Glossy Talk: iMags – imagining the possibilities!

Glossy Talk: Introducing iMags (imagining the possibilities!)

By Katrina Lawrence, contributing beauty editor, Madison; iGeek

So there I was, super-early Friday morning, lining up in a queue that snaked from Apple Sydney all the way around the block. Waiting, of course, to get my mitts on the much-hyped iPad. Surprised? Well, don’t be fooled by my beauty editor exterior, I have an inner geek and she sure came out last Friday.

By Friday night, I was ensconced on the couch with my brand new shiny toy and a big glass of red and – sad as this may sound to some of you – had the most fabulous time I've had since my Stella McCartney Paris shopping frenzy.

Being a magazine girl – both junkie and employee – I just can’t help but feel that this is the way forward. Now, I love glossy paper. I still can’t help stroking my stories and shoots when they appear in print (the other day, when I came across my first-ever magazine tear sheets – the fashion-trend back page for the much-missed Australian Elle – I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic). But we can’t ignore the fact that times are changing. And I think we’ve all been waiting for something like the iPad to really propel us forward.

So to the iPad… and, specifically, to e-mags.

The first app I downloaded was Wired magazine. I’m not a Wired reader by any stretch. I don’t even really get what it’s about. But I bought the June issue (for $5.99 via iTunes) because I’d read that Wired has been making a huge effort to create an iPad-friendly version of their print mag. And, boy, have they ever. You can press buttons to hear music clips or see film snippets. Or, geniously, bring up revolving captions or photos.

Layouts can be less cluttered, which art directors will be ecstatic about (advertisers will also adore how their ads can link to TVCs and websites, or become virtual catalogues). It also means that stories that are too long for their print boundaries now have a new way of fitting into the digital version. This is great news for someone like me, who tends to over-write (what can I say, I like words) but maybe not such joyous news for the production/art peeps, who do need to go home and sleep from time to time.

That said, you do need to have some limits when it comes to quality content. A mag needs to be an edit after all, not a bottomless pit of information. But the fact that there is now an option for seamlessly slipping in some extra boxes here and there (and still allow art to have the nice white space they so love) is pretty fantastic.

It will be fascinating to see how far e-mags go in the future. Will they remain a cutely enhanced version of their print siblings? Or will they morph into something akin to a television show? Because, really, if you went behind the scenes with the fashion and features teams during the making of one issue, and could show these clips throughout an e-mag (imagine a fashion workshop coming alive), you’d have a pretty nifty reality-meets-info show.

To see where fashion and lifestyle mags may go with the iPad, watch out for the US Vogue magazine app, apparently launching soon (the Vanity Fair one is available now but annoyingly only for US iTunes customers).

In the meantime, some mags are available as straight soft-copy replicas. If you download the Zinio Magazine Newsstand app (free on iTunes), you can subscribe to the digital versions of a number of international mags. - I bought French Vogue, US Elle and US Harper’s Bazaar. But here’s the best bit: a year’s sub cost me $23.99, $8.65 and $8.65 respectively. I know! Crazy right? (O and French Glamour are next on my to-buy list). That’s a year’s worth of issues for basically the cost of one issue on the stands here, which you have to wait for. June Harper’s is due out tomorrow and I’ll wake up to it.

As for reading the mags digitally, I’m getting used to it. I love that you can zoom in on copy, and on details such Kate Moss’s fabulous Vogue cover makeup (Marilyn-esque liquid liner and red lipstick). But I hate that you can’t save pages or copy them to somewhere (I’m forever ripping out pages I love or at least tagging them). Still, it’s something I can live with until these mags have their own apps and features such as bookmarking.

I think that reading on the iPad in general is going to be a work in progress for a long while. Apple’s iBooks hardly has anything to read beyond the classics (talks are apparently still being held with publishers), although Borders has a bookstore app with an impressive selection (I just bought Nancy Mitford’s reprinted Wigs on the Green, which I started reading last night with the white-on-black night-light switched on).

I don’t think the iPad signs the death knell for lush coffee-table-type books. But publishers of novels and magazines should look out. Or else move with the times. With seatbelts on! Because I have the feeling it’s going to be one heck of a ride. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to be on it.

Images: ACP 30 Days of Fashion & Beauty

Some GWAS reader thoughts (generally poo-pooing the iPad*). You are a witty bunch.

"It's hard saying no, especially given how obsessed I am with my mac and iphone - they'd love a buddy - but there is something to be said for delayed gratification. Oui?" - Rebecca

"I work in publishing and am terrified that one day my grandchildren won’t be able to go to a library and find solace within the pages of a book like I can. Many new technical advances, while oh so convenient, make me a little bit sad." - Velvet

"I’m an old-fashioned type of girl. I don’t just fall for the new guy in town. I want him to seduce me, to show me how much he loves me. Before I break up with my Nano and Kindle, I’m going to wait until IPad can show me that he handle my data without sending me broke and he is an example of hardware that remains stable." - Carolyn

"I love my books and magazines too much - the feel, the smell and the way they look on my bookcase, something that an iPad or any e-reader can never replicate. " - Wendy

"As a trying-to-recover workaholic, I don’t need any tools to make it easier to work from home/the train/my parents farm or anywhere other than the office. An iPad, I fear, is enough to tip the precarious work-life balance a little too far in the work direction. I’m pretty sure cosying up to an iPad wouldn’t be the same as cosying up to UK Vogue in bed like I enjoyed last night, nor would it have the same effect as the Hermes-orange row of Penguin classics on my book shelf." - Susan

"With winter rearing its rather soggy, damp head, curling up with a good book has never felt so good. Curling up with an iPad doesn't have the same ring or feel to it. In a flash, you switch it off, and the book or story has gone, disappeared. Give me a tangible, timeless, 'old-fashioned' book or magazine or newspaper any old day." - Laura

*Of course, iPad = great for the "blogazine", as much of a paper-head as I am, too. Thank you, everyone for adding your two cents!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Beauty Talk: QV Skin Care (Sponsor Spot)

Beauty Talk: QV Skin Care for Winter

While a little late to be jumping on the 'Bloggers Without Makeup Day' bandwagon, herewith Yours Truly, without a lick of makeup on her face, touting the QV skin care range, which is very good and so CHEAP!

Please refrain from comments about my nose/eye bags/annoying fringe/facial expressions/general physical flaws. I'm quite well acquainted with them already. Thankfully, QV is for dry and sensitive types like moi, and GWAS readers are really quite lovely!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Panel: Should glossy magazines for tweens be classified?

Glossy Panel: Should glossy magazines for tweens be classified or left alone?

The last time we held a virtual glossy panel, we talked about the iPad. Now, also with implications for publishing houses, we discuss tween magazines (potentially coming to a kiddie-iPad platform near you soon).

Stepping into the minefield that
is tween magazine publishing is rather like refereeing a kids' soccer match – one one side we have interest groups advocating for tighter content restrictions; on the other we have publishers wanting to protect their properties. Parents stand on the sidelines trying to make sense of the rules, occasionally voicing their opinions, while the kids play along on the field, none the wiser to the storm brewing around them.

Everyone appears to have the kids' best interests at heart, but there can be virtually no agreement as to how to best orchestrate a compromise because everyone is intent on winning. Unless the ground rules change, the whole bunch will continue to run around in circles until someone passes out from fatigue (the already fatigued parents will be the first to go, throwing their hands up in the air for the sheer hopelessness of it all). As we all know, the most diplomatic (and grown-up) way to handle the situation would be to sit at a table and talk the issues through; to give everyone a chance to air their perspective and then debate the pros and cons. So, let's do that.

THE CONTEXT: Early this week The Independent Weekly reported that the South Australian opposition wants to introduce legislation to classify tween and teen magazines, like movies, in response to community concern about the sexualisation of young children (otherwise currenrtly known as The Miley Cyrus Effect). The bill proposed by opposition youth spokeswoman Michelle Lensink would enable parents to make more informed decisions about what material is appropriate for their child.

Anne Bunning, chief executive of women's interest group YWCA, which conducted a survey finding 75% of respondents support PG ratings for tween magazines, told The Advertiser: "The early sexualisation of girls through magazines and video clips, which provide instruction to six-year-olds on sex and how to dress and dance in sexually provocative ways, has gone too far. We are now seeing the damage this has done and, as adults, we need to take responsibility for our children and respect their rights to be a child and have a childhood."


'TWEEN MAGS ARE APPROPRIATE': Amanda Nicholls, editor, Total Girl

"We have very strict editorial guidelines in place to ensure the safety of our readers at all times. These guidelines not only cover the editorial content and the images that we use, but they also extend to our brand extensions and licensed products and our advertisers must also adhere to the criteria outlined in this policy. All images must be age appropriate and that includes finding images where the subject is dressed in an appropriate manner and that their make up is not too heavy...

With celebrities, we only focus on stars who are good role models for our readers because Total Girl is quite an aspirational brand and we understand that our readers need positive role models to look up to. The thing to remember is that celebrities are human and can make mistakes or do things that parents may disagree with - but we only ever focus on the positive things that these people have achieved and we never promote bad behaviour in Total Girl...

The simple fact is, our readers adore dressing up and feeling glamorous, so what we do is go to extreme lengths to make sure that our fashion and beauty pages are age appropriate... The most important thing we do every time we conduct a photo shoot with children, is to contact a regulatory body called The Children's Guardian. They are a separate entity that ensure that we have followed all of the appropriate guidelines when it comes to working with children...

We also have very strict guidelines for our beauty pages - we make sure the products are mostly nail polishes, lip glosses, shampoos, perfume and moisturisers. You will never see eyeliner, mascara, lip stick, foundation, eye shadow or tanning products in the pages of Total Girl because we don't want to encourage girls to wear the more mature make-up products...

There is an expectation that the content in Total Girl is going to be safe for all of our readers and we believe that we deliver on that 110%. Every single word that is printed in the magazine has been under my supervision and my entire team is extremely diligent with weeding out content that is too mature for our readers. We are working in a self-regulated industry and we are adamant that we are producing a product that appeals to the readers while also getting the tick of approval from parents...

One thing I would really like to clarify here is that Total Girl isn't just about fashion and beauty – it is packed full of content that is entertaining, informative, interactive and insightful. We offer our readers advice, we provide an entire section called "Totally Smart", which is full of educational content that is both engaging and fun for our readers, there are recipes and craft activities and, of course, there is loads of fun entertainment reviews on the latest movies and what the girls' favourite stars are up to. The magazine has something for everyone and it's a real misconception that what we do encourages girls to grow up too quickly because that is exactly what we aim not to do."

'TWEEN MAGAZINES ARE NOT INNOCUOUS': Melinda Tankard Reist, author of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, co-founder of Collective Shout

"A PG rating would at least alert engaged parents to the reality that these magazines are not innocuous but contain content that needs to be unpacked and discussed. For example, the May issue of Girlpower featured Lady Gaga ('Lady Gaga Oohh-La La!) and promoted her concerts even though they contained images of brutality, purging and simulated sex scenes. The same issue had a section on 'conversation starters for your crush'. Should we be encouraging crushes at all in very young girls?

A content analysis by The Australia Institute of girls’ magazines found that about half of the content of Total Girl (8-11) and Disney Girl (6-13) and three quarters of the content of Barbie Magazine (5-12) was sexualising material. The idea of boys as sex objects or crushes is common. Headings include: “Is he your friend or your crush”, “Cute Crush Issue" (featuring pics of boys and men up to 30), “Our top 5 crushes.” All for girls aged 5 and up. As Emma Rush and Andrea La Nauze observed in Corporate Paedophilia: Sexualisation of Children in Australia, published by the Institute, girls are “being invited to see themselves not as healthy, active and imaginative girls, but as hot and sassy tweens on the prowl.”

Tween magazines facilitate readers' early socialisation into the popularised teenage world of clothes, makeup, sex and celebrities. Girls are told about stars wanting to lose weight, sending a message that important people are obsessed with their looks and size, contributing to body surveillance. And to be cool, accepted and to fit in with your peers, you need products, products and more products.

I would be urging parents to not buy these magazines at all. They reinforce obsession with appearance, the need to imitate celebrities (features on how to imitate 'hot dance moves', for example) and to attract male attention. They present a one-dimensional view of girlhood. There is little representation of body diversity. They also prep girls for graduation to Dolly, Cleo and Cosmo, which all promote sexual performance and availability, beauty rituals and the thin ideal.

I think a lot of parents have no idea about the content in teen magazines. A 2007 issue of Dolly – which we know is being read by girls not yet in their teens – contained a section entitled ‘OMG my boyfriend wants me to...’, followed by three sexual acts: ‘Give him “head”’, “Have anal sex’ and ‘Give him a hand job’ (Dolly, August 2007, 0.141). Dolly gave a clinical description – essentially a ‘how to’ of each act. There was no mention that the girls might be physically or psychologically harmed or violated, or that it might be a crime depending on their respective ages.

Much in young women's magazine culture suggests to girls that they are service stations for boys: that their role is to be pleasure providers for men. There is little content that empowers them to resist premature sexual activity. Research shows that most girls in Australia regret their first sexual experience, which is often marked by drunkenness and force.

