michellebeyonce.jpgSince giving birth to her daughter Blue Ivy Carter, Beyonce has been opening up over the Internet, much to the delight of her fans. Notoriously private about her personal life and marriage to rapper Jay-Z, the superstar songstress has recently re-launched her 'Beyhive' website, joined twitter, and created a Tumblr account filled with photos of her family, her vacations, and herself as you've never seen her before.

As well as providing a rare photographic insight into her world, the new mum has been busy penning open letters to people who inspire her, from artist Jean-Michel Basquit and fellow singer, SADE, to President Barack Obama's wife, Michelle. Beyonce is an ardent supporter of President Obama and his fashionable First Lady, and it's clear from her letter that she looks up to Michelle as a role model. The hand written note to Michelle not only praises her for her achievements, but also includes a touching motherly note, in which she states she is "proud to have my daughter grow up in a world where she has people like you to look up to." Awwww.beyonceobamaletter.jpgBeyonce's "Bey-Inspired" letters have promoted a debate amongst the office this morning as to who we would pen our appreciation to - the results were varied and certainly diverse, with arguments breaking out over who makes a good female role model and why. We decided to put our team on the spot and ask them to share the women they're inspired by. Are any of them on your list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter!

Beth
I really admire Karren Brady; she's an accomplished business women who doesn't court publicity, but is awarded it through her own merit and hard work. She's a role model for working mums and communicates well the difficulties, and often financial necessities, that working mothers face. She's hard working but still tries to put her family first. Also, as a mum who follows football myself (yes, I do know the off side rule!) she holds down a number of posts I'd strive for, including Vice Chairman of a football club, and Non Exec Chairman at Arcadia. Oh and when I met her recently she was wearing the most beautiful Chanel shoes...football and fashion - perfect.

Gemma
Diane Halfin met Prince Egon of Furstenberg when she was 18 years old. The went on to marry and have two children, but she refused to be known just as a Princess. "The minute I knew I was about to be Egon's wife, I decided to have a career. I wanted to be someone of my own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her desserts." She explained. She decided to go into fashion, and in 1793 she created her first wrap dress, and the rest is history! Almost 40 years later, she may have divorced her Prince, but her label is known worldwide, her designs are displayed in the MET Costume Institute and she is president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). As strong female role models in the world of fashion go, nobody beats Diane. I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of years ago and she's as glamorous, funny and fabulous as you'd expect.

Kate
Victoria Beckham is my role model for hundreds of reasons. Where to start? I'd like my own fashion line. I'd like un-waverable respect from the fashion industry having made a comeback from a not particularly fashionable girl band. I'd like to be married to a gorgeous man that looks as good in their boxers as David Beckham does one day. And in the future I'd like to have a big family with four gorgeous kids. She has it all. And even if she doesn't paint a big smile on for the camera, I have the suspicion Victoria has A LOT to be happy about.

Amy
I think Natalie Portman is a great role model for any modern woman, especially those wanting to become an actress. She always carries herself with dignity and poise, but she's got a wicked sense of humour too (what do you mean you haven't seen her rapping on SNL?) Natalie always appears in the best movies, from her first role as an orphan in Léon, to her BAFTA award winning performance in Black Swan. Not only is she beautiful, stylish and wonderful actress, she's extremely intelligent. She skipped the premiere of her first mainstream role in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace so she could study for her final exams and graduated from Harvard with a degree in psychology, telling the New York Post that she didn't care if college ruined her acting career because she'd "rather be smart than a movie star". She's studied French, Japanese, German and Arabic, she can dance, she's an animal rights activist, and she supports antipoverty activities. I know I can never actually BE Natalie Portman, but I'd settle for just being her friend!

Jess
You could argue that dancing around on stage in your pants or poisoning your ex boyfriends in your music videos are not typical traits of a role model, but before you jump on me in outrage, hear me out with this. Lady Gaga is an incredible human being. Fiercely ambitious, she started working life as a songwriter writing lyrics for the likes of Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls before shooting to global fame in her own right. She utilises her celebrity to drive awareness of HIV and AIDS and has recently launched a fantastic anti-bullying charity, Born This Way whose motto is 'Empowering Youth' and 'Inspiring Bravery'. But aside from her wonderful charity work, which saw her named the most charitable celebrity of the year in 2011* by the way, Lady Gaga should be considered an excellent role model simply because she lives and breathes individuality. Living in such a diverse and multi-cultured society today, I think that driving home the message to women that being different and celebrating individuality is vital. I'm not saying everyone should start wearing telephones on their heads and turning up to parties in giant eggs, but why not take inspiration and wear what YOU want to wear because YOU like it and it makes you feel good? Who cares what anyone else thinks? Gaga, you're my hero.

*DoSoomething.org named Lady Gaga the most charitable celebrity of the year in 2011.

Hannah
So I'm going against the grain here as usual by choosing an inspirational male! One of my favourite role models is film maker and author John Waters, totally unconventional in every way he dared to fight against social stereotypes and had a distaste for the mundane, MOR side of life. He became the bastion of cool for misfits and deviants around the world, influencing a cult phenomenon by being the original pioneer of geek chic. He dared to break the normal social stereotypes for example talking plus size girls like Ricky Lake and making them the sassiest sexiest girls in the school (Hairspray), and even had he likes of Johnny Depp begging to star in his weird and wacky films. He still loves to hang out in his home town of Baltimore & regards himself as a geek who got lucky.