My Role Models


Lately I’ve been thinking more deliberately about my role models. It’s important to have heroes among your friends, family, and acquaintances, and I do. But you also need larger-than-life role models to keep you focused on who you are and what you want to be. Here are a few of the women I admire most:

Eowyn from Lord of the Rings. Eowyn is fictional, but she’s been real to me from my first Tolkien reading in 2001. If you haven’t read the books or seen the movies, you can find a synopsis of Eowyn’s story here. She’s unselfish but passionate, and brave down to her bones. When Aragorn breaks her heart and everyone deters her from going to war, she disguises herself as a man and rides into a suicide-mission battle, killing the allegedly-unkillable Witch King who tries to get between her and her beloved uncle. After the war, she turns her energies toward restoration of the kingdom, and falls in love again, with the right person. She is everything I want to be. I refer to her so regularly that my friends joke about getting me a WWED bracelet.


Ruth. The story of Ruth has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. Not for the lady-in-waiting lesson it’s often twisted into, but for Ruth’s loyalty and guts (and God’s faithfulness, of course). A widowed foreigner, she stuck by her mother-in-law and led them to a better life without compromising her morals. Culturally, she was the lowest of the low, but God made her the great-grandmother of King David. (For a deeper analysis, I recommend The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James.)

Gwen Stefani. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the “Don’t Speak” video when I was fifteen years old. Half of the video is Gwen gorgeous and demure in a vintage dress, and the other half is her grungily rocking a stage in a sports bra and track pants. As a very girly teenager who also spent hours each day rehearsing in a dusty field, I connected with this dual image immediately. Gwen was the first celebrity to give me a glimpse of the full spectrum of womanhood. She’s never apologized for being an ambitious, talented powerhouse who values love and family as much as her work. Her creativity is fearless – she doesn’t care if her music, clothes, etc. are too out there. She just creates. We should all be so free.

Brene Brown. Dr. Brown became famous after her TED Talk on the power of vulnerability started a national conversation. Her manifesto on shame and vulnerability, Daring Greatly, permanently changed the way I see the world and relate to people. Her honesty (and solid research) is bringing light into a lot of dark places.

Julia Child. I didn’t know much about her until I read Julie and Julia. Then I fell in love with Meryl Streep’s portrayal of her in the movie. Julia didn’t find her true passion until later in life, but when she did, she went after it with a vengeance. She believed in her work and persevered through years of setbacks. Quirky and not conventionally attractive, she still didn’t tone herself down for anyone and had a passionate, epic partnership with her husband Paul. She changed the way Americans cook and brought joy to many lives, just by being herself.

Shauna Niequist. I discovered Shauna’s second book of essays, Bittersweet, in 2010 and went on to devour everything else she’d written. Other than Sheila Walsh, I’d never encountered a modern female Christian writer so open about her struggles, wounds, and doubts. She inspires me from a writing perspective, and her embrace of life’s joy AND pain, of being fully alive, continues to resonate with me.

Who are some of your role models?

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister’s iced tea.

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4 Responses to My Role Models

  1. kate schell says:

    Eowyn is my spirit animal. Also this makes me want to figure out my role models now.

  2. Carol says:

    I have no idea. The only hero I had growing up was my Uncle Howard. Actually, no, strike that. Brenda Love, my pastor’s wife, is my role model. She is kindness and understanding and toughness and drive and everything I’d like to be rolled into one woman.

  3. Those are some GREAT role models. And seriously, Eowyn is a rock star.

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Rising Strong by Brene Brown | Don't Stop Believing

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