CHICTIONARY by Clare Press

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

F’row Word of the Fortnight

Real People (reel peepul) n. (half strength) derog. Okay, so it’s actually a phrase not a word, but a valid one, as you shall see. The term is used by magazine girls to refer to the non-models who occasionally turn up in shoots called things like “Chic at Any Age!” and “Chic for the Office!”

Real People are especially useful in fashion’s dud months (i.e. Jan/Feb and July issues) when everyone’s seen the looks of the season shot on Lara Stone and is yearning for a fresh idea. That the very existence of the concept of Real People suggests that models are unreal/fake people/chimaera doesn’t seem to worry the fashionista – perhaps the fact that ex-models can become Real People when they get old is reassuring.

So who’s keeping it real? Not just any old people, clearly. Frazzled working mums, Supré fans, students and people with regular-sounding jobs (accountants, chemists, charity workers, teachers etc.) need not apply. Not that it’s up to you to apply. The editors do the choosing – a (real) girl can but hope.

You have a reasonable chance of being selected to represent reality on the pages of a glossy magazine if: you look almost like a model in clothes and are a fashion PR; you look almost like a model in clothes and are a big spender at Belinda; you look almost like a model in clothes and present a slightly off the radar TV/radio/music video show; you look exactly like a model and intern in the Vogue office.

Young and pretty artists, film directors, architects and dancers will also be considered as long as they haven’t made the big time yet – serious fame renders one unreal. But don’t stress if this charge is leveled at you…come the March issue, it’ll be back to the fake people. Where there’s life, there’s hope…

In conversation. Hints and tips for daily use:
It’s the Feb issue production meeting at Runway magazine. The troops are bored and have been banned from shooting Balenciaga till next season.

Fashionista 1 says: “How about we do a Spring Clean Your Wardrobe! story, and shoot it on some Real People?”
Fashionista 2 says: “Great! How about Nicole Trunfio?
The Editor says: “Sorry girls but Nicole is a model. Who else you got?”
Fashionista 1 says: “Skye Stracke?”
The editor says: “She’s a model…”
Fashionista 2 says: “I’ve got it! Steph Carta!”
The editor: “I give up. Let’s do a Models Off Duty! story.”
Fashionista 1 says: “For real?”

CHICTIONARY CREDENTIALS: In case you didn't know (where have you been?), Clare Press is a former fashion director for Vogue Australia and has her own fashion label, the wonderful vintagey Mrs. Press. Pretty and witty, she's also a really lovely lady, so I'm delighted that she'll be gracing this here blog on occasion to impart some words of sartorial wisdom. Visit her frolicking new blog here.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: Raising the bar on body image

Glossy Talk

Over the weekend I had a wee, 800-odd-word piece on body image published in The Sunday Telegraph's Body + Soul section (thank you, Cushla Chauhan and team for lending me your newspapery platform). The brief was to write a first-person piece reflecting on my personal body-image story, while also looking at why women are so hard on themselves and the role glossy magazines have played...

My mother's response? "Very honest but I am curious about which aunty poked you in the tummy (and the ballet teacher?)!". Truthfully, I'm not overjoyed with what I wrote – it could have packed a heavier punch or contained a more succinct message about the disabling effects of body obsession, eating disorder, perfectionism (ironic?) and absorbing the wrong media messages. But such is life. And word counts. And the constraints of writing for women's media.

While newspaper columnists often dabble in body image issues, shouting at us about the futility of aspiring to look like supermodels and stupidity of continuing to consume magazines (aka "self-hate manuals") before returning to their regular beats, those who are ensconced in women's media are constantly negotiating their stance on this complex issue.

Faced with the conflicting pressures of female interest in obtaining those golden nuggets of wisdom that will set us all free of weight issues forever and our media-fed desire to look like The Beautiful People (aided by L'Oreal) on the one hand, and being credible and responsible publications on the other (even mag hags go to journalism school), most women's mags – and women's newspaper supplements – are by nature hypocritical or, at the least, confusing (UP! Magazine has a unique mission in this regard).

Former magazine editor Marina Go talked to me for the Body + Soul piece. Though she agrees that women's magazines could widen the scope of the images they present to us, she also believes readers are discerning:

"I don’t think that writing an article about weight loss or the old chestnut of lose a dress size by Friday is dictating that that’s what you need to do. Consumers aren’t stupid. They’ll buy a magazine if they see a coverline that appeals to them. So if you’re in the mindset that you need to lose weight or you need to look more like Kate Moss or Demi Moore then you’ll by the magazine because it’s a resource."

But who's responsible for creating that mindset – that vast gap between self-acceptance and body dissatisfaction? Professor Marika Tiggemann of Flinders University told me: "There have always been beauty standards, but it has become really important to achieve that standard and appearance has become a much more important part of how we value people and ourselves. That’s really where the pity is... All our media links looks being thin and attractive with being successful and happy. So we’ve bought that whole package. The media, being everywhere, is a major contributor because it makes people think about it."

Bitching about women's media is sort of like having a whinge about your mother-in-law's propensity to make you feel about as capable as a monkey on rollerskates. She wants to improve you (ie meld you into her own image), but you are content just as you are. Good for you! But you still have to learn how to get along, because you share some common ground, and she's not going anywhere (just yet).

While change is afoot in glossy land, with editors recognising the value in lifting the self-esteem of their readers (for advertisers, surely this means a more positive brand association) and the inclusion of more encouraging stories (I found Who's story this week on Erin McNaught, pictured, to be uplifting, as was New Idea's Home And Away spread; Grazia's 'The rise of body bulling' not so much), we still have some homework to do if we're to stop from falling into 'The Body Image Trap'.

"It’s difficult to persuade people that appearance is not important, because it damn well is," says Tiggemann. "The trick is to make sure that people have a sense of other things that are also important, that are unique about them – be it sporting ability or artistic ability or being a good friend or being a generous person. So people can have a list of things that make them them that are important in addition to appearance. It’s important not to focus too much on appearance."

So maybe we should just stop talking about it and get on with the rest of the show, like Erin McNaught seems to be...?

See also:
Summing up the marie claire medias#*tstorm
Marie Claire, Madison and Magazine Dreams
Is dieting passe?
Is size zero finally over?

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: Cleo hits her stride

Glossy Review

As the Cleo crew and a bevvy of beautiful Sydney identities ogle hot men judge the Cleo Bachelor of the Year Awards today (follow the updates on Twitter with 4000-odd other peeps!), I thought I'd sneak a peek at the February 'Tigerlily issue', which represents the second edition in the glossy's lineup of designer collaborations. But don't be fooled by her fashiony inclinations: there are gutsy reads, gorgeous images and creative concepts to keep your eyes (and brain) amused. By all appearances, five issues into her new look, Cleo has officially hit her self-confident stride.

So, we know the cover shot of Kate Hudson (2009's top Aussie cover girl) by Cliff Watts is from the same set of studio images that gave us covers for the March 2009 edition of Harper's BAZAAR Australia and the January 2009 edition of British Harper's BAZAAR (glossies like to swap stock shots like sisters swap clothes), and we are also a little bit over the structured shoulder trend, but the hot, summery font shades against the white background lend the cover a striking edge that's hard to ignore on the newsstand... if only it weren't obscured by the hideous plastic bagging of a beach dress. Grr. Speaking of "grr", that's exactly what Hudson is saying with her eyes and mouth. Perhaps she is having a "Telepathic Orgasm" as she thinks about "Kinky Sex"? Or maybe she is just hungry.

The good bits:
- While 16-year-old Hollywood paparazzo Austin Visschedyk kind of gives me the creeps, the little guy comes across as likable. I had to laugh at this quote: "I'm treated differently to other paparazzi. I'm cute and cuddly - I'm not a 40-year-old pervert looking person."And he seems to have good morals: "If I took a photo of a star doing something bad, or a pic that would hurt them, I'd delete it." We can learn so much from the youth of today.

- Cleo is owning talent from the blogosphere. This issue, style bloggers lovemaegan, phosphenefashion and psimadethis put their DIY skills to the test. There's also a photographic spread based on; 'Home, Sweet, Home' with blogger Kirsten Grove (; 'City Slickers' featuring Aussie street-style snappers; and 'Our parents were awesome', a Frankie-flavoured pictorial spread drawing on vintage photo blogs, like, and Thanks for the fresh new linkage, Cleo!

- Kate Hudson is owning smiley roles: "I feel as though, when I'm 40, I'll have plenty of time to play the depressed housewife."

- Tania Gomez celebrates women of the cerebral kind in 'Is smart the new sexy?', a three-page feature accompanied by stacks of Penguin books (cute). "Smart is becoming the new sexy because our society has well and truly outgrown its own time-honored gender stereotypes," says cultural studies scholar Maja Mikula. "We are surrounded by astute, intelligent women." That's a comforting thought.

- Bec Whish imparts 'Retro Life Advice' gleaned from clinical psychologist and Mad Men fan Muriel Cooper, under sub-heads including 'maintain your independence', 'accentuate the positive', 'stay cool under pressure', 'rise above office politics' and 'present yourself well'.

- Carla Caruso investigates the world of food blogging, where 'foodgasms' and 'food hangovers' are all in a day's work and bleeding bank accounts and bulging waistlines are hazards of the job. There's gentle advice from an addiction specialist on passions turning unhealthy. I really enjoyed this piece.

- 'Fashion Heavyweights For 2010' is an ironic headline for a feature full of skinny people. The list includes Kate Lanphear, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Dree Hemingway, Phoebe Philo, Tommy Ton, Olivier Zahm, Tavi Gevinson, Scott Schuman and Garance Dore. Love the layout.

- 'Is staying in the new going out?' asks Rachel Hills. When even Paris Hilton is over the party scene, the Zeitgeist has shifted. "Nanna" girls are the new socialites.

- In 'Self-help or self-harm?' Sarah Ayoub investigates whether self-help courses can undermine your health. Ayoub launches with the story of 34-year-old PA Rebekah Lawrence, who committed suicide after attending a Turning Point seminar, and asks if it's right that the industry – which plays on women's emotional needs – is self-regulated, with many unqualified life coaches practising. Advice - seek out a mental health professional.

- Chloe Sevigny = stunning in hot pink lips shot by Kenneth Cappello. J'adore this feature! Why isn't she on the COVER????!!!!

- 'Moving in... with your parents' asks if doing it the second time 'round can work; 'We're so vain' asks if we're the "maintenance generation" and includes a bunch of helpful self-talk tips for the image conscious.

