“People can only take your self-esteem if you let them,” says Phoebe Burgess with the authority of someone who’s been there and done that. “It’s a lesson my dad [Mitchell Hooke] taught me when I was young: people only have power over you if you allow it. And now that’s what I’m trying to teach my daughter; to hold onto her self-worth even when people chip away at it.”
Burgess, now a 32-year-old mum of two, still clings to her father’s words of wisdom. The past year has been a huge challenge for Burgess, whose name hit the headlines in the wake of her split from former NRL player Sam Burgess. In a candid admission, Phoebe reveals that she questioned her worth during her marriage: “[Self-doubt] is such a hard thing to go through. I would say marriage is a place I doubted myself and sacrificed a lot of myself. I had to make myself smaller. I think a lot of women can relate to that in relationships.”
But instead she grabbed onto a life raft: her family. “When you’re struggling, it’s important to surround yourself with people who see you and who can remind you what you’re worth, because we can forget,” she says, adding that she’s raising her four-year-old daughter, Poppy, and two-year-old son, Billy, to know their own worth from a young age. “I want their inner voices to give them constant positive reinforcement.”
Wanting to help others similarly nurture their value, Burgess has also joined a raft of other high-profile Australian women, including marie claire cover star Jessica Mauboy, for our Know Your Worth campaign. Launched in partnership with L’Oreal Paris, the campaign is aimed at boosting self-esteem among women with Burgess and her peers leading the charge.
Practising what she preaches, Burgess takes a moment to appreciate all that she is and all that she has overcome. “The thing I love most about myself is my resilience. I’ve learnt recently that I have a lot more strength than I ever gave myself credit for,” she says, smiling. “I’m proud that I’ve been able to keep soldiering on and putting my children’s needs first.”
Read more stories from high-profile Australian women on their journey to self-worth in the April issue of marie claire, on sale now. And look out for the #KnowYourWorth hashtag on marieclaire.com.au and our social feeds for more stories and inspiring self-worth videos.