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12 Best Female Role Models Everyone Should Look Up To

12 Best Female Role Models Everyone Should Look Up To

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.

                        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 15, 2020

                          How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

                          How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

                          “Entitlement is an expression of conditional love. Nobody is ever entitled to your love. You always have a right to protect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being by removing yourself from toxic people and circumstances.” -Dr. Janice Anderson & Kiersten Anderson

                          It’s not always obvious if you have someone toxic in your life. A toxic relationship is one that is harmful to you. A toxic person can create distress to the degree you feel inadequate and isolated. So, what makes a toxic person?

                          A toxic person has toxic behavior, meaning it’s not that the whole person is toxic[1]. It’s what they do that counts. Most toxic people run from accountability and misrepresent reality to you. They misrepresent your worth and your ability to heal from them can be stifled the longer you keep them in your life. You have a role to play with it as well; if your values are dismissed by them and you don’t act on it, you have allowed room for toxicity to grow.

                          When you are in a toxic relationship, you feel less than. You feel as though you are not worth anyone’s time or effort. You feel unheard, and sometimes you feel unsafe. You don’t feel good about yourself in a toxic relationship, whether it be with a partner, friend, or family member.

                          You may stay in a toxic relationship for a number of reasons. You may believe yourself to be a burden, have a lack of boundaries, resist change, fear conflict, try to be a people pleaser, find yourself codependent, or are partially stuck in a pattern or unhealthy cycle of abuse.

                          Letting go of toxic people may not be easy. In order to do so, you have to know why or how they are toxic to you and read between the lines that they do not have your best interests in mind.

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                          Letting go of toxic people is hard because you are good and want to see the good in others. You think their apologies are authentic. You have trouble believing they are being dishonest. You don’t spend time healing from it. You get pulled back into the pain because you don’t want it to end. However, if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t right.

                          You should walk away from a toxic person because you need to preserve your peace. You need to feel like yourself again. And you need better support.

                          Letting go of toxic people can involve four major steps.

                          1. Recognize the Red Flags

                          Red flags are signs a person is being toxic. It’s when someone shows characteristics that you should feel caution about. It’s when you feel any level of dissatisfaction and distrust. Trust your gut. When you recognize red flags, you can evaluate whether a person is trying to manipulate you or not. This gives you some level of control over what you allow in your life. The earlier you detect these behaviors, the better off you will be.

                          Red flags can include:

                          • They always put themselves first.
                          • They point out imperfections and sabotage your self-esteem.
                          • You may feel drained or used when you’re around them.
                          • What you give isn’t reciprocated. They don’t return the goodness you provide as a friend.
                          • They ignore your boundaries and get angry when you tell them “no.”
                          • You catch them in half truths or outright lies when you confront them about anything.
                          • You are the villain; they are the victim.
                          • Second chances always lead to repeated patterns of behavior.
                          • They may engage in abuse.

                          2. Set Boundaries

                          There are emotional boundaries that one can set, but there are also physical ones[2]. You can leave any time. Setting boundaries is also an important part of self-care.

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                          You shouldn’t walk on eggshells. Tell them how you feel. Are they respecting you, fulfilling your needs, and listening to you? If not, it’s time to set up a healthy emotional distance and start letting go of toxic people around you.

                          There are levels to this. You have your inner circle, which could include family, and then you have acquaintances and strangers. If a toxic person is in your inner circle, it’s time to pull back and put up some boundaries for them to follow. If they can’t hear you out, you can cut off the connection completely.

                          You can give second chances, but you have to be careful. If someone knows they can get away with something, they will do it again. If there’s any chance for the relationship, they have to know not to cross certain lines.

                          3. Invest in Yourself

                          You deserve to know you are worthwhile. Try to remember that things will get better and that anything is possible. How do you do so? Invest in yourself.

                          This means self care, goal setting, surrounding yourself with positive support, and feeling a sense of peace. Your greatest ambition should be to love yourself. Without self-love, letting go of toxic people will be difficult.

                          Every relationship is a risk, but if you know yourself and what you will allow, toxic people will have less of a hold over you. If you are a giver or people pleaser, you are most at risk to being in a one-sided relationship. You shouldn’t be punished for caring, but sometimes trust needs to be earned. If you have self-love, you are treating yourself the best way possible. You know that others need to meet your standards; otherwise, they don’t get to be a part of your life.

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                          It’s possible that you can love yourself and still not see the signs. It can be difficult for some to be aware that toxic people exist. However,, if you know how much you mean to others in your life and what you are worth, you will be less likely to take on a relationship that is harmful to you or repeat negative patterns. Self-love is how we get out of toxic relationships, but it’s also how they never begin.

                          4. Know When Forgiveness Is Possible

                          There are times a person will prove their worth to you. They may make a mistake that makes them seem like a horrible person. They may forget to be good to you because of their own issues. They may just have no example of what a healthy relationship looks like. They may have an inflated ego that really comes from insecurity. The list goes on.

                          If they apologize, that’s a start. Look at their actions. Are they changing for the better because they really want to change or just seeming to in order to manipulate you? A person may control others with their image or perceived personality, but if you see through them, you may be able to discern the degree to which they are willing to be there for you.

                          If they start to do the right thing, you may begin to trust them again. Don’t start forgiving them until time has passed and you are sure there is growth, even if they show vulnerability or remorse. You can give a second chance if they truly have an awakening. Otherwise, it’s best to get out. Don’t let them walk all over you; let them walk out the door.

                          If you do give a second change and they still refuse to change, you have every right to remove them and continue the process of letting go of toxic people. The moment you even want to leave may also be a good time to get out. You don’t have to compromise yourself in order to care for them.

                          Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger[3]. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. You have to go back to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from someone. You don’t have to let them back in. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

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                          Remember, forgiveness is ultimately for you, not them. You don’t need that person in your life in order to forgive them, and if you give them a second chance, proceed with caution.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Recognize the red flags, set boundaries, invest in yourself, and know when forgiveness is possible. This is how you cope with a toxic person impacting your life. You have power in the direction of your life and the people who accompany you as you move forward. Use it.

                          If a person is worthwhile, they will prove themselves through their actions, not their words. If they cross certain lines that really harm you, you owe them nothing. You have every right to feel what you feel and to be upset. Honor your feelings and communicate them because it’ll only continue to keep happening if you don’t.

                          If this is happening to you, it’s time to put a stop to it. It’s time to take control. It’s time to live for yourself, not for what others say about you. It’s time to set your standards higher than they’ve ever been before. And most of all, it’s time to let go.

                          Resource reminder: A physically abusive relationship is ALWAYS toxic. There are resources for you. Always speak up.

                          If you are in such a cycle or domestic violence or abuse reach out for help. For example, there is The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) which can be reached at 1−800−799−7233. There are other ways to get help if you simply ask for it. 

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                          Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

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