Female role models: Celebrity women you SHOULD look up to

Play like anyone you care about but try to be yourself while you’re doing so. B.B.King

As I was passing the news stands this week, I got thinking about all the celebrities. Open any newspaper or magazine and if you find yourself reading about a celebrity it is generally negative or bad news … or they’ve simply done the wrong thing. This week Happiness Weekly is looking at female celebrities, and we’ll get to male celebrities over the next couple of weeks.

Just from today’s tabloids this week, you would see: Amanda Bynes gets caught drink driving … twice, Lindsey Lohan’s step-mother encourages her to drink despite her problem, Victoria Beckham drops weight while Lady Gaga gains weight, the paparazzi captures Kate Middleton’s breasts, Paris Hilton thinks most gays “probably have AIDS”, and Fiona Apple arrested for cannabis on tour… the list seems never ending!

What’s a little scary is that the people buying these magazines and reading this news are generally teenagers or young adults. Is this really who we really want them looking up to? Probably not – but the question is: who SHOULD we encourage our younger generations to look up to?

What is a role model?
According to Psychology Wiki, a role model is “a person, real or fictional, who fills his or her role as a good or bad example for others.” It goes on to define a positive role model as someone who “carries out a role demonstrating values, ways of thinking and acting, which are considered good in that role. Others will hopefully follow the example.”

Is it important to have a role model – good or bad?
According to Health Guidance, role models are extremely important to us psychologically because they help to guide us through life during our development and to make important decisions that affect the outcome of our lives. “Having the correct role model will ensure that we learn to be successful and adaptive in later life, and that we are happy when we are older having achieved that aim … a good role model should be someone hard working, creative, free thinking and moral.”

Top Role Models: Happiness Weekly’s favourite celebrity women

Oprah Winfrey
29 January 1954
America’s most-loved talk-show host and highest paid celebrity is also a crusader for human rights. Oprah inspires people to live fully and be the best they can be, encourages them to read and changes lives with her generosity. She gets respect without demanding it, she is empathetic and humble, and she asks celebrities the questions we really want to know! Better still, she has a great website, blogs, her own magazine, and has created OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) sites and social media pages that keeps us updated with her Next Chapter. “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work,” she said.

Jennifer Hawkins
22 December 1983
This Australian beauty was overnight sensation when crowned Miss Universe back in 2004, but Jennifer Hawkins certainly didn’t exit as quickly as she appeared – she is now one of Australia’s hottest exports! It may have started with a few unflattering slips and losing a skirt on the runway, but she has always maintained her dignity. Her achievements include presenting on The Great Outdoors, being the face of Myer and Loveable, and having her own swimwear line, Cozi, and shoe range. A great success, yet she remains realistic and grounded: “I hate the whole tall-poppy syndrome. I don’t want people to think it’s all gone to my head, because it isn’t. That’s why I’m a little bit stressed, because in the back of my head I’m like, ‘When, when, when?’”

Goldie Hawn
21 November 1945
Known for her acting career, Goldie is currently promoting her international best seller and meditation manual: 10 Mindful Minutes. She’s won an Oscar Award, a People’s Choice Award and a Golden Grammy Award and raised two children (one being actress Kate Hudson), and with her experience, Goldie brings a cool feminist attitude and a wealth of inspiring knowledge: “Once you can laugh at your own weaknesses, you can move forward. Comedy breaks down walls. It opens up people. If you’re good, you can fill up those openings with something positive,” she said. “The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are, and not who people think you are.”

Tyra Banks
4 December 1973
From the runway to the stage as a talk-show host, Tyra has become an ambassador for self-esteem and body image. There is no doubt this supermodel is successful with a big list of achievements: she was the first black model on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit at the age of 23, she then made a transition into television and film, published a book: Tyra’s Beauty Inside and Out and eventually had her own successful talk show – the Tyra Banks Show – which she used as a forum to discuss body image, bullying and self-esteem. Her success is owed to being in a league of her own: “I’m competitive with myself. I always try to push past my own borders,” she said.

Miranda Kerr
20 April 1983
Not just a pretty face, this top Victoria’s Secret Angel model studied nutrition and psychology before putting her full focus into modelling. Another Australian stunner, Miranda won a model competition in Dolly Magazine in 1997 when her career began. She was one of the first models to promote proper nutrition and exercise as a way of maintaining her beauty: following an organic diet and practising yoga daily. Miranda also promotes happiness, often talking about the importance of a healthy diet, regular exercise and a positive attitude contributing to being a successful person. “When you are healthy you look your best, and in modelling when you look and feel your best, you get the best results,” she said.

Martha Stewart
3 August 1941
An ambassador for change, Martha has appeared successful in every career move she’s made. She started out in television and modelling, then worked as a stockbroker (one of the first women to enter this field), then she began a catering business which inspired her to write a cookbook, followed by writing starting a magazine: Martha Stewart Living, starting a television show based on the magazine… “My new motto is: When you’re through changing, you’re through,” she said. Although there have been a few ups and downs, Martha said her success was driven by her winning attitude: “Without an open-minded mind, you can never be a great success,” she said.

