of being a mother and wife and has had a decade-long string of successful solo hits and albums. Beyonce is clearly running things on her own terms.

      3. Audrey Hepburn

      Actress, singer, humanitarian.

      lifehackwomen-audreyhepburn

        One of Hollywood’s most beloved and iconic actresses, Audrey Hepburn is revered for both her acting skills and her philanthropic efforts as a UNICEF ambassador following her unofficial retirement from acting, making her one of the most notable female role models. With a life devoted to kindness and compassion, Audrey devoted herself to being a mother, a wife, and a humanitarian, something admirable and inspirational.

        4. Aung San Suu Kyi

        Activist, politican.

        lifehackwomen-aungsansuukyi

          The world’s most famous living political activist, Aung San Suu Kyi gained international fame and recognition when she campaigned for democracy in Burma, earning herself a spot amongst the great female role models. Suu Kyi lead the National League for Democracy for many years and gained huge global respect and praise for her continued stance, despite being a  political prisoner under house arrest for over 20 years before her release. Suu Kyi is planning to run for President in her native Burma in 2015, and if she does, it will be a massive victory for one of life’s superb female role models.

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          5. Katharine Hepburn

          Actress.

          lifehackwomen-katharinehepburn

            A tremendously independent, innovative and astounding actress, Katharine Hepburn has remained one of the greatest actresses of all time, with her imposing, charming on-screen persona and her formidable life off screen equally iconic. She was fiercely individual, bisexual, assertive and confident. She was amongst the first to wear trousers on screen, and managed to mastermind her own comeback following a period of box office flops and losses, creating her most iconic roles and coming back on top. As Bogart might quip…what a dame!

            6. Malala Yousifazi

            Activist.

            lifehackwomen-malalayousufzai

              A young woman who survived an attempt on her life and who is now an outspoken advocate of female rights and female education in the Middle East, Malala Yousifazi is the textbook-perfect example of a role model for young women and with good reason. Since moving to the UK to live and work, she has bravely spoken in the United Nations and continues to fight for girls to get an education in all corners of the globe, making her a perfect example of a female role model.

              7. Margaret Cavendish

              Scientist, author.

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              lifehackwomen-margaretcavendish

                The name Margaret Cavendish might not strike the same spark of recognition as Mary Shelley or H.G Wells, but she is undoubtedly worth of being one of history’s top female role models. This is largely due to her status as a duchess who published work under her own name, as both an author and as a scientist with a strong focus and regard for natural sciences. Cavendish is regarded as the mother of science fiction, one of the first to write a full-length story in the genre, as well as creating perhaps the first true Utopian sci-fi novel in ‘The Blazing World’. She also stood her ground against prominent philosophers of the time and published journals of innovative scientific research. Cavendish might have been a duchess, but she was also a brilliant mind and one worthy of recognition and respect.

                8. Maya Angelou

                Poet, author.

                lifehackwomen-mayaangelou

                  One of the world’s greatest poets and a beloved friend of the Obamas and Oprah alike, Maya Angelou is one of the most important examples of fantastic female role models. Quietly powerful, strong, and forceful, Angelou changed a generation and subsequent generations with her poetry and writing, speaking from a lifetime full of highs and lows, and with a quiet, warm spirituality that has made her a go-to heroine and poet for all.

                  9. Elizabeth Garret Anderson

                  Physician, feminist.

                  lifehackwomen-elizabethgarretanderson

                    The rather wonderfully titled Elizabeth Garret Anderson was the first female surgeon and physician in the United Kingdom. Anderson didn’t just stop there, however. She became the first female medical doctor in France, the first woman to be a dean of a British medical school, the first British female mayor, and a co-founder of a hospital staffed by women. If Elizabeth Garret Anderson isn’t your definition of a female role model, then I don’t know what is!

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                    10. Michelle Obama

                    Lawyer, advocate, First Lady of the United States.

                    lifehackwomen-michelleobama

                      Michelle Obama is one of the most powerful women in the world and thankfully uses it to wonderful effect, helping to change a nation for the better and focusing on programs and projects around the world, such as anti-obesity initiatives and pushes for women to received education around the globe. A fashion icon, a devoted mother, and an accomplished lawyer and writer, Michelle has the world in the palm of her hand. Plus she’s married to some powerful guy.

                      11. Emma Thompson

                      Actress, screenwriter, human rights advocate.

                      lifehackwomen-emmathompson

                        English actress Emma Thompson has in recent years become one of the most beloved and talented actresses of any generation, transforming from her roots as a comedic junior into an Oscar-winning thespian and proving her strength, versatility and likeability as an actress and as a screenwriter (both of which have won her Oscars). She’s also unashamedly goofy and naturally funny – whether it’s photobombing Lupita Nyong’o or throwing her painful shoes aside in a drunken role of announcing an award winner to raucous applause, Emma has more than earned her stripes as an actress, and also as a role model.

                        12. Oprah Winfrey

                        Philanthropist, humanitarian, businesswoman, actress.

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                        lifehackwomen-oprah

                          Last but certainly not least, philanthropist, actress and all-round global presence Oprah Winfrey has endured and survived a tumultuous life, rising to become the most influential and powerful woman on television today, with her own hugely successful network and a worldwide following that stretches into millions. She also uses her network as a platform for improving the wellbeing of her viewers and strives to have a positive, meaningful effect in the world. Nobody does it better.

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                          Chris Haigh

                          Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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                          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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                          You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                          Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                          Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                          Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                          1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                          According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                          “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                          Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                          Warming up

                          If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                          If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                          Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                          1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                          2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                          3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                          Stay hydrated

                          Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                          To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                          Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                          Meditate

                          Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                          Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                          Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                          Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                          2. Focus on your goal

                          One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                          Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                          Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                          Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                          If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                          3. Convert negativity to positivity

                          There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                          ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                          It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                          Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                          Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                          Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                          4. Understand your content

                          Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                          However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                          “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                          Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                          Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                          One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                          5. Practice makes perfect

                          Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                          In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                          Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                          6. Be authentic

                          There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                          Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                          Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                          To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                          With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                          Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                          7. Post speech evaluation

                          Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                          Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                          We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                          You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                          Improve your next speech

                          As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                          Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                          • How did I do?
                          • Are there any areas for improvement?
                          • Did I sound or look stressed?
                          • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                          • Was I saying “um” too often?
                          • How was the flow of the speech?

                          Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                          If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                          Reference

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