Mags: Model search winners

You might recall the media interest around Girlfriend magazine's 2008 Model Search finalists, which included then 12-year-old (she's now 13) Karla Reid. Well, the votes are in and it's not Reid but 15-year-old Kate Budrodeen (pictured on left) who's taken the crown this time 'round (as with past winners Sarah Stephens, Abbey Lee and Catherine McNeil, the media coverage will likely kick in when she eventually 'makes it' overseas).

As I've mentioned before, I was impressed to see that Girlfriend/Chic's selection of finalists this year all appeared to register within a healthy weight range. Budrodeen, who hails from Clareville, NSW, and sports a pair of braces, is gorgeous (see her pictures from the January issue below). She maintains a balanced diet (Weet-Bix with honey and banana; salads and sandwiches for lunch; fruit for snacks; "whatever mum cooks" for dinner) and likes to play netball, swim, go for walks and practise yoga ("I just exercise when I feel like it, really," she says). Let's hope she doesn't fall victim to the weight pressures of the NYC/Europe scene a la Abbey Lee (who used to be enviably voluptuous – in model terms, at least – and healthy looking).

Also new to the professional modelling scene is the winner of the Supreme Management/V Magazine model search, 16-year old Canadian Addison Gill (also pictured). Let's hope this youngster gets the support she needs, too. As we know from the case of Ali Michael, without the correct support and supervision, the international modelling world can be brutal for an impressionable young girl. And tempting – Patty Huntington has taken issue with 16-year-old Australian model Tallulah Morton's partying antics. Ironically, both Lee and Morton are also featured in this month's Girlfriend.

Images from Budrodeen's shoot...

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Note: Girl in a Bubble

As fellow glossy obsessives can attest, it's annoying when your favourite magazine loses the plot. Like Britney armed with an electric shaver and umbrella, a few misguided editorials, sycophantic celebrity coverage, hackneyed headlines and/or poor cover choices can send readers (or fans) running in the opposite direction, lamenting how things used to be. I've fallen out of love with Nylon for this reason... (or maybe I just grew out of it?)

Anyway, like most bloggers, I exist in a little bloggy bubble. Mostly, it's just me, my MacBook, Perez Hilton and the glossies... and they're not always good company. It's like working in an office full of diet-conscious, size-O, celebrity obsessed, bitchy, man-pleasing, pop cultured, shopaholic, Botox-filled, though occasionally positive and inspiring, designer-label snobs – OMG, I'm working on the set of The Devil Wears Prada! Add to that the often snarky anonymous comments and you've concocted quite the toxic working environment. Don't even get me started on the mental health issues this can cause a girl (as one commentor has noted, twice, things on GWAS ain't as funny as they used to be).

But before I get too 'woe is me' (it's my choice, after all), blogging has its positives, too. Like the often lovely feedback, the comradeship between fellow bloggers and surprise packages in the post.

So, dear reader, to keep the blog from falling into an irrelevant state of 'blah' (a la my formerly beloved Nylon), and focus my energies on the areas you enjoy most, I'm asking for your feedback. For example, recently, I had a complaint about Latte Post and its irritating intros. So, tell me, what would you like to see more of, less of, etc.? Do you enjoy Playlist or Latte Post or Cute & Chic? Want more magazine reviews (and of which mags)? Glossy covers? Book reviews? Media musings? Glossip? Random funny things? Soapbox rants? Spiritual insights? Positive thinkings? What can I do to improve your GWAS experience (short of shutting the hell up, as I'm sure some would have it)?

Thanks for your time and bless your clicks!

Yours truly,
Girl In a Bubble

P.S. I wonder if Eva went to rehab suffering glossy fatigue?

Soapbox: Binge drinking girls

In two weeks' time my three best girlfriends from high school and I are getting together for a 10-year 'Schoolies' reunion on the Gold Coast (we are all class!). Our original Schoolies experience had all the classic and cliched hallmarks of the summer holiday-come-road-trip: boys, booze, sun, sex and the skimpiest of outfits. Think Laguna Beach meets Sex and the City in the Hamptons (only there were no hoedowns, cute doctors or cases of crabs). Fuelled by the sweet taste of Lemon Ruskis, Mindori and Lemonade and various vodka mixers, the mission was to drink a lot and dance a lot. Our working mantra: girls just want to have fun! Never mind the ghastly hangovers, our health or reputations.