- Four pages of screen-grabs and celebrity quotes make up 'The film that changed my life.' Simple and effective... make way, I'm off to the video shop!

- Candice Chung asks, 'Do we all have to be success stories?'. Chung relates her personal story of falling short of typical life success measures, explores the plethora of anxiety-inducing choices on offer to us, and rounds out by redefining success. There's a helpful checklist for personal contentment, too.

- David Smiedt writes 'Fling or forever?', giving us insight into the male dating psyche: are you a 'current distraction' (aka "mattress buddy") or 'something more'? He uses chivalrous phrases like, "given the chance, of course he'll do you", to help you on your path to relationship enlightenment. There are some gems here ("nothing brands a woman as 'fling' quicker than her propensity to apologise for everything"; "the most resilient partnerships are those that are strengthened by conflict"; "continue to be the well-rounded, evolved person he fell in love with").

- Popular columnist Nicole Daboul reflects on her year of dating in 'Great expectations'. She hasn't found love yet, which reflects love's ability to be more "happy accident" than "result of writing dating column". She ends on a cuddly, hopeful note: "I wouldn't mind if love could just bowl me over, and maybe make my head spin." Next to Daboul's column is a page of marriage proposal stories.

- I always enjoy Kathryn Eisman's columns. This month she writes about after-dark attire, referencing "Susan Boyle when she snuggles with her Kitty Pebbles".

- Bec Whish has some firm words for "perspiration monsters who don't wipe up" and other gym offenders in 'Cleo's Guide to Sweatiquette'.

- '10 Lifestyle Tweaks' is just the treat for a little uplift on a flat day (or life). Cleo helps us sensibly curb junk-food addiction a page over, then tells us why we're so tired (sleep deprivation, lack of fitness, malnutrition, medical issues) and shows us what the perfect lunch looks like (a whole lot of yum). 'Why do I eat when I'm not hungry?' talks about emotional eating triggers (stress, boredom, unhappiness, tiredness) and gives us tricks to nip the habit in the bud. The mag then lets us off the goodie-goodie health hook with 'Indulgence that's actually good for you'.

- Meet three "chicks who surf" for Rip Curl in 'Hang Ten', then visit Queensland with Nicole Elphick via 'Endless Summer' (after considering the Virgin Blue Holidays 'summer stays' page 181) and test out a bike, Agyness-style, on page 192.

- The 'Radar: pop culture and prettiness for your viewing pleasure' section opens with a fun image of the Vampire Weeekend boys. I love this section with its slick design, nuggets of pop culture news and book, album and movie reviews.

The not-so-good (oopsie!) bits:

- 'Forever 21: how to hit the pause button on getting old (saggy bits scare us)'. Noooooo! 1. You couldn't pay me to be 21 forever. 2. Let's start embracing ageing from a young age!

- You know one of my pet women's mag hates? Giving space to shitty men. See: 'Is this guy for real?', a Q&A with blogger Arthur Kade (who rates women on a scale of 10 - "hot" is a 7 and up). Ignore that link!

- 'Are you dating your dad?' writes John Bastick, who reminds us that "men's brains are wired to thinking that younger, prettier females are more conducive to childbearing" before launching into talk of Absent Father Syndrome. Depressing.

- A little ditty about marriage truths by yours truly made it into this issue – am officially the poster-girl for Poo-Pooing Marriage (thank you, confessional blog post) – eek! Thankfully, Husband got a laugh out of it (no divorce papers yet) and a couple of to-be-weds reportedly have, too. This is shameless publicity spiel dressed up as "oopsie bits".

- The Beginner's Guide to Bondage, including breakout box titled 'What tools do I need?'.

Pretty pages:

- On the second-page 'Tigerlily Issue' opener featuring model Alexandra (@Chic) we are told that the issue has been "created with love by Tigerlily designers Amelia Stanley and Jodhi Meares, and the Cleo team."

- The angelic face of Australian music video director Kinga Burza, 29, opens the 'What's Now' section. Cleo loves a pretty cool girl with connections and this one is passionate about her craft. The opener is followed by a one-page interview.

- Adore the layout for Tigerlily designer Amelia Stanley's 'What I bought' page.

- A snap of front-row fashionistas, including red-lipped "marketing mogul" Jen Brill, open 'In Store'. A very cool image. In fact, the In Store section, chock-full with still-life items, is generally just cool – particularly the 'Shady Ladies' sunglasses layout.

- Swimwear meets streewear in 'Like a tiger'. Love that all the gear isn't Tigerlily, though the range does form the basis for the shoot.

- Model Zippora Seven (who rose to fame via RUSSH and featured in Vogue Australia's December 2008 issue) is the 'Face of the month'. Beautiful image shot by Olivia Hemus for Ruby Boutique.

- 'On Counter: Passion Pop' is an impactful beauty page with a Warhol feel. I also appreciated 'Matt Factor: five ways to minimise a shiny face'; 'Beauty Icon: Zooey Deschanel' (adorable, always); and will consider investing in All About The Glo's Loose Bronzing Powder ($29.95 at Priceline) to get Kate Hudson's chiseled cover look. Priceline is also sponsoring Cleo's 'Make Me A Makeup Artist' competition.

- 'Tight Rope' features a smoky-eyed model in dancewear (think leggings, grey marle tees, tights, leg-warmers, Flashdance tees...). Love this.

