Tanya Harper, mother of four and creator of @fourlittlecreatures, shares her thoughts on women’s empowerment and the power of Instagram to create an amazing support network and platform for inspiration for parents around the world.
What inspires your blog about motherhood and parenting?
My own children, friends and my experiences with children through work. I’ve found that no matter how many children we have we all have such similarities, fears, joy, and experiences that I have found we ask each other advice on a regular basis. I also found that there is so much humour to be shared with everything related to parenting that if we don’t laugh we would cry. I tend to find the humour in the most inappropriate things and have found that it can also make it easier to overcome challenges that come with being a parent. Furthermore I have found that the experience of having 4 children has also allowed me to help some people ease their fears with adding to their family and that normalizing mum guilt has especially helped a few women in dealing with emotions that they had previously felt alone with.
Tell us about the parent community you have connected with on Instagram.
I have been surprised by the diversity of people that I have connected with and how much they have come to be close friends. There are a number of people that are not only in Australia but also overseas that I keep in regular contact with. I have found that they are a support network that I never thought I needed but now am eternally grateful for. It has really just reinforced to me that no matter what language we speak or what culture we are from we really are all the same and we all face such similar challenges in life. Instagram has made the world feel like a smaller place which I think is a wonderful thing.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day to me means equality. I have never thought about how being a female has impacted my prospects in life because I was never raised to feel as though my gender defines what or who I am in life. The older I have got the more I have realized that this is a huge reality for a lot of women. International Women’s Day to me means learning from the past and moving forward together.
Why did you opt in to be part of Vamp’s charity campaign with Dress for Success? What about the campaign resonated with you?
I am naturally drawn to any campaigns that can help raise awareness for causes that resonate with my own values. I found this campaign amazing in its awareness and advocacy in supporting women to achieve financial security. I have worked within the Child Protection system for over 10 years and have seen how much financial security cannot only change the lives of women but also their families.
How important is it to give back to the community with pro-bono posts and support women empowerment initiatives?
I feel a small amount can help and probono posts are the least that we can do to help out. Causes like this should their invest money in supporting women and not into paying for awareness campaigns. An hour of our time is nothing compared to what the people behind the initiatives put in and it is nothing compared to the years of hardship people have gone through that are supported by such initiatives as Dress for Success.
How can social media help women to feel more body confident?
I find that there are so many women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicity and overall a huge diversity that it can make you feel confident in being you. I know a lot of attention is around social media being harmful to self esteem and I am aware that it can influence women (especially teens) in a negative way but I think if we speak about it and are open and honest about our insecurities this can then make social media powerful in supporting body confidence. All of us at some point in our lives have insecurities and I think we need to change our mindset to use social media as inspiration rather than for comparison.
What advice would you give to a woman who is nervous about going for a job/promotion/pay rise/starting a business?
GO FOR IT. What is the worst they can say? No? At least then you can say you tried. Furthermore it will demonstrate your willingness to stand up for what you believe in and your own value. This in itself is incredibly powerful.
What and/or who inspires you?
My husband, mum, dad, sister, friends and work colleagues. I have been incredibly fortunate to be surround by an immense support network that has always been there no matter what. I have also found huge inspiration from my children. I find something empowering watching children become their own person and it can make you realise how quickly times goes and not to waste it.
What key challenges do you face as a woman? How do you overcome them?
I have been fortunate enough to not face challenges due to my gender. I was raised to not have thought anything of being a girl. I was raised to believe that you can do whatever you want to do in life and gender was never mentioned (besides my dad joking that even our pets were all female). Furthermore I work in a female dominated industry so this has no been an issue I have personally faced. The biggest issue I have faced with being a woman is maternity leave and the impact this can have not only on finances, career progression but mostly the guilt that comes with it. Also the reduction in career prospects if you have children or are about to.
It wasn’t until Julia Gillard became the Prime Minister that it sank in how far we still have to come as a society. I was genuinely horrified that in Australia we would mock our Prime Minister for wearing glasses in a magazine shoot “to act like she is smarter”. This is vile and would never have happened to a man. I think for Australia and the world we have to abolish this notion that women need to present themselves as more masculine to be taken seriously is ridiculous. We are different from men. That’s a biological fact and we shouldn’t have to pretend to be anything other than that just to prove our worth.
Your proudest moment?
Growing and giving birth to my 4 beautiful children. They are my everything and the reason I strive to do my best in every aspect of my life. Also my motivation to further my career. I am proud that I am undertaking my Masters to ensure that I can achieve my ultimate goal in my career. I want me children to see that no matter what you can achieve anything you want to.
If you could say one thing to your younger self what would it be?
You will end up exactly where you want to be. Simply sit back and enjoy the ride.