Vanessa Bonnin

My Hero Sisters by Vanessa Bonnin


I’ve had a difficult journey with women. When I was young I was severely bullied by a group of girls in my primary school and that left me with some deep scars that only began to heal in my twenties, a healing which ironically (or perfectly) began with the generous words of a wonderful woman. Before that I preferred the company of men. I loved hanging with the guys, I always found them more straightforward, they would say what they meant and not talk behind your back. I didn’t have any close female friends. I didn’t trust women. I had only experienced the patriarchal version of women - competitors, rivals, jealous women who would rather tear you down than support you. 

So when the door to this thing called the sisterhood opened a crack I was shocked. I didn’t know women could be that way - I had never had a model to show me I could be that way either. I always saw myself as defined by my relationship to men (and behaved accordingly). Not as a worthwhile person in and of myself. I had zero confidence and didn’t believe I was worthy of being loved. I felt ugly inside and out. I had lost my shine and didn’t even know where to start looking, or even that I had lost it.

My first hero sister was Danae. A woman who took me aside one day and said “I don’t know whether I should say this to you, because part of your beauty is that you are so unaware of it, but do you realise the effect you have on people when you walk into a room?”. I am so incredibly grateful to her. That was the first moment I had felt the genuine love of a sister with no agenda of her own, and my spine began to straighten, just a little. 

The healing journey since then has been long and slow, but I am now a completely different person due to the support, love and golden threads woven by hero sisters who have circled around me, held me, mentored me and seen me. I now count on the sisterhood as a source of infinite strength, love and inspiration and there are so many of you that I feel infinitely blessed. I have found my shine and now make it my soul work to do the same for every woman I cross paths with.

So, when tasked with writing this and trying to choose a few of you to name, I felt overwhelmed. It triggered my painful memories of primary school when the girls in my class listed their friends in order of who they liked the most to the least (I never even made it on to the lists). It felt hierarchical to place a few of you at the top and the rest below, when actually we all stand in a circle together. A womb-space. Holding hands and nurturing, creating safe spaces to share and heal. Not that it's wrong to select people and give them a chance to shine, to show appreciation for the special people in our lives and say why we love them. It’s just not where I’m at right now.

Instead I’ve been inspired to create a visual collage of all my hero sisters - each of you radiates gifts in your own way and has many beautiful aspects of yourselves to offer, each of you is equally treasured by me. I have been honoured to meet you all and I know that we are all stronger for having shared some of our journey together. This process has been a wonderful invitation for me, in searching for photos of you all I have had a moment to reflect on each sister, how you came into my life, moments we shared, how you have supported me and I you, what I admire and how you have inspired me.  

You are all queens. With deep gratitude.