Susan Dalgety knows she’s spent a lot of time in America recently, but that doesn’t change the fact that Michelle Obama is head and shoulders above all other female role models this year.
As if Michelle Obama’s popularity couldn’t get any higher, she has just been voted by Americans as their most admired woman of 2018.
The former first lady, best-selling author, and owner of the world’s most fabulous boots (more of those later) has knocked Hillary Clinton from the top of Gallup’s annual poll, a position she held for a remarkable 17 years.
Even more remarkable is that our own dear Queen is in the top ten, coming in at number five, for the 50th year in succession. It comes as no surprise that Americans love Michelle Obama, but it is quite humbling that they also admire our nation’s 92-year-old, white-haired, great granny. Perhaps it was the gold piano that swung it.
The question which Gallup has posed since 1948 is straightforward: “What woman, that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world do you admire most?
They are also asked what man they most admire, but for the purposes of this column, we have no interest in the patriarchy. (This year it was Barack Obama, for the 11th year running).
Perusing the list, where Malala Yousafzai, Theresa May, JK Rowling and the Duchess of Cambridge, or as Americans prefer, Princess Kate, also get an honourable mention, made me wonder which women we would choose here if asked the same question.
I have no doubt the Queen would sweep the board. I am no royalist, but you could argue that her calm, matriarchal manner is all that is keeping this country from having a nervous breakdown.
As long as the Queen is in one of her many castles, preferably with a snapping corgi at her heels, the United Kingdom will stay united, even in the face of Brexit mayhem.
There would be some who would vote for Theresa May. And why not? She may have the physical attributes of a robot dreamt up by Elon Musk while on Ambien, and she has all the political instincts of a middle-class vicar’s daughter from the South of England, but you have to admire her bloody-minded resilience.
As chaos reigns all around her, Theresa gets up every morning, chooses a fresh string of impossibly large beads, and goes out to face the latest catastrophe, a tight smile carved on her grim face.
Most of us would have resigned by now, thrown Article 50 in Rees-Mogg’s ridiculously smug face, and with a two-fingered salute to Juncker and his pals, ridden off into the sun to spend Philip’s millions on Bolly and Prada. But not our Prime Minister. She just keeps on keeping on.
Queen Nicola, as our First Minister was dubbed recently by a mischievous JK Rowling, would definitely win the Scottish vote – well, 44 per cent of it. Personally, I would struggle to back a woman who wants to break up my country, but I have to admire her work ethic, and her ability to spend 12 hours a day in high heels.
Ms Sturgeon boasted on Twitter recently about the number of books she has read this year. It was an impressive list, from cracking crime fiction to modern literary classics. And she rightly gave a plug to ‘Nasty Women’, a collection of essays about what it is to be a woman in the 21st century.
My concern is not about her reading habits – mainstream highbrow – but, seriously, where the hell does she find the time to read so much while running Scotland and telling Theresa May how to run the UK? Perhaps she is superwoman after all.
One super woman who would certainly be in the British top ten of most admired women is JK Rowling.
Her latest epic, published online a week ago, was slightly shorter than her usual output, but it deserves the Booker Prize for originality and wit. In 16 Twitter posts, written in the style of the Old Testament, she poured out her feelings about Brexit, the Labour Party and its sainted leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“…Yet must I protest, though it breaketh my heart so to do, that this party of Labour, which I have so long loved, has become, under St Jeremy…” she bemoaned, before adding “And she spake further: ‘do ye not see that St Jeremy is hurting your party, yea, that his inability even to organise a vote of no confidence…”
I laughed. I almost cried. And I saved the thread. I may not be in thrall to Hogwarts but JK Rowling summed up the angst and anger felt by mainstream Labour members, aghast at the harm Corbyn and his cabal have done to their party and to the country. She, almost, has my vote.
But I am afraid I may have spent too much time in America recently, because if I were asked to choose the woman I most admired, I would have to say Michelle Obama.
There are many reasons to admire Michelle, not least her commitment to using her considerable personal capital to improve the lives of women and girls across the world.
“The world is a sadly dangerous place for women and girls, and we see that again and again,” Obama said when launching her Global Girls Alliance earlier this year.
“I think young women are tired of it. They’re tired of being undervalued. They’re tired of being disregarded. They’re tired of their voices not being invested in and heard.” Amen, sister.
There is another, less honourable reason for my vote going to Michelle. Those boots. Last week, at another of her sell-out book tour events, she strode on to the stage like an Amazonian goddess, swathed in yellow silk and wearing thigh-length, gold boots. The internet almost died.
No matter that, at $4,000 a pair, only a rich woman could afford the Balenciaga heels. Or that only a tall, confident woman could wear them.
Michelle Obama is 54 years old. She is going through the menopause. She is middle-aged. Society deems we should dress appropriately.
Baggy trouser suits a la Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel. Statement beads or high heels like May or Sturgeon are acceptable. So is a crown if you’re the Queen.
But not thigh length, gold boots.
That was until Michelle walked out on to that Brooklyn stage. Now we can wear what we like. That alone is worth our vote.