20 Female Role Models for My Son

From a very early age, my son, Norrin, has been surrounded by positive and loving female role models. They are his babysitters, teachers and therapists. While Norrin also has a strong male presence in his life, women dominate. And I’m okay with that because I know Norrin gets the best from both worlds.

Boys (at least the ones I know) usually look up to male athletes, actors, writers and so on. Obviously I want Norrin to be influenced by members of his own sex, but I want him to appreciate women. I want to raise the kind of man who can admire a woman for more than her looks.

Whether you are raising boys or girls, role models are critical to their overall development. As parents, it’s our responsibility to guide them towards role models who will have a positive influence. Common Sense Media believes that media role models matter. “In today’s 24/7 media environment, in which kids may be spending more time with media than they are with their parents, choosing positive role models is more important than ever.”

If I had to hand-pick female role models for my son, these are the women I’d want to influence Norrin. Some of my choices may surprise you, but each of these women possess character traits I want my son to possess.

  • Female Role Models Aren’t Just For Girls 1 of 21

    From fictional characters, to pop culture icons, to women who have changed the world, click through to see the females I want to empower and inspire my son.

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  • "Different…Not Less" 2 of 21

    I couldn't start off a list of female role models without including Temple Grandin. Grandin is well known within the autism community. Diagnosed in the early 1950s at a time when little was known about autism, doctors offered no hope to her family and suggested she be institutionalized. However, Grandin proved doctors wrong. She has a Ph.D in Animal Science , has written several books and travels around the world as a public speaker and autism advocate.

    Norrin is still young, I have no idea what the future holds for him. But I want him to continue proving his doubters wrong.

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  • Own Your Achievements 3 of 21

    I just finished reading Sonia Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World. There is a scene when Sotomayor meets a partner from a well-respected D.C. law firm and he asks, "Do you think you would have been admitted to Yale Law School if you were not Puerto Rican?" 

    Sotomayor responded, "It probably didn't hurt... but I imagine that graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton probably had something to do with it too."

    While Sotomayor credits affirmative action for opening a "special door" she owns her achievements and accepts them "as real as those of anyone around me."

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  • "Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it." 4 of 21

     Hands down, Tina Fey is one of my favorite comedians. I've yet to read her book Bossy Pants, but it's on my list. What I admire most about Tina is her attitude - she is secure with who she is and doesn't care what people think. I think that's part of her genius and charm. 

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  • You’re Never Too Old 5 of 21

    I'm just going to say it. I'm obsessed with Cher. I love everything she does. And seeing her in concert was one of the highlights of my 20s probably one of the best performances I've ever seen. Cher is 67 years old, the same age as my mother, and she is still singing and strutting her way across the stage. She has a zest for life more of us need to have. 

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  • Find Inspiration in Isolation 6 of 21

    When Frida Kahlo was a teenager, she survived a terrible, life-changing accident. Her injuries kept her isolated from friends and family. But during her moments of isolation, she painted. Kahlo is most known for her self-portraits. Kahlo said, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." While others may have believed Kahlo to be a surrealist, she considered her paintings to be a reflection of her reality.  

    Norrin isn't isolated due to any physical injuries but his autism makes socialization difficult. If he ever finds himself alone, I want him to know that he can find inspiration within himself. 

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  • Your Words Matter 7 of 21

    I didn't read Anne Frank's, The Diary of a Young Girl until I was in my late twenties and I was in college. It's one of those books that I wish I'd read when I was younger. It was so incredibly moving. Her words are simple and yet so poignant. She writes, "My writing has raised me somewhat from 'the depths of despair.'" Anne Frank wrote for herself, unaware that one day her diary would become one of the best books of the 20th century.  

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  • Don’t Be Scared To Dream Out Loud 8 of 21

    Before there was Gaga there was Madonna. 1980s Madonna is the Madonna I truly love and admire. In 1984, Madonna appeared on American Bandstand (I remember watching her and yes, I know I'm dating myself) and famously told Dick Clark that she wanted "to rule the world." 

    It's nearly 20 years later and Madonna is still a force to be reckoned with.

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  • Stand Up For What You Believe In 9 of 21

    I am in absolute awe of this young woman. I just downloaded her book and reading the first few sentences gave me chills. Malala is only 16 years old! And watching her interview with Jon Stewart, she speaks with the wisdom of a woman, the courage of 1000 men, and yet she still has the giggle of a girl.

    Malala is proof that it doesn't matter how young you are, you can be an advocate for what you believe in and you can make a difference. 

  • Know Who You Are 10 of 21

    There is so much to admire about the First Lady - her poise, her intelligence and graceful humility. But what I appreciate about Michelle Obama is that beyond her title for FLOTUS she knows who she really is. She describes herself as a mother, a wife, and a daughter. I like that she doesn't need a fancy position to define her. Her family comes first. 

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  • Find Your Balance 11 of 21

    Miss Piggy is definitely a female who knows exactly what she wants and isn't afraid to fight for it. She balances her personality perfectly, she's tough when she needs to be and sweets when she wants to be.

     I am raising Norrin to be a kind person, but I also don't want people to take advantage of his kindness or to see it as a weakness. I want Norrin to be tough enough to stand his ground.

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  • Family Matters 12 of 21

    Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies and I can't wait to watch it with Norrin. We recently watched The Little Mermaid and he loved it! I'm hoping he'll love Mulan too. What I want Norrin to admire about Mulan is that she is willing to do whatever it takes to help her family. 

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  • Don’t Back Down In The Face of Danger 13 of 21

    I am a huge Star Wars fan and Princess Leia is one of my favorite movie heroines. She's beautiful, bright and brave. Princess Leia isn't the kind of lady waiting around to be saved, she's the one doing the saving. She doesn't back down in the face of danger. 

    I want Norrin to be the kind of person who thinks on his feet and faces his fears. 

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  • Be Well Rounded 14 of 21

    Rita Moreno is a Hollywood legend and great lady. (I loved her character in West Side Story.) A few months back, I attended her reading at local bookstore and it was standing room only. Her memoir is a must-read for anyone who loves old Hollywood history. Well known for her acting (stage and screen), dancing and singing, Rita Moreno is the only Latino (and one of a few) to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony.   

     Norrin may never walk on a stage, but I want him to be a well-rounded individual. I want him to excel at as many things as he possibly can. 

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  • You Can Change Your Life At Any Time 15 of 21

    As a little girl, I loved watching Tina Turner's video "What's Love Got To Do With It." I loved her big hair, bright lips and denim jacket and short leather skirt. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up or at the very least, dress-up as her on Halloween. What I didn't know was that Tina Turner had a career long before that video. I knew nothing of where she came from,  her music, or her volatile marriage with Ike Turner. (Her life story is fascinating!) After suffering years of abuse, Tina walked away from her marriage and her music partnership to embark on a solo career. Tina Turner is a woman who has lived 10 lives each one different from the last. 

    I want Norrin to know that he has the power to change the course of his life any time he chooses. 

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  • Equality Doesn’t Take A Back Seat 16 of 21

    On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and took a seat in the middle of the bus and refused to give up her seat for a white man. Parks "was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation, known as 'Jim Crow laws.'"

    The Civil Rights movement is a critical part of American History not only for African Americans but for individuals with disabilities. Raising a child with autism, I've had to become his advocate. I want Norrin to grow up and know his rights.

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  • Life is a Mystery, Look for the Clues 17 of 21

    I can still remember the thrill of picking up a new Nancy Drew hard cover book. I started reading them when I was in the 4th grade. I loved how Nancy always cracked the case. Nancy Drew has influenced generations of girls including Sonia Sotomayor.

    The world is a mysterious place and the answers aren't always given to us. I want Norrin to be able to read the clues and find his own answers. 

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  • Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously 18 of 21

    Forbes recently announced Sofia Vergara as TV's Top-Earning actress for the 2nd year in a row. I know that she has been criticized for perpetuating a Latina stereotype, but I have a total girl crush on Sofia Vergara and just love her on Modern Family. Yes, Vergara's accent is over the top and she's super sexy with a body that I would kill for. But what I really admire about her is that she's in on the joke she doesn't take herself too seriously. I think that's her real sex appeal.

    Norrin may not grow up to be on television, but I want Norrin to be able to laugh at himself. Life is too short to take everything so seriously. 

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  • Defy the Stereotypes 19 of 21

    Norrin is a little boy who loves astronauts and rocket ships. Whenever we see an astronaut in a picture book, it's usually a picture of a boy. But Buzz Alderin and Neil Armstrong weren't the only astronauts to venture into space. I want Norrin to know that Sally Ride was the first American woman to make the space voyage. I want Norrin to know that there's no such thing as a "man's job."  

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  • Stay True To Yourself 20 of 21

    From the moment Queen Latifah stepped into the rap game, her message has been positive. Her songs are about female empowerment and unity. But what I admire about Queen Latifah is that in a body conscience industry, she has not given in to pressure to lose weight. Not only does she embrace her body and her beauty, she encourages others to do the same.    

    Norrin has autism and he works hard at things that comes naturally to most kids. Most likely he will never "fit in the box," but I want to embrace the things that make him different. I want him to know that quirky is the new cool and I never want him to apologize for who he is.   

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  • Make Someone’s World A Better Place 21 of 21
    mom and norrin2

    My mom isn't a celebrity, and she's not a woman who has changed the world, but she's one person who has made my son's world a better place.

    I want Norrin to know that he doesn't need  a phone book full of friends to love or be loved. All we really need is one person. One person can make all the difference. 


What female role models would you choose for your son?


Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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