Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Are you talking to me?

So here I go again.

I've already had my say about the state of advertising to mothers of young children (see magazine column below).

But being pregnant with my second child and mum to a now active toddler - things aren't looking any better.

Yes, I run around after a tot, cook batches of baby food (and have it thrown back at me) and bulk shop, yet I don't find myself relating to TV mums... in fact I find myself recoiling.

Woolworths advertisements are the latest offerings to cause me to cringe.

In particular the mother who makes "orange pasta" and the one who makes "plus or minus" Chicken Cacciatore as the phone continues to ring. Cringe.

And what about Continental Twisty Pasta.

The baggy shirt tucked into long skirt managed to transform Caroline Brazier (Julie's sexy best friend from Packed to the Rafter) into someone barely recognisable.

Unfortunately (for me) one ad I can relate to is the one for Everyday Rewards cards with woman who "spends every day doing everything" for her family.

Yet while I do know the feeling of a hectic day, somehow I don't I find myself sipping coffee, smug look upon my face, at the end of a busy day...

Now why is that?

SKINNY JEANS AND SHOWER POWER (Trespass Magazine, December '09)

Twelve months ago, I was working full-time as a television reporter. I was into fashion, read books, loved music, discussed current affairs. I coloured my hair, wore a bikini, watched the news and looked forward to a good party.

I’ve since left my full-time gig in favour of freelance, to be home with my baby boy. Other than that, not much has changed… except maybe my comfort level in a bikini, and the frequency in which I attend said parties.

I have, of course, entered a new demographic. I’m now a mum, who happens to spend a lot more time at home. I still dress the same, think the same, crack the same jokes … yet when I flick on the telly I’m left wondering if I missed the part where new mums are required to enter a phone booth to be transformed into Mrs Brady.

Now I know most chick-flicks and TV dramas are full of yummy-mummies and ultra-cool mamas, but when it comes to commercials aimed at us real mums, it’s a different story. Clearly, mums are the target market for a lot of consumer goods, so there’s no shortage of ads, all aimed at the likes of me. Apparently.

Now I need Shower Power as much as the next mum, but when I watch these ads, it’s not me I see. I see a mumsy bunch, with matching pony tails, three quarter jeans and collared shirts.

Does giving birth and taking on a few home duties mean the end of skinny jeans, summer dresses and high heels?

But it’s not just the daggy dress code that leaves me cringing. I don't know about you other mums out there, but I don't use a magnifying glass to clean my toilet, and I don’t inwardly gloat when my friends use the bright white bowl.

I don’t use phrases like “not in my house” when I see finger prints on the stainless steel. And I do not feel smug about the mess my chicken stock meal has made (Tess and her REAL family I find particularly annoying!)

Don’t get me wrong, I wear trackies with the best of them. I cook, clean, compare nappy brands, even bake the odd batch of muffins - but I do it in my denim cutoffs listening to Groove Armada dammit.

And once it’s done I’m off to play with my son, or read a book, or call a friend, or go shopping. These ads would have you believe the sparkle of the shower floor is a daily highlight. And if a neighbour stops by and happens to witness the sparkle, well, even better!

Am I alone in my frustration, I wonder? Are my shiny bathroom taps really enough to make my friends green with envy? Do they watch these TV mums with an understanding nod, or find the stereotype as irritating as I do?

Do most mums spend their day worrying about that stain they saw on hubby’s shirt as he walked out the door? Or do they see the stain, deal with it and move onto more important things.

More likely, there’s no such thing as an average mum. At the end of the day, we’re all human.

Now - time to try that new stain remover.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When God Created Mothers...

Mother's Day is just around the corner.

It's my second as a mother myself. By next year, I'll have two children.

Motherhood isn't easy - but I have an amazing role model...

As usual with this time of year, I've been thinking a lot about my own mum.

About how lucky I am to have her in my life - as all we daughters and sons are - and how I, like many, don't tell her enough.

But it's difficult to put into words just how important our mothers actually are.

My own mum is so much more to me than her title would suggest - she is my mum, but she's also my mentor, my advisor, my idol, my companion, my best friend.

Always there during good times - and bad.

And still seems to manage to "make everything better" - even now, when any problem I burden her with is far more complicated than a sore knee or a bad day at school.

Which reminds me of a piece about mothers I simply love. My father had a copy framed for my mum many years ago and the words always stuck with me...

Happy Mother's Day mum.

When God Created Mothers

When the good Lord was creating mothers He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said, "You’re doing a lot of fiddling around this one."

And the Lord said, "Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic; Have 180 moveable parts... all replaceable; Run on black coffee and leftovers; Have a lap that disappears when she stands up; A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair; And six pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head slowly and said, "Six pairs of hands... no way."

"It’s not the hands that are causing me problems," said the Lord. "It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have."

"That’s on the standard model?" asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. "One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, "What are you kids doing in there?" when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, "I understand and I Love You" without so much as uttering a word."

"Lord", said the angel, toughing His sleeve gently, "Come to bed. Tomorrow..."

"I can’t," said the Lord, "I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick... can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger... and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower."

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It’s too soft," she sighed.

"But tough!" said the Lord excitedly. "You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure."

"Can it think?"

"Not only think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. "There’s a leak," she pronounced. "I told You. You were trying to put too much into this model."

"It’s not a leak," said the Lord, "it’s a tear."

"What’s it for?"

"It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride."

"You are a genius," said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. "I didn’t put it there."

- Erma Louise Bombeck

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Modern Woman's Anthology

I'm proud to be contributing to The Modern Woman’s Anthology 2010 ... so here is the latest information - including the front cover!

Prominent Australian women pen their musings on womanhood to raise vital funds for mental health

Some of Australia’s most talented, successful and inspiring women have banded together to raise vital funds for and raise awareness of mental health. The Modern Woman's Anthology 2010 is an extraordinary literary project which brings together a unique collection of their stories, musings and memoirs.

Contributing writers include: Olympian Cathy Freeman, Media Commentator and Doctor Dr Cindy Pan and Chairman and Executive Director of Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation Dr. Gene Sherman to name a few.

All of the female writers vary in age, background and ethnicity and the pieces in the anthology range from a simple anecdote to a more personal story about the loss of a family member – some are touching, some reflective and others are just plain funny.

Each story reveals something about their commonality – womanhood. The theme of The Modern Woman’s Anthology 2010 is universal, Woman in the Modern World.

Story telling comes naturally to contributors like Libby Hathorn (award winning Children's Writer) and Kathryn Eisman (Author and Media Personality). Others, including Cathy Freeman and Kate Leeming (Adventurer), had never written before but have bravely and eloquently tackled the challenge, writing from the heart for a cause which has touched their lives.

The anthology project began when Sydney journalist Leah Greengarten, 28, decided to create a permanent record of the personal stories from the women who had inspired and touched her life.

“The idea came about after spending a week at a writers’ retreat in the Blue Mountains. I was surrounded by amazing woman with fascinating stories. An anthology seemed the perfect place to record them. The project is also very close to my heart as all proceeds go to Black Dog Institute to help assist with their priceless work for mental health,” she said.

The World Health Organisation estimates that depression will be the number one cause of disability in both the developed and developing worlds by 2030.

“Mental Health issues affect up to 25 percent (or one in four) Australian women. We are really excited to be involved in this remarkable literary collaboration. The funds raised will go towards research and supporting those Australians with mental health issues”, said Professor Gordon Parker, Executive Director of the Black Dog Institute.

All proceeds from the sale of The Modern Woman’s Anthology 2010 will be donated to Black Dog Institute.

The Modern Woman’s Anthology 2010 will be launched at Customs House Library on Tuesday 22nd June, 2010 with a welcome speech by Therese Rein, prominent businesswoman and wife of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Modern Woman’s Anthology 2010 RRP: 29.95

For more information please go to: www.themodernwomansanthology.com.au

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Modern Woman's Anthology

I am proud to be contributing to an exciting Australian literary project.

The Modern Woman’s Anthology was compiled by Leah Greengarten to raise money for mental health.

All proceeds from the sales of the anthology will be donated to the Black Dog Institute, a not-for-profit, educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in depression and bipolar disorder.

All of the Australian writers vary in age, background, ethnicity and prominence and each story reveals something about womanhood.

The theme is universal – Woman In The Modern World.

Twenty inspirational female writers have been asked to write a piece for the anthology.

The anthology will launched by Therese Rein at Customs House on the 22nd of June, 2010.

Please support the cause by visiting THE MODERN WOMAN'S ANTHOLOGY.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My younger self...

If I were to meet my younger self, I wonder... what would I say?

Would I share with me, some of life's truths - truths I was blissfully unaware of as a child?

Would I tell myself that the old cliche "life wasn't meant to be easy" has more validity than it seems?

That things won't always be ok, and parents can't fix everything after all?

Would I let myself know that life's journey isn't always as you planned it?

And that twists and turns appear before you, when you least expect it?

No, I don't think I would...

Instead I'd tell my younger self that life is a gift - treasure it and enjoy it.

That life is what you make it, family is everything and things will be ok.

I'd tell myself to continue living life as though it's perfect and to cherish every moment shared with loved ones.

To refrain from over-analysing and enjoy the innocence that youth brings.

I'd tell myself to never forget that feeling of invisibility.

And to always remember what matters in life - health, happiness, family, love.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Insult to injury for IVF parents...

New legislation has been introduced by the Victorian government, requiring all prospective IVF patients to have criminal background checks to ensure they have no previous history of violent or sexual crimes.

*read story here*

Unsurprisingly, the legislation has outraged parents of babies conceived through IVF and those about to commence the process.

IVF pioneer Professor Gab Kovacs of Monash IVF in Melbourne told IVF.net the checks were "stupid."

"We talk about practising evidence-based medicine, I think it's time that the politicians practiced evidence-based legislation.

"Unless we're going to do this for all couples, and every couple has to have a police check and a child abuse check before they got pregnant, I believe this is very discriminatory against couples with fertility problems," he said.

IVF is a miraculous technology, allowing couples experiencing fertility problems to conceive a child of their own.

While IVF is indeed a blessing, the experience is physically and emotionally draining, offering no guarantees - and far from a quick fix for potential abusers.

Says Sandra Dill, from the group ACCESS, which represents IVF parents and patients: "If the Government was genuinely sincere about protecting or acting in the best interest of children as they've claimed, then they would require every man and every woman to undergo a police check before they take their baby home from hospital."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It always happens to someone else, until it happens to you...

You hear about it almost every day.

In the news, on television, statistics, sometimes even friends of friends.

Yet you never think it's going to happen to you. Until it does.

I never contemplated being directly impacted by cancer.

I never even entertained the prospect that my friends or family would ever fall victim to it.

Yet they have.

Considering the statistics, it's quite illogical to think cancer won't touch your life, one way or another.

Two of my brother's closest friends lost their lives to cancer.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer - a devastating reality check if ever I've had one.

Surgery and a benign tumour resulted in her survival. An outcome I am thankful for every day.

Most recently, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer.

My fit, healthy, gorgeous, young sister-in-law.

The tumour was discovered during her pregnancy. What mixed emotions are felt when one of the most special times is also an immensely scary time.

Early detection saved her life - thank God for her little baby boy whose development lead to the discovery of the cancer.

Perhaps the most important reality is yes, cancer does exist, it's common and it can happen to you - but in many cases can be cured if detected early enough.

The following guest post by Helen Marsden from the Cancer Council is an important reminder to stop making excuses, and protect yourself from Cervical Cancer.

Thirty-eight and a half Australian women out of every hundred don’t have a Pap test, or Pap smear, every two years as recommended.

That’s according to the latest stats available from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

It’s difficult to imagine what the other half of the 39th woman who IS having her cervix checked over is doing, but that’s stats for you I guess.

I’ve been working at PapScreen for four months now, but I still find it hard to believe that well over a third of women don’t go for cervical screening, concern for the oddly divided woman notwithstanding.

I thought everyone (women, obviously) just WENT for Pap tests every two years. To be honest, I don’t I think I knew why I went for them, or even how I found out I should (my Mum certainly didn’t tell me).

I just did.

So why is it that so many women don’t?

I mean: take time out of your busy day, blush furiously as you tell the doctor you’d like a Pap test, strip halfway down in front of a stranger, assume a very compromising position, then have a dab of your cells taken out and whisked off to a lab where more perfect strangers look at a tiny piece of your insides very VERY closely through a microscope.

Wow, look at that queue forming!

I think the best – maybe only – way to deal with the whole cringeworthy thing is by retaining an extremely healthy (as healthy as your cervix will be) sense of humour. It’s just one of many not-totally-brilliant things woman have to do - years of paying for tampons that could be spent on holidays, days spent trying to find a bikini with more coverage than dental floss, bi-annually having our breasts squashed within an inch of their lives during mammograms in our senior years.

But there is, of course, a reason why we have to do all these things … maybe apart from the bikini.

And there are some extremely good reasons why you should have a Pap test every two years.

1. It prevents around 90% of cervical cancers. 90%!

2. Over 90% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer in Victoria either never had a Pap test, or had not had Pap tests regularly before being diagnosed. I’m no statistician, but we can assume that this percentage would roughly apply Australia-wide.

3. It’s one of the very few cancers that can be pretty much prevented. Pap tests allow women to take control of their bodies and say with a large degree of certainty that “cervical cancer will not happen to me”.

In short, women should be flocking in their droves every two years to take advantage of this test, one of the great discoveries benefiting the fairer sex – which was, incidentally, tried and tested by a Greek doctor (a certain Mr Papanicolaou) in the early twentieth century on his long-suffering wife, who manfully (or womanfully) allowed him to try out his ‘Pap test’ on her almost EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 20 YEARS.

Now there’s a woman with a sense of humour.

At PapScreen we know there are lots of reasons why women don’t screen (we’ve done the research). We then spend a lot of our time trying to persuade women that yes, we see your point, but here are some reasons why you should go and get it done anyway. Hit me with them, I hear you cry! Ok, here goes …

1. It’s embarrassing.
See above – yes, for many of us it is! But think of the benefits, try to keep smiling, and luxuriate in the knowledge that almost 10,000 other women in Australia are doing the very same thing today. My tip: ask for a female doctor or nurse.

2. I’m scared I will have cervical cancer / that it will hurt.
Remember – the Pap test looks for changes to the cells of the cervix that may LEAD to cervical cancer. It’s like a pre-pre-warning that cancer may occur years later.

To put it into perspective, in Victoria almost 93 out of every 100 Pap tests come back completely normal.

Of the remaining seven, two have an ‘unsatisfactory sample’ and just need to go for a repeat test, four will have ‘low grade’ changes that only require monitoring and just one will need treatment for higher grade changes which can in most cases be treated quickly and easily. Once the changes have been corrected, your chances of developing cervical cancer are greatly reduced.

Pap tests can be a bit uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t hurt. If it does, tell your doctor or nurse straight away.

3. I don’t have time to go.
Think it about it like this. Half an hour out of your day tops once every two years (I spend almost that long EACH DAY thinking about whether to get out of bed) versus the potential months of treatment and anxiety if you are unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

4. I don’t understand why I need to have a Pap test.
Here comes the science bit!

Pap tests detect changes in the cells of the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer in the future.

These changes in the cells are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted by genital skin to genital skin contact – it’s completely normal to have HPV and most women will have HPV at some point in their lives. In the vast majority of cases HPV clears the body naturally. Sometimes if it doesn’t it can lead to the changes in the cervical cells that develop into cancer.

By having a Pap test every two years, any changes can be detected and treated early.

5. I’ve had the cervical cancer vaccine, I don’t need to have Pap tests.
Nice try, but no cigar – and not only because tobacco products are persona non grata to cancer prevention types. The cervical cancer vaccine is extremely good, and protects you against the two types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer. However it doesn’t protect you against all of them. You might also have been exposed to some HPV types if you were sexually active before having the vaccine.

PapScreen’s motto? Even if you’ve had the vaccine, continue to have Pap tests every two years between the ages of 18 and 70.

6. I’m lesbian, I don’t need Pap tests.
Nice try, but etc etc. PapScreen is here to tell you that lesbians need Pap tests too! HPV can also be passed on by genital skin to genital skin contact between women, so lesbians are also at risk of developing cervical cancer.

7. I don’t know where to get a Pap test.
This one we admit can be a hassle. For Victorians, the PapScreen website www.papscreen.org.au has a handy Pap test provider finder where you can search for your nearest clinic by post code. You can even find clinics with female doctors and nurses, find out what languages are spoken in each clinic and see if the clinic has disability access. (The same applies for the rest of the country, and dare I say, the world).

Ah, the magic of the world wide web.

So yeah that’s it I guess. Pap tests: embarrassing, a little bit funny, but well worth it all things considered.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Put a ring on it...

A funny thing happened to me the other day.

I was driving along when Helen Ready's classic hit I Am Woman began playing on the radio.

You know the one - I am woman hear me roar. If you don't know the song, you've no doubt heard that line before... most likely in the form of a joke.

In fact, once I'd have probably been one of the main perpetrators of such a joke. In high-school I'd often laugh at the girls who insisted on shifting desks (they were just as capable as the boys) and refusing to let their dates pay for movie tickets.

Songs such as I Am Woman seemed equally as hilarious.

I knew I was in control - I didn't need to prove a point by refusing acts of chivalry.

But while I'll still happily leave the heavy lifting to the men, upon recent listening this particular song didn't seem quite so amusing.

In fact, I found myself relating to particular elements of the song...

"Yes I am wise but it's wisdom born of pain/yes I paid the price but look how much I've gained/If I had to I can do anything
I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman."

Ok, so that last line is still borderline funny, but I did find myself thinking of my son and the battle I went through to have him, following conception problems and subsequent IVF.

And at that moment, I did feel invincible - I am Woman dammit!

Granted, I would have looked more ridiculous than powerful as I belted out the feminist rant, but hey, that's the power of music.

My re-discovery of the female anthem got me thinking about other similarly labelled tunes.

There's been a few over the years, all sending a different message, but not always in the best interest of the sistahood, depending on who you're talking to.

Aretha Frankli's Resepct and Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive, are classics from a time when women were standing up and taking control.

Christina's Can't Hold Us Down and Destiny's Child's Independent Woman were part of a more recent trend of songs focused on reclaiming sexuality and financial independence.

But Beyonce's hit Single Ladies (put a ring on it) has been the latest track to be dubbed a female anthem - but opinions on it's worth are apparently split.

This song is different to the norm in that combines power and sexuality with a desire for commitment. This C-word apparently a naughty no-no for some feminists.

One such is Amanda Hees, author of The Sexist Blog.

She says:

"Beyonce referring to herself as “it”, equating herself to bling? Handing herself over to a man who will determine her self-worth through a demeaning, years-long game which can only end with Beyonce emerging triumphant as his symbolic property, or crawling away as a meaningless ex?"

That's one way of looking at it, feminist and novelist Edan Lepucki has a different view.

"Perhaps it’s anti-feminist for sex to lead to marriage, or to desire that. But why? Why is it unacceptable for a woman to require commitment from the man she’s sleeping with?"

So what makes a female anthem?

A call for respect? Equality? Power? Sexual satisfaction? Commitment? Love?

In reality, most women want a little bit of everything... which is why I think Beyonce nailed it with Single Ladies (put a ring on it).

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Princess Phenomenon

With the recent release of Disney's latest princess fairy-tale, The Princess and the Frog, there's been much talk about the appropriateness of princesses as role models for young girls (and many women).

Guest blogger Tanya Williams talks about the princess phenomenon and why she wants to live happily ever after...

Why do we want to be princesses?

What is it about being a princess that attracts girls (both young and old)?

The official definition of a princess is:

A woman member of a royal family other than the monarch, especially a daughter of a monarch.
1. A woman who is a ruler of a principality.
2. A woman who is a hereditary ruler; a queen.
3. A noblewoman of varying status or rank.
4. The wife of a prince.
5. A woman regarded as having the status or qualities of a princess.

Princesses are known for being feminine, empowered, respectful and confident. Of course, we all want to aspire to be this.

As women do we want to be princesses to escape our reality?

If only we could escape to a fairytale world when the going gets tough. In this world that is so pretty and glamorous they are the heroines who live the perfect life in the perfect world.

Being a princess means being special and living happily ever after with our Prince Charming. There is nothing wrong with this fantasy as long as it doesn’t become obsessive.

I want to be a princess and believe there is nothing wrong with it. I am an educated, corporate chic who has a great lifestyle and her own prince charming. To me being a princess is just about being made to feel special. I think it’s normal to want more; afterall we do live in a materialistic world driven by celebs and fame. It’s not wrong to want to feel empowered and loved and to share our lives with a special person.

But somehow, the princess phenomenon has become way more loaded in recent years. These days, that message begins practically at birth with everything from princess baby shirts and "her royal highness" bibs to princess-themed photo albums and picture frames for baby girls.

By the time those girls are toddlers, many are drawn to the princess dresses, glittery crowns and even makeup. Barbie has many princess-oriented items, and then of course, there's the undisputed leader in all things princess: The Walt Disney Co.

For many women, being a princess takes us back to our childhood. Those feelings of being loved, protected and knowing that one day our Prince Charming will rescue us so we can live happily ever after.

Do we want to be rescued? That’s an anti-feminist statement but is there some truth to this viewpoint or is it an easy way out?

We are spending lots of time and money seeking out scenarios wherein life is fantastic and magical. One such venue is Manhattan's New World of Disney store. This megastore provides girls and their mothers a space where they can spend "quality" time together while learning to be "princesses." Like a finishing school for girls, this store provides opportunities for girls to learn how to be princesses by "sipping tea" and by receiving tutoring "on the four qualities every princess possesses: intelligence, grace, thoughtfulness, and honesty." All this can be purchased at the "low" price of $80, and the cost of a crown is a veritable "bargain" at about $24 a pop, depending on the type you choose.

Mmm, not convinced that spending $80 to spend time with a loved one, is sending the right message?

Do we, as women, really want to be "fairy princesses"? Or do we just want everything that is associated with being a princess?

I think it is a little of both. And given the world as it stands today, who can blame us for wanting to escape (even if for a few minutes).

Whatever you think about being a princess, I believe as women we CAN have our cake and our tiara too!

Tanya Williams is the Chief Executive Officer of Princess Chic, an online shoe boutique, and self-confessed shoe addict. She has almost a decade of experience in advertising and media.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blemish free babies...

Much has been said in the media of late about the airbrushed models and celebrities frequenting the covers of women's magazines.

As a result, there's been a backlash of sorts, with many glossies boasting of their current use of unretouched images.

While still gorgeous, expertly lit, perfectly posed and stunningly groomed, this recent trend has been a positive step forward for the representation of...dare I say it... real women.

But while women are speaking loud, their message crystal clear - the airbrushing phenomenon is not limited to we ladies.

Take a look at the cover of any men's lifestyle magazine... I dare say those six-packs have had some assistance, along with the remarkably even skin tone and perhaps a couple of other, shall we say, attributes.

It seems the modern bloke must also live up to a false ideal, comparing themselves to the incredibly sculptured bodies of the new male model.

But perhaps a little more concerning was a comment made by my husband, a graphic designer by trade, as I flicked through a parenting magazine recently.

"That baby has been Photoshopped to within an inch of its life," said horrified husband.

You mean the sparkling blue eyes upon crystal clear whites, the lack of red cheeks and completely blemish free complexion may not be natural?

And here I was thinking these were simply the minimum requirements if bub was going to take out a baby modeling contest.

Is there anything more gorgeous than a baby?

It's become a strange old world if these beautiful little beings require touch-ups to warrant a cover-shot.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let's stop sending each other on guilt trips...

Recently in the UK, controversial billboards which read "Career Women Make Bad Mothers" were withdrawn by the Outdoor Advertising Association.

The billboards, which were part of an OAA campaign designed to promote the effectiveness of billboard advertising, unsurprisingly caused an outcry from working mothers.

According to a UK mother's network, working women were left feeling anger, disappointment, even despair.

Feelings undoubtably due to the guilt most mothers are made to feel at some stage in their life - usually by other mothers, and often by those who aren't yet mothers.

The stay-at-home-mum versus working-mother debate has been an issue of contention for some time now, with each group judging the other as somehow inferior.

Stay-at-home mums are not ambitious, working mums are selfish - or so they say.

I am extremely fortunate to be able to work from home, but have learnt the hard way, that motherhood issues are not simply black and white.

I do admit though, to having pre-set opinions and ideas prior to becoming a mum, only to fall victim of the judgement of others after having my son.

I was going to stay home with my baby and I was going to breast feed.

It was the breast feeding idea that didn't quite go to plan. In the end I only breast fed my baby for a short time, before switching to the dreaded bottle.

To address what most are usually thinking at this point - no I did not find it too painful (although it was very much so) and simply give up.

It wasn't all about technique either - the midwives confirmed this - despite the resulting damage.

I did, however, end up with severe and recurring mastitis.

And yes, I am aware that continuing to breast feed is the best way to cure mastitis.

Which is exactly what I did. However in my particular case, continuing to feed and continuous antibiotics did not improve the condition.

It got worse, my son was not getting enough milk and I ended up in hospital - away from my new baby - for days.

And it was on doctor's advice (*gasp) that I gave up breast feeding - with complete agreement from the midwife (*bigger gasp) treating my mastitis.

I was wracked with guilt, despite weeks of intense physical pain.

And I've lost count of the number of women who have informed me, upon hearing my son was being bottle fed, that they had mastitis/pain/difficulties, but they persevered "and it DOES get easier".

They don't know my story - and I don't always share it - but that's just it. We don't know each other's situation so why do we judge?

I choose to stay home with my son, but I don't feel superior to those who work full-time, nor should they feel superior to me.

And these are just two of the many issues we regularly judge each other on.

There's dummies, home-made vs commercial baby food, controlled crying, routine vs demand feeding, childcare, use of babysitters, how long we keep bub in our room - the list goes on.

We're all entitled to an opinion, but that doesn't mean we have to turn up our nose to those who choose a different path.

The majority of mothers are simply doing the best they can, to provide the best lives for their little bundles of joy.

Let's support each other instead of sending each other on never ending guilt trips.

As they say, there isn't a handbook and as long as we're doing our best, that's the best we can do.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

She may be hot, but she's still real...

Fashion magazine Marie Claire has caused a stir by putting an attractive lingerie model on the front of it's February issue.

On the surface, there's nothing new about this concept - gorgeous models have graced glossy covers for decades.

But this time, former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins has posed nude for a series of photographs, which reportedly have not been retouched.

These images supposedly depict the "real" Jennifer Hawkins and will help raise funds for eating disorders support group the Butterfly Foundation

But instead of applause, Marie Claire has received a string of complaints.

Many say Hawkins is no role model for body image and the photographs do nothing to improve the self-esteem of Australian women.

They say she is simply "genetically blessed" with an unobtainable body.

No doubt she's a natural beauty, but there's also no denying the fact that she is a real person - hot body included.

Admittedly Marie Claire could have gone a step further by removing lighting, using a less flattering pose, banning make-up and of course using a curvier model.

But then where do you draw the line?

It is a fashion magazine after all and what the image does show is that even hot, is human.

The trouble with image retouching and air-brushing is that is projects a truly unattainable image of unreal people, which can understandably contribute to extreme eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

Even those who do reach the media-celebrated size 8 or 10 are left feeling their boobs are too small, their backside too big, too much cellulite, not enough tone...

There is nothing real about an air-brushed image.

Jennifer Hawkin's photographs, while indeed proving she's naturally gorgeous, at least show a realistic backside-to-boob ratio and naturally uneven skin-tones.

She may look good, but that is what she looks like.

So while some say Marie Claire could have taken their natural approach further, taking away the air-brush is a step in the right direction.

Gorgeous models on magazine covers is nothing new - I say well done to Marie Claire for at least keeping it real.

About Me

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Nicole is an Australian journalist, presenter and communications consultant. She spent several years as a News Limited journalist, writing for a variety of local newspapers and magazines. Following this, Nicole was a reporter and presenter with the Nine Network, filing stories for Brisbane magazine program Extra, lifestyle show Weekend Extra and National Nine News. She is now a freelance journalist, writing for a variety of publications. Her special interests are features, lifestyle, current affairs, women, parenting/family and health. Nicole is also a public relations and communications consultant. www.nicolemadigan.webs.com
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