Hailing from Sydney's northern beaches and aged 17 and 18, we were all pretty well entrenched in our nation's culture of binge drinking before letting loose on Cavill Avenue. Typically, we didn't get to see a lot of daylight. Schoolies requires an almost nocturnal existence. How we ever had the energy to sustain those long nights out clubbing, I do not know. Sheer youthful energy, I imagine. Oh, yes, and the drinking...

The nation's current crop of underage drinkers are being targeted with a new, two-year $20 million Federal Government multimedia advertising campaign (print, outdoor, TVC) timed to coincide with the binge drinking and debauchery extravaganza that is Schoolies Week.

Created by M&C Saatchi, the ads targeted at young women (tagline: ‘Don’t turn a night out into a nightmare’) will run in Cleo (whose swimsuit issue was sponsored by Midori), Dolly and Girlfriend magazines, while others will appear in cinemas, toilet stalls, buses, street and music press and outside nightclubs, as well as infiltrating key youth TV programming.

One of the shock-tactic TVCs depicts a half-dressed drunk teen girl fumbling around with a young guy in a garden while other partygoers photograph her embarrassment on their mobile phones. The key message? A night out on the drink won't end on a happy note, so consider the consequences of your actions.

According to the Federal Government:
  • Four Australians under the age of 25 die due to alcohol related injuries in an average week;
  • One in four hospitalisations of people aged 15-24 is due to alcohol;
  • 70 Australians under 25 will be hospitalised due to alcohol-related assault in an average week;
  • One in two Australians aged 15-17 who get drunk will do something they regret.
Concurrent with these statistics are rising rates of STIs amongst young women (alcohol, as we know, lowers inhibitions, making women more inclined to participate in sexual activity than their sober sisters), increased incidence of depression (alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant), unplanned pregnancies, and body image and self-esteem issues, all arguably related to alcohol consumption (as precursor to and/or temporary antidote).

While researching a story on teen binge drinking, which addressed the effectiveness (or futility, rather) of introducing the 'alcopop tax' earlier this year, it became clear to me that it will take more than token government ads and half-baked, flashy policies to change the culture... an ingrained drinking mentality that has existed for decades (remember Puberty Blues?). Getting drunk is almost a rite of passage... albeit a messy one with a vomity aftertaste. Can attitudes to binge drinking, or just drinking for that matter, ever be changed in the same way as smoking? Will drinkers ever become social pariahs?

And what exactly are we up against? Despite Amy Winehouse becoming a walking poster girl for the physical effects of drug and alcohol abuse, and the demise of the Young Hollywood party set via a string of DUI charges, drinking is still the party pastime dujour.

In fact, it has quite the glamorous image (see: Sex and the City). While magazines like Cosmopolitan and Cleo campaign against sun-worshipping and wouldn't dare run a picture of a celebrity smoker (unless for an anti-smoking story), they continue to promote a party-hard lifestyle via ads for the likes of Midori, Sky Vodka and Kahluah. One Midori competition run this year offered winners the chance to take two friends on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Whitsundays.

The women in those ads, including Yellowglen champagne's 'bubbly' series, are gorgeous and fun-loving: just what every young woman aspires to be. You can't imagine that these pretty young things might wake up in a stranger's bed or find themselves doing the walk of shame, stilettos in hand, at 9am as joggers stride past on a Sunday morning. It's all about 'living in the moment', after all.

As we come into summer, holidays and cricket season, I imagine the multi-million-dollar marketing behemoth that is the alcohol industry will be going into over-drive. The Public Health Association of Australia says the new binge drinking campaign aims to counteract the irreverent ads of the alcohol industry. Geoff Munro of the Australian Drug Foundation says the government must do more to regulate the alcohol industry:

"Alcohol is the new tobacco, and tobacco lost all credibility when it advertised and promoted its products any way it wanted. Alcohol is going down the same path,” Munro said. "They [alcohol companies] make out like it’s the consumers’ choice, but I’ve spoken with people in advertising, and alcohol is marketed and designed specifically to appeal to young people. It’s made very attractive to kids who want to get drunk fast on purpose.”

Often it's a bad personal experience, moment of revelation or the passage of time that turns young women (and men) off drinking (just yesterday one of my Schoolies comrades admitted she desperately wanted to give up the drink for good). And, even then, it's not easy to be social when you're the only teetotaller at the bar – a lot depends on the company you keep.

