21 Comments

About Face

Regular readers will know this isn’t a body image blog – unless we are talking about gratuitous images of men’s bodies (and even then I aim to be delightfully cheeky rather than exploitative – I do my reverse sexism with class baby Yeh). The reason as I have repeatedly tried to explain, is that there is simply too much in the media about female bodies. The Daily Life section of the Sydney Morning Herald has at least one positive body image or anti body image shaming type article every single gosh darn day. Other popular women’s websites serve these posts up like supermarket eggs – by the dozen. ( I’m not mentioning any names as I am still trying to suck up to the popular women’s websites. It’s questionable strategy – alas).

I’m a singular voice in the wilderness saying “Pssst. Positive body image is great but women (and men ) are more than our bodies. Lets focus on women’s minds and hearts. Lets show the world what women are doing  in the home, workplace and community at large.” However I feel like I’m trying to deflect a tsunami with my bare hands. As long as body image articles continue to attract clicks by the millions the media will continue to reel them off with alarming frequency.

Today I’m contradicting my own stance. I don’t feel quite right about it but whilst Mumabulous claims to be many things “pure of heart” has never been one of them. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I am weighing in on the Renee Zellweger/ Uma Thurman face debacle. I’m doing an ‘about face’ as it were.

Even if you are not a fan of the tattle rags and gossip sites you probably know that these two actresses have recently come under much scrutiny over their radically altered appearance. Renee no longer looks like herself. Uma looks like Uma but with oddly stretched skin.  Whatever she had done was overdone.

Debate raged for days (which is an eternity in social media time) but the politically correct consensus was that these women have the right to do whatever they like with their face and bodies and the rest of us should simple butt the hell out and shut the f^*k up.

Bridget Jones no more.

Bridget Jones no more.

 

Yes – they do have the right to do whatever they like with their bodies and personal attacks upon these individual is abhorrent. BUT why can’t we discuss the forces behind these choices? To me, that women (and increasingly men) are turning to radical cosmetic surgery in droves is symptomatic of a messed up society. People age. We can’t prevent people from aging. Nevertheless society can’t seem to accept aging as a natural part of life.

Uma had a dangerous liason with Botox.

Uma had a dangerous liason with Botox.

I doubt that Renee or Uma would have chosen expensive, painful and risky procedures if they didn’t think believe careers depended on it. Ironically having alot of work done doesn’t make a person look young. Cosmetic work simply looks like cosmetic work. The roles that are available for more mature women go to actresses like Meryl Streep, Judi Dench and Helen Miren – women who are believable. By contrast I can’t think of the last part (the beautiful but cosmetically assisted) Demi Moore played other than aging beauty dumped by toy boy husband for a much younger woman. Oops that was IRL.

People will always want to gaze at young attractive types. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. However there is more to life than beauty and sexuality. It would be refreshing if our entertainment could reflect life across all its stages.  I hate myself for agreeing with Russel Crowe but I was nodding along when he said “The point is, you do have to be prepared to accept that there are stages in life. So I can’t be the Gladiator forever.” It would be nice if the Hollywood machine, the media at large and audiences shared Russell view.

In the meantime there’s an non retouched photo of super model Cindy Crawford currently floating around the interwebs. As one of the original set of supermodels Cindy Crawford was the standard to which mere mortal women could never live up to. Even Cindy a symbol of unearthly beauty has aged.

Even supermodels age so there's no hope for the rest of us.

Even supermodels age so there’s no hope for the rest of us.

 

If Cindy Crawford can’t hold back the years forever there’s no hope for any of us. Aging is part of life. Get used to it.

I don’t wish to criticize Renee, Uma or even Bruce Jenner for choosing cosmetic help but I do question the values of a society where people feel they need to do it to keep their careers.

Aging? Can you deal with it on screen and in real life?

 

Love

Mumabulous

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

The Unexpected

“Expect the unexpected” is a cliche more deeply entrenched than “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. Yet over the last couple of weeks things on both a personal and national scale haven’t panned out in the way I imagined.

Let’s start with the BIG one. (‘The BIG what?’ you may well ask)

There was a minor ruckus in Canberra last Monday morning. It was a mere blip on the radar, largely ignored by the press. Just kidding. The press precipitated the LNP leadership debacle. Once it catches a whiff  Mal-content in the back benches (see what I did there) the media pushes relentlessly until a challenge becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The government then looks stupid if they do and stupid if they don’t. Bottom line, they look stupid.

You’ve probably gorged on thousand different opinions but remain nonetheless hungry (like the wolf) for more. I imagine you are bursting to know what Dadabs thinks about it. Here is a verbatim quote from my husband.

” I think he (Abbott) will survive ya know”. 

Once again its Dababs: 1, Mumabs: 0.

I thought TA was going down like a domino. I posted this on Facebook and people liked it.

 Mumabulous

It would seem he’s a dead man jogging in banana hammocks.
http://www.smh.com.au/…/tony-abbott-twitter-hashtag-backfir…

A hashtag that was started with the aim of supporting the embattled Prime Minister is trending first on Twitter for entirely the wrong reason it was intended.
SMH.COM.AU
With all the derision on the virtual brick wall for electronic graffiti that is Facebook and Twitter, you’d think TA was a goner. Some commentators even likened Tony to the nation’s ultimate political joke – Billy McMahon*. He’d lost the public’s respect (if he ever had it in the first place) and keeping him seemed like  electoral suicide for the LNP.  Yet despite the expectations of many so called experts, most of social media and myself, TA hung in there like a banana in a hammock.
The election isn’t due until the end of next year. If a week is a long time in politics, two years is an eternity. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that TA could be re-elected.   I am reminded of John Howard’s  “Lazarus with a triple bypass” comments.  Like Howard, Hawke and Menzies before him TA could well be here for the long haul. Hope his banana hammock has some durable elastic. (Sorry for that unpleasant mental image.)
TA is still hanging around.

TA is still hanging around.

Valentine’s Day
If your significant other is a male chances are the only passion he feels on Valentines Day is a passionate loathing of the whole thing. Dadabs freakin hates it. Like many males he doesn’t hate showing affection, he hates being dictated to as to how and when. Moreover its a rip off. I hesitate to call Dadabs a tight arse but he does have keen sense of value for money. He will not tolerate price gouging by florists, purveyors of fine chocolates or restaurants.
This year he typically forgot all about the significance of Feb 14 and invited some friends over for a BBQ. A few days later it struck him – “Shit -I forgot. Saturday is Valentines Day they might have hawt date.”
“They might be doing the thing that married people do.” I added.
“What rootin’ like rabbits?”
 What a quaint, old fashion view of marriage he has. “No. They might be going out for dinner and having romance.”
 “We can do ours on the Friday?” trying to dig himself out of the hole.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Then unbeknownst to me Dadabs arranged for his mother to baby sit so that we could indeed have “romance” on the Friday evening. We had the Valentines Special at a local tapas bar washed down with a champagne cocktail. We followed up with coffee at our favorite patisserie and a moonlit stroll along the beach. Well played Dadabs. It was a sweetly unexpected touch.
Romance in a glass

Romance in a glass

&
finally
Did you know that the FSOG movie has hit the cinemas? Seriously is there anything else on your social media feed. FSOG is the most remarkable literary work of this century and predictably there has been a rash of opinion pieces on it. Every aspect of it has been filtered through a feminist prism. Popular websites bulge with headlines like “All Feminist Must See FSOG” or “All Feminists Must Boycott FSOG”. Seriously?
Why should seeing or not seeing this movie impact upon your feminist credentials? It is escapism. Most people realize that Christian Grey would make a shitty real life partner. I enjoy watching the Vikings but that doesn’t mean I recommend plundering, pillaging and experimenting with guyliner.
I love the Vikings but I dont want Dadabs to take up this look.

I love the Vikings but I dont want Dadabs to take up this look.

