Girl Talk: Impressing or blessing?

Girl Talk: Impressing or blessing?

Every time I pass one of the blackboard signs created by Jodie, who owns the Last Tango boutique on Mount Tamborine, I smile. She's so clever. 'Tis a lovely, witty but simple way for her to bless the local community. Similarly, there is a woman who I pass on my every-second-daily walk who puts a spring in my step with her infectious, wide-brimmed smile.

I often think that if people were more motivated by giving of themselves to others then the world would be lubricated with love; but we are a selfish bunch. When we feel insecure and unsure of ourselves, we tend to store everything up because every day is a rainy day. Or, conversely, if we are secure in our lovely little worlds, we fear letting others in as they might disrupt the equilibrium.

I'm often guilty of this, holding back on a smile or dinner invitation or phone call or giving away the stuff that I accumulate because I don't feel great about myself and therefore the WHOLE WORLD must suffer with me (pity party for one, whee!). Still, I know that once I release those things into the world, the blessings I get back are manifold. Always. Without fail. I practised it yesterday. It worked. Not that getting back should be the motivation for giving. It's just the way the cookie crumbles. So, this week I'm all about this mantra:

Ask not who can I IMPRESS today with my gifts, talents, stuff, money, knowledge, power, humour, skills, kindness and love, but who can I BLESS today with my gifts, talents, stuff, money, knowledge, power, humour, skills, kindness and love.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: The power and problem of Photoshop

Glossy Talk: The power and problem of Photoshop

While Photoshop has been a talking point for GWAS since early 2007, it has been's bread and butter, helping the site (tagline: "Celebrity, sex, fashion. Without the airbrushing"), also founded in 2007, to achieve cult status and hit-rate success.

"Thanks to breakout, brand-building investigations of everything from women's magazines, the fashion industry and celebrity Photoshops to menstrual-period dramas, douchebag takedowns and Presidential elections, I've seen our readership catch up to, and, in some cases, surpass, that of older, more established sites in the Gawker Media stable, including, which we have surpassed in monthly pageviews for 9 months straight," wrote then-editor Anna Holmes in May.

According to The New York Times, Jezebel's most popular post in its first year featured an image of singer Faith Hill both before and after the insidious Photoshop fairies at Redbook magazine had got to work on her. Jezebel paid an undisclosed source $10,000 for the raw photo and pointed out the ways in which Hill had been digitally altered. It landed Jezebel on NBC's Today Show appearance and a blog was made (meanwhile, GWAS made two Today Tonight appearances she'd sooner forget about).

The latest addition to the Jezebel Photoshop of Horrors portfolio is an image comparing Jennifer Aniston in the raw and as on the April 2009 cover of Madison magazine (not to be confused with the April 2010 cover of Madison also featuring Aniston seen right). In response to 'cease and desist' legal action, editor Jessica Coen writes, "One of Jezebel's most significant areas of interest is the Photoshopping of women who appear in magazines, catalogs, or in any other publication. It's an important factor that shapes the beauty standard, and it affects how women view themselves, for better or worse. As such, the peg of the post is how Jennifer Aniston looks pre-Photoshop, and I think you can agree that a small image falls under fair use since the existence of these images is indeed news."

Sometimes when a trending news item loses traction, we forget to talk about it and then it's business as usual until we are again alerted to some gross injustice and reminded why it is a significant issue. Like when a survey is published showing just how unhappy girls/women are with their self image. Jezebel might have a traffic-spiking self-interest in alerting us to Photoshop atrocities, but how many media organisations profit off the opposite (i.e. the perfectly flawless images)?

"A few years ago, my modelling agency asked me to audition for skin-lightening commercials," says actress Freida Pinto talks of her O The Oprah Magazine 'Aha! Moment'. "I knew those products were wrong, so I'd show up with a burden on my heart, thinking, I can't believe I'm doing this. Those commercials send out a message that if your skin is lighter, you are more acceptable to society... They always rejected me for the ads, and I'm glad they did... In my travels, I've seen that self-doubt is not just an Indian problem. All people – African, European, American – worry about being different."

Now back to 2007, the year that Women's Forum Australia published a magazine called Faking It, a comprehensive look at issues affecting women's media and the representation of women in the media (the back cover is pictured above). In one of the articles, 'WANTED: Living Doll (no talent required)', the historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg is quoted: "although elevated body angst is a great boost to corporate profits, it saps the creativity of girls and threatens their physical and mental health." The magazine calls for more magazine editors, journalists and photographers to "make a positive impact by refusing to go along with pop culture's obsession with weight, shape, appearance and sex [so] then other aspects of young women's lives could be given more attention."

Similarly, Lisa Pryor wrote in response to marie claire's January issue: "Perhaps the better way to better mental health among young women is to shift the focus away from the image of the body, negative or otherwise, towards thinking more about the capacities and sensations of the body - achievements through sport; the pleasure of touch; the potential for reproduction; achievements of the mind."

Acknowledging the National Body Image Voluntary Code of Conduct on Body Image, Australian Women's Weekly editor Helen McCabe writes: “We do use these techniques because we want to bring you the best possible magazine. We smooth out skin tones, reduce imperfections and often alter ill-fitting clothing... In the interest of transparency, from this month we will acknowledge whenever a picture produced by The Weekly has been digitally altered."

Like having a pimple on your face pointed out to you by a friend, causing you to get into a panic over something you had given little thought to before, the act of talking about Photoshop, body image and the flaws of women's magazines may inadvertently keep us from getting on with other important things, like engaging in politics, having a laugh or cultivating a career (or doing all three at once).

But until real change is affected in the industry, the agitators will keep agitating. This is one that won't go away. And, as with the Federal Election, both sides have their heels dug in.

See also: Girlfriend, we're still waiting for the revolution @ Melinda Tankard Reist

The Photoshop story archives
Dolly shuns Photoshop
Murdoch sans Photoshop (Sarah Murdoch for The Australian Women's Weekly)
Photoshop double standards? (US Harper's BAZAAR)
More competes for Photoshop supremacy
Photoshop - curb your enthusiasm
Photographers du jour - Lindbergh v Meisel
Vogue, Tina Fey and Faking It
Marie Claire, Madison and Magazine Dreams

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Review: The (Aussie) September Issues (Finally!)

Just as Grace Coddington outshone the guarded Anna Wintour in The September Issue, and Tina Fey emerged from back-office writerly obscurity to 30 Rock Hollywood, so too did the Best Supporting Actresses in this Aussie ensemble.

While the cover stars steal the limelight, and score the big bucks, it's the writers, stylists and understudy subjects who added depth to this glossy reading experience. So now to the five Aussie glossies presented IMDb-style (no Rotten Tomatoes here) for your viewing/reading pleasure. Ta da!

Glossy: Vogue
Tagline: Fifties fever
Starring: Catherine McNeil
Director: Kirstie Clements
Producer: News Magazines/Conde Nast International
Writers: Kirstie Clements, Tim Blanks, Natasha Inchley, Cleo Glyde, Lisa Drake, Sarina Lewis, Kelly Doust
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Valentino Garavani, Donna Karan (playing ‘Wonder Woman’), Jerry Hall, Georgia May Jagger, Lisa Ho, Kit Willow Podgornik, Emma Balfour, Maeve Dermody, Miranda Otto, Krew Boylan, Vampire Weekend, Alison Goldfrapp

Star performance:
Catherine McNeil does what she does best modelling in 'Fifties fever' and 'Pretty baby'; it's a Sandra Dee transformation moment!
Best supporting actress: Nicole Trunfio for her performance in 'The Beauty Bubble'. “I do think some models get away with a lot, but it’s not necessarily the important things in life – it’s more on a superficial level. For example, free products, free flights, free tickets, VIP access to clubs and concerts, free holidays; even saying unintelligent things or having a bad attitude can be acceptable for beautiful people...But not for long, because outer beauty does not last.” Nicole Trunfio, ‘The Beauty Bubble’

Plot: ‘Twas the night before Fashion’s Night Out (September 9), and all the Voguettes were getting primped to face the public. What to wear? Something grown-up, elegant and chic, of course. We are girls men want to marry now, not ones who hang out in bars (except, of course, when we front up to the after-party at the Ivy). Liberated from super-tight leather leggings, we wear socks with heels and spectacles and full skirts and carry books in our satchel bags.

Will Tim Blanks steal the show in one of his crazy shirts? Will Tom Ford stop by to plant kisses on cheeks? Will someone channeling socialite Lauren Santo Domingo ruffle feathers in a Givenchy goat hair skirt and fluttery fake lashes? Will Cleo Glyde glide past showing of her platelet-rich plasma-injected skin? Will someone wipe themselves out on drugs bringing discredit to the entire Vogue franchise? Or will everyone show up wearing the same Miu Miu frock? It's almost TOO MUCH to take in. The fashion! The feathers! The fabulousness!

Requisite flashback: Cue montage of Vogue’s beloved photographer, artist and friend, the late Richard Bailey and a walk through Valentino's life's work with curator Pamela Golbin.

Memorable lines: “I love what university is. It’s a group of people reading the same things and then coming together to talk about them. I love learning; I’m hungry to learn things.” Maeve Dermody

Goofs: Donna Karan seems to contradict herself: “We communicate too much. All this blitz, these wild shows. Millions of dollars are spent talking to the consumer about next season. She doesn’t know what’s happening. We have to turn down the volume on the future and lift up the volume on the present.” And yet: “To me, you can’t communicate enough. I love that I get to speak directly to the consumer through my web site and my iPhone app. It’s both instant and immediate. I also love the convenience of reaching her where she lives and when she wants to listen.”

Wardrobe: Fifties fever (Catherine McNeil never looked so good); rockabilly ‘pretty baby’; Codie Young in Miu Miu (that dress!), Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci vintage lace and House of Cashmere styled by Meg Gray in ‘Miss Behaviour’ = divine.
Supporters: Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, Omega, Bvlgari, Miu Miu, Tiffany & Co, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Bally, Gap, Burberry, Hermes
GWAS Rating: 3 - Catherine McNeil in 50s glamour is breathtaking; a trip into the world of drug addiction via Cassandra Dhati's first-person piece a stark reminder that often behind their fashionable faces people are "lost, lonely and filled with self-loathing." Sobering.

Glossy: Marie Claire
Tagline: 15th Birthday Collector’s Edition
Starring: Kylie Minogue
Director: Jackie Frank
Producer: Pacific Magazines/Marie Claire International
Writers: Anna Saunders, Anna Tsekouras, Nicky Briger, Felicity Robinson, Jonathan Franklin, Stephanie Osfield, Andreina Cordani, Elise Loehnen, Amy Fallon, Elizabeth Rubin, Penny Wrenn
Cast: Jennifer Hawkins, Doris Day, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Collette Dinnigan, Alex Perry, Akira Isogawa, Cameron Daddo, Erin McNaught, Stella McCartney, Marie Claire staff
Star performance: All the lovers in the world can't save her new album, and at 42 she's no ingenue, but Kylie is a likable character with a Gen-X view on relationships and life. She's part of our national narrative, so a fitting lead if not a bit predictable.
Best supporting actress: marie claire's own Jackie Frank, brought to life by Nicky Briger in 'Is she a devil?'. What this mag lacks so often is personality and fun. The ability to laugh at oneself shouldn't be underrated.

Plot: It’s marie claire’s 15th birthday and all the fabulous people are invited to the party. The opening sequence is a brilliant, Baz-Luhrmann-esque multi-scene montage starring all the magazine's fabulous friends in all kinds of magazine-y settings. Fun! But, as in Harry Potter, there are sinister forces at play – Venezuela’s Osmel Sousa is the warped Willy Wonka of the beauty pageant world threatening to “fix up” any girl who departs from his Barbie ideal. Eek! Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s fatuous first lady, Grace Mugabe, threatens to steal the limelight from Kylie, girls with guns take matters into their own hands, the pay gap trips up some of the cast and anti-depressants threaten to sabotage all the fun. Thankfully, Stella McCartney, Hannah MacGibbon and their fellow female fashion designers swoop in to save the day; let's here it for girls wearing the pants (or aprons, as in '1o1 ideas' for your kitchen)! In a Choose Your Own Adventure style twist, you can take the road to Afghanistan as an embedded (and pregnant) war correspondent or take a trip down the Yellow Brick Road of 'The Best Boutiques' or the big '15th Birthday Giveaway'.

Requisite flashback: There is reminiscing over fashion and pop culture as it was in 1995 (pp56/57/185/189).

Memorable lines: “Today you can get wonderful products that weren’t available 20 years ago” (Kylie Minogue on looking 10 years younger); “Grab her forearms, then stand back and say, “Look at you!”, as if you’re admiring the would-be-hugger’s fabulosity” (‘How to say no… to a social hug’).

Wardrobe: Maticevski layers, sass and bide minis, cardigans, brogues, Annie Hall suits, Star Wars frocks, tribal ensembles, Karen Walker loveliness in ‘Spring Fever’; crazy-girl confections in ‘Free Spirit’; ‘50s elegance in ‘Love in the afternoon’; party sparkles in ‘Invitation Only’.

Supporters: Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren, Dior, L’Oreal, Giorgio Armani, Burberry Prorsum, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Pantene Pro-V
GWAS rating: 3.5 - marie claire should let her hair loose more often. Sophistication and worldliness needn't be all serious. It's okay for women to explore their softer sides beyond floral dresses.

Glossy: Harper’s BAZAAR
Super Fashion Issue
Starring: Elle Macpherson
Edwina McCann (editor); Alison Veness McGourty (editorial director)
Producer: ACP Magazines/Hearst International
Writers: Marion Hume, Claire Brayford, Natasha Stott Despoja, Derek Blasberg, Georgie McCourt, Naomi West, Rachel Sharp, Emma Sloley, Eugenie Kelly, Jason Kibbler
Cast: Daria Werbowy, Meg Lindsay, Carey Mulligan, Emma Balfour, Valentino Garavani, Gail Elliott, Gaia Repossi, Sarah Murdoch, Miranda Kerr, Hannah MacGibbon, Diane Von Furstenberg
Star performance: As Jason Kibbler writes, "The story of the swimsuit model who turned out to be a shrewd businesswoman is legend by now." Yes, we have been reading it since the 90s and now, thanks to Marc Jacobs, we can read about it all over again. And soon, we can see it all on her own website, too. She is opinionated and a stickler for perfection and won't let her guard down, which is respectable but not particularly endearing. It's hard to feel empathy for this character let alone relate. On another note, remember Sirens?
Best supporting actor: Valentino provides comedic value as he passes by on his boat en route to Sicilia with his "beautiful friends, either models or very important actresses” and his pug dogs (Marion Hume scores the best interview award).
Best supporting actress: Daria Werbowy for this insight: “A lot of the time I feel like I’m part of the problem when it comes to all the superficiality and vanity that impacts the way girls grow up”.

Plot: The “boy-girl stick creatures” of the catwalks are being taken over by a tribe of Amazonian superbots possessing the kind of beauty that can’t be achieved by sustaining oneself on Starbucks and cigarettes alone. While latte loving fashionistas get into a gym-going, weight-lifting, carb-loading frenzy, they are faced with two decisions: elegant restraint or head-turning femininity. Headache. “Humble luxury is the new black! New minimalism is where it’s at!”. Meanwhile, designers are usurping the fashion bloggers and e-retailers by taking their wears from the runway straight to the inboxes of consumers, and former senator Natasha Stott Despoja has her knickers (or should I say underwear?) in a right knot over sexist political commentators. Oh, and Miranda Kerr drops by to remind us the secret to beauty is Noni Juice.

Sub-plot: Farm girl Alix Johnson faces the realities of ageing with fancy skin treatments (flip to page 210 for a full catalogue of options); the Rodarte girls dream up a makeup collection for MAC; and Eugenie Kelly travels to Hong Kong to sniff perfume then sets the bar low on happiness after baking her iPhone (gold - never has the phrase "blah, blah, blah" looked so cool in beauty copy).

Flashbacks: Adorned in “modern boho-luxe in Morocco” garb model/designer Gail Elliott makes a cameo as Talitha Getty while remembering that iconic fashion moment in 1991 when “the five ‘supers’, Cindy, Christy, Naomi, Linda and Claudia, walked down the runway at the Versace A/W 91-92 show in Milan singing to George Michael’s Freedom.”

Memorable lines (all by Valentino):
“Unfortunately, the greatest photographers don’t pay extreme attention to the clothes. If they decide to put a dress in a bathtub or in front of a cow in the countryside with dirt everywhere, well, the dresses come back… ready to be put in the garbage.”

“I was at the premiere of Sex and the City (2) at Radio City Music Hall; 5000 people and you have no idea. My eyes! I wish to have the black glasses, very, very, very dark.”

“To be really happy I would need to see all the little postcards with flowers like in the past, people being nice to each other; I don’t want to see violence and these disgusting films and fights and battles. I would love to see the world peaceful and less terrible.”

Wardrobe: Back to the future in sculptural pieces; embellished frocks; clean white lines; leather satchels; monochrome combos; retro candy colours; leather and lace.
Supporters: Moet & Chandon, Louis Vuitton, Estee Lauder, Giorgio Armani foundation, Prada, Alberta Ferretti fragrance, Gucci, Miu Miu, Bally, Cartier, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Burberry Prorsum, YSL…
GWAS rating: 4 - this is a really strong issue: after a while spent in the editorial abyss, the glossy seems to be returning to her old self (almost). Loads of personality and a little irreverence go a long way.

Glossy: Madison
Tagline: What to buy this spring
Starring: Kylie Minogue
Director: Lizzie Renkert
Producer: ACP Magazines/Hearst International
Writers: Jessica Rudd, Claire Weaver, Brooke le Poer Trench, Alexandra Carlton, Jessica Montague, Gigi Mahon, Jessica Montague
Cast: Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackson, Michelle Williams, Dakota Fanning, Julianne Moore and David Beckham (all shot by Tom Munro); Elle Macpherson makes a cameo via a Harper's BAZAAR mini-mag insert.
Star performance: Brooke Le Poer Trench has had to piece together a cover story off the back of a short interview with Minogue about her new perfume, Pink Sparkle. In such cases, the journalistic filler becomes the story; the journalist the key character. Which isn't always a bad thing. Le Poer Trench only just misses out on 'Best Supporting Actress'.
Best supporting actress: Jessica Rudd, for telling her father's opponents they can suck it in more eloquent words.

Plot: Father’s Day is upon us and Madison is playing daddy’s little girl: a bunch of dads are in the limelight for their fatherly feats, including deposed PM Kevin Rudd, whose novelist daughter saves the day writing 'All About My Father' to answer the question, "What's it like to have Kevin Rudd as a dad?" and promote her book.

BUT daddy’s little girls are not all okay: the poor little rich girls have their Louboutins but fill their inner emptiness with drugs, alcohol, parties and pricey possessions; other girls are buying counterfeit luxury goods in the mistaken belief that a bargain is always a good thing; others are gambling away their lives; some are simply too nice to succeed; and still more are wrapped up in the lure of the ‘material world’. But there are sooooo many new it-bags, belts, watches and shoooooes to choooose from (see ‘Madison fashion’)! And beauty products, too! Dilemma. Thankfully, there’s a weekend escape in the country with friends to look forward to.

Sub plot: You can make your own relationship happiness if you are prepared to forget fairytales and commit. “Dr Epstein…found that the happiest couples in his research benefited from several factors that enable love to blossom over time: strong communication, physical proximity, vulnerability (such as seeing a partner through illness or some other crisis which fosters a nurturing instinct) and a shared sense of commitment to the partnership.” Sarah Gibson, ‘Can you learn to love someone?’
Memorable lines: “When people sledge him, I want to sledge them… it’s hard to see someone you love who has worked their guts out for something get cut down… Their pain is your pain, their joy is your joy, their sorrow is your sorrow, their laughter is your laughter. So what’s it like having Kevin Rudd as a dad? Blessed.” Jessica Rudd

“The trend for low-cut jeans is one cause of the modern muffin top. But could it also be our love of actual muffins that is causing this expansion?” (Katrina Lawrence, ‘The Vintage Diet’)

Wardrobe: Combat cool, global guerilla, double denim, Spanish renaissance, booming florals and big full skirts, Alex Perry lace (if I were to marry again, it would be the dress, page 156). Ooh, and that Miu Miu dress… again!
Supporters: Ralph Lauren, Avon, Clinique, Hugo Boss, Tiffany & Co., Kylie Minogue Pink Sparkle, Revlon, Almay, Rimmel London, Napoleon Perdis, L’Oreal Review
GWAS rating: 3 - Madison is caught between wanting to be the good girl, like American Glamour, and the ultra-fashionable girl, like Harper's. Minor identity crisis.

Glossy: InStyle
Starring: Angelina Jolie
Director: Kerrie McCallum
Producer: Pacific Magazines/Time Inc.
Tagline: Oh, Angelina!
Writers: Genevra Leek, Clare Press, Jo McKay, Mark Morrison, Alexis Elia, Sarah Ranawake, Angelika Otto
Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Roberto Cavalli, Ewan McGregor, Teresa Palmer, Marc Jacobs, Grace and Maude Garrett, Adrienne Pickering, Amanda Seyfried, Halle Berry, Freida Pinto, Robin Tunney, Nicola Cerrone, Miranda Otto, Josh Duhamel
Pictorial cameos: Cameron Diaz, Emma Watson, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts, Olivia Palermo, Kirsten Dunst, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham

Star performance: You'd forgive Aneglina Jolie for being a bit guarded but she mentions recovering from her caesarian, having date nights with Brad and finding time for all her children. “My home is full of warmth and love and I couldn’t be happier… I’m very aware of how privileged I am.”
Best supporting actress: Teresa Palmer in 'Running Wild' and Sofia Coppola via Marc Jacobs: “Age doesn’t matter. What matters more are people who are interested in the variety of life and exploring life outside their comfort zone. People like Sofia Coppola are representative of this spirit. She is a mum, a daughter and an artist. She has a special eye, a unique voice and the curiosity to explore. Couple that with an unconventional physical appeal and what comes through is style – real style, as apposed to someone who is conventionally beautiful and radiates perfection.”

Plot: Pregnant editor Kerrie McCallum has lost her purchasing mojo and the fashion team must come to the rescue! Armed with a bunch of new buys, celebrity pictorial inspiration, 15 hot-spot spending destinations and ‘The Ultimate Shoe Guide’ to put the, um, spring back into her shopping step, they just might save her weary wintry wardrobe in time for spring. Cue oodles of sunglasses, smart skirts, leather tee-shirts, white trousers (mind your beetroot), wild west denim, pool party frocks, pastel nail polishes…She’ll be back to looking like Gwyneth Paltrow quicker than you can say “Custard Apple and Holy Moses!”.

Sub-plot: Are clogs a frumpy fad or true fashion moment?; creative collaborators from the same gene pool add a quirky, feel-good touch and big burst of personality ‘What’s your hair personality?’ answers the question we’ve all been thinking about.

Memorable lines: “Like the tyre-tread sole of the ‘90s and the kitten-heeled thong, the clog is a novelty shoe, for fashion victims only.” Clare Press

“I don’t know very much about fashion… I remember in the 80s I had a big pair of baggy, multi-coloured trousers. I wore them with braces, a yellow shirt and orange pointy suede shoes.”

“An intellect is very overrated – aesthetics are everything. Looking good is much more important than what you think!” Ewan McGregor, tongue in cheek.

Wardrobe: InStyle is all about the wardrobe, using actresses as props for clothes as apposed to clothes as props for actresses: Teresa Palmer wears wild prints, True Blood's Deborah Ann Woll wears Marc Jacobs, cousins Grace and Maude Garrett wear Lover, Ralph Lauren Blue Label, Chanel, Arnsdorf, Richard Nicoll, Celine and Marnie Skillings.
Supporters: Estee Lauder, Chanel, Hugo Boss, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Juicy Couture, Gucci
GWAS rating: 3 - InStyle is great for promoting local talent. No scary diet content. Innocuous.

GWAS Recommendation:
All in all, in glossy terms, quite splendid performances all round, though nothing revolutionary in making women feel great about themselves. But Harper's BAZAAR really stole the show, which surprised even me! Marion Hume's Valentino interview was pure gold; while I'm not a fan of his ostentatious lifestyle (and Harper's is ALL about that), it was a lovely lighthearted yet heart-felt and nostalgic fashion moment. Additionally, the Elle cover (not her biggest fan, either) is a stand-out. Perhaps it's not just those pesky covermounts lifting its sales results, after all?


And now you can cast your vote: which glossy is rocking your world for September?

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Federal Election Party Time!

Girl Talk: Federal Election Party Time!
How to host an election-night soiree.

By Liz Burke

Taking a more Martha Stewart (meets Paris Hilton) than Margaret Thatcher approach to an otherwise bland election, I’ve taken on the role of GWAS in-house election party planning pundit (warning/preemptive apology: more extremely lame puns follow).

As you peel away from the polling booths tomorrow, it will be time to put the campaign to rest and hit the champagne trail! No matter where you place your preferences, we can all raise a glass to our “fair dinkum” democracy, or, if nothing else, to see those irritating jingles and slogans dead, buried, and cremated. Hey, I’ll drink to that!

Here are some tips for the perfect election cocktail party to get you “moving forward” into the next term of government in style. My election party action contract.

The Cocktail Caucus*

To set the theme of the evening, start building the cocktail revolution by putting a timely twist on the classic favourite of any woman in power, the Cosmopolitician!

Also on the ministerial menu, add home brew heavyweights FranJuliaco and the MarTony, and spice things up with the feisty Tabasco-fueled Ruddy Mary.

To help make up your mind (or relieve it!) the Ballot-cardi Breezer and straight up Voteka always go down with satisfaction. And for something a little stronger to get through the tough issues, there’s Chamborder-protection and the Long Island Iced Timor.

To complete the cocktail cabinet shake-up, a sustainable range of alco-population is recommended to quench your Family Thirst.

Of course in this post-GFC economic environment, don’t be afraid to stamp BYO on the invitations. You can’t feel obligated to supply everything to your guests, especially since we could be walloped with a huge wining tax! Considering outstanding deficit, drinks may need to be supplied by members of the electorate.

Real Action Activities

If you're up for some Real Action, go with party games like the always entertaining Poll dancing. Swing dance for the undecided, and 'Pin the tail on the donkey voter'.

And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about snacks. Try adding some (Annabel) Crabb canapés to your party portfolio. Accompanied by a shot of Lati-quila (Bourke), they’re guaranteed to be food for thought, discussion and analysis. Some special Bob Brownies would also go down a treat.

Recovery Stimulus Package

If in the unfortunate case you pull up post-party feeling like you’re “not out of the woods yet,” whether it’s because the outcome has left you sobbing into your hair-of-the-dog VB (Voter’s Brew), or your night went awry like a government that lost its way, be sure to have some Canberroca on hand to avoid a hung-over parliament.

Who said politics had to be boring? Get on the (boat)phone and start planning your election night celebration, or at least a toast to the lucky country!

More party planning suggestions are, of course, welcome.

*If you’re proposing a sustainable night, not a big night followed by a Maxine McSpew, perhaps Rooty beer could be your drink of choice to fuel a good old fashioned town-hall style tally-hoe-down! Of course, any good hostess would supply alternative non-alcoholic beverages, such as Cabinet Cordial, for those not interested in shilly-shallying around.

Yours truly,
Liz @ Girl With a Satchel

Mags: State of the (mag)nation - June 2010 circulation

Frankie, FAMOUS, MasterChef, Good Food, Belle and Harper's BAZAAR... these are the Aussie titles with the X-factor for the June circulation audit period.

The overall Australian magazine market contracted just 3.81% in the year to June 2010, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, while the weekly mag market lost -9.1% of sales dragged down by ACP titles. Ouch. Clearly Brad and Ange aren't pulling their weight and nor are tales of celebrity weight loss. Lift your game, guys!

The biggest losses were felt in the business (-29.2%, thank you GFC fallout), men's interest (-27.6%), tween (-20%) and men's lifestyle (-11.6%) categories, while the food and entertaining category fared best with a 19.5% gain, followed by home and lifestyle glossies (+5.1%).


Pacific Magazines can afford to be smug: New Idea and stablemate FAMOUS were the only two women’s weekly magazines to post year-on-year growth. The publisher reminds us that this is the 7th consecutive circulation increase for FAMOUS, while ACP competitor NW saw its circulation fall 12.2% over the same period. Though Woman's Day and Who also hung in there, posting nominal falls, the weekly category fell 5% overall with Grazia dragging its heels alongside OK! and NW.


Neck-in-neck falls for the cheapie reality weeklies this audit as mums and grandmas continue to tighten purse strings (things must be really tight). Perhaps results will lift next period to reflect the pension increase (thank you, Mr Rudd)?


Clever cover-mounting tactics have given ACP's Harper's BAZAAR the glossy equivalent of a Wonderbra lift (9%), but the stand-out performer this audit is, again Morrison Media's Frankie, which is closing in on the likes of Harper's and Vogue with sales of 46,684 a month and eating into Cleo and Cosmo's results. How can this be? Frankie doesn't even do covermounting? The publicity surrounding the last circulation increase probably didn't hurt, but neither does a solid social media strategy (60,000+ Facebook friends; 15,961 Twitter followers), community involvement and sense of authentic reader/mag connection despite its bi-monthly status. Meanwhile, The Australian Women's Weekly, SHOP Til You Drop, InStyle and Madison have largely weathered tough times.


Unsurprisingly, Australia's love affair with food is commensurate with rises in the fancy foodie title sales (Delicious, Donna Hay, Gourmet Traveller), though ACP's Australian Good Food appears to have eaten into the circulation of the lower-end supermarket recipe magazines. MasterChef magazine debuted with a grand-spanking 150,000 copies, ranking it second in the food and entertaining category behind Super Food Ideas and garnering it the lustrous position of sixth place on Australia's list of biggest sellers. We are becoming a nation of food snobs. Fat ones.


Women's Health continues to lead the market on the health front (arguably, it's more a women's lifestyle title akin to Cosmopolitan), though the independently published Australian Healthy Food Guide has gained a healthy circulation increase.


Home magazines are where the buyer's heart is this audit with Gardening Australia and Your Garden the only two titles to post decreases (how will Pacific's new Jamie Durie launch, slated for spring, fare in this climate?). Belle, Australian House & Garden and Real Living are the stand-out performers, though Aussies clearly have a penchant for interiors inspiration. The home-focus reflects TV ratings for Packed to the Rafters and, of course, fellow Channel Seven stalwart Better Homes & Gardens.


The message from tween and teen mag publishers: Nintendo DS, Internet, movies, cheapskate parents... you can suck it. Despite aggressive covermount tactics, the tween market continues to free-fall. Can the highly bankable new Harry Potter movie turn conditions around next audit (some wizardry would come in handy)? On a more optimistic note, market leaders DOLLY and Total Girl posted the least-worst results.

GWAS Note: If you spot any discrepancies in the above data, please leave a friendly comment and I shall amend ASAP. Merci!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: State of the (mag)nation - June 2010 readership

Australians' voracious magazine reading habits have dipped 2.7% year-on-year, exclusing newspaper inserted magazines, according to Roy Morgan's July 2009-June 2010 readership survey, though some categories have showed impressive gains.

Women's bridal magazines grew 23.7% thanks to a massive 62.3% readership boost for Modern Wedding, while home and lifestyle titles gained 9.9% more readers overall. Teen girls (+4.9%), sporting (+3.1%), men's lifestyle (+2.9%), health (+2.7%) and mass monthlies (+2.7%) also showed improvement.

But the stand-out titles included many from Roy Morgan's "Other" category: Big Issue (+32.4%), Australian Traveller (+28.1%) and New Scientist (+20.3%) all have reason to celebrate, along with GQ (+57.8%), The Week (+51.4%) and Recipes+ (33.3%).


Are you team Famous or team NW? The rival Pacific Magazines and ACP titles are almost neck-in-neck, while Woman's Day remains the market leader despite a 4.3% decrease and OK! was the only other weekly (other than English Woman's Weekly) to post a gain.


Readers have abandoned the glossies in droves with only Harper's BAZAAR, Vogue and The Australian Women's Weekly gaining ground. Perhaps women squirreled away their copies and refused to share, so coveted are these pricey packages with their free-gift-with-purchase adornments and celebrity endorsements? The women's fashion category alone fell 3.9%, selling an average of 1.48 million copies a month, down from 1.5 million a year ago. SHOP Til You Drop is currently residing in the 'women's lifestyle' category with Cleo, Cosmo and Women's Health, which fell 6.7%.


Both lost reader interest, or maybe the puzzle prize pools have been too good to disclose to one's nearest and dearest.


Our appetite for foodie mags remains near insatiable with results largely reflecting trends from the March survey. Will the collective tastebuds of the category sour when MasterChef magazine enters the readership fray?


We seem to be off garden-specific glossies (Your Garden, Gardening Australia, Burke's Backyard) but more tolerable towards those which encompass both indoor and outdoor living (Better Homes & Gardens has registered its highest ever readership) as well as interiors titles, which tend not to suffer from seasonal defective disorder.


Like those annoying people who do triathlons in their spare time, Women's Health strides ahead of the competition putting in in first place in the health pack while running second in the women's lifestyle race after Cosmopolitan, beating out Cleo and SHOP Til You Drop (if shopping were a bona fide sport, it could straddle the health category, too!).


The 62,000 readership gap between Dolly and Girlfriend is like a wedgie that won't go away no matter what [sisterhood of the travelling] pants you put on. The popular girl reigns supreme.

Circulation figures to come.

See also: State of the (mag)nation - March 2010 readership results

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

CHICTIONARY by Clare Press

(I speak, you speak, we all speak...FASHION)

F’row Word of the Moment

Camel. (Kah-melle) n. The new black.

Other colours make regular bids to be the new hue (green, for example, as all things eco gain style momentum) but rare is the contender that pulls it off meaningfully, i.e. as a genuinely viable wardrobe alternative to fashion’s pet noir.

The Little Cream Dress? Nope. It shows the dirt. A cerulean velvet Le Smoking ensemble? Come off it. The go-with-anything tailored plum pant? So far, so unlikely.

And then, just when fashion has grown a little too complacent, vamping up and toning it down season upon season in safe old classic predictable black, along comes camel and changes everything.

Before you can say Hannah MacGibbon (okay so that’s actually quite a while because MacGibbon is a mouthful but you get my drift) more than just your Chloé clones are clad in camel. Camel coats, quilted camel leather bomber jackets, draped camel skirts, camel bustiers, camel minis, camel capes, leg-lengthening über flattering camel pants and even camel disco dresses are cropping up all over the catwalks. Camel ball gowns? Why not! L.C.D. Wardrobe System? You bet. Black is so last season.

GWAS Note: Mrs. Press is a busy lady (book writing, fashion designing, blogging; you know how it is), so shall be dropping by GWAS sporadically to impart her words of fashion wisdom. Between blog posts, why not visit her e-boutique (it's très fabu) and pick up a pretty slip or a frou frou party tutu or something lovely for your dressing table?

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: 50th issue milestone for Footprints magazine

Glossy Talk: 50th issue milestone for Footprints magazine

Big feats in the world of small publishing get me excited. Without the cash flow of the corporate giants of the media world, little-known titles are often labours of love put together by people who are passionate but pennyless because they want a printed platform to express ideas that are not always commensurate with generating large readerships or advertising dollars.

Arguably, this small-fry status also gives them a lot of editorial freedom, but it can be a challenge to keep one's head above water, both financially and directionally, even if your definition of success doesn't have a dollar sign in front of it.
Janet Camilleri is the editor of Footprints, which is now in its 50th edition. Here she talks about getting the first issue up, nurturing local talent and what drives her editorial ethos.

GWAS: What inspired you to start Footprints?
Janet: About 12 years ago, I got to the point in my life where the glossies I’d been reading just didn’t do it for me anymore. I wanted to read something uplifting and positive, something proudly Australian, about real people and their stories, but most of all about having a relationship with God and the difference He can make in our everyday lives. And so the first issue of Footprints was launched back in January 1998.

How has it evolved from that first issue? To be honest, I cringe a little now when I see the first issue. It was very basic in format (just a bunch of photocopied pages), and the writing was amateurish and in need of a good edit and polish! But right from the start I felt very strongly to start where I was at. Out of tiny acorns, a mighty oak tree grows!

Christian titles are often a genre onto themselves: how is Footprints different? For a start, nearly 100% of our content is from Australia or New Zealand – many other magazines rely on American writers, or reprint American stories. There is nothing wrong with this, but my vision for Footprints was to nurture and support our own talent, and share our own stories. I wanted to create a publication that is relevant to THIS country, not another American import.

There is a big focus on “celebrity” writers these days, yes, even in Christian publishing! I guess this is because publishers KNOW that they have a guaranteed readership, which equals higher sales. However, I have found that just because somebody is famous or has excelled in their chosen field, does not necessarily make them a skilled writer. Instead, we provide a forum for our readers to share from their hearts and life experiences, to encourage others who may be facing the same struggles or situations.

Finally, most magazines are run as a business. Footprints is a not-for-profit enterprise, run by a group of volunteers. It truly is a “labour of love” for me, and for all our helpers – we are motivated by our love of God, our love of writing, our love for others.

Who is your readership? It is hard to say exactly without sophisticated (and expensive!) market research, but from what I can see our readers are mainly Christian women aged 30 and up, from all different denominations and walks of life.

However, we have readers from as far afield as New Zealand, Vanuatu, Japan and the United States and even women who are not Christians have told me how much they enjoy reading Footprints. I’ve also heard plenty of stories from women who say they have trouble wrestling their copy of Footprints away from their husbands, so that they can actually read it!

How have you garnered ad support? Did it come easily? For a long time we didn’t have any ads in Footprints at all. In the early days, I was approached by some rather strange people and businesses, which scared me off advertising altogether! In the last few years, however, I kept having people ask about advertising in Footprints, and I began to realise that maybe it was time to reconsider. I had a revelation that rather than being “scary”, advertising could in fact help us to achieve our goals. Obviously, any income from advertising would be a very welcome addition to our budget, and would allow us to grow and expand. But the turning point came when I realised that part of our vision is to support and encourage other Christian businesses and ministries – because we know how hard it can be – and offering affordable advertising and promotional opportunities would be a great way to achieve that!

Where on the glossy spectrum do you see Footprints sitting? Imagine a magazine that combines certain aspects of other magazines – thought-provoking stories like “Marie Claire”, tips for home and family life like you’d find in “Better Homes & Gardens”, articles on relationships like “Notebook:”, ideas for healthy living like “Women’s Health & Fitness”, examples of inspirational women like “Weight Watchers”, real life stories like “That’s Life” and “Take 5”, tackling current affairs like “The Australian Women’s Weekly” – that’s probably the best way to describe Footprints’ place on the glossy spectrum!

What's next for Footprints? We are constantly striving to improve Footprints, one step at a time. In our next issue, for example, we are very excited about our layout which has been given a bit of a makeover! Later this year I will be representing Footprints and leading a workshop at the Faithwriters Conference in Sydney, and at the Word Writers Fair in Brisbane.

In the longer term, the vision is for Footprints to become a full colour, glossy magazine with a lot more pages; available bimonthly or even monthly (instead of quarterly), at newsagents across Australia! There are also plans to one day hold Footprints women’s conferences, have regular radio spots, and release more books (Clues to your Calling was launched in 2003; Decadence: treat yourself to 10 years of Footprints was released in 2008.

Only God Himself knows for sure what the future holds. In the meantime, we will keep doing the best we can to offer a wholesome, inspirational magazine for the women of Australia.

GWAS readers can go to to request a free trial issue.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS: Lessons in The Elements of Style #3 (Like, OMG!)

GWAS: Lessons in The Elements of Style #3 (Like, OMG, you guys!)

"Did you see all the randoms trying to suck up to me when we arrived? They're all like, "Hi, Ja'mie!" Like, as if I'm gonna talk to them just because it's the formal." - Ja'mie King, star of Summer Heights High, sponsor of 85 African children, finalist in DOLLY's covergirl competition.

Adopted by overgrown adults to convey they're 'down with the kids', reality TV stars who need filler content to occupy their vacuous sentences as they channel their brains for actual thoughts and Pauline Hanson to convey her disdain for pesky Asian immigrants ("I don't like it"), for such a nice word, 'like' has a lot of negative connotations. This week we look at its proper-like usage, according to Strunk and White:

Not to be used for the conjunction as. Like governs nouns and pronouns; before phrases and clauses the equivalent word is as.

We spent the evening like in the old days.
We spent the evening as in the old days.

Chloe smells good, like a baby should.
Chloe smells good, as a baby should.

The use of like for as has its defenders; they argue that any usage that achieves currency becomes valid automatically. This, they say, is the way the language is formed. It is and it isn't. An expression sometimes merely enjoys a vogue, much as an article of apparel does. Like has long been widely misused by the illiterate; lately it has been taken up by the knowing and the well-informed, who find it catchy, or liberating, and who use it as though they were slumming. If every word or device that achieved currency were immediately authenticated, simply on the ground of popularity, the language would be as chaotic as a ball game with no foul lines. For the student, perhaps the most useful thing to know about like is that most carefully edited publications regard its use before phrases and clauses as simple error.

Edited extract from The Elements of Style (Illustrated), Strunk, White, Kalman, $19.95, Penguin. If the copy ain't pretty, I simply don't like it. So, the kindly folk at Penguin have allowed me to extract some very important lessons on matters of mastering the English language into as much for my own amusement as a collective refresher course. Yippee!

See also:
Lessons in The Elements of Style #1 (Omit needless words)
Lessons in The Elements of Style #2 (Quotations)

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk:The new Julia Gillard guest edits Woman's Day

Glossy Talk: The new Julia Gillard guest edits Woman's Day; Tony Abbott sidelined to a marginal sidebar

Between Kevin Rudd, Mark Latham and now Kyle Sandilands, the blokes are really cutting Julia Gillard's grass, if a potential PM is judged by the company she keeps in public. Still, the latest edition of Woman's Day gives Gillard another chance to connect with female voters – or at least the 1,563,000 of them who read The Day.

Following on from The Day's celebratory special edition after Gillard's controversial rise to the prime ministerial role, and the cover of stablemate title The Australian Women's Weekly, the PM has been given the opportunity to guest edit the weekly magazine, contributing an editor's letter, "reviewing this week's real life and lifestyle content" and answering a Q&A.

"I understand that Australian women face challenges every day – balancing the demands of work and family, managing the household budget and contributing to their community," writes Gillard in the opening missive. "In this week's issue, we see plenty of people enhancing the lives of those around them and inspiring us with their efforts... I'm also happy to share with you my partner Tim's lamb roast recipe (page 87), which is a favourite of mine."

Gillard goes on to recommend a story on Lady Flo Bjelke-Peterson, whose "views were on the other side of politics to mine", and jokes that "it's nice to see fellow red head Prince Harry gracing the pages this week (page 8)", before signing off with, "One of the joys of sitting back with a good magazine is you can set aside the stresses for a while. Have a good week and enjoy your Woman's Day!"

Needless to say, there's little chance Gillard stopped by ACP's Park Street offices to approve the Sandliands "secret lover" cover, or the 'Tears, heels & ranga pride' cover line (Sydney is considered a very safe Labor seat with the Greens coming up a close second). In the Gillard feature, the PM answers hard-hitting questions about her hair ("redheads do OK"), heels ("I don't own a lot of high heels"), MasterChef ("I was glad it came down to two South Australian contestants"), celebrity crushes (Bruce Willis), relationships ("it's really important to have time with your family and relax") and crying (she doesn't).

We learn that a "younger version of Judi Dench" could play her in a movie, she would call Tim or her sister Alison in the event of an emotional crisis, that she had seafood lasagne at her last social dinner and that she believes the key for fair opportunities for women is "a strong economy and a great education system". Can she relate to mums? "I don't know what it's like to be an Indigenous Australian, don't know what it's like to face the world with a disability, but you can seek to put yourself in the shoes of others and attempt to see the world through their eyes."

The Day has relegated opposition leader Tony Abbott to a small sidebar titled 'My Dad Tony' in which Katherine Chatfield chats to Abbott and his daughter, Louise. "He does a good charcoal barbecue," says Louise of her father's cooking repertoire. A lack of culinary skills may be the only thing Abbott and Gillard have in common.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Don't call me fat(uous)!

Girl Talk: Don't call me fat(uous)!

Last Sunday, I fell off the wagon. Spiritually bereft (I skipped church), morally out of step (I threw a tantrum) and a hundred dollars poorer (new tights, vintage Italian shoe-boots and a cute dress hastily stuffed into my handbag), I coerced Husband into a stop-over at a (cue soundtrack from Psycho)... mall.

My shopping appetite already sated with my market stash (sans the pink boucle jacket someone swiped before I could hand over my cash!), the moment I stepped into the place I felt ill. The material gluttony, the mass-produced goods, the wobbly trolleys and an unwelcome run-in with my former shopaholic self conspired to rob me of my carefully cultivated new fashiony self: the one who shops thoughtfully and thriftily.

I immediately resolved to plan a mission trip to some far off third-word country to make amends... or, at least, give stuff away (heck, I'd only orchestrated a swap party for charity a weekend ago!). Then I read Sam de Brito's 'Absolutely Fatuous' piece in the Sun-Herald (pictured) and felt utterly condemned (which I'm sure was his point).

"The more obsessed a woman is with clothes, shoes and handbags, the more utterly barren her interior life," he wrote in his column, aptly juxtaposed with pages of social pages piccies, celebrity gossip and sartorial tidbits. "This is not to suggest all fashionably dressed chicks are completely vacuous or that conspicuous consumers of women's clothing cannot be "spiritual"... But is it possible to have one's moral compass in working order and spend $2500 on a handbag or own 100 pairs of shoes?"

Taking a further stab at exactly the kind of lady who might peruse the pages of S on a Sunday morning (ah-hem), de Brito asked, "Can you make a worthwhile contribution to humankind if you waste half your life glomming over "what people are wearing" photo spreads and heeding the utterances of Anna Wintour or Garance Dore?"

Cushioning the blow somewhat for readers who adore Garance Dore, de Brito made a distinction: "there are many gals who know their designers and lead fruitful, productive lives, but I'm talking about the type of woman who actually believes owning a pair of hot pants and knee-high socks before anyone else will bring them happiness".

Having been schooled in consumerism in the 1990s and coming of shopping age in the big-spendy 2000s, like many young women I fell victim to the persuasions of shopping malls and glossy fashion magazines. I blame Clueless and Sex and the City (pop culture is a convenient scapegoat for stupidity!), insecurity and a poor appreciation for asset depreciation. But what could have amounted to a house deposit was deposited at French Connection and Witchery and Country Road.

This time of rampant consumerism in my life came to a head with an encounter with God (hooray, saved), a trip around Europe with a friend, during which time I plugged many wardrobe gaps with sensible, well-made things (for grown-up girls) like blazers and jeans and shoes, which I still rotate, followed by my engagement to a man whose income capacity was hindered by his life's calling and my subsequent departure from the world of full-time salary earning (ergo, money got tighter than a pair of supertube jeans).

Since this time, I have prided myself on being resourceful and creative and eco-friendly in my approach to fashion, trawling thrift stores for pieces to liven up my basics, repairing items that start to fray, stashing away money for good shoes, occasionally indulging in pieces bought from local boutiques (dressed up as doing my bit for the community) and hosting swap parties. Shopping has become something I delight in, occasionally, rather than mindlessly participate in... often.

But things could have turned out differently. Had God not intervened with his divine plan that I might learn to live a life of thrift, I could have been an Avis Cardella, whom de Brito takes aim at in his column and whose book, Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict, made me feel ill.

Cardella's is a 260-page cautionary tale for all the aspiring Carrie Bradshaws (or Gossip Girls) led astray by the notion that a girl can have her shoes (all 100 pairs and counting) without the financial and spiritual repercussions.

“How can a woman with a closet so full feel so empty inside?” asks Cardella, a New York model-turned-fashion-photography-critic whose penchant for spending turned into a shopping addiction fuelled by her deep insecurities, bouts of depression and the need to keep up appearances.

Her memoir is full of supporting evidence about shopping addiction, but the ruminations on her purchases, her mother's part in her negative self-image, her craving for her father's approval and her failed relationships make for a sorrowful tale about a girl who grew into a woman without getting the message that fabulous clothes do not a fulfilling life make.

After visiting the Valentino retrospective exhibition at GoMA this morning, accompanied by some of the gorgeous girls studying fashion through QUT's creative industries division, I was reminded that having an appreciation for fashion and for beautiful things needn't be concomitant with consuming fashion at a pace that befits Paris Hilton (or a certain fictional New York columnist), as rampant consuming is ultimately unsustainable and damaging for one's financial prospects and interior life.

While throwing a tantrum befitting of a three-year-old when the pink jacket was swiped from under my nose was the 'wake up and smell the ridiculousness' reminder this former shopaholic needed, when I paired my vintage Italian boots with a pair of new tights, an old dress and a tried-and-true trench this morning, my moral compass was left perfectly in tact (thank you very much, Sam).

Fashion doesn't maketh the woman, but like a beautifully curated exhibition, a pared-back, thoughtful, occasionally updated wardrobe can help her define her sense of self.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Kristy Fraser-Kirk's Sexual Harassment Precedent

Girl Talk: Kristy Fraser-Kirk's Sexual Harassment Precedent

How can it be that 30 years after Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin kicked the proverbial butt of their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss in Nine to Five that we are still talking about sexual harassment in the workplace... without irony (designer Alannah Hill's ill-conceived attempts at humour do not count)?

As has been widely reported, former David Jones junior publicist Kristy Fraser-Kirk, 27, launched legal action on the eve of the store's spring/summer showing this week (prime publicity time), claiming $37 million in damages against former CEO Mark McInnes, nine board members and the department store, while also setting a whopping new precedent for sexual harassment cases in Australia.

While SMH business reporter Elizabeth Knight untangles the legal detail here, several journalists, commentators, McInnes supporters and DJs loyalists have questioned Fraser-Kirk's motive – and the size of the claim – with the underlying theme: was that really necessary?

I think yes. Because $37 million big ones (equal to 5% of McInnes' salary and 5% of DJ's profits during the time he worked there) speaks loud and clear at a time when we are all too familiar with corporate excess (and have all felt the repercussions, globally) and when CEO salaries at the top 300 companies average $2.3 million a year (in 2009, McInnes took home salary of $1.78 million and a bonus of $2.68 million). Relatively speaking, it's big biccies for big business.

When, as Tory Magquire wrote for The Punch today, just 9% of Australian boards are made up of women and, as noted by marie claire this month, there is still a great disparity between men's and women's wages (just 82% of that of a man's), the picture of institutionalised disadvantage and sexist corporate culture becomes even clearer.

Writing on pay inequity for marie claire, Anna Saunders says, "It's not until they've been in the labour market for a few years...that many women realise they're getting a raw deal. Even then, the corporate "don't ask don't tell" attitude about pay cheques makes inequity hard to detect." This notion could apply equally to attitudes about misconduct.

While $37 million speaks loudly to every male-dominated industry, every company board, every woman in a workplace who might feel disempowered by her circumstances, every big shot who thinks he doesn't have to play by the rules of respectful conduct, and every whistle-blowing workman on a building site, most importantly it will speak to a generation of young women about integrity and standing up to bullies. "It is not just about me," said Fraser-Kirk in a prepared media statement. "I'm a young woman standing here today simply because I said it was not okay, because I said this should never happen to me or to anyone."

See also:
Damn domestic violence, support Wayne Cooper
Lara Bingle, Woman's Day, ACA

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel