What can we do about the dangerous superwoman myth plaguing women? 

By Sarah Cannata

While I’m the first to admit that I’m guilty of not stepping back to smell the roses and acknowledge my achievements, I came to a very important realisation a couple of weeks ago.

I wasn’t having my best week in business and August wasn’t my best month.


Scrap that. Let’s just say that since I came back from Malta in late June, it’s been a grind. Reality is, life can’t be cocktails by the beach and pastizzi (delicious Maltese pastries for those who don’t know) all the time.

In the evening a couple of weeks ago, one of our closed This Woman Can Facebook group members asked the group about how other women are managing to ‘do it all.’ It was at that moment that I realised that this platform, This Woman Can, is succeeding in what I set out to create two years ago when I embarked on this journey to create an environment that fosters true connection and support for women. There we were, at around 9pm Australian time, discussing a topic that impacts a lot of women out there: the superwoman myth being plugged widely across various mediums and way too many women (it has to be said).

Articles such as this one published recently by Australian media, glorifying women going back to work within days of giving birth are not helpful in my opinion. They serve to add stress and expectation. Don’t get me wrong: I support every woman having the choice to do what’s right for them, whether that’s going back to work one day after giving birth, one year after or not going back at all. But adding to the superwoman narrative in such a way isn’t helping anyone and in many cases, it forces other women and new mothers to question themselves (I have had conversations with women who have confessed this, it is not a statement based on assumption).

One question I need to ask is: what’s the rush?


Have we become so trained in instant gratification that we can no longer savour any moment, regardless of its importance and meaning in our life?

I call the ‘doing it all’ trend a myth for very good reason. I don’t legitimately believe anyone, man or woman, is ‘doing it all.’ Sure, we often go to social media to post about our finest moments to showcase our achievements to the world that make it seem like we’re rocking life (when we’ve won an award, when we’re all dolled up and looking our finest for a night out… you know what I’m talking about) but we need to realise this isn’t reality.

This is a tiny glimpse into our world.


We don’t generally post about the times when we’re feeling alone even though we’re surrounded by people. We don’t tweet about feeling overwhelmed and not knowing how we’re going to be able to afford to pay our next set of bills. We’re not on Instagram posting photos of ourselves in trackies on a Friday night when you’re slammed with the realisation that drinking and socialising has been replaced by peace and a good movie to end the week.

Regardless of your personal situation, everyone feels the pressure to appear like they’re ‘doing it all’ and nailing life while they’re at it. Whatever that means to you. As a 30-year-old single woman without any kids whose weekends often look like gym, followed by Nintendo Switch and a quiet drink on the couch, I don’t ‘do it all.’ I’ve never claimed to and I don’t aspire to ‘do it all’.

As a business owner, I often feel uncomfortable responding to women who are mothers, are starting/running businesses, all while juggling family commitments and whatever else is happening in their lives. I don’t know what it’s like to have the constant pressure of trying to do all of those things and be great at every single one of them. Just like I don’t know what it’s like to give birth because I’ve never had a baby. While I have opinions and share them where I can, I’m not a fan of commenting about things I haven’t experienced first-hand. I’ve always believed you don’t know what a situation or circumstance is like for someone until you’ve walked in their shoes.

Here’s what I do know…

It’s time we stop playing into the ‘superwoman’ narrative.


And by ‘we,’ I mean women and people as a collective. No one has it together all of the time. We all have our moments when we feel as though our world is crumbling around us. Instead of trying to be perfect and showcase to the world that everything is fantastic 100 per cent of the time, it’s time to be real. It’s time to showcase and absorb stories from relatable women about what our life really looks like.

From what I can see, often, women are judged harshest by other women in their own circles.


Typically, I’m not much of a talker, which means I do a lot of listening and observing and I’m not lying when I say women are responsible for saying some nasty things about other females.

So often, we’re exposed to interviews and stories where journalists are talking with celebrities and asking them how they ‘do it all’. This seems obvious to me and almost silly to write but I feel I need to: the average mother isn’t living the same experience as the Jada Pinkett Smiths and Rebecca Judds of the world. And when I write this, I am in no way stripping these women of their talents or achievements. They too have worked for the lifestyles they lead – their reality is just very different from the average woman’s or mother’s. It’s time to collectively put an end to trying to be and do everything and to look within.

What do you think? Is it time we all commit to ending the superwoman narrative?

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!