Motherhood looks different for all of us. For some of us, it can be a long, challenging journey to become a mum, while for others it might be something that happened unexpectedly.
In 2022, there are so many incredible, inspiring women across Australia (and beyond) who are carving out their own definition of motherhood. From business owners to prominent journalists, these women are rewriting the ‘rules’ and creating their own version of what it means to be a mum.
So, keep reading to meet five stellar women (and mothers) who are championing choice, challenging the status quo and raising the next generation using their own definition of motherhood.
Yumi Stein, Writer, Broadcaster, & TV Presenter
When it comes to tricky, uncomfortable topics, Yumi Stein challenges us all to tackle them.
As the author of her best-selling book Welcome To Your Period and the women’s health podcast, Ladies, We Need To Talk, Yumi is known for her directness in starting taboo-breaking conversations.
Yumi is a mother-of-four and has spoken and written at length about the challenges faced by women, particularly mothers. In the height of the pandemic, Yumi wrote a raw, honest “Diary of a Working Mum” for the Victorian Women’s Trust, voicing what we’d all been feeling, that “lockdown for a working mother with small children is a special kind of hell.”
Here’s what Yumi had to say:
“The only way I can get my head around this — and it’s lousy but it works — is to imagine that I am the man in this situation. I earn all the money. (I do.) The assets are in my name. (They mostly are.) My partner wanted, and lobbied for us to have kids. (He did.)
If I were the man, I would be able to take the time to earn and write and do those things that keep the money rolling in — with impunity. With “Mummy guilt” immunity!”
Yumi is passionate about calling women and mothers to put themselves first, ditch the societal pressure to do it all and carve out time and space to protect our energy and health.
Rochelle Courtenay, Founder of Share The Dignity
When Rochelle Courtenay first learned that homeless women were going without basic sanitary products during their menstrual cycle, she asked a simple but pivotal question: “why is no one doing anything about it?”.
This question proved the catalyst for Rochelle launching Share The Dignity, a grass-roots organisation working to make a difference in the lives of women and girls experiencing homeless, fleeing domestic violence or simply doing it tough.
On a mission to end period poverty in Australia, Rochelle has led a team of over 5,000 volunteers to collect more than 3 million period products across Australia.
After experiencing the impacts of domestic violence first-hand, Rochelle has worked hard to overcome a string of challenges as a single working mother-of-two to become a powerful agent for change for women experiencing disadvantage Australia-wide.
“I only truly discovered the strength to change this pattern [of domestic abuse] when I became a mother to two beautiful girls. As women we slip into the traps of putting other people’s needs first, thinking we’re responsible for bad things that happen to us, trusting people when our instincts warn us to be wary and staying silent about things that are better shared,” tells Rochelle.
Kristy Chong, Founder of ModiBodi
After giving birth to her second child, Kristy Chong experienced bladder and period leaks for the first time. She was determined to create a solution for women and mums across the globe, which led her to create Modibodi®, the original leak-proof brand.
On a mission to change underwear for the better, Kristy ambitiously designed, developed and scientifically tested her patented Modifier Technology™ leak-proof undies.
Fast forward to today, and Kristy is not only a mum on a mission to change the lives of women (and the future of our planet), but she’s a fast-tech entrepreneur and a social advocate for women’s health issues and rights.
Now, ModiBodi has expanded into everything from tops, singlets and swimwear. “We want everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin and believe that no one should have to sit summer out because of periods and incontinence,” tells Kristy.
Rae Johnston, Award-Winning Journalist & MC
Rae Johnston is a proud Wiradjuri woman who was born and raised on Dharug and Gundungaurra country in Western Sydney. Rae’s experience of becoming a single teenage mother fuelled her passion to break into the media industry and show her son how to achieve his dreams.
For 15 years, Rae worked in casual minimum wage hospitality jobs (sometimes three at once) and hustled hard to land a job in the media. After a decade of freelancing, she scored her first full-time job as the Lifestyle Editor of Techlife.
Over the past decade, Rae has gone on to be the first Science & Technology Editor for NITV at SBS, worked as the first female editor of Gizmodo Australia and the first Indigenous editor of Junkee.
“I went through so much hate and harassment online during my early career, as one of the few female video game journalists in the country (and the world) that I’m pretty much indestructible at this point,” Rae shared with The Design Files.
“There is very little about my own life that I keep private – I believe that by sharing the ups and downs in my life it helps break down the idea you have to be ‘perfect’ on social media.”
Tori Clapham, Co-Founder of Peaches Pilates
As a Doula and pre-and-post-natal Pilates specialist, Tori Clapham is no stranger to the challenges of motherhood.
While working as the Co-Founder of Sydney-based Pilates studio, Peaches Pilates, Tori was privately navigating a 12-month journey to fall pregnant with her first child. Since then, Tori has candidly shared the struggles she went through to conceive as well as the intense symptoms she experienced during pregnancy.
Since becoming a mother, Tori and the Peaches Pilates team have launched an incredible library of pre and postnatal Pilates programs specifically designed for new mamas and mums-to-be. Plus, she’s been open and honest about the challenges of becoming a first-time mum in an effort to help other women feel seen and heard.
In a recent piece for Mamamia, Tori speaks openly about what she’s learnt during her breastfeeding journey, giving powerful words of wisdom for new mums.
“Even in the darkest hours of the night, when your eyes are heavy, and you’re praying your angel will give up the good fight and surrender to their cot at SOME point, there’s another mummy out there, awake at the exact same time, doing the exact same thing you are. You are loved, and you are doing an amazing job.”