Whilst I found all this FSOG related chatter irritating, I realized something important. Thanks to the FSOG fallout domestic violence is centre stage. As a society we’re actually having a conversation about it – the first step in bringing about lasting change. I can’t remember a time when this issue was so prominent in the public mind. If a banal movie helps put  scourge of domestic violence into the spot light, its an unexpectedly good thing. Oh and Rosemary Batty helped a bit too.
Has anything unexpected happened in your world lately.
Love
Mumabulous
* For all people took the piss out of Billy McMahon he had a hawt wife and a hawt son.
Julian McMahon - not as funny as his Dad.

Julian McMahon – not as funny as his Dad.

 (Well Julian appeals to some people’s tastes – not my own but I’m Fassbent)


32 Comments

On Balance

When I talk about my old (pre-kids) career I feel as pathetic as Al Bundy.  You may recall catch cry “I played  High School football!”

Al bundy 2

Like Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, I too could have been a “contender”.

I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

I was an equity analyst. I used to interview CEO’s, chair investor presentations and pump stock valuations out of my wazoo  spread sheets on a daily basis. Sure I wasn’t in the orbit of say Gail Kelly or even the chick who headed up resources research at Merrill Lynch.  Nevertheless it was the peak of the economic boom and I had an opportunity that many an ambitious graduate would kill for.

meme med

So what did I do with this gift? I listened to my aging ovaries, had a sprog and tossed the whole career thing away. Then I got married and had a second (surprise) sprog, in that order.

At the time of my resignation an older, wiser colleague suggested that I should keep my options open. However the company was only offering 12 months maternity leave and I simply did not think I had the energy levels to perform on the stock market and look after a toddler. Having it all means doing it all.  I didn’t believe I could do it all. I bypassed the maternity leave option and quit. At that stage my CV wasn’t looking too shabby and I reasoned I could slot back into the corporate world when the time was right.

That was eight years ago.  My plan of slotting back into paid work hasn’t worked out so well. The time has not yet magically come “right”.

Many working mothers speak about “mummy guilt”.  I guess I am fortunate that its not a cross I’ve had to bear. My guilt is perhaps a lessor one – the guilt of not contributing financially to the household and of letting team feminism down. Feminism is struggling to give women an equal footing in the work place and I willingly trashed a my career path because I couldn’t handle the pace.

I have a thousand sniveling excuses. The finance industry is not family friendly and the stock market doesn’t care if you have to leave early to collect a sick child from kindy.  My husband was earning orders of magnitude more than I and it made no sense for him to step back.  He had a serious business to run. Dadabs taking up the caring role was NOT an option.Nor was using my parents as unpaid childminding serfs.  The cost of a nanny was unjustifiable.

Still where there’s a will, there’s a way. Thousands of women are doing it all without much support. In my particular case the will was notably lacking.

Now my youngest has started school I am on a crusade for the holy grail of work/life balance. This means either finding a part time role which is flexible enough for school pick ups or working from home. In reality these opportunities are as rare as hens teeth. The serious jobs are still overwhelmingly full time. The part time positions are in areas where I have little experience. Breaking into freelancing is like piercing the deep, Antarctic ice sheet.  You have to invest in some heavy duty equipment.

An attempt to break into freelance writing.

An attempt to break into freelance writing.

I don’t regret spending time with my girls when they were small. I hasten to add that I am exceedingly grateful that I had the option of being a stay at home mum. Many people simply don’t have that choice. However I’m starting to doubt the wisdom of the decision I made eight years ago. Perhaps I should have listened to my former colleague and kept my options open. That way there would be more paid work in my work/life balance. And I wouldn’t have to feel like I’ve dropped the baton for Team Feminism.

Have you found your work/life balance Holy Grail?

How did you cope returning to work after maternity leave?

Did you find it tough to get back into the workforce after some time out?

Why am I bothering anyway?

 

Love

Mumabulous

Its not like I’m completely idle. I work as a bookkeeper/admin support withDadab’s business but its hard to get a suntan when you’re living in your spouse’s shadow. Just ask George Clooney.


3 Comments

Cafe Culture & Kids

I’m over at Mother & Baby discussing the perils of eating out with kids. Venture over if you dare.

In response to poor reviews, Ms Morris declared via Facebook that her establishment was “not child friendly” unless the children were “happy to sit at a table with you, while you enjoy a coffee, and are well behaved”. That disqualifies my family.

The Facebook post instantly went viral and polarised the café-going public (which is just about everyone).

Many congratulated Ms Morris on her position. Her supporters seemed relieved that there was at least one oasis of calm where coffee drinkers could enjoy their favourite brew without interruption from screaming, undisciplined children. This comment on the Café’s Facebook page sums up the mood:

“Bottom line is your kids will ruin the dining experience I PAID for. So if you want to join me, GET A BABY SITTER.”

 

http://www.motherandbaby.com.au/connect/blogs/mumabulous/2015/2/cafe-culture-with-kids/

 

 


24 Comments

Honest Obituaries

If Colleen McCullough’s woeful obituary in The Australian (Murdoch – of course) hasn’t broken the internet this week, its at least bent it over and given it a good spanking. Everyone with a social media profile has weighed in. Naturally I’m going to add my little bit to the pile. That McCullough’s “plain” and “overweight” appearance was noted before any of her considerable achievements was simply rude and disrespectful.

So the woman didn’t look like Miranda Kerr. Not many of us do. Nor can many of us be a respected neuroscientist at Yale as well as a best selling author but Colleen McCullough nailed both.

When Miranda Kerr eventually sashays off to the Victoria’s Secret runway in the sky her  her obituary will be probably gush about her extraordinary beauty. Imagine the uproar if her send off went something like this –

“Reportedly not the sharpest tool in the shed, Miranda Kerr won the genetic lottery and was freakishly beautiful of face and figure. Her uncommon good looks enabled her to amass a personal fortune of $35m through her various modelling contracts and line of skin care products. After separating from her husband, Hollywood actor and smokin’ hawt crumpet Orlando Bloom, she was romantically linked to billionaires such as James Packer and Steve Bing. In a career highlight, her raunchy photo spread in British GQ was artfully lampooned by the Bondi Hipsters.”

Sent up by the Bondi Hipsters the best career accolade this side of Weird Al.

Sent up by the Bondi Hipsters – the best accolade this side of Weird Al.

I need to clarify that I don’t actually believe that Miranda Kerr is stupid. Beautiful or not, an individual needs a certain amount acumen to build a massively successful brand. I’m doing this to show what things would look like if brains and achievement were valued as much as physical appearances.

Similarly what if men were judged primarily by their looks? The obituaries page of The Age might read something like this in the not too distant future.

Let start with Miranda’s rumored beau James Packer.

James Packer

This overweight Cranbrook boy inherited a seven billion dollar fortune from his father media mogul Kerry Packer. Sadly, he also inherited his father’s unappealing reptilian features and tubby body. An academic underachiever, James Packer did not have the marks to go to university so he readied himself for the business world with a stint as a jackaroo Heck – even his contemporary Lachlan Murdoch is a crumpet with an Arts degree from Princeton.

Being a billionaire he attracted a string of buxom beauties. He had two marriages – both to super models – Jodhi Meares and Erica Baxter.  Sadly his glamorous wives did not stick around despite the absurdly opulent lifestyle. Perhaps it had something to do with his involvement in Scientology?

Though at a cursory glance he seamed like a non-entity, James must have done something right or least surrounded himself with good people. He managed to maintain the value of his inheritance through the GFC. His decision to divest his media assets and build a casino empire was astute (though morally questionable). However he will best be remembered for his rumored dalliance with super model Miranda Kerr. The question on everyone’s lips being -‘ how could she shag that after being with Orlando Bloom? Orlando Bloom is some A grade crumpet.’

To his credit James Packer lost the weight.

To his credit James Packer went from flab to fab.

 

 Kyle Sandilands

He wasn’t known as “vile Kyle” for nothing. As a young man he was average of feature. The years however were not kind and he became obese and utterly repugnant. Ironically he lambasted the much loved comedian Magda Subanski over her weight. That Kyle Sandilands’ radio show was a consistent ratings winner speaks volumes about the intelligence of the Australian population. (Note not in a good way).

Kyle was a masterful shock jock, expert at garnering public attention by utterances as mean spirited as they were inane.  Nevertheless despite only having a talent for revulsion, Kyle was a judge on Australian’s Got Talent and the X-Factor – again a sad indictment upon middle Australia. It was little wonder that his first wife, pop starlet wannabe Tamara Jaber, dumped his ever expanding arse. His partnership with 22 year old model Imogen Anthony made the Australian public gag. It was almost as nauseating as Dr Geoffrey Edelston and his string of child paramours.

 

Guess which one's the millionaire? Hint: its not the hawt chick.

Guess which one’s the millionaire? Hint: its not the hawt chick.

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott was a wing nut to rival Prince Charles. The man’s ears were infeasibly large. Despite much evidence to the contrary ( labelling climate science “crap” and removing the carbon tax) Tony Abbott did much to fight global warming. His ears were so big they blocked out the sun.  It is a little known fact that telecommunications experts considered installing him on the roof of Parliament House to ensure flawless FoxTel reception. A human double satellite dish as it were.

Tony Abbott had three very attractive daughters. The public wondered how it could be genetically possible and suspected intervention by the milk man.

Of course Tony Abbott’s life can not be celebrated without paying homage to the banana hammocks he wore with pride.  He was an ambassador for the iconic Aussie swimwear brand Speedo, whether they liked it or not. Even though Tony Abbott was a wing nut in budgie smugglers he rose to the rank of  Prime Minister  – for a while at least.

The low hanging fruit.

The low hanging fruit.

 Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe was born in New Zealand in 1964. Australia is thus absolved of all responsibility.

But you are allowed to fancy Russell in Master and Commander. Love how I sneaked a photo of Paul Bettany in there. Paul Bettany is some underrated crumpet.

But you are allowed to fancy Russell in Master and Commander. Love how I sneaked a photo of Paul Bettany in there. Paul Bettany is some underrated crumpet.

Bob Hawke

Museum curators are calling for Bob Hawke’s preserved carcass to be put on public display. It seems a fitting tribute to a man who was permanently pickled during his life.

 

Bob Hawke's body to be preserved in alcohol. Easiest job taxidermists have ever done.

Bob Hawke’s body to be preserved in alcohol. Easiest job taxidermists have ever done.

So many great Australians who aren’t dead yet and so little time.

Who would you like to see an honest obituary for? How would your own read?

Love

Mumabulous


34 Comments

So I made an e.book

Here it is!

 

Master title page med

And you can download it here!

.

Dadabulous is not one for sitting around waiting for opportunities to fall in your lap. “You want to write. You should write a kids book”. Frankly many of the books we’d downloaded for the girls were story wise quite lame. I’d frequently been heard to utter ” I could pull a better story out of my wazoo”. “Well you should” Dadabs would declare. “I’m serious. You should do an ebook”.

His idea of an ebook and what I believed I was ready for were two different things. He had in mind an extravaganza of fancy pants animation, voice overs and musical sound effects.  I was struggling with the idea of illustrations and layout. I decided to take baby steps and see what eventuated.

About six months ago P1 was completely obsessed by The Voice – Kids. Almost all of her conversation revolved around it. When would she be ready for audition? Is she preciously talented for her age? Could she please do singing lessons? etc etc.  I figured there must be an army of primary school kids equally captivated by the contest. At the same time my daughters adored sassy, fashionista fairies like The Winx.  A kernel of an idea came to me.

I sat at the computer and a short story took shape. In Wish World is an Alice in Wonderland, meets the Rainbow fairies, meets The Voice hybrid with a few current pop stars thrown in for good measure.  Writing was the easy bit. I bashed it out in a couple of sittings. Illustrating it was challenging to say the least. In retrospect it was  a mistake to attempt it myself given that I’m not an accomplished artist. My experience with graphics programs is scant. However it wasn’t worth the outlay of paying someone. I started knocking out water colour paintings at home. The length of this process can measured in geological time. It took frickin’ eons. Species evolved and became extinct whilst I was preoccupied with the paintings.

The next step was the find a scanner that could handle A3 images. In my naive enthusiasm I had made the pictures way too big.  Then the real work began. Hours were consumed by the painstaking process of retouching the drawings and creating back drops on Photoshop. Mind you the only experience I’d had in Photoshop was a six day course at Community College. Undeterred I boldly ventured where no middle aged mother with a background in finance had gone before.

Here’s one of the better paintings. Its the fairy superstar Milo Serious performing his smash hit – “I came in on a bowling ball.”

Before

Before

And here’s the reworked version as it appears in the book.

With some fancy photoshopping.

With some fancy photoshopping.

 

I was quite pleased with the way some of the images turned out. These two are nice.

Gracie Sue wows the crowd.

Gracie Sue wows the crowd.

 

Sapphire your glamorous hostess.

Sapphire your glamorous hostess.

However these two simply did not work.

tunnel for blog

 

It's a hodge podge.

It’s a hodge podge.

Going for semi-realism was my down fall.  Continuity was a big problem. Some of the characters look quite different from one page to the next.  I should have opted for a simpler cartoon style, keeping the back drops crisp and white.

When it was all done the lengthy process of transporting all the images to the iBooks Author program started. Dadabs had to bring a Mac in from his office. Again I was thrown into the confusing world of software I’d never dealt with before. We rejigged layouts and did what seemed like 1,000 proof reads. Christmas came and went whilst we waited for Apple to verify our tax and bank details.

If you are thinking about putting together an ebook yourself its important to note that Apple won’t except your submission unless you are registered for GST. This is an unholy pain the proverbial and something I was unwilling to do under my own business name. I didn’t want to subject myself to regular BAS reporting when I wasn’t making any money. I was very lucky that I could use Dadabs ABN and bank account. So now all the (ahem) profits will go to him. I’m sure he is planning his escape to Rio as I write.

Now all that’s left is to market the thing.

Anyway what we have a is a sweet little book about dreaming big and the power of imagination. Its got some memorable characters and hopefully a few giggles. Despite the home made look, its colorful and cheery. Young kids will enjoy it.  Whilst I admit the output is amateur I have learned so much about the programs and the publishing process. It was a worthwhile thing to do. Hopefully I’ll do it again with a bigger and better story and slicker images.  Watch out!

Meanwhile if you are a blogger interested in doing a review, please let me know and I’ll forward you a free copy.

Do you have any tips to help me market it?

 

Love

Mumabulous

 


19 Comments

Empowerment

empower

/ɪmˈpaʊə/
verb (transitive)

1.

to give or delegate power or authority to; authorize
2.

to give ability to; enable or permit
empowerment med

If you are a connoisseur of blogs (and if you are reading this you must be), you may have noticed that a young starlet named Caitlin Stasey (a Neighbours alumni no less – Ramsay St is a training ground for world domination) has caused a stir within our insular circle.  Caitlin started up her own feminist blog with the grand aim of  “reclaiming” the female body  from “the burden of the male gaze”.  Her means of reclaiming the female body… posting a series of artsy black and white nudey photos of herself.  That the photos have not been retouched and she hasn’t subjected herself to a full Brazilian waxing is the cause for celebration here. Sadly all it says to me is that slender attractive 24 year olds don’t need airbrushing.  Ironically I’d imagine the photos are generally pleasing to male gaze and the accompanying talk about “fluid” sexuality is exciting to the male imagination.

The thing  ricocheted around social media causing some argy bargy between certain women’s websites, bloggers and the feminism lite of the mainstream press. Some lauded Stasey as a refreshing new feminist voice.  Others retorted that more naked women on the internet was not needed, whilst many merely yawned. I might have made a comment somewhere about finding Clive Standen’s nudity more empowering than Caitlin’s ( which was in both enlightening and unexpected -not).

For me nude photos are just nude photos. They are neither shocking or shameful. It’s refreshing that Caitlin’s images are unphotoshopped and her youthful body is still completely natural. The vibe is completely different what you’d find in Playboy. Otherwise I don’t see how it helps women realize their full potential or participate equally in society – which is what the essence of empowerment is about.

Yes women are judged by their looks (at times to the exclusion of all else) but the continuous cycle of body image stuff in the media merely perpetuates this. Its up to us to shift the focus. Instead of reclaiming female bodies from the “burden of the male gaze” let’s thrust women’s achievements into the spotlight for everyone to gaze at. If nudey photos are not empowering here are three women whose stories truly are.

Stella Young

The late Stella Young never wanted to be thought of an as inspiration. In fact she railed against the patronizing cliche of the disabled person bravely beating all the odds. She viewed quotes like ” the only disability is a bad attitude” as an impediment to disabled people getting the practical assistance they need to participate in society.

That quote, ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude’, the reason that’s bullshit is … No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp. No amount of standing in the middle of a bookshelf and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into braille.

Born with a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta (the same condition as Quentin) Stella wasn’t expected to live past her first birthday. But she gave the doctors the proverbial middle finger and began her career in advocacy at age 14. She went on to complete University degrees in Journalism and Education. Later she became something of a polymath as a journalist, editor, TV presenter and stand up (or in her case sit down) comedian. Sadly she slipped away last December at age 32 – way too soon. Yet in that short time she challenged Australians’ perceptions about disability, hopefully in a way that will bring about lasting change.

I want to live in a world where we don’t have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning. I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people.

Advocacy that leads to disabled people participating on a more equal footing in society meets my definition of empowerment. And she did it with epic style.

I want those shoes.

I want those shoes.

Dr Fiona Wood

Dr Fiona Wood is a surgeon married to another surgeon with six kids. That should be enough achievement for anyone but Dr Wood has got a heap more to add to the pile. After qualifying as a plastic surgeon Dr Wood became deeply interested in helping burns victims. In the mid 1990s, working along side scientist Marie Stoner, she developed a revolutionary method of growing fresh skin from a patient’s own cells. Known as “Spray on Skin” or “Cell Spray” the technique involves using an aerosol to deliver specially cultured cells to large areas of damaged skin.  The method helps wounds heal more quickly and leave less scarring than traditional skin grafts. The new technology gleaned world wide attention when it was used on some of the Bali bombing victims in 2002.

Dr Wood went on to win the Australian of the Year Award in 2005. Instead of resting on her laurels she has used her elevated profile to raise funds and draw attention to a cause which she continues to tirelessly work at. She continues to drive research into the complex impact burns have on the nervous and immune systems in order to achieve scar free healing.

Giving burns victims their lives back sounds like empowerment to me.

Giving burns victims their lives back.

Giving burns victims their lives back.

Dame Marie Bashir

When Marie Bashir stepped down from the position of Governor of NSW last year the tributes flowed like the Amazon. No one had a bad word to say about this lady. Ms Bashir has a list of accomplishments longer than Mitchell Johnson’s stride.  First she studied at the  Sydney Conservatorium of Music becoming a proficient violinist. She followed  up with a Medical degree. After a stint as a GP she became passionate about helping people with mental illness and completed post graduate studies in Psychiatry eventually achieving the rank of Professor.  During the 1990s she did much to drive improved mental health services for adolescents and the indigenous community as well as contributing to teaching programs in South East Asia.

Ms Bashir was awarded

the role of NSW Governor in 2001. She used the position to continue to advocate for indigenous and LGBT health. She managed to juggle this big job with the being Chancellor of Sydney University.  At age 84 she has no plans to slide into quiet retirement. She is continuing with her many patronages and is still advocating fiercely for mental health.

A woman reaching the pinnacle of success in public life who is still driven by compassion well into her 80s – I can’t think of a better symbol for empowerment.

Petite lady, bid impact.

Petite lady, bid impact.

Whilst I was tossing this post about in my head it took me about three seconds to think of these ladies. Their achievements have been celebrated countless times so for a blogger they are the low hanging fruit. I use them rather clumsily to point out that we should turn our attention away from women’s bodies and instead talk about achievement, compassion, bravery and perseverance. Its up to us to change the conversation.

Tell me about the women you admire.

Love

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