Taylor Swift
13 December 1989
Beautiful, fresh-as-a-daisy, dignified and vintage-loving – there is no doubt that Taylor Swift is a great role model for the younger generation. Despite earning multi-millions of dollars, this polite country singer is known for her polite, respectful manner and good-girl image – and best of all she has stayed true to herself. Taylor has been nominated for 162 awards and won 113 of them, she was the youngest musician to win the Entertainer of the Year award at the 43rd Annual Country Music Association Awards. Here’s Taylor’s thoughts on being a role model: “I think it’s my responsibility to know it and to be conscious of it … The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation”.

Dame Judi Dench
9 December 1934
They say Hollywood has an age limit for success, particularly for its actresses, but Judi is still going strong, in November 2011 she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. She started acting in a television series Hilda Lessways in 1959 – at 25 years old – and according to IMDB, still has some appearances scheduled ahead of her in 2013, Judi made her debut as a director in 1988 for several stage shows. At 78 years old, she suffers from macular degeneration, an eye disease that is treated with injections into the eye. Although her vision is impaired, she gets someone to read scripts to her and continues memorising her lines and working. “I think you should take your job seriously, but not yourself – that is the best combination,” she said.

Dakota Fanning
23 February 1994
Although young, this gorgeous teen has already acted with Hollywood’s hottest A-list celebrities including Tom Cruise, Brittany Murphy, Sean Penn and Denzil Washington. She learned to read at age two, began acting at age five, and she ranked number 14 on the Forbes List of The 20 Top-Earning Young Superstars in 2007 but still went on to graduate high school in June 2011 and go on to study at New York University. “I think that when you’re in the public eye, you automatically become a role model, because people are reading about you and looking at pictures of stuff you’ve done. But, you know, no one’s perfect, everyone makes mistakes. I have made mistakes and I will make mistakes. I’m only human,” she said.

Meryl Streep
22 June 1949
Known to be one of the most talented actors of all time, she has been nominated 17 times for Academy Awards and won three. The perfectionist says her success is owed to preparation for her roles, she is known for her ability to master almost any accent. Meryl has been married to Don Gummer for 34 years and raised four down-to-earth children. At 62 years old, she modelled for her first Vogue cover making her the oldest cover girl in the magazine’s history! “It is not a simple job to be a role model. It is not just being endlessly compassionate, polite, and well groomed. It’s equal parts being who you actually are, and what people hope you will be. It’s representing for all women to be our best selves,” she said.

Jessica Alba
28 April 1981
There’s no doubt this sporty health-freak is a great role model for all women. Jessica admits to cooking for herself from the age of 12 because she didn’t want to end up as overweight as her family. In 2001, Alba was ranked No. 1 on Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 list. She married Cash Warren in 2008 and has two children: Honor Marie and Haven Garner. In August 2005, Jessica hosted the BeMoreYou.com retreat in Los Angeles, which aimed to empower and improve the self-image of teenage girls. “It’s not about being skinny by any means. It’s about being healthy, loving yourself. It’s about being proud of who you are and proud of how God put you together,” she said.

Ellen DeGeneres
26 January 1958
Ellen is the world’s most famous lesbian (she came out about her sexual orientation in 1997) and inspirational for her persistence. Initially the Ellen Show failed with poor ratings! Now Ellen is a talk show host (same show, different time-slot) and is a strong campaigner for equal rights and anti-bullying with her “Be Kind” campaign. In 1982 she was voted the funniest person in America, and in 1991 she won the Best Female Club Stand-Up at the Comedy Awards. In August 2008, Ellen married successful Australian actress Portia De Rossi. “Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that,” Ellen said during her Tulane Commencement Speech in 2009.

Rachel McAdams
17 November 1978
We all fell in love with Rachel after her stunning performance in The Notebook: her smile is confident but not cocky, she’s classy, dignified and easy to identify with. In 2005, Rachel ranked #14 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 Women list. While she knows how to drive (learning after a bike accident), in a bid to conserve energy she refuses to own a car opting to ride a bicycle or take public transport instead – further to this, she was a co-founder of http://www.greenissexy.org, a website which helps raise awareness about the environment. “I’ve sort of heard that “it” girl thing, but not really. Hearing it from a few people doesn’t solidify it in my mind and I wouldn’t know how to solidify that title. It’s so elusive and what does it mean, I don’t know?”

Jennifer Connelly
12 December 1970
This natural beauty began modelling for print advertisements when she was 10 years old before moving into television commericals. She has since played a variety of roles in successful movies, including A Beautiful Mind which she won an Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actress. Jennifer attended Yale University to study English for a couple of years before moving to Stanford University to study drama and classical theatre. Multilingual, she can speak French and Italian. In November 2005, she became an Amnesty International Ambassador for Human Rights Education, stressing the need for clean water and participating in drilling projects in Africa, India and Central America. “I try to stay focused on my life and do try not to be brought into the Hollywood fantasy.”

There are still many more female role models that deserve to be in this blog including Gwenyth Paltrow, Beyonce Knowles, Meg Ryan, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Alexis Bledel… this list continues – but I wanted to leave room for discussion. Who are your favourite female celebrity role models and why?


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Happiness Weekly encourages readers to proactively work towards a successful, happy and secure existence. Just like happiness – Happiness Weekly is for everyone.

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