Child development experts tell us we are losing the period known as 'middle childhood', the ages 9-13, because we are catapulting them into the teenage years. These magazines contribute to the erosion of these years, which should be as carefree as we can possibly make them. Why not buy the girls in your life some good classic novels instead, send them outside to play, engage them in causes and community activities which will make a difference to others and help them feel good about themselves and spend more time with them?"

'WOULDN'T BUY THEM IN A PINK FIT': Mia Freedman of MAMAMIA; mother: "I am pretty disturbed by a lot of the imagery in these tween mags. The air-brushing, the emulating Miley and Barbie, etc. And the emphasis on make-up and clothes. Make-up! But I also recognise that there is a real gap between girls reading Winnie the Pooh and then Dolly. The tween category is a very real life-stage. And it's sad it's only filled with crap. I wouldn't buy them for my daughter in a pink fit."

"I generally just tell parents not to buy these magazines, especially for the under sixteens. It's just very difficult for a glossy magazine not to be about advertising primarily, and therefore consumption, and to get people to consume you have to first make them discontent with their looks, possessions or social lives. Teen girls are too vulnerable in these areas already, so it just knocks them over confidence wise. We also advise parents themselves not to buy fashion magazines, and to drop these concerns (weight, looks, fashion) so they don't role model them to their girls.

There has been some good ethical movement in women's magazines in some cases, for which they should be congratulated, but also some greenwash from companies like the one that makes Lynx and yet also runs the Dove self esteem program.

A good move editorially would be to pump up the other aspect of being a young woman – idealistic action in the world, being creative, self expression – so featuring young adult women role models volunteering with MSF, girls who work in third world orphanages, women scientists. Women's Weekly was a big part of the softening of racist attitudes to refugees. Stories from Islamic girls, girls who write novels or make fantastic art, disabled girls talking about what it's like. There is huge scope for positive girlhood in a magazine. Girlfriend as a concept, rather than (someone's) Girlfriend. Girls are not just interested in their own age group, who are often perceived competitively, but more in young women in their twenties, as possible life paths."

'EMPLOY THE SERVICES OF A PANEL OF EXPERTS': GWAS (former tween mag staffer): "I grew up on a steady diet of Smash Hits, video clips, Dolly and dance lessons – while pop culture, dance culture and glossy ideals definitely affected my sense of self, particularly my poor body image and sexual awakening, it was also shaped primarily by my mother and other key female role models in my life (themselves influenced by social forces).

When I first joined the Pacific Magazines stable, working on K-Zone, Total Girl was the twinkle in the youth division's eye. It now reaches less girls, but remains the number one seller in the category. I admire its commitment to standards for imagery and content – it is the benchmark (some mags in the category often fall short). But it's also caught between a rock and a hard place: while I don't believe it intentionally undermines girls' capacities to form a well-rounded view of themselves, it is a product driven by consumerism, which has a set of implications its readership cannot possibly understand.

I established the GWAS rating scale as a way of filtering through some of the "crap" presented in women's media: if tween magazines were to employ the services of a panel of industry experts to go over their content each month (as with some of the health magazines), they might save themselves from being the unwitting victims of the sexualisation debate. At the same time, parents and schools should work towards developing their daughters' media literacy (books like Does My Bum Look Big In This Ad? are a helpful aid) and fostering self-confidence based on achievements other than looking cute/sexxxxy/pretty/hot. Jessica Watson, please stand up."

Now, of course, it's your say...

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Girl In Media: Lisa Cox

Girl In Media: Lisa Cox, media commentator and author of Does My Bum Look Big in This Ad?

In response to Tuesday's post 'Healthy cover girls, glossy ideals and hypocrisy', one commenter noted: "It just seems so futile to constantly say, 'I wish the media was this way' when it's always going to be a different way."

Though I believe apathy about the media's affect on body image, and its implications for the mental and physical health of women and men is dangerous – like pretending smoking isn't bad for your health, but doing it anyway – it's a sentiment I've grown to agree with (see my January post, 'Raising the bar on body image').

And it's a view also shared by Lisa Cox,
author of Does My Bum Look Big In This Ad?, an empowering little book that should be stuffed in the schoolbags and satchels of all girls (along with Rebecca Sparrow's Find Your Tribe and Kaz Cooke's Girl Stuff). Cox's take-home message is about empowering young women to become discerning media consumers. "It may feel like popular culture controls us but we ultimately control media content and how it impacts our body image," she told UP! magazine.

With degrees in business and media, which
she parlayed into a successful career in copywriting before personal health complications changed her path, Cox decided that rather than being a part of the problem she would be part of the solution – her work now sees her speaking to school groups about media literacy, body image, role models and narrow definitions of beauty.

Sensing their desperation for information, Cox condensed all her academic and empirical knowledge into Does My Bum Look Big In This Ad? ($12.95 @ which is tailored for tweens and teens.

"I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and produce another academic text," she says. "When I was a 13-year-old kid, I certainly wouldn’t have been busting to sit down with a thousand-page textbook written for adult academics. I’ve never set out to dispute any of the academic and medical literature that’s available on these matters. Plus, I was careful not to ‘dumb-down’ the content for a younger audience."

The cute, CD-sized book, "your ultimate must-have accessory for cruising through popular culture", is pitch-perfect; uncomplicated but authoritative, it's a great refresher for adults as much as an entree into media literacy for teens. Cox helps readers identify the signs of positive and negative body image and shines a light on practises and unrealistic standards in the advertising industry.

The chapter titled 'The Lipstick Revolution: Women in popular culture' is Feminism 101 in two pages. In 'Media smoke and mirrors' Cox writes of airbrushing, "It's a problem when the altered images are passed off as how a 'normal' body should look." But she also writes, "It is often easy to just blame airbrushing, parents, peers, the media, advertisers and marketers for poor body image. But at some point, we must step back and take responsibility for our own actions. We must personally accept a degree of blame."

Helpfully, Cox tells her readers how to be a part of the solution: "If you don't like the messages you're hearing, reading or seeing in popular culture, don't support the brand, the product, and the company with your hard-earned dollar. As a single consumer, you are more powerful than you can possibly imagine... So don't buy the magazine, do change the channel, close the website, and leave the product on the shelf... there's no excuse for fueling the distortion of body image with your spending habits."

The fact that Cox has such a positive body image herself might be attributable to her healthy disconnect from the glossy media: "It’s a wonder I ended up working in media considering how little I had to do with commercial media in my youth," she says. "I’m a self-confessed news junkie and could never understand why anyone would want to read about such trivial things (what Oprah eats for breakfast, for example) when there were so many other things, of serious consequence, happening around the world."

Cox captained her volleyball team to win gold at the nationals, went on to apply her academic knowledge in the media industry (she won an advertising scholarship) and has built a veritable media brand that has a positive impact on young women, despite her physical ailments (she contracted a virus before her 25th birthday that resulted in a number of complications):

"I had several reasons to use my new disabilities as an excuse. I’m 25% blind, I had nine fingertips amputated and for a bunch of other reasons, I’m now in a wheelchair," she says. "I’d always wanted to write a book (before I got sick) and didn’t want to use my disabilities as an excuse not to pursue my passions and goals. No amount of feeling sorry for myself was going to change what happened. The only thing I had control over was my attitude to how I chose to deal with it."

Her book is well worth the investment of your hard-earned dollar. Buy it here now.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Monday Media Study

Monday Media Study: Social Media Twits

Last week I spoke about social media and online branding at a Walkley Student Media Day (misleading our nation's youth, one lecture at a time) where I employed the use of PowerPoint slides featuring The Simpsons to lend an air of credibility to my apparent expertise in this area.

For those interested, some of my key (albeit obvious) points included:
- there are no absolutes (we are all rats in the social media experiment – as with mobile phones, we don't yet know if Twitter causes cancer);
- it poses questions about the division of public/private spheres both online and elsewhere (see David Campbell);
- social media is incestuous (media players following other media players);
- news stories are starting on social media sites;
- sources are being mined on social media sites;
- you're only as good as your last tweet, so make it count;
- a disclaimer will not necessarily distance you from your employer; and
- media people are getting into all sorts of pickles on Twitter (see Catherine Deveny).

Today's Australian features at least
two stories generated on the social media front: 'Don't believe all you're fed' by Dennis Shanahan and 'Tweets flood back to Aunty' by Sally Jackson. Shanahan explores the implications of reporting on tweets constructed by anonymous agitators under the names of people with public profiles (you might remember Vogue Australia – aka vogueoz – encountered this issue last year).

The object of the misnomer this time round is government minister Bronwyn Bishop, who replied: "Mis speak, mis promise, mis represent, plain old mis report -- all are falsities and in this contemporary world of cyberspace there is plenty of room for mistakes... Every now and again there is a flurry of interest in what a fake Bronwyn Bishop Twitterer tweets. Such was the case last week when a particular journo did a mis report and used a fake tweet which he attributed to me. In this day and age of cyber fraud it just goes to show you can't believe all you see or read. One telephone call would have saved said journo a heap of embarrassment."

Jackson, meanwhile, has covered the viral conga-line that started when ABC News Online's Twitter presence, abc_investigate, posed the open-ended question, "Got something you want investigated?" (one-liners included "Why won't MC Hammer let me touch anything?" – everyone is a stand-up comedian on Twitter).

I recently asked solicitor Jamie White of Edge Legal (@ edgelegal) to put a legal spin on the "art" of Tweeting.
White cites the case of an Adelaide man who was convicted of criminal defamation after posting false and misleading information about a police officer on Facebook.

"The defendant pleaded guilty to criminal defamation and was placed on a two-year, $500 good behaviour bond," says White. "He claimed that he did not realise that a person could get in to trouble for things done on the Internet. This case serves as a strong warning that legal rules are not waived simply because conduct has taken place online."

While White says "politicians, journalists and prison guards have all faced disciplinary action for their use of social media in the workplace," including Catherine Deveny's termination from The Age for posting offensive ‘tweets’ via Twitter during the Logies (her defense: it was “just like passing notes in class”), most employees cannot be dismissed for failing to meet corporate standards online unless it's in the paper work (i.e. employment contracts and social media policies).

"This allows an employer to subject an employee who breaches those ‘corporate standards’ to disciplinary action, including compelling them to remove or edit offending postings, formal warnings or dismissal," says White. "Employers and employees must both treat the use of social media in the workplace with caution. Employees must familiarise themselves with their employer’s position and be sure not to overstep the mark. The consequences of doing so are real."

The message for the medium? Obviously, think twice before you tweet. Or, ask yourself, What would Lisa Simpson do?

“You can't create a monster, then whine when it stomps on a few buildings.” - Lisa Simpson

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

CHICTIONARY by Clare Press

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

F’row Word of the Moment

Style cheat. (stile cheet) vb. The base act of appropriating someone else’s personal style and claiming it as your own.

To cheat is low stuff indeed (just ask Sandra Bullock), and to style cheat no less so. To be on the receiving end is to suffer greatly at the hand of another, to skate perilously close to losing your identity, confidence and self esteem; to wonder “why me?” on a torturous loop; to doubt one’s uniqueness, value, nay one’s very sartorial soul. In short, to be the victim of a style cheat sucks, big time.

I had that outfit down, I made it my own, now my former BFF has gone and stolen it…where do I go now? What’s the point? What is the meaning of my fashion life?
Yep. It’s existential crisis time.

Indeed some of those who have been cheated on never recover. Look at Rachel Zoe – face frozen like a Mint Magnum while all around her slebs half her age knock off her trademark look: maxi dress, tan twig arms, lollypop head and LA balayage. And, to add insult to injury, they are her former clients.

So that’s the cheatee covered, but what drives the cheator? They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Not so! Imitation is the laziest form of getting the job done. I refer you to the attack of the ChloĆ© clones on last month’s Australian fashion week catwalks. Oh and that asymmetric black Lanvin ruffle dress which made more than one appearance too. Slap hands so-called creative people. Go your own way.

In conversation. Hints and tips for daily use:
“That bitch totally style cheated me! I was wearing earmuffs as shoulder pads while she was still combing her hair trying to remember where the tumble drier was.”

“How hot are my new pink hair tips? I style cheated Abbey Lee from Aussie Vogue.”

“(Ex-)girfriend! You are one style cheatin’ harpy! I ain’t never gonna loan you my new Georgina Goodman boots from this day forth. You cannot be trusted not to crib my look from the toes up. Grrrr.”

To read more from Clare Press, see the Mrs. Press blog.

GWAS Note: Mrs. Press is a busy lady (book writing, fashion designing; you know how it is), so shall be dropping by GWAS sporadically to impart her words of fashion wisdom. She apologises for being three months over deadline with this latest Chictionary installment (but it was worth the wait, no? Cue naughty little chuckle.)

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Girl In Media - Amanda Nicholls (Editor, Total Girl)

Just like the teen celebrities her readers idolise, Total Girl editor Amanda Nicholls knows if you want to get the attention of tweens, you have to be across all media – from TV to online, books and the magazine itself, Nicholls is a walking, talking brand ambassador. Here she answers Jenna Templeton's questions about what it takes to run the TG show.

Jenna: How did you get your start in magazines?
Amanda: As soon as I graduated from university, I started applying for everything – sub-editor roles, feature writers, editorial assistants – even editor’s roles! I had no shame and certainly had nothing to lose. After working on a title called The Australian Acreage Review and completing my BComm at UWS, I got an invitation to interview for a Deputy Editor’s position on a tween girl’s mag called Girl Power, and I went for it. I remember staying up the night before my interview making DIY craft activities to show them in my first round. Honestly, I think that’s what won them over! I was there for about a year before I got promoted to editor. After three years at Next Media, I was lucky enough to score the role as deputy editor of Total Girl, and within a year I was promoted to editor. I’ve been here now for three years and still loving it!

What does an average day as Total Girl editor involve for you?
An average day would be liaising with my team to make sure we’re tracking well to meet our deadlines, checking their work, meeting with our advertising team, chatting with my Brand Manager about covermounts and marketing opportunities and lots of cups of tea. Also, I get a lot of emails from our readers and I try to respond to all of them – mostly they want to know how they can become a model or a magazine editor. They’re too cute!

Who is the Total Girl reader?
She’s fun, loves her besties, is passionate about making the world a better place for everyone to live in, she’s smart, tech savvy, creative and embraces everything it means to be a girl today.

What sets Total Girl apart from other tween magazines on the stands?
Total Girl is number one in its category and has been for the past eight years. As the market leader we are constantly setting trends that excite tween girls and we endeavour to always have exclusive opportunities for our readers that none of the other mags can offer. Most importantly, though, we take pride in creating a magazine that is considered a safe environment for young girls. Parents trust us and both readers and their parents know that we take our responsibility to communicate with tween girls extremely seriously. We go to lengths that other magazines don’t necessarily, to make sure Total Girl is always age appropriate.

What’s popular now in the tween scene?
Justin Bieber! Every second shout out on the Total Girl website is dedicated to Justin. Taylor Swift is also high on their radar this year.

Do you think tween magazine sales would fall if covermounts were not included?
It’s become the norm in our demographic – having said that, I do believe that the Total Girl brand has always been a very strong one, and a lot of our readers choose to read the magazine based on the content and also because they are brand loyal.

What qualities do you need to be a successful editor?
I think you have to have a good balance between being a creative minded person and a business minded person. Your goal is to produce a magazine that your readers will enjoy and you need to be able to put yourself into the mindset of your readers and think, ‘What do they want to get from the magazine?’ ‘What will excite them most in this issue?’. But then you also have to be the person who makes all the calls on budgets and advertising, and considering whether spending $10,000 here is going to deliver a good return on investment later. Most importantly, you have to have a real passion for what you’re creating.

Tells us about Total Girl TV.
Total Girl TV was a dream that I had in a strategy day a couple of years ago. At first we all had a giggle and thought, yeah, right. But when the giggling had subsided, we thought, well why not? We approached Boomerang with the concept of creating a branded girls-only block of cartoons and they loved the idea! We launched the block in September 2009 and after our first three-month trial and ratings success, we’ve agreed to extend the partnership into 2010. We’ve recently reworked the program to include viewer shout outs, Total Girl star signs during the commercial breaks and a couple of the TG team were cartoonified and appear throughout the block with lovely little comments – it’s very sweet! For us, it’s an amazing achievement to be able to extend our brand onto television, which is something that not many other magazines have been able to achieve.

Tell us a bit about your new book Totally Stylin' Book 1: Style Files?
Style Files is the first book in the Totally Stylin series and my first book as a published author! It’s about a young girl who discovers she has a talent for making magazines and goes on to make a very popular school publication called Style Files. You have to read it to find out what happens.

How did publishing a book come about?
Writing a children’s book has been on my to-do list for about five years! I couldn’t believe my luck when Allen and Unwin approached Total Girl to create a fiction series aimed at our readers. They actually already had an author for the project, but I convinced them that I could write a book, too. They extended the series from four books to six, and I’ve shared the series with Rebecca Lim, who is the other talented Totally Stylin author. So we have three books each. My second book is called Fashion Snaps and is due out in the July school holidays. I have to say, now that I’ve had a taste of what the fiction writing process is, I’m addicted! I definitely want to continue writing books in the future!

Which magazines did you read as a tween/teen?
I wish when I was a tween there was something like Total Girl, but we’re only eight years old this year, so my first magazine experience had to be with TV Hits and Smash Hits. I collected the lyrics and the posters covered my bedroom ceiling. Then my friend introduced me to Girlfriend and Dolly when I was 13. I started collecting every issue – not surprisingly, I became addicted to magazines.

You’re an editor, TV presenter and a published author. Where do you find the time?
That’s a good question! I wrote some of my first book on my honeymoon, when we were in transit, of course. My poor husband had to read Style Files on the flight from LA to New York. I’m sure he was riveted. I’m starting a Masters degree in July – I think that will be a fantastic challenge, so we’ll see how time-poor I am soon!

Your top 5 blogs?
Well, in no particular order…; 4 Inch Heels Only; Frangipani Princess – TG once got a cool piece on this teen blogger’s spot; As Seen In; and Girl With A Satchel, of course!

Total Girl is published by Pacific Magazines, circulates 55,140 copies per month (ABC Dec '09) and has 244,000 readers (YAS Dec '09).

Yours truly,
Jenna @ Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Soapbox: Let's talk about Mia bashing

GWAS Soapbox: Let's talk about Mia bashing

I was going to spend my afternoon bashing out the stats from the latest readership audit. But, you know what? Such things are insignificant when people are hurting. And it's plain for all to see that Mia Freedman is hurting. So let's talk about Mia bashing instead.

This is not a post about obesity or gainers or fat activism – if there's one thing anorexia has taught me, it's that everyone has their own struggles, so it's best not to judge. This is a post about the media – more particularly, the Australian media's – love of a whipping girl.

I pulled up NW this week for its maltreatment of Jessica Simpson, but this is so much worse – because the likelihood of Jessica Simpson reading NW is about on par with pigs flying. Mia, meanwhile, has to operate in the media space – because that is her job. The media feeds into her blog and her other work and it, in turn, feeds off her: her opinions, her fans, her ability to string a coherent sentence together and look photogenic. Usually it's a mutually beneficial gig. But this week it took a turn for the worse.

What has happened to Mia is sort of the equivalent of showing up to work and finding that your computer has been vandalised, your desk trashed and your co-workers are saying nasty things about you (and, to top things off, someone took your yoghurt from the fridge). So you go and hide out in the toilet cubicle and cry until everyone goes home. Not fun. Demoralising.

I have just watched both the Today Tonight and A Current Affair segments, titled "Heavyweight fury" and "Mia's Fat Fight" respectively (thank you, Today Tonight, for asking permission to use my clip of Mia; oh, that's right, you didn't). And I feel about as enraged as I did when I posted about Max Markson's abuse of his client relationship with Lara Bingle and the consequent Woman's Day story and ACA segment that arose as part of the bargain. We all know how that turned out.

You need a very thick skin to participate in the media game. Mia knows this. If ACP didn't teach her, then Channel Nine certainly did. In fact, she taught us all about this in her memoir Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines and Motherhood. Women adored that book because it was so honest and taught us all that even successful, beautiful women do it tough in their struggle to be all things to all people. It was a very generous thing, that book. And in all my dealings with Mia since we started doing this crazy blog thing in 2007 I have experienced nothing but generosity and compassion. The lady cares about women.

But this isn't a personal character reference, either. Anyone who's visited would know that the community she's created has been, for the most part, a very positive thing for women. In fact, it has come to play a very important part in connecting women who might otherwise feel isolated at home with their new babies, or suffering depression or are just having a shit day and want to know that other people are, too. Her "best and worst bits of the week" segment is the backbone of the blog.

This, of course, comes with its own set of problems and responsibilities. I do not envy Mia the time it takes to filter through her many comments (mostly my posts are met with the sound of crickets!), particularly the more negative ones. It can't NOT affect you. Praise God that she has a supportive family and friends and also the common sense to walk away when it gets too much.

The media too often forgets that behind the public persona there is a real person with feelings. The way Mia was portrayed, particularly by Today Tonight, and taken completely out of context (i.e. most of the references were taken from Mia's comments section, not her own words - and, yes, she does have a responsibility where monitoring comments are concerned) reeks of unfairness. And aren't we a nation about the fair go? Not in the world of tabloid journalism, my dear.

Not only was she not given the opportunity to tell her side of the story (as she was on ACA – and, obvi. she is more PBL-friendly because of her past connections), but she has inadvertently become the poster girl for fat-bashing – the woman who brought "Body Love" to Cosmopolitan magazine in the '90s, and who put size-16 Sara-Marie Fidel on a cover, is a fatist! Oh, please.

As the chairperson of the National Body Image Advisory Board, I imagine Mia has done her research: she would be fully aware of the idea that obesity is about more than "fat women sitting on the couch eating chips" but there is no ignoring that it is also a national health epidemic. As a blogger with a special interest in body image, gainers are going to be on her radar. It's important we discuss things like this. And it's her job to start discussion about things like this. I fear she may be a little gun-shy the next time around.

Mia has written umpteen blog posts about the media's maltreatment of women based on their bodies. To portray her as anything but a positive conduit for such issues is a gross injustice and lazy journalism (the media has no problem digging up the dirt from your past, but contracts amnesia when it wants to make a point that might be contradicted by such positive evidence).

The tabloid media is always going to have a field day when a prominent figurehead attracts attention from special interest groups. But to make Mia the whipping girl for fat discrimination, and suggest she be removed from the Advisory Board, is extreme and unfair and doesn't further the public dialogue about women's health in a positive way. As Pauline Hanson, who is all too familiar with media manipulation, would say, I don't like it.

"I believe that when we get to heaven, we will learn the truth about our differences. We will learn that all of us were right about some things and wrong about others. But even the things we were right about won't matter. God wants us to get along, to stop fighting with everyone over petty things we disagree about, and to begin to find the things we can agree about so that we may get along with one another. Practise looking for ways to agree with others, and then watch what God does through the unity of faith."
- Joyce Meyer, Starting Your Day Right, May 14

Pic credits:

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: State of the (mag)nation - March 2010 weeklies audit

The Famous magazine team must be tiring of popping the cork – the glossip has posted the biggest sales gain of any weekly title in the Aussie market, marking its sixth consecutive increase.

Famous' 14.39% circulation rise takes the title's average weekly sales to 88,151, closing the gap on ACP's NW, which suffered a -15.39% sales fall, by 34,000 copies.

' Pacific Magazines stablemate New Idea posted the only other rise in the category, gaining 0.12% year-on-year (the title's first year-on-year circulation rise since 2006), while the other glossips floundered, including OK!, which posted a -14.62% sales drop.

ACP's Woman's Day remains the highest circulating weekly, despite a -0.18% circulation decrease, though Pacific's Who has cemented its position as the highest selling "celebrity weekly magazine" outselling NW by 12,437 copies. Fashion weekly Grazia lost a nominal 0.99% in sales, while the weekly "realities" – Take 5 and That's Life – also lost ground (attributable, perhaps, to too much GFC reality – celebrity always appeals more when real life sucks).

Clearly, consumers have been penny-pinching at the supermarket checkout making Famous' competitive price point and clever packaging an excellent value proposition for women who like their celebrity gossip with dollops of fashion, beauty and humour. The June audit should show more clearly how consumers have responded to Grazia's optimistically "aspirational" price increase to $6.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: SHOP Til You Drop's "Fashion for all shapes & sizes"

Glossy Talk: Shiny, happy fashion for all shapes and sizes, declares SHOP Til You Drop; plus size-22 fashionista rocks!

Shape issues are popular but dangerous
territory for glossies who are, for the most part, proponents of beauty ideals most women cannot live up to. In the glossy world, regular women are usually cast as the "other", and allocated special space to show off their otherness, usually under headlines like "Real Girls" or safely tucked away at the end of a feature, while skinny bean-poles and celebrities with extra-special looks are celebrated front and centre.

Even the bigger girls fashion is so excited about celebrating right now, like Crystal Renn, are irregular – beautiful women with bountiful breasts equally as unattainable for a naturally small lady as a size-0 figure is for someone more robust. The same goes for the supermodels – killer curves in places where most women bulge or sag or bloat. And would you like a side-serve of cellulite with that?

Fashion magazine SHOP Til You Drop has an advantage over its high-end fashion and general women's magazine counterparts: it doesn't do diet stories (amen to that, you say). If it's slimming you're into, it'll tell you what control underwear to buy. Feel like crap? Buy new shoes! And so to the magazine's 'Fashion for all shapes & sizes' issue, fronted by the lush-lipped Liv Tyler. Editor Justine Cullen has again penned an intro to give readers an insight into her job, and in one swoop of her dexterous hand anticipates every possible argument that could be levelled at SHOP for daring to go where so many other glossies have gone before:

"It's important for me to note that this isn't, and was never intended to be, a plus-size issue. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is that it's just about impossible to get clothing samples in larger sizes to photograph (the fashion industry has its own relatively valid explanations for that), but mostly because true 'plus-size' is just as alienating for the majority of us as size 0. The truth is that most women in Australia – most SHOP readers – aren't plus-sized at all. They're 12s and 14s. Average. Not particularly big, not particularly small – just a (mostly) happy medium. So, while in this issue you'll find some bigger and some smaller sizes, we've made sure that we've also shot a while heap of girls sized somewhere in the middle...

I admit that between runway shots and those teeny-tiny Hollywood celebrities, the pages of SHOP do tend to have more to offer our skinnier sisters in the way of visual inspiration, so in this issue we've countered that with a few stories about the other girls whose shapes we're admiring right now... We've avoided runway shots as much as we possible can because the catwalks are mostly skewed towards the very skinny and we couldn't balance them out with bodies at the other end of the spectrum... and we've included loads of tips on where and how best to shop for your body – be it curvy, petite, tall, short, booby, bootylicious or even pregnant."

So does she get it right? For the most part, SHOP's following the formula: the obligatory story on the curvy trend (cue Crystal Renn, Christina Hendricks and Beth Dittor), another on the designer dresses that defy body stereotyping(Roland Mouret's Galaxy, Victoria Beckham's Peplum, Herve Leger's Bandage, the Preen Power dress), models of various sizes (up to a 14, I imagine) in trendy fashion, a catwalk shot from Mark Fast's spring/summer '10 show for 'Runway Inspiration', features covering clothing sizes (handy charts, included), tips for feeling confident in your clothes and women telling us how they shop to suit their bodies...

But there are a few surprise editorial gems that stand out, because they either demonstrate women's passion for fashion without getting wrapped up in body politics or are just good fun. Getting a glimpse at the full SHOP team (they look like itty-bitty dolls. Mum, can I have one?) is a little treat for devoted readers – who doesn't like to see the girls behind their mag? Clearly, there are certain aesthetic requirements to be met if you plan on being a new hire. I'd like to see the girls featured more often – telling us what they're actually buying/wearing/doing – in their cute office outfits: why not share beyond the halls at ACP?

I really enjoyed 'Fashion Flashback', a personal sartorial time-line which runs across the bottom of the 'Inside My Wardrobe' spread (this month featuring Oroton creative director Ana Maria Escobar). Author/journalist Wendy Squires reveals what she wore when she edited Cleo ("mainly floral-print day dresses, sequinned cardigans and gorgeous '60s silk sheaths") and also while working on a serious glossy fashion mag (Squires also worked on Australian Style and Elle, but here she refers to Madison): "I discover designers like Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Prada, Marni and Miu Miu and buy, buy, buy. I also discover credit-card debt and rue the fact I spend a house deposit on uncomfy shoes. I also realise buying for a label's merit is ridiculous...".

The 'Lifestyle' section is a body safe-haven, except for deers, who have their heads affixed to a wall. Not to worry, animal lovers; they are all fake! Feet get cosy in slippers, cushions and hot-water-bottle covers get cute and slow-cookers are the must-have for winter. The beauty section ventures into the powder room, a woman's nether regions (Amy Starr suggests having a lady-garden is anti-ageing as you get older) and the world of cult products with waiting lists (watch your lady-garden grow as you wait on your It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer).

But the best piece in the whole issue? Megan Moir Pardy writing about being a size-22 fashionista. Apparently this girl has been working for magazines like Harper's BAZAAR and Grazia for 10 years, though I can't find her name on either masthead. Anyway, she should be writing for them, regularly. Such is her exuberance. Girl ADORES fashion and it seeps from her pores and prose – I haven't read anything this entertaining in yonks. To wit:

- "I don't want to shop-assistant bash but I've had some baad experiences. Like walking into a store and getting eye-murdered by a 15-year-old sales assistant in a size 0."
- "So what is out there when it comes to true plus sizes? Ugh, well, there's a whole lot of jersey. Seriously, death to jersey! I hate, hate, hate jersey but it seems to be all that most plus-size designers can think of using. That, and leopard-print wrap-dresses. Just because I'm big doesn't mean I want to look like a 49-year-old cougar, okay?" (Coincidentally, one of the fashion spreads has a lot of leopard print action).
- "People are big for a bunch of different reasons and you should so not punish yourself by giving up and looking rubbish. If you don't dress well, you just end up feeling a lot worse."

I think there's some lessons in there for all girls (and I am definitely using the 'eye-murder' term in a sentence soon)! The story comes with a 'Megan's Little Black Book' panel and opposite an ad for You can follow the evolution of Megan's own fashion line at

Lovely looking models of varying shapes, pretty clothes (I want all the outfits in '8 style ideas that make every girl look amazing') and fashion insider tips are all well and good, but it's the pages with personality that pack a punch. While its high-fashion counterparts are busy wallowing in stories generally lamenting the state of the female condition, or fixating on whipping body parts into shape so their readers can fit into designer gear, SHOP gets to have all the fun. Shopping, fun? Well, I never...!

Glossy rating: 4/5
Blosses: Justine Cullen; ACP Magazines
Glossy stats: June 2010, 204 pages, $8.20
Glossy ads: Avon, Wish, Clinique, Almay, Ugg, Guess, Rimmel London, L'Oreal, Vera Wang Princess, Pandora, Vibe Hotels

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Book Shelf: The Gal Behind the Book (Carolyn Donovan)

GWAS Book Shelf: The Gal Behind the Book – Carolyn Donovan, author of Chooks In Stilettos

We've already established that I adore Carolyn Donovan's Chooks In Stilettos. But she has an amazing life story to tell beyond the cute anecdotes about eating a "huge slab" of lasagne on the kitchen floor in the nude (with a TV crew outside).

So now a few questions for the lady behind the book. Make yourself a cuppa and enjoy our chat about modelling, marriage, glossy magazines and the meaning of life beyond fashion.

Penning a book on chooks in stilettos...

Where did the idea for the book come from? Too many girls and women undervalue themselves and put themselves down because they don’t think they measure up to the current interpretation of the ideal woman, whatever that really is! We have this strange idea that to be validated as a female is to be this incredibly sexy, supermodel type, with a wardrobe full of stunning clothes – regardless of whether you are 16 or 60!

I never really wanted to write a self-help book. I just started collecting all the hilarious moments that happen when you are TRYING hard to be all these things with a couple of kids hanging off your designer skinnies (okay, they were Target, but no one would know the difference from afar!)

I just wanted to yell “step away from the mirror!” Nobody scrutinises you quite as ruthlessly as you do to your precious self. We are so scathingly mean to ourselves. We get so depressed about how our butt cheeks look – when everyone else is thinking what gorgeous dimples we have on our face cheeks.

The way we think about ourselves affects everything else we do in life. I have managed to get that down from an immobilising paralysis rating, to a more workable annoying distraction – but it is still something I have to regularly address and deal with.

What did you want to get across with the book? The common concept that modelling is all about champagne and limousines, pimple-free bodies and perfect hairdos just got the better of me. I will often relate something hilarious that has just happened to me – on the quest to this illusive perfect image – and the response is usually, “Every girl needs to hear this… I can’t wait to tell my friends.” Having the word “model” worked into your job description title doesn’t exempt you from all the icky things in life; far from it!

How long did it take to write and how did you fit this into your schedule/family life? It took the best part of a year to put it all together. The hardest part was labouring over what to leave out so it didn’t end up the size of an Encyclopedia Britannica volume!

I now understand the “zone” writer’s talk about. Once I got started, I would begrudge any interruptions, which everyone found quite weird (see industrial ear muffs pic!), as I love having people around and am usually happy to be distracted. My family was relieved when I finally finished and their eyes widen in fear when I talk about my next book – so I must have been horrible!

What inspired you to write? My parents got bored easily and we moved house every couple of years, so I was the perpetual new girl at school. I became an avid people watcher from a young age. It was something that would keep me entertained later on when I found myself stuck in airports on long waits, and possibly even kept me safe when I was alone in foreign countries. Being a keen observer of everyday life has now bubbled over into my writing – I never even planned to write books, but now I look back, it was a natural progression.

Glossy serving suggestions – take with a healthy spoon full of wisdom

On glossy images...
Some of my favourite photographs of yours truly are so heavily photoshopped that I hardly resemble myself at all. But I know I could never look like that in real life. My son and daughter know I don’t look like that in real life. Their friends know that. So I am doing my bit for educating the kids around me, simply by informing them. So they can appreciate art, appreciate a beautifully presented shopping guide and appreciate reality.

I often relate it to looking at the picture on a cereal box, deciding you like the look of that cereal, purchasing it, and then when you get home saying, “Oh, no. I can’t possibly eat this cereal. I don’t have a bowl with two blue stripes like the one in the picture on the box. I don’t have a spoon with a handle shaped quite like the one in the picture. And I don’t have two sliced strawberries to serve on top, like it has in the picture. I can’t possibly eat this cereal!”

The picture is a serving suggestion, for goodness sake. And we have to tell it to our girls – these are digitally altered, manipulated images. They have been created to make the clothes look nice. Don’t worry about trying to actually look like that. Even the model in the picture doesn’t look like that!

How have you managed to keep a peace about your body in the industry? I think outward appearances can be something that encroaches on just about every arena of the workplace, not just the fashion and advertising industry. As someone who has a TV in my house, a computer, an ever-revolving collection of magazines, newspapers and catalogues, loves going to the movies, shopping, listening to the radio, looking at billboards on the side of the road, I can’t avoid some level of potential angst about being faced with all my inadequacies and shortcomings.

Instead, I find comfort in the fact that my imperfections are probably why I have friends in the first place. I write in the first few pages of Chooks In Stilettos that some of the most comforting words in the universe are “me too.” I love the C.S Lewis quote; “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ “

I love working with the amazingly vibrant creative people that make up this industry. But you can’t take it all too seriously, because last season is already…well…”so last season!”. You’ve got to move on. “Curves are in” – now they’re not. “Skinny is back” – oops, too late, it’s already over! It makes me realise the best thing about it all is how different we all are – and how boring life would be if it were any other way!

On modelling, marriage, motorbikes and the meaning of life...

Some of the significant achievements in your modelling career? I only ever planned to do this for a short time after I left school, just until I worked out what I wanted to do and then I was going to study. So the most significant achievement is to still be working in the industry more than two decades later. Still being requested for jobs. Still having photographers wanting to work with me… even though everything you hear and believe about this industry is that you are practically over the hill in your 20s! Somehow I have mastered a couple of those hills, while remaining relatively low-profile and scandal free. Bonus!

When did marriage/kids come into the picture? For me, kids weren’t ever in that ‘life plan’ we often set out for ourselves. I guess I had worn enough princess-y bride gowns on photo shoots to last me a life time. And being the oldest of four siblings, I had seen enough nappies, baby vomit and toddler tantrums to ensure a large dose of reality on parenting. So I didn’t feel like I was either ready – or missing out – on either… for a long time to come.

Falling pregnant with my son came as a shock. I kept thinking “I'll work out what to do soon.” Needless to say, I never quite worked out what I was going to do. It was the quickest nine and a half months of my life! And although I was panicking about how I was going to ‘bond’ with this little person, it was love at first sight and I was irrevocably changed from that moment on.

Harrison’s dad was a racing car driver. A fatal crash left me a single mum when Harrison was just eight months old. When he was four, we met Andrew, the plumber who came to fix our kitchen tap. I often say Andrew and Harrison fell in love and got married – I just held the flowers. Zoe came along a couple of years later and has always loved the fact she has three brothers: Harrison and his two brothers from his dad’s first marriage. They spend a lot of time with us, riding motorbikes, etc. Harrison’s oldest brother has recently starting racing cars professionally, so Andrew supports him and we are always the loudest cheer squad there!

How has your faith/spirituality affected your life and life's choices? How to shorten that into a paragraph? I think I am a cynic by nature. If I couldn’t see/touch/taste it, I didn’t believe it. I always felt life just happened to you and you had no other choice but to drift along in its current. The concept of life having meaning or purpose had never taken up much of my thinking beyond the fact that fate had dealt Australia as my place of birth. Lucky me!

But when I became a mother, a whole new reality opened up to me. Suddenly I was dealing with overwhelming love and care and protectiveness far, far beyond anything I ever thought possible, and they weren’t just random emotions. They were very real. The more I searched, the more I discovered that life wasn’t just random. Life had purpose beyond simply what I saw when I looked in the mirror. What I do – or don’t do; everything I say – or don’t say, has an effect on me and those around me.

Who are some of the women you look up to/admire? In fashion field, I want to see what Kate Moss or Sarah Jessica Parker are wearing, but in the same breath I want to read about women who are battling to hold their family together through a child’s illness, or women who pioneer successful companies. I admire women who look beyond their own incapability – whether that be a disability, or financially, emotionally or culturally imposed – to see what they can do.

Chooks in Stilettos, $22.95, Ark House, out now.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel