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On Self Love, Sisterhood + Sexism

Imagine walking into a room with over 100 smoking hot, bright intelligent women.

Imagine that four of these women are amongst some of the prettiest, thinnest, loveliest, most successful women you’ve ever met.

And imagine that you feel calm, confident and comfortable.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to picture this scenario. My Inner Bullies would have been going CRAY CRAY and either one of two things would have happened.

1. I wouldn’t have gone because I would have looked at the line up and thought “Pfft. What would those skinny b*tches know about suffering? Of course THEY love themselves. I would too if I looked like that!” (I feel pretty ashamed admitting this. Yes, my Inner Bullies are insufferable cows. They would have snarkily glossed over the fact that two of the women had suffered from cancer, one had been hospitalised for adrenal fatigue, and one was a recovered ‘party girl’; and only focused on the fact they were all pretty. As if that’s the only thing that mattered).


2. I would have gone but I wouldn’t have made any effort with my appearance (because, you know, what’s the point?!) and I would have spent the entire night feeling awkward and out of place. Feeling like the fattest, ugliest girl in the room.

But at the Self Love + Sisterhood event (look out Sydney + Melbourne it’s your turn next!) last Wednesday night, I didn’t experience any of these things.

Sure - I felt a little nervous anticipation as I prepared, wondering what the evening would hold. I put on a dress (!), pulled my hair from its usual bun, and touched up my make up. I wanted to put my best foot forward, but I also didn’t scrutinise or criticise my appearance.

A new, strange and oh so liberating feeling.

As the night unfurled - a certain truth that I had been turning over in my mind like a shiny pebble became a brilliant white diamond.

External beauty ≠ self esteem. Internal worth = self esteem

Now I’m not saying anything particularly revelatory or original.

Sure, you might be blessed with winning the genetic lottery so it’s possible that you miss certain forms of suffering like racial prejudice or disability discrimination. However, I’ve learned that just because you’re pretty doesn’t mean you automatically have a carefree, confident life.

See - for decades I believed that beautiful people had it made. They were the alpha males and females that all of society admired and aspired to be like. Growing up with a sister with a disability plus being the ‘fat girl’ who got bullied further confirmed my suspicions that only the beautiful elite were exempt from suffering.

I hoped to join these elite through the right combo of diet and exercise (and maybe a tonne of make up).

Years of despair and frustration ensued as I tried my darnedest to mould my body and personality to fit.

Growing up, I felt rejected by women. I felt that we were in constant competition, vying for love and attention. Feeling disconnected from my biological sister due to her illness and disability, I found it easier to bond with my brothers. So the concept of sisterhood became more and more foreign the older I became.

I eventually rebelled in puberty and embraced being a “freak”, wearing op shop clothes, cutting my hair super short and listening to alt rock. I over identified with my “riot grrl” attitude and flipped the bird to femininity - which, to me, represented weakness; an obsession with trinkets and the frivolous; plus hours of primping. Blech!

In high school I met two women who I became very close to. I absolutely adored them but I still often pushed them away because of my self doubt and inability to love myself. It was like a pendulum swinging from loving bond to empty detachment. I was deeply conflicted and often felt very isolated. It must have been so frustrating for them.

Even though I met countless women who confounded me with their self criticism - women who I thought “Geez, if I looked like that, I’d be the happiest girl in the world” - I still clung to the belief that all my problems would be solved the second I achieved the body of my dreams.

I now call BS on this belief.

The truth of the matter is that women weren’t in competition with me. I was in competition with them because of my constant comparison and deep self loathing.

Once I began to embrace myself and do a 180 from self loathing to self love, I was able to form better connections. 

Fast forward to my uni days and I was blessed to meet more women from “my tribe”.  Friendships were forged in the crucible of the music rooms as we shared interests and values. I allowed myself to embrace the love we had for one another. We cried together, laughed (A LOT) together and are still friends to this day.

Slowly but surely, I came to see femininity in its truest form. Strength of character, loyalty, altruism and compassion.

{Side note - I DO NOT for one second believe that all women or only women hold these qualities. Gender roles and sexist stereotypes (including the ones about women that I used to believe) are unhelpful and regressive. We are all equal and can attain positive characteristics from all sexes}.

Fast forward even further to today and I am now completely surrounded and supported by an incredible network of women. Plus I continue to meet the most phenomenally awesome women. I can witness their internal beauty and bathe in their external radiance without feeling diminished or overshadowed.


Yours truly with two amazing sisters - Dani from Organically Beautiful & Ngaire from Whole Lotta Health

I feel a bond continuing to deepen each time I drop any comparison and (as Tara Bliss said on Wednesday night) stand “shoulder to shoulder” with my peers, my equals and my sisters. I continue to practice each day walking on the path of self love, knowing that it is a journey - not a destination.

Self love is a daily practice of remembering that you are born worthy. - click to Tweet

The crucial practice of worthiness isn’t just so you can overcome the isolation of disconnection and comparison - it’s actually vital for you to live your life of awesomeness.

Continuing on in the theme of sisterhood last week - I had the utmost pleasure of attending the International Women’s Day breakfast with Yvette Luciano, founder of Earth Events.


Moi et Yvette

Remembering the immense privilege we have here in Australia in contrast to what our sisters suffer around the world, was humbling. Violence - against women, against children, and men - pervades and persists. Abject poverty, sexism and perverse discrimination are rife.

More than ever, this world needs YOUR brilliance to solve its multiple crises.

You can’t do any of that and fulfil your life when you are in conflict with yourself and with others.

Now is the time to rise up, drop comparison, embrace your authentic self (no matter what your gender) and stand shoulder to shoulder with your sisters. So you can go change the world.

Self Love + Sisterhood Event Photos by Bayleigh Vedelago

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