What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
In my day job, I manage custom publishing solutions for a large educational publisher. Aside from my day job, I recently started @thatsinglemum, an Instagram account which focuses on my extracurricular passions: intersectional feminism, disability and the rights of disabled people, and the reality of single motherhood & dating online. I follow a wide range of ‘influencers’ from those sectors and more, because I want to be better educated in the experiences and/or barriers people face. I am learning so much from the stories people share. I very, very occasionally still submit articles to magazines – mostly on world music. I’m also, as you might have guessed, a single mum of two amazing little girls, who are 5 and 18 months. All three of us have achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
I never really had a set passion as a child; I flip-flopped without really feeling that enthusiastic about anything. When it came to deciding what I was going to study at university, I studied Philosophy for a year (I can’t remember anything at all…), before dropping out and switching to Journalism. I knew I loved the English language, that much was sure, but once I became a journalist I soon realised I would prefer to edit, than write from scratch, so I slowly worked to find a career path in which I could do that.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work for you, you can always change.
I could never decide what I wanted to do and I always felt that in deciding I’d be chaining myself to a career path I’d later hate. Once I realised that in deciding what I want to do now it doesn’t necessarily dictate what I’ll do forever, I definitely felt more relaxed.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
I’m able to work from home a lot, which Xeroxes out my commuter journey and means I get to see the kids a lot more.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I hope, at least a level up in the professional ladder I’m on, having negotiated working hours that fit completely around school hours and ensure I get to pick my kids up every day. Obviously I will have also bought a much bigger house and met the male feminist of my dreams who will happen to have the face, body and voice of Tom Hardy.
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
The Restricted Growth Associated (RGA), a UK based charity for people with restricted growth and their families. The charity has done some amazing advocacy work and media campaigns.
What drives you?
Thinking about how my kids will be treated as mixed-race disabled girls in a white able-bodied man’s world.
Any final comments?
Thank you for reading this, and please write to me on Instagram with more amazing accounts to follow!
What does a normal day look like for you?
Get up insanely early (cheers kids!), get the kids eating breakfast while I get ready for work. I work full time, and commute most days, so I have someone who takes care of the kids while I’m away from the house. I go to work, and attend loads of meetings, normally on Skype, with global teams. When I get home, I spend the evening with the kids, put them to bed, cook dinner/clean/do admin, and settle down to catch up on Instagram, or chat to friends. Friday-Sunday is all about my kids, as I’m home those days, normally ferrying them about to playdates, baby groups, or the supermarket!
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
I think there are two. Being able to manage working full time and looking after house and home on a single income (just, it’s definitely a struggle). Climbing four rungs of my highly competitive professional ladder over the past 5 years, pausing along the way to conceive two kids.
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
There are too many. I’m going to reference some instagrammers that are truly breaking boundaries, challenging common perceptions and just being beautiful humans:
@bodyposipanda - on body positivity
@florencegiven – on feminism, ditching blokes, loving yourself
@lalalaletmeexplain – on calling out unhealthy relationships
@annieelainey, @wheelchair_rapunzel and @nina_tame – on disability
@candicebrathwaite, @mother_pukka, @pregnantthenscrewed – amazing women showcasing and campaigning on behalf of other women
What was your biggest failure?
Eesh! I’m tempted to say nothing – because everything is a lesson learned, right? And we wouldn’t be where we are now without the stain of failures past…? Realistically, though, I’d say my relationship with my children’s dad. Or maybe… not learning to drive when I was 17?
What do you like most about yourself?
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
At the moment, I really think the power of Instagram and other social media platforms is huge. I’ve received so many messages from people who tell me they’ve learned XYZ from reading my posts, which is awesome, and I’m just small fry. However, I’m aware that the people that follow me are already quite liberal and open-minded to disability – so that the wider society fully embraces inclusivity we need to focus on educating people that don’t necessarily want to be educated. Which is the major challenge. It sounds obvious but people of minority backgrounds need to be included in all diversity discussions. I was recently told about a flexible working board which has no disability representation, despite there being a number of disabled people at the company. Employers are just about getting their heads around the idea that mothers might benefit from flexible working – but so do disabled people – in fact, so does everyone.
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
My background in journalism and editing helps me to frame my thoughts on Instagram (sometimes coherently!), and I guess my passion shines through in the things that I say – I’m an incredibly direct person & I don’t hold back – sometimes to my detriment!