Until everyone comes to the party on this issue – media, advertisers, TV producers, interest groups, health professionals, educators, government, communities and parents – and agrees that we really do have a problem (it's not just a faze), I imagine curbing our binge drinking culture will be an uphill battle; particularly amongst those fun-loving young women. Step one is to quit glamorising and big-noting drinking – there's nothing glam or funny about throwing up all over yourself, acting like a slapper or contracting chlamydia. What's really needed is more education around alcohol – I'm not averse to the occasional tipple; a glass of red sipped during a meal is healthy and good for the soul. But many people – even into their 30s and 40s – are drinking with the sole purpose of getting drunk. This smacks of a lack of sophistication and self respect. I rather liked the RTA's 'No one thinks big of you' speeding campaign – the same 'do this and you're a loser' theme could be applied to binge drinking.

Escaping the 'Toolies' tag by virtue of the fact that we're mostly married (one with child), staying in Broadbeach rather than Surfer's Paradise and generally have no interest in turning all cougar-esque on the young men, I think my girlfriends and I are going to enjoy Schoolies this time round a whole lot more. Good company, great food, a glass of wine or two, girlie conversation, dancing and a whole lot of shopping – holidays are too short for hangovers.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

P.S. A shout-out to the Red Frogs Hotel Chaplaincy team working Surfer's Paradise over Schoolies Week. Keep up the good work.

GWAS Latte Post

Newsy snippets to digest as you sip your morning latte and munch on a peanut butter and honey crumpet. Mmm...

• As reported earlier, it looks like the proposed Paid Maternity Leave scheme will be shelved. Poor Julia Gillard was given the job of announcing the news. "Paid maternity leave is something we believe is important but we will look at the final Productivity Commission report and we will weigh it in the budget process," Gillard told ABC TV. "Obviously we want to be in the business of looking at paid maternity leave - that's why we have the Productivity Commission report on it - but we will deal with the final priority setting in the budget."

Blah, blah, blah... rhetoric schmetoric – women make up 52% of the Australian population! In the US, women are reportedly sending tubes of lipstick to US NBC boss Ben Silver in protest to Lipstick Jungle’s possible cancellation. Perhaps we can send Kevin Rudd and co. purses packed with pooey nappies, breast pumps and child care bills?

• Move over, Condoleezza: Hillary Clinton is set to fill your killer Secretary of State shoes. Given her handling of her husband’s, ahem, affairs, could there be a better person for the ultimate diplomatic position? Not to sell short her foreign policy credentials, of course. At times like these – and with baby-faced Obama in the top job – the country needs the metaphorical security, stability and versatility of a pantsuit – and we know Clinton can deliver on that front.

• Paris Hilton says she’s still in love with Benji Madden: “He’s an incredible person and we’ll always be very close… I’m still in love with him.” Hilton cites busy schedules and travel as the reason behind the split. Don’t they all?!

Gossip Girl’s lowly status on the US TV ratings totem poll (150) is attributable in part to computer downloads and TiVo, says TV columnist Andrew Mercado. In Australia, the show is Foxtel’s highest rated US drama ever.

Vogue Australia’s Kirstie Clements writes in The Sunday Telegraph: “Somehow, fashion has reached a place where grown women are dressing like little girls and little girls are dressing like the Pussy Cat Dolls, neither of which is pretty or appropriate.”

• Speaking of appropriate, New Zealand model Zippora Seven, who posed in various states of undress (including topless in a bubble bath) for a RUSSH magazine shoot aged 16, has been signed to appear in campaigns for See By Chloe and H&M (apparently, any publicity is good publicity). At just 167.5m, Seven has been compared to Kate Moss and has posed for French, Italian and Australian Vogue. (The Sun-Herald)

• This made me chuckle. From The Fitz Files: “Let me ask – is this Sydney’s cleverest-everest ad? I am told that in the mid-1990s, driving along Parramatta Road… was a gym advertising for new members with the following sign outside: ARE YOU FAT AND UGLY? WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE JUST UGLY…?” (The Sun-Herald)

• Definitely not fat or ugly, hunky Hugh Jackman is on the cover of Vanity Fair’s Italian edition.

• IMG’s Swim Fashion Week will be held at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast from February 25-28, taking its lead from Miami Swim Week. Between the GC’s Metre Maids and Indie Girls, the city is fast becoming the nation’s babes, boobs and bikinis capital. Oh, it already was?