- 'Into the blue' is a hazily-lit, scrap-book style denim spread that wouldn't look uncomfortable in RUSSH.

- 'Nine to Five' gives us 10 new looks for the office – neutrals and a little leopard print appear to be the way to go. Like a SHOP Til You Drop spread, it finishes with a page of still-life accessories.

- Gerard Butler in a suit, page 145 'Love & Lust'. Hubba hubba.

- Make 'Forever Yours' cupcakes, page 186, and "text up your living space with some typography-inspired pieces" (page 188).

- Kermit the Frog! 'The Grass is Always Greener' on page 190.

Glossy posse: If Cleo was a school, only cool girls would be enrolled. Kate Hudson, Kinga Burza, Austin Visschedyk, Peaches Geldof, Pip Edwards, Kristen Bell...

Blosses: Sarah Oakes; ACP Magazines
Glossy stats: February 2010; 212 pages; $8.95 with a Seduce beach dress.
Glossy ads: Pandora, Covergirl, Clinique, Herbal Essence, asics, Pepe Jeans...
Glossy rating: 4 - Yes... skim at your leisure then lend to a friend.

* Note: GWAS is a Cleo contributor on occasion. And congratulations to art director Liz, who is newly engaged!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Notes: Let them eat cake!

GWAS (Birthday) Notes

On New Years Eve I went to a party planned by a beloved aunt who had all the best intentions to create a fun atmosphere for 100 or so people. Chairs were placed in an orderly arrangement, games were facilitated, the menu was full and appetising, the playlist was in tune... then only 20 people showed up.

Those 20 people (self included) gravitated towards the lounge room, rather than the festive BBQ area, because it was freakin' cold. We were also made to wait for what felt like YEARS for dinner, in her hope that more people would come to the party.

Eventually some more people did show up, the dedicated party-goers, but they had (rudely) grabbed pizza on their way. Grandiose plans sometimes get in the way of reality. Push your party plan too hard and you'll be sorely disappointed, because you can't dictate how people will behave... no matter how 'quality' your offering is.

Rupert Murdoch is my aunt.

Murdoch's push to get people to pay for the content offered by his various News Corp services has divided the media-consuming community. Some say no-one will pay because free content has been the norm and consumer habits are hard to change; others suggest that if he wants to attract paying consumers, his company will need to lift its game. In this scenario, Murdoch is rather like the Marie Antoinette of the media world, screaming "Let them eat cake!" from his ivory tower, when most people are content to nibble on the free canapes (and I admit, Media Musings does nibble at the News Corp cake, and I also borrow images from other sites and the glossies for commentary purposes).

We have all been to very excellent parties (like the one over at mamamia), taking away from them experiences we cherish – and they're not always the big, fancy ones. The most memorable parties I've been to have been the more intimate soirees where I've engaged in great conversations or had an unexpectedly fun time – like the 21st I went to not long ago where 50-odd people (young and old) wound up dancing around the backyard for HOURS... and not a single drop of alcohol had been consumed. Same goes for online content – I love to visit the sites on my blogroll, because they offer me something special or unique to talk about; to engage with. They give me some sort of enjoyment or, like the best magazines, insight into a world I am not a part of (thank you, Vogue, ELLE, et al), or connect me with people or ideas that suit my sensibility (thank you, Frankie).

Girl With A Satchel celebrates her 3-year blog birthday this weekend (whee!). Yep, three years and counting. The rewards of blogging have definitely not been financial – like Mia Freedman, this thing has never been about the money (even when I worked in mags, it was never about the money).

I am super-grateful to the sponsors who have come on board to help fund the blog (in particular Krista from My Look Book, Sassi Sam and Niki from Beloved, who have been with me almost from the beginning), and am even more grateful that I've never had to chase advertising – it has come to the blog. Most recently, it has been a treat to get iSubscribe on board, who supply me with more than a few magazine subscriptions (some publishers have cottoned onto the fact that supplying me with mags is a good way to get coverage, others have been less obliging).

I have been approached by ad networks, but have been reluctant to sign on because I want to protect the integrity of the blog's content, and because I generally like to run my own show. Call me a control freak, but some ads are just ugly, while other products clash with my values, and I have Pollyanna standards to maintain. I also have a lovely list of contributors who do not get paid for their work – and I would very much like to pay them their due.

I'm grateful that I still get the odd freelance writing commission to help pay the grocery bills (thank you, Cosmo, for giving me reign over your book page) and to my in-laws for supporting Husband and I by providing us with a home. This year I'm also returning to Queensland University of Technology to tutor aspiring young writerly types, which has a cash bonus.

Husband and I are responsible with the money we earn, yet we struggle... a lot. I am too embarrassed to tell you how much we collectively earned last financial year, so let's just say NOT MUCH. But this is our choice. We eschew fancy things and lead a simple life and go about our work because we feel we can contribute in some small way to God's grand plans. Simple as that.

So, dear reader, it's over to you. I am a mini player in this online world, but I would like to stay. If that means continuing to run sponsored adverts, so be it. If that means offering you some sort of 'quality' package to subscribe to for a small fee, great. If it means starting up a Girl With A Satchel Club, even better (Babysitter's Club dreams come true!). In short, the ball's in your court and the cake's there for eating - for free or a small fee.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Girl In Media - Georgia Rickard

Charged with the task of editing a food magazine in the
face of monolithic competitor marketing budgets, the omnipresence of MasterChef and Aussie consumer cutbacks, Australian Healthy Food Guide's Georgia Rickard has her work cut out. But the vivacious 24-year-old (yes, 24 – that's where the energy comes from!) has a passion for her magazine and its team that outweighs any circulation threats. Rickard took time out from her hectic Healthy Food life to chat about forging her career in media and the little food title that could.

What were your passions and interests growing up? Gymnastics, books, horses, books, reading and … books! The local library used to have a policy of lending out no more than 10 books at once, so every week I’d be in there, exchanging my 10 for a fresh lot.

Which magazines did you read as a tween/teen? TV Hits, Girlfriend, Dolly and Cosmo. Dolly Doctor changed my life! I can still remember having walls covered with posters of Shannon from Home and Away (Isla Fischer) and JTT – Jonathon Taylor Thomas (whatever happened to him?). At that age – from 10 to about 14 – you’ve got no independence, and you’re still really trying to figure out who you are, so mags made a big impression on me. 

What did you do after school? I jumped straight into a Communications degree at UTS, then spent a year in France.

Why magazine journalism? 
I have always, always, always wanted to write, and I’d read mags so closely for so long that it seemed like a natural progression.

Who were some of your career role models/why? Mia Freedman – the original over-achiever; my mum (can I say that?), who showed me that you can do anything, as long as you believe in yourself; and, more recently, Zoe Foster. Anyone who reaches out and grabs their goals with both hands gets my thumbs up.

How did you get your start in mags and how has your career progressed? 
I did a short stint with a small mag in France. Then I came home to reality and went straight to a recruitment agency, looking for a job – any job – writing. Instead, they offered me a job with them! I spent a year knocking down doors, selling recruitment to people, before I got back to the writing dream. I’m so glad I did it – it gave me the skills I needed to pick up the phone and sell my skills as a writer. Since then, I’ve worked with some really great titles, including Cosmo, Cleo, Body + Soul (Sunday Telegraph), and Women’s Health.

What appealed to you about working on Australian Healthy Food Guide? Its potential. It’s still an evolving title. And we’re really only at the tip of the iceberg for nutrition as an emerging science. There’s so much misinformation out there, it’s great to work for a mag that sets things straight.

What sets AHFG apart from other health magazines on the stands?
 Our credibility. Absolutely everything in the mag is written and/or reviewed by qualified experts – dietitians, scientists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists. It’s all scientifically referenced – and we actually include those citations in the mag. For us, it’s about health – not fitting into a tiny pair of jeans. Nothing is ever sensationalised. You can trust what you read.

Who is your reader? 
Does anybody ever really know? We have so many different readers. There’s the mothers who want the best for their kids; the people who simply have a genuine interest in health; the people who have never learnt how to cook with vegies before but suddenly need to because they’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease; the dietitians who read it for the latest research findings; those with food allergies or intolerances who want dairy- or gluten-free recipes. It’s a giant, diverse community.

How does AHFG compete with the big guns?
 We don’t try to be like anyone else. So many mags compete for each others’ readers. We’re speaking to people who want something different.

You recently achieved a healthy circulation gain. What do you put this down to? I get so many letters from readers saying, “I found out about you through a friend/saw you at the supermarket, and I read my first issue from cover to cover! I can’t believe I’ve never read this before!”. I think it’s a word of mouth thing. But there’s still soooo much to evolve – the voice is evolving; the design is evolving; our cover is evolving. There’s so much room still to grow. I’m also lucky to be under the mentorship of Danielle Tibbles, who has edited and/or published every food mag under the sun – Vogue Entertaining + Travel, Super Food Ideas, delicious., Australian Good Taste… you get the idea!

What does your role as editor involve?
 People think editors spend their lives working on the mag itself, but that really only takes up about a third of my time. The rest is spent meeting with clients, doing radio/TV interviews, brainstorming ideas, coming up with marketing angles, thinking up PR stunts and advertorial props, organising and structuring upcoming features, commissioning features and recipes, trying new products (always fun), trying new recipes (always fun), balancing out the budget (not always fun)…

What does an average day look like for you? Arrive at work around 8:30am and eat a big bowl of blueberries with some muesli, delegate tasks for the coming days/week to the team, attend a couple of internal meetings, maybe head out for a meeting with a client, do a couple of radio interviews, have a lively debate about something irrelevant with whoever’s nearby…

Lunch is usually eaten at my desk, or on the run. Maybe I’ll attend the launch of a new product (and sneak in a glass of wine!). In the afternoons, I like to flip through other mags and check out what’s going on around the publishing world. It’s a great way to get inspiration and I really appreciate reading a good mag. There’s so much creativity out there. Sometimes I still can’t believe it’s my job to sit at my desk and flick!

Usually there’s also a couple more meetings in the afternoon – we’ve also been doing lots of work with Kevin Humphries (NSW shadow minister for healthy lifestyles), so I might head over to parliament for a catch up with him. Otherwise, I’ll do some actual work on the mag. It’s rare that I write many features these days, but I’m still very involved in every word we print, so I definitely stay close to everything before and after it’s subbed.

By 3:30, the choccie is usually broken out (especially at deadline time!). We share something in the office most days. There’s almost always a new food that’s been delivered to try in the office – chips, frozen meals, chocolate spreads, wine, biscuits – whatever.

I usually leave around 6:30 or 7pm, by which stage I’m pretty exhausted. Reading over what I’ve written, it doesn’t sound like a tough job, but it is actually very demanding, and I pour all my energy into it. Some days I’m ready for a nap before lunchtime!

How big is your team? What are their roles?

Apart from myself, there’s:
- Our dietitian, Bobbie – she writes for us, reviews everything we print, analyses recipes to ensure they’re nutritionally sound and does the odd radio interview or TV appearance (when we need an ‘expert’ on air);
- Our sub editor, Rachel – a grammar, punctuation, accuracy and readability control freak who also manages the website;
- Our junior writer, Michelle –Australia’s next big writing star;
- Our art director, Sue, who turns plain text into a world of beautiful pages;
- Our designer-at-large, Fiona, who has been working on the mag for the last three years and knows it inside and out; and
- Our production assistant, Kylie, without whom we couldn’t put the mag together.
Then there’s admin, accounts, marketing, sales, management and the New Zealand team. We work very closely with them.

What gives you the most job satisfaction? 
Once upon a time, I would have said writing, without a doubt. But I absolutely love the creativity, control and self expression that comes with editing. Not to mention the high from hearing that our latest issue is a great sale!

What are your favourite pastimes outside of work? Reading, talking (truly – if you knew me, you’d agree), exercising, hanging out with my friends, playing with my gorgeous puppy, Kingston, cooking, drinking wine, debating, watching Entourage (I can’t get enough of that show) and shopping.

Which magazines do you read? I have to confess, I don’t read as many as I used to – it feels a bit like work these days! I still read Women’s Health – love their voice and really appreciate their design – along with Vanity Fair, marie claire (AUS), Grazia and Famous. The subject matter of those mags is so far from what I do, which is probably why I enjoy reading them so much!

Your top 5 online destinations:

SMH – perfect for catching up on news snippets during a lunch break.
Webjet – I’m constantly checking out flights. And daydreaming about jumping on one of them.
Bluefly – their products are great, they ship quickly, and all the seasonal styles go on sale just in time for the season here. What’s not to love?
Amazon – Books, books, books, books. I LOVE having a new read show up in the mail.
Facebook – I know, I know.

Your next holiday destination?
 Byron Bay with five of my girlfriends.
Looking forward to... Having a glass of wine in the bath when I get home tonight.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: Summing up the marie claire media s#*tstorm

Glossy Talk

What do you get when you cross a naked celebrity model, an outspoken magazine editor, social commentators with strong opinions and column inches to fill, rival media organisations, angry women and a slow news week?

A. A media s#*tstorm like the one created around the Jennifer Hawkins/marie claire affair.

Nary an Aussie media outlet has ignored the issue, with TV, radio, newspapers and the web all hungrily jumping on the body image bandwagon. Some of the coverage I've come across (I am not Media Monitors, but do my best) includes:

LAST WEEK (starting Sunday Jan 3)
- The Sunday Telegraph's 'Jennifer Hawkins poses for nude magazine picture'
- 'Jennifer Hawkins strips to promote positive body image', The Sunday Herald-Sun)
- Melissa Hoyer's Q&A with Jackie Frank
- 'Body image foundation defends nude Jennifer Hawkins cover', The Age
- Bianca Dye's Today show appearance
- Mia Freedman's response @
- 'Jackie Frank hits back at critics over unretouched Hawkins cover' @ mUmbrella
- Grazia Daily's blog response
- The Cut's 'Does a Naked, Unretouched Supermodel Promote Positive Body Image?'
- Pacific Magazines stablemate Famous's one-page advertorial-style feature
- Lisa Pryor's column, 'Flawed logic behind images made to comfort the average woman' for SMH (A+ reading)
- Andrew Hornery's 'Hawkin' a message or chasin' publicity?'

THIS WEEK (starting Sunday Jan 10)
- Sports writer Jessica Halloran's 'Body of opinion is weight doesn't matter', The Sunday Telegraph (another A+ read: where art thou link? A snippet: "We all just need to suck up to the fact that Jen looks like she does because she is genetically blessed and works hard for that fit rig of hers. Don't get angry with Jen – get mad with Jackie Frank... As women have made weight into a paralysing and ugly thing, it is we who need to change it.")
- Ricki-Lee Coulter's bikini-clad response in Woman's Day.
- Grazia editor Alison Veness-McGourty's response in her editor's letter ("Jennifer Hawkins has apologised, although God knows why, after her nakedness on Marie Claire's cover. Ridiculous... will there be another new women's committee of C-list commentators fretting about image, and telling us what's acceptable, again."). Nice to see some glossy comradeship, though McGourty would be wise to side with Frank given her magazine's love of a skinny model/celebrity (see this week's pics of Rachel Zoe in her bikini!)
- And, lastly (but not for long!), Melissa Hoyer's 'Naked Backlash' column in this week's Grazia ("The rationale of the cover shoot was about 'raising awareness', but of what? Awareness of the fact none of us looks like that?")

All this adds up to ka-ching! for marie claire and major PR Brownie points at Pacific Magazines. But is the publicity doing more damage than good for marie claire's favour with female readers (as represented by the 483-and-counting responses @, or does it simply reflect the glossy's positioning as a "magazine of contrasts"; a money-making business enterprise reliant on covers with "cut-through" that "stimulate debate" targeted at thinking women of the world who should know better than to get glum over a picture of a model?

For a marketing move designed to promote positive body image, marie claire has attracted a lot of negativity – and, most disappointingly, The Butterfly Foundation has been caught up in the crossfire. Regardless of marie claire's intentions to donate funds raised from the sale of Hawkins' images (to whom, I'm not sure – your 15-year-old brother?), The Butterfly Foundation has become the unintentional whipping girl. As Lisa Pryor wrote:

"The most important work on improving the self-esteem of young women will never happen inside magazines designed to make women feel insecure so they will buy stuff. Such compromised publications should not be mistaken for champions of the psychological health of young women. Perhaps we should not expect more from a publication such as marie claire. But still, you have to wonder, what is the Butterfly Foundation doing, lending credibility to such a flawed and publicity-seeking initiative?".

Two things: it's my understanding that The Butterfly Foundation, like Myer, was not fully informed about the Hawkins shoot from the get-go. If they had been, things might have turned out a little differently. But now they are involved, they have to grin and bear the consequences. Secondly, why should any media be let off the hook if it appears to be doing a disservice to the public/consumers? Why do the glossies get off with an "I have my periods, can't do sport today" note when other media is beholden to Fourth Estate standards?

Developing Girlfriend's Self Respect campaign with then-editor Sarah Oakes (just down the hall from marie claire!), we spent a significant number of hours consulting various experts in the field of body image (namely Dr Jenny O'Dea of The University of Sydney, Dr Rick Kausman, and also The Butterfly Foundation) before implementing the best policy we could come up with, which encompassed everything from the images we would use, a self-esteem boosting approach to editorial and encouraging more positive self-talk in the office. More than three years on, the campaign is still in action, and readership numbers are impressive, so something must be working.

I really don't buy into the idea that the bar has been set and nothing can change. As much as glossies set the agenda and 'just give readers what they want', the Zeitgeist has clearly shifted and readers, like Jessica Halloran, who concludes her Sunday Telegraph piece by telling us her New Year's resolution is to "give up my masochistic habit of reading all those magazines and to aspire for things other than losing two kilos", will turn away if the glossies don't embrace a new (possibly money-making!) editorial agenda based on making women feel great. It's not just for teens, but for thinking 'women of the world', too.

See also: 'A Feminist Call to Fashion Arms' - the evolution of the size zero story.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

P.S. Speaking of thinking women of the world, did anyone else see the irony in Kate Ellis, the youngest ever Federal Government Minister who has spearheaded the Body Image Advisory Board, being pictured in her bikini on the pages of The Sunday Telegraph? She tells Women's Health magazine (another marie claire stablemate going great-guns in the sales department): "Everyone has fat or ugly days, and I'm certainly no different in that regard. But it has to come back to the fact that it's not the most significant thing. My appearance isn't the top of the list; it's not what makes me feel good about who I am." Now there's a bona fide champion of positive body image we can all aspire to be like. Women's Health's February issue, featuring Ellis, is conveniently on sale today.

Mags: Is naked necessary?

Glossy Talk

Following on from marie claire's nudie, un-airbrushed Jen Hawkins cover, which aims to promote positive body image, Sadie Frost, 44, has stripped for UK Grazia, also with minimal digital manipulation (two bruises were removed). Setting aside the coverline that reads "On-Trend Figure-Fixing Tricks Inside!", which to me somewhat undermines the whole notion of self-acceptance, Frost, who guest edits the issue, tells the magazine that the motivation was to help the sisterhood:

"The whole issue for me, the reason I wanted to do it, was because I wanted to put such emphasis on being healthy and holistic. And I felt that there’s been so much pressure on women, and I’ve noticed such a negative movement over the last few years on how peoples’ bodies should be. Really, I just think it’s sending out the wrong message to women. So I thought it would be really good, and that’s what I talked to everyone at Grazia [about] and they’ve been incredibly supportive with doing something that was much more realistic. So there’s no airbrushing; what you see is what you get, and I just wanted to give people some idea about healthier options and not to be too extreme or too punishing, and be a bit kinder to ourselves and maybe be a bit more sisterly, and that’s what I enjoyed talking about doing."

Frost also told The Daily Mail (which called her "voluptuous"): "I, like many women, am anxious about the way I look, but I've overcome my fears and posed nude to show that I'm like any other woman. I have bits I like – my boobs, my shoulders, my arms; and bits I'm not so keen on – my bum and my stomach. But I love my body because it works. It's given birth to four children, it's healthy and, like everyone's, has been through some tough times... I want us to forget about faddy diets and frenzied 6am gym visits. It's time to treat our bodies with a bit more TLC. Do you really want to be size zero? Especially if you are missing out on the finest delicacies in life? You can be naturally fit, yet feminine – happy and healthy in your own skin. You don't have to have that perfect body, because that perfect body doesn't really exist. The last decade was all about size zero and surgery. It was so bad for women, so bad for our self-esteem, our bodies."

As with marie claire, the reaction has been mixed. One comment on Grazia's website reads: "How exactly did you think that seeing a naked celebrity who is 5 feet 5 and weighs 8 and a half stone, would make the average woman feel better about themselves?". Another is more encouraging: "I think that while there are undoubtedly braver things done by some women, a 40-something celebrity agreeing to pose naked without airbrushing is pretty damn daring - and rare - in this day and age."

While Frost, despite not being a former Miss Universe, has the kind of body the average 44-year-old would kill for, her comments are as legitimate as the next woman's. But do pictures speak louder than words? And is getting naked necessary to make a point?

Because what this really says to me is that a woman is the sum of her body parts – nothing about being naked speaks to me about her talents, passions, intellect, etc. One anonymous comment on the Hawkins cover hits the nail on the head: "A lot of the insecurities that we have are not so much about body love but self love and ultimately this manifests into the physical. I'd really like to see more discussion on all aspects of a person."

While I was encouraged by Madison's January issue body image story, The Naked Truth, I have always found encounters with magazine features which display women in all their multi-faceted glory, including those fun, Vogue-esque features that profile a lady's style, far more inspiring and positive than bodies in the buff – because they take the focus off our bodies and show us how fabulous, fruitful and full-of-life women can be... with their clothes on.

On that note, Aussie retailer Sportsgirl (which supports The Butterfly Foundation) wins my vote for promoting positive body image in the change room. Check out the 'Positive Body Talk' card available in stores and some pages from the 'Live It Give It' catalogue...

Images: Grazia UK, The Daily Mail, Vogue Australia January 2010

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Hello, where art thou mojo?

I have always been the type of girl who positively champs at the bit to get into a new work year, itching to put pen to paper, brimming with new ideas and energised by the prospect of charting new territory. This year? Um, not so much.

After experiencing major burnout last year, aided by more than a few unfortunate events that snowballed to Mount Everest proportions, I could barely muster the energy to write a list of new year's resolutions (okay, I did). Perhaps you felt the same way?

Not one to wallow in puddles of self-pity, I created a sort of self-motivation project drawing on a few helpful resources to help me fire up my mojo. Some are glossy stock-standard; others are more personal; others reek of GOOPiness. But if you're struggling to locate your enthusiasm, they might help you, too.

1. The Self-Help Book
A cliche, I know. But somehow the right one landed in my lap just as I was about to throw my hands up in the air and yell, "I give up!". In the past, I've drawn on the likes of Susan Jeffers' Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, Dr Sarah Edelman's Change Your Thinking, Gary Bertwistle's Who Stole My Mojo and Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life.
There's a great book out in February called Making $#it Happen by Peter Sheahan ($34.95; Random House) that I plan on getting into, too.

But during my wee summer break, I borrowed Erik Rees' S.H.A.P.E - Finding & Fulfilling Your Unique PURPOSE For LIFE from my father-in-law, squirreling it away and scribbling notes down in a journal. Essentially, Rees helps you hone in on your God-given gifts (i.e. 'your sweet spot') in order to help you plan for a life/career/service more in line with your natural abilities, personality, passions and experiences. It's full of inspirational quotes, work sheets and life anecdotes. I intend to refer back to my notes when I lose my way this year (wouldn't it be nice not to!).

2. The Inspiration Board
Cliche #2! But this works. Refreshing my cork board with new pictures, postcards, words of inspiration and assorted visual stimuli is a fun project and way to get the creative juices flowing. Ta-da!

3. The Inspiring Blogs
There are oodles of them out there, and all my favourites make an appearance in the right-hand sidebar, but there are a few special ones I return to time and time again for dashes of positivity, perspective and prettiness. Mark Sayers has a knack for cutting through the ephemeral pop-culture clutter to remind me of the more eternally important things; Garance Dore is an absolute go-to for eye candy; Natalie Walton has created a haven for creative types at Daily Imprint; and Meet Me At Mikes is like having coffee with a cherished friend. Respite and inspiration them all.

4. The New Stationery
A pencil case flush with new pens, crisp new notebooks, a blank diary... there are few things more satisfying for me than buying new stationery supplies. This year I bought my handbag-friendly diary at Kikki-K, but I've also been perusing Borders ('What's your poo telling you?' 2o10 calendar, anyone?) and Pulp Creative Paper (notebooks, sketchbooks, stationery sets and paper for covering exercise books).

5. The Playlist
Taste in music, like men, is such a subjective thing, yet everyone thinks their music is the height of sophistication and coolness. I do not. I know my taste is naff. I never heard a Mandy Moore song I didn't like. So if you're of the same persuasion, you might like this girlie motivational playlist...

6. The Little Book of Blessings
If you have a tendency to catastrophise like moi, or work from home without companionship to rely on in times of emotional distress, I recommend jotting down all the good things you're blessed with (people, pets, money, gifts, food, compliments, nice emails, letters, work commissions, new jobs, travel opportunities, books, shoes in your size on sale...) in a little book to turn to in times of need. Oprah might call it a gratitude list, others might call it GETTING PERSPECTIVE, but there's nothing so reassuring as reminding yourself of the positives to stamp out those blasted negative thoughts (shut-up, self-critic, and pooh-pooh to you, anonymous haters!). Of course, as Girlfriend suggests, the ultimate way to bless yourself is to bless others (aka pay it forward), so these are nice to jot down, too. Watch the karma multiply and your mojo fire up like a Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SV!

So, all this material-type stuff has been super-helpful, but the most effective means for firing up my new-year mojo? A coffee, clearing out the office, a good chat with a Godly woman called Gloria and an email from a dear friend saying, "Keep your chin up, buttercup". Here's to a fruitful, creative and groundbreaking 2010!

Main pic from Emma Thomson's Felicity Wishes.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel