Monday, June 22, 2009

Jane McGrath - A Tribute

I vividly remember the day I came to really respect Jane McGrath. It was 18 months ago. I was watching Andrew Denton's Enough Rope interview with Australian cricketing great (and husband to Jane), Glenn McGrath. The interview was supposed to centre around Glenn and his cricketing career. Jane was fantastic though and the interview really ended up being about her and the McGrath Foundation.

The shock was tangible when Andrew said something like; "So has all the cancer gone, Jane?" and she replied, "No," and proceeded to point to all the places the cancer had recently appeared.

Even after seeing her admit that the cancer was still very much a part of her life, I never imagined that it would take it from her.

Six months later, I felt the most grief I've ever felt for a celebrity tragedy, when Jane passed away. The whole country seemed to be reeling - she had left a huge impression.

12 months later her charity, The McGrath Foundation, has placed 45 breast cancer nurses around the country with many more to come. Jane's journey also bought the dangerous cancer to the attention of Australia's young women who were previously assumed immune.

Jane's line rings more true now than ever; "Together, we can make a difference!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Amazing Listening

A beautiful song - perfect listening for a lovely Sunday afternoon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Therese Reins In The Critics

Whether she underwent a mini makeover because she's about to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and needed to be fit, was self conscious about a UK Vogue photo shoot with Michelle Obama or if, like the rest of us sometimes do, just wanted a change, most of Australia agrees that Therese Rein is looking fantastic.

After losing a reported 23kg and giving her wardrobe a slick, new makeover, the first lady is shining. And everyone has noticed.

While I'm not a fan of Labour or Kevin Rudd, I've always had a lot of respect for Therese. A highly successful businesswoman, she's managed to maintain her status as respected figure in the business world, while supporting her husband as he fills the role of Prime Minister. She does what many of us aspire to - balances being a mum, wife and successful career woman. And it looks like she's doing a damn fine job of all three.

While tabloids criticised her high levels of wealth 'at times like these', I was inspired by her. Perhaps her outlook on life and business will positively effect Labour's seemingly inbuilt sense of always fighting for the underdog - no matter what the fight may be.

These are some of my favourite photos of Therese, taken both before and after her famous makeover.

Looking gorgeous as a member of the First Wives Club...

Relaxed and happy in everyday gear...

I love this photo because you can really see the mother in her.

Everyone loves a happy snap...

Great Read for Parents of Teens

Posse by Kate Welshman
Random House Australia/ISBN: 9781741663358/RRP $18.95

pos⋅se [pos-ee] noun A body or force armed with legal authority. slang A group of friends or associates.

Aptly named, Kate Welshman’s debut novel, Posse, is the story of a group of teenage girls discovering their power and the responsibility it brings.

Well written, Posse is at times too sexually alluring when inappropriate but shockingly candid about the all too real problem of child molestation.

Amy is a popular hockey-player who is a lesbian in a strict upper-class Sydney Methodist girl’s school. Her ‘posse’ of friends look to her for guidance but when jealousy breaks out between Amy and Clare (the beautiful one of the group), things start to get nasty. Clare embarrasses Amy by constantly chiding her about her sexuality and in an act of revenge, Amy finds herself in a frightening situation that changes the course of her, and her friends, school careers and possibly lives.

Due to its brutal honesty, Posse may be helpful for teenagers who are confused about their place in their family, their personal sexuality or any sexually abusive situations they may have found themselves in.

The book lacks the clich├ęd self-pity often assumed to run alongside this kind of situation and portrays its characters as normal, adventurous and sometimes unwise teenagers who at the end of the day, just want to be loved and appreciated for who they are.

Even though Posse was intended for teenagers, adults might also enjoy the experience of reading it and gain an insight into the complicated world that teenagers live in.

As featured in The Hawkesbury Gazette, 19 June 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dead People In Newspapers?

I was astonished yesterday, to see the dead body of Desmond Moran sprawled for all the world to see in The Daily Telegraph. Almost hidden from the waist up, puddles of blood are still visible, as Mr Moran lyes helpless, waiting to be rescued from the spotlight of the world.

Am I missing something? Since when has it been okay to publish photos of dead people in the daily newspaper? Why has The Daily Telegraph decided for themselves that Mr Moran's friends and family needn't be considered when choosing to publish a photo of their deceased loved one? Whether or not someone has led a criminal life, surely they're still entitled to the basic rights of privacy and respect after they've died?

To see a deceased person after the event in such a personal, vulnerable state is something that should reserved for close friends and family, not spread across the pages of national newspapers. I felt like an imposter, gasing on the dead body of someone I never knew nor cared much about.

Aside from the exploited rights of Mr Moran and his loved ones, what effect would viewing this photo have on a child? They could potentially be seeing their first 'dead person', possibly before they're ready, because The Daily Telegraph decided it was okay to put the image out there.

Has the power of the media become such that they're immune to abiding by laws and moral standards? Sure, The Daily Telegraph MIGHT apologise, as they did after publishing those infamous photos of 'Pauline Hanson', when it's too late to do anything and the photo/s are already out there for everyone to see, the damage already done.

As a regular reader and subscriber of The Daily Telegraph (and therefore smack bang in the middle of their target audience) I want to make it clear that I certainly don't want to be seeing anymore dead bodies, photos with unconfirmed origin or identity or stories with dubious motives when reading the morning paper. This isn't about 'freedom of press' it's about papers printing anything that will get them ahead of competitiors, with the latest 'exclusive' story or photo, whether it should be published or not.

My message to The Daily Telegraph; If you really aim to be publishing what your readers want to read, perhaps you should find out whether the general public is impressed by the recent publicity stunts we've had to endure.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vogue Editors Make a Stand

Two of Vogue magazine's leading ladies have hit out, becoming the latest big names in the war against overly skinny models. Actually, no. It's not a war against skinny models, it's against the culture that pressures otherwise larger figured girls into being unhealthy and skinny for the sake of preserving their careers.

UK and Australian Vogue editors, Alexandra Shulman and Kirstie Clements, both expressed their frustration with designers who send "dolls clothes" sized garments to fashion shoots, forcing the magazine to hire models with "jutting bones and no breasts or hips". Apparently, Vogue employees are tired of editing their fashion shoot photos to make models look bigger and healthier.

How ironic. With fashion magazines inspiring the western world's wardrobe choices and diet obsession and Vogue being one of the world's highest selling fashion magazines, there lands a certain amount of responsibility in Vogue's lap for leading trends encouraging women to be dangerously thin.

The world jolted to attention when two modelling sisters, Luisel Ramos 22 and Eliana Ramos 18, both died of malnutrition. Since then, fashion magazines and catwalk shows have slowly been changing the way we look at our weight.

Who exactly is it that catwalk designers and fashion magazines are trying to impress? Is it women? Let see. Designers who design for unhealthy, overly 'skinny' models, design clothes that don't flatter the female figure, infact they make it look ludicrous - a laughing stock. If we want to fit into these clothes we're told, "You need to lose weight and here's how; don't eat too much and exercise a lot. Sounds tough but if you want it bad enough and if you have enough self discipline you'll get there (and don't complain if you don't!)", not to mention that you'll be tired, irritable, lethargic and generally lose your zest for life. Also, the fact that over 143,000 facebook users have joined the group 'Curves Are Hotter' tells me that generally, the public don't enjoy being told they need to be unhealthy and overly skinny.
BUT .. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the gorgeous girls who don't need to worry about their weight and are blessed with a fast metabolism and lovely, long slender legs. These naturally slender women are, as I said, absolutely beautiful. But there's something that comes with a woman who is desperate to lose weight and isn't satisfied with herself and is willing to go to death's door in search of the 'perfect' weight. That's what most of the world finds unattractive and a turn-off.
Fashion shows in Madrid and Milan have both banned overly thin models from their catwalks and a model was controversially dismissed from participating in the Australian Fashion Show last year because she was 'too thin' (although it remains to be known whether her low weight level was due to her natural physique or extreme dieting). Perhaps more of this kind of cut throat action will postpone the inevitable return to unhealthy, skinny models - for a while at least.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is Gen Y a Dud?

“They’re not all yours are they?”

The first six words the real estate agent bumbles out, referring to my children, as she arrives for a home inspection, 45 minutes late. No, not an inspection of my home, an inspection of a home she’s trying to sell to me. Great start love.

Then there’s the classic phone salesman disaster;

“Hello there – is Mummy home?” the all too plastic voice rasps over the phone.

“She is here,” I say. “You’re speaking to her.”

By the way, don’t bother, pal. You’ve lost the sale, I’m tempted to sneer back.

I’m young. There’s no point denying it. I’m lumped in with the already infamous Gen Y-er’s and have a phone voice that de-ages me another 10-15 years (depending on the perceptiveness of whoever’s on the other end).

Is being young a disadvantage? It certainly comes across that way. In the professional world, I’d say yes. I was once greeted by a well meaning person saying, “Oh, you’re a Gen Y-er. Don’t worry, we’ll work something out.”

Let’s hear it for the Gen Y-ers. Is the berating we attract normal for any up-and-coming generation, or are we especially inept?

There’s certainly no shortage of talent emerging from Generation Y. Tania Major, Young Australian of the Year 2007, has had a profound influence on debates regarding aboriginal culture and society. Roger Federer, arguably the best tennis player the world has ever seen, is also a member of Generation Y. The list goes on and includes Lleyton Hewitt (Former World number one tennis player) and Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook).

We do have our fair share of duds. Paris Hilton generally tops that list.

Honestly. Generation Y has already achieved great things, and we’ve made our imprint on society at large. We’ve changed the face of communication (no pun intended), with social networking becoming a whole new way of life and we’re in the process of proving that we can and will ride out these difficult times and come out better for it.

On the surface we may appear shallow, selfish and spoilt. Really, what generation doesn’t look that way during their teens and early 20’s? It certainly won’t help the maturing process if our colleagues expect the worst from us, simply because we’re a part of Generation Y.

How silly. To lump a whole section of society into a category because of the year they were born in and to make assumptions on that premise. That seems a little shallow to me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Post Origin Day

I've never understood the mania surround Origin Night. It's practially observed as National Day of Sitting Around With Mates, Drinking VB, Screaming Intermittently at the Television and Chucking a Sicky Tomorrow.

What really baffles me is how seriously fans are about keeping that night clear. I've heard of husbands practically begging their pregnant wives not to go into labour on Origin Night and of fiances complaining that their chosen wedding reception venue is only available on Origin Night but that he won't budge. Apparently nothing comes before Origin Night.

Perhaps, instead of celebrating the Queen's birthday (which precious few actually celebrate) with a public holiday, why not call it Post Origin Day - a day of recovery. And for all those Origin widowed women who, unlike some equally enthusiastic footy fans, may Post Origin Day be a day when women take the credit card, leave the kids at home (with sore-headed husbands) and shop to their heart's content. All's fair in love and war.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Heartless Evictions No More

Renters will now enjoy a 'rent holiday' and a rent-free month if their home is repossessed due to their landlord's failure to pay the mortgage.

This takes a load off the shoulders of renters all around the country who are only too aware of current the precarious nature of accommodation.

While it was once seen as a safe option, the reality now facing tenants is that by renting, you double the risk of being turfed out. If you can't pay your rent, you're out. If your landlord can't afford to pay the mortage, you're out - and this happens more often than we'd like to think.

The risk is still there but a little of the pressure has been relieved, for now.

Would You Go On A Date With Lady Gaga?

I absolutely love Mia Freedman's writing - I'd love to be able to write like that! She wrote this hilarious (abbreviated) account of early relationship angst in yesterday's Sun Herald;

I love you, now change. Your clothes. Ever had a relationship like that?

Years ago, I worked with a girl I’ll call Jane. Jane had been dating this new guy for about a month and everything about him was delightful. He was good-looking, kind, funny, employed. Not too much visible baggage. Better still, he ‘got’ her. Obviously then, there had to be a problem.

You see, Jane’s new boyfriend liked to tuck his shirts and t-shirts into his pants. All the time. Everything tucked. In fact, we immediately christened him Tucker behind his back and to this day I can’t recall his actual name.

As co-workers, we were nothing if not helpful, offering endless suggestions to Jane. My angle was positive re-inforcement. “Compliment him every time he’s un-tucked” I suggested. Except he never was. Finally, someone came up with a decent idea. “Buy him some clothes that can’t be tucked in. Like shortish t-shirts. And jumpers. He’ll think you’re giving him a gift and the gift for you will be a visual one every time you see him. It’s win-win.” And so that’s what Jane did. And Tucker wore his new tops untucked. And she praised him. And they still broke up a year later but not because of the tucking.

Dating Lady Gaga would be difficult. On so many levels. This is the American recording artist whose signature look is to wear no pants. Not in a Britney and her ladygarden way, more of a Solid Gold Dancer way (Solid Gold was an 80s TV show, kids – ask your parents about it).
On a normal day, Lady Gaga wears shiny leotards with flesh-coloured tights, ridiculous shoes and a long platinum wig. This is not even her onstage look, not even a costume. This is just how she hangs out.

In a radio interview last week with Merrick and Rosso, they commented on how she always makes a supreme effort with her clothes and never seems to let herself go.

“No, I never do” she agreed earnestly. “It can be a problem when I’m dating because a guy will say to me ‘Let’s go out to dinner and will you just wear something low key so we don’t get all that attention’ And you know what? I’m really offended by that. I’m not going to change who I am just so you can have a quiet dinner.” I wonder if Lady Gaga goes on many dates?