• From bikinis to body-hugging underwear: Spanx creator Sara Blakely tells Sun-Herald fashion editor Glynis Traill-Nash: “I can’t go to a cocktail party without people lifting up their skirts or showing me their bra.” Her company turned over $400 million in sales last year, spank you very much.

• From WWD: MAC Cosmetics has teamed up with Sanrio Global Consumer Products to create a Hello Kitty color cosmetics collection. The line will arrive on MAC’s website Feb. 10, in North American stores on Feb. 12 and into overseas stores in March. “MAC has been mining pop culture since the brand was founded,” said John Demsey, group president of Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. “This is a sexy and innocent fashion line, and a true MAC moment. In these times, everyone can use a little fun — and a little Kitty.”

• Not so innocent is Marc Jacobs, who's been fined $US1 million for bribing an official for the past eight years in order to secure Manhattan’s 69th Regiment Armory Drill Hall for his fashionably late Fashion Week shows.

• David Salter writes in the November 21 edition of The Week: “There is, right now, a curious mood of disengagement in Australia. A sense of vague foreboding about nothing in particular…The danger is that nations tend to become politically unstable when extended periods of economic stress coincide with a pervasive mood of sour introspection. Italy turned to fascism; Germany to the Nazis…”. And Australia turns to Baz Lurhmann…

• But Sun-Herald film critic Rob Lowing doesn’t fancy Australia: “Australia is a big, gloopy mess of a movie: an overlong, overstuffed production and a prime example of egos gone wild… Watching this is like being hit over the head by a giant glitter-coated marshmallow wielded by a director whose concept of epic romance is like a drag queen’s interpretation of what a woman is.” Ouch.

The Word for the Week: "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Is size-0 finally over?

The UK Times' Kate Spicer has reported on the 'death of size zero', citing model/It girl Daisy Lowe's apparent ample skeletal coverage as evidence that we have finally passed go and collected some calories on the way (if Lowe is 'curvy' then Kate Winslet's a walking Krispy Kreme). Significantly, Lowe (photographed for the August issue of UK mag Tatler, right) recently told The Guardian:

"The thing is, I'm not teeny-weeny stick sample size so I don't want to go along to the cattle castings and not fit into any of the clothes. Show size is very small and I eat doughnuts and Red Velvet. I love curvaciousness. Curvy girls are the sexiest girls. If clothes were built for curvier women, which is most of the population, one: people would look better; two: designers would sell more clothes, and three: they wouldn't have to use tiny anorexic models."

Wise words from a girl of just 19.

Spicer writes: "At last, slowly and from within, it seems fashion is falling back in love with the things that make women truly beautiful: confidence, sex appeal, health... Could it be that, finally, we can put those two incendiary little words, “size” and “zero”, behind us, and that Lowe and her softly cut ilk are the poster girls for a new aesthetic of womanliness and personality that lies ahead? While catwalk girls will always be thin, there has been a bit more bounce lately in the bottoms and flesh on the bones that walk in London, Paris, New York and Milan...

Kate Moss was overheard saying how sexy Lowe and the shapely girls sporting hundred-quid frillies looked at the recent AP perfume launch. The super-stylist Katie Grand has talked of being tired of “the tedious stereotypes of what it is to be a wonderful 21st-century woman”. Even mean old Karl Lagerfeld, the wicked fairy godfather of the cruel world of fashion, sent some girls away from a recent show, a first, saying: “They looked as if
they had grown up in a Third World country with no food to eat.”

Significantly, the original LA poster girls of scrawn, the ones who gave skinny a well-dressed media glow that extended beyond the little pond of true high fashion — Nicole Richie, Mischa Barton, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan — have all either put on weight or been disgraced... Mix up the newish girls (Lowe, the fervid-looking Lara Stone or the generously sexy Sasha Pivovarova, who, despite putting a very unmodelly quantity of pounds on recently, still got to open Prada last season) with the reclaimed supers (who, while still natural-born skinnies, have the presence and fleshy strength of a mature woman) and we have a refreshing alternative to the status quo of recent years..."

All this talk is positive but may be premature. The size-0 mentality, I would argue, is still pervasive, though arguably reached is ridiculous apex when Nicole Richie was still being styled by Rachel Zoe (that said, the new 90210 crew are doing their best to keep the momentum going, as is a media obsessed with all things bodily, a fashion industry who insists on hiring lifeless, emaciated mannequins we are supposed to 'aspire' to look like and editors who have their own food issues).

I predict we'll have a mental hangover (not to mention a health one) from it for years to come. We've become almost anesthetised to the effect of seeing skinny celebrities and their catwalk counterparts... Twiggy was once a novelty; now you can see her everywhere!

What's more, many (maybe most) women are almost always in diet mode. Food, probably since the Fonda era, has been seen as an enemy we must fight, control, fear and view with suspicion ('5 healthy foods that aren't'; 'Is your salad making you fat?') rather than as a friend to aid in our physical, mental and emotional health and stability, and the enjoyment of life. The media discourse around eating is currently one associated with guilt and sin and geared towards fat-blasting our way out of the obesity epidemic.

But for the girls suffering eating disorders, encouraged by the entrenched skinny aesthetic and tormented by magazine images of too-thin celebrities (see NW cover), editorial trumpeting the latest diet fads ('Eat more, weigh less!') and a society obsessed with kilojoule counting, it's an uphill battle to better health and happiness... and the acceptance of self, whatever package that may come in.

A whole new mindset is required that says it's okay to eschew exercise, eat the occasional treat (and carbs... for dinner!) and feel full. It's a battle I've personally embarked on and it's taxing. What women need to see and read in magazines are positive health stories minus the prescriptive diet advice (i.e. let's start talking about the pleasures of social eating, of food preparation and the foods we really enjoy), less pictures of emaciated celebrities who clearly need help, less 'a day in the diet of...' stories charting the non-eating habits of skinny socialites and their ilk, and an abundance of happy, healthy women enjoying their bodies and food and life. Oh, and perhaps less mind-numbing talk about everything I've just said. Size-0, over and out.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Books: A foodie fairytale

I imagine that if Nigella Lawson had been a girl of, say, six or eight years, and stumbled across Madame Pamplemousee and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher (Bloomsbury Children's; $19.95) on a trip to the library, it may have been attributed with igniting her life-long passion for food, with the same fervour that Judy Blume's Are You There God...? triggered many a pre-teen's commitment to bust enhancing exercise (Lawson's lust for food itself negates the need for any such exercise – eat your potatoes, girls).

In a word, this book is delightful. A Cinderella-like fairytale, with black-and-white illustrations by Sue Hellard complementing every page spread, Kingfisher has conjured up a world where food is mysterious and pleasurable, with the ability to affect common feeding folk like a spot of Harry Potter magic unleashed on a muggle.

Set in Paris, epicurean capital of the world, the story revolves around the young Madeleine, whose natural culinary flair lands her in all sorts of trouble but ultimately leads to her salvation and happiness.

In the opening pages, we meet Madame Pamplemousse, whose discreetly located food shop sells "rare and exotic delicacies", like Giant Squid Tentacle in Jasmine-scented Jelly and Scorpion Tails in Smoked Garlic Oil (ick!). However, it's the coveted secret ingredients for Madame's rarest delicacy, which is served like a pate with bread, which becomes the point of contention.

Madeleine has been sent to stay with her uncle, Monsieur Lard, who is a fat slob of a man and owns a "big, flashy restaurant called the Squealing Pig." His cooking, unbeknownst to many a tourist and visiting celebrity, is known to be revolting and laden with, you guessed it, lard.

One day, Madeleine, who finds herself drowning in dirty dishes after sparking Lard's jealousy with a superb tasting soup, is sent to buy ingredients for some foul recipe. On the trip, she discovers Madame Pamplemousse and her store (as well as her cat comrade, Camembert) and walks away with a jar of pate which has the power to transform tastebuds and the mind. The pate impresses Lard's customers so much that he becomes set on discovering the secret ingredients, sending poor Madeline on a covert mission to undermine Madame Pampelmousse (who is, of course, quite the wise old woman). What ensues is a complicated relationship based on deception and culinary kinship, which ultimately reveals Madeleine's good character, celebrates her gastronomic expertise and brings about the downfall of her greedy uncle.

At times dark and odd, this clever book is embellished with edible descriptive passages, complex characters (the food critic will amuse adult readers) and a sound moral message. Catering for children aged 6-12 and registering 138 little pages, it traverses literary territory between Lemony Snicket, Harry Potter and your classic Disney fairytales.

Considering most tween girls are today growing up with food phobias and body image issues, I would encourage mums to slip this little hardback under the Christmas tree. I'd sooner breed a mini-Nigella than a potential Pussycat Doll.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel