A Conversation with Four Resilient Women

When we talk about health and wellbeing, the first thing that often comes to mind is physical health. So much of the internet is devoted to how to exercise and what to eat, but an aspect of health that is often forgotten in emotional wellness. Emotional wellness isn’t just about feeling happy all the time, it’s about accepting and bouncing back from adversity – RESILIENCE.

I was very fortunate to attend an event by AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) MELBOURNE that brought together an exciting line up of speakers who have been trailblazers for all Australian women. They have experienced first hand what it takes to be resilient.

I listened with interest as they told their stories about some of the challenges they have faced in their personal lives and careers, and they had some sage advice to share with us.
As a mother I was particularly interested in what they had to say about teaching resilience to our daughters and other young women.

Margaret Porritt – Founder & Designer – Feathers Boutiques
For Margaret, resilience means adapting to change. After a divorce which left her to support her 3 sons, she needed to make hard choices to adapt and save her business. She dug deep and worked had, even making the choice to sell her house when the recession hit in the 90’s just so her business could survive.

Resilience means adapting to change.

Margaret emphasised how important it is to find a mentor in both business and life, and said “women need to learn how to network and support each other.”

Dr Sue English – Family GP and Humanitarian
Apart from being a GP, Sue is the founder of Bayside Friends of Salesian Missions in East Timor– supporting young people in East Timor through education and health. Sue travels to East Timor annually to work in a remote village clinic and funds specific projects within the Salesian Missions related to nutrition and health.
She spoke about how women in East Timor face adversity by banding together. Even in the face of culturally entrenched domestic violence, and restricted access to education, women and girls have strong self esteem and sense of self.

Sue reflected that, in Australia kids (generally) don’t face adversity until there is a big transition in life like High School or puberty (which often hit at the same time), then that’s when girls/young women fall over.

Her advice was to:
– accept adversity
– become an advocate for yourself
– embrace what makes you feel strong

In the face of adversity embrace what makes you feel strong.

Lisa Barron – Founder and Designer Lisa Barron Fashion and Jenny Bannister – One of Australia’s most iconic fashion designers, both spoke about how they needed to be resilient in the fashion industry but their advice translated to other areas of life. Jenny’s and Lisa’s take home message was “Don’t believe the hype.” Question things, be discerning, stick to your values, and support those who have similar values to you.

Don’t believe the hype.


Left to right: Margaret Porritt, Jenny Bannister, Lisa Barron. Dr Sue English (not pictured)

Some of the take home messages for me were:

– Seek out other women that can support and mentor you
– Face challenges head on, accept adversity and use your skills to work through it
– Ask for help

Some of the take home messages as a mother were:
– Become a mentor to your daughter
– Don’t be overprotective
– Instill self esteem and self acceptance
– Teach them to advocate for themselves

I must thank Imogen Lamport for inviting me to this event. I found it inspirational and left feeling more confident about trusting myself as both a woman and a mother.


  • Rena says:

    I wish I could have attended this. I agree with all of them and appreciate the support from other women. As someone who is starting a business with women by women and also as a mother of a troubled 15 year old daughter. Some good advice in this blog. Thanks!

    • Cintia @ My Poppet says:

      It was very insightful and made me realise how powerful a supportive family and social network can be to help girls grow up to be strong women.

  • cecylia says:

    What an empowering wonderful event for women! Thank you so much for sharing your insights! We live in a very comfortable land so people don’t talk about adversities but they are actually unavoidable parts of our lives, designed to make us make us stronger!

  • Thanks for attending and writing about the event Cintia. They are really inspirational women and I think it’s great how they are so open to sharing their stories and what they have learned.. Resilience is such an important trait to develop in all or ourselves, young and old.

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