Social media is a platform often criticised for not being used for good. This is especially the case for women online, who have been exposed to a new world of unrealistic beauty standards and seemingly narcissistic behaviour.
However, this is something Sydney-based Kamilaroi/Dunghutti sisters, Marlee and Keely Silva are hoping to challenge with the introduction of Tiddas 4 Tiddas, an Instagram account dedicated to profiling and sharing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Demonstrating the much brighter-side of social media; one that influences change and exists as a powerful storytelling platform, together these real-life Tiddas have created clickable empowerment, full of real stories from Indigenous women.
Marlee and Keely told NITV the idea for the account was inspired by last year’s NAIDOC theme, Because of Her, We Can!, which celebrated the contribution Indigenous Australian women have made to the country’s historical, political and cultural landscape.
“As 2018 was drawing to a close, we found ourselves reflecting on the amazing achievements we saw through 'Because of Her, We Can!’” Marlee said.
What could we do to make sure the momentum built by that NAIDOC theme would last and continue to uplift Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women into 2019 and beyond?
“Soon, that reflection turned in to a little bit of worry around what would happen when it came to a close — what could we do to make sure the momentum built by that NAIDOC theme would last and continue to uplift Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women into 2019 and beyond? The answer to this question manifested in Tiddas 4 Tiddas.”
Beyond social media, the Silva sisters themselves are arguably impressive Aboriginal role models, thriving in education and sports.
Marlee (23) has recently graduated from the University of Technology Sydney with a communications degree and is currently working as a specialist Indigenous consultant. She is also a published writer.
Keely (21), is a third-year physiotherapy student at Western Sydney University and a high-level representative touch football player.
“Side-by-side, we might look like we have very different interests and have taken different pathways in our lives so far,” Marlee said.
One thing that we similarly hold at the highest value is our culture and pride in being able to call ourselves Aboriginal women.
“But one thing that we similarly hold at the highest value is our culture and pride in being able to call ourselves Aboriginal women.”
Despite only running for less than six months, the Tiddas 4 Tiddas account has already gained nearly 5,000 followers. Their widespread exposure has lead to collaborations with artists like deadly jewellery designer, Kristie Dickinson (creator of Haus Of Dizzy).
Their account runs campaigns to profile individuals and share stories on a particular theme. Their first campaign called ‘Dear future me/Dear past me' has been their highlight so far, as the women say they received incredible responses from people submitting stories and wanting to be involved.
“We put the call out to our followers to write a letter to their younger selves with advice they’ve learnt over the years or to themselves in the future, to talk about their hopes and aspirations,” Marlee explained.
“We had no idea if anyone would take it up and just hoped that by sharing our own stories, others might feel brave enough to follow.
“We were blown away with the response. Not only did a whole range of women from different ages and backgrounds put their hand up to share, what they shared was incredibly raw, honest and so powerful.”
One of the stories that the Silva sisters said particularly touched them was a submission from 19-year-old Bundjalung, Gumbangyirr, Daingagatti and Biripi woman, Adina Brown. Her story had a message to never give up and remember that everything will be okay.
Adina's words were:
Keep pushing — the sun will always rise and the world will go on, keep smiling because you are happy, healthy and loved.
A social media profile is only the start of what is in store for Tiddas 4 Tiddas, the pair both recently spoke on a panel hosted by Dixie Crawford at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, called ‘I Am Change’: The Next Generation.
The girls are excited for what is to come,
“We’ll keep sharing brilliant black Tiddas stories and continue growing our amazing online community!”