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MamaOprah, Meeting the PM & Body Image …

October 29, 2009

National Strategy on Body Image ‘Splash Site’

Advisory Report Oct 27th, 2009 – Fed Govt web announcement

Advisory Report Oct 27th, 2009 – Media Release

Full Advisory Report Oct 27th, 2009

Weird to start a blog post with a bunch of links, but this is how my ire was raised (yesterday) enough to spend the majority of today thinking about the <rant> below. The Australian Federal Government has decided to do something about the way that the media has overtaken people’s opinions, feelings and subconscious in respect to body image. Full marks to them for thinking of this, and taking some form of action.

However, having not really heard of this initiative until yesterday, I was perturbed to see who was held up, other than The Hon Kate Ellis MP (Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth), at the press conference announcing the launch of the Full Advisory Report (Titled: A Proposed National Strategy on Body Image) from the National Body Image Advisory Group.

[By the way, I have read through the report several times and feel it is a good first draft in terms of tackling the issues it is meant to address. I could say that it does not cover all the issues in society-at-large that influence Body Image (refer to for a far more adroit and brief analysis than I could attempt), but that is not the purpose of this post].

The Members of the National Body Image Advisory Group are:

Ms Mia Freedman (Chair)        Journalist and former Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine

Ms Sarah Cornish                       Editor, Girlfriend and TV Hits magazines

Prof David Forbes                       School of Paediatrics and Child Health, Uni of W.A.

Ms Helen Gazal                           Fashion industry businesswoman

Ms Kerry Graham                       CEO, Inspire Foundation

Ms Raina Hunter                        YWCA

Mrs Sarah Murdoch                   Model/media personality

Prof Susan Paxton                      Head of School of Psychological Science, La Trobe University

Ms Amanda Scott                       Youth representative, currently Chair of NSW Youth Advisory Council.

Ms Belinda Seper                       CEO, Belinda international Pty Ltd

Ms Claire Vickery                       CEO, Butterfly Foundation (eating disorders)

Mr Christopher Warren            Federal Secretary, The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)

I will leave you to reflect on the list above, and form your own opinions in respect to the membership of this group. I was amazed to find no representation of ‘Family’ (either ‘Mothers’ or ‘Fathers’) on this panel of ‘experts’ – we are talking about a Youth initiative after all. The fact that there are only two men on the Group, with both arguably being there in a professional capacity rather than as Fathers/Brothers/Uncles, was equally amazing.

After all, real change stems from the formulation of Government policy via an interaction with the real world, rather than a representation of it purely by academics, industry, peak bodies, support groups and poorly promoted (media & advertising) requests for public input into the ‘consultation process’.

Further, it astonishes me that Mia Freedman was chosen to Chair this committee. I have nothing specifically against Mia myself, but I do feel that her current public persona is not as far from her previous employment choices than she would have you believe [This is where the ire kicks in].

I do not understand how it is OK to provide role models (to young women) who change horses mid-stream – but who are still well and truly riding a horse. Surely there are other women who could have been selected to be the public face to the media for this, other than Mia Freedman (see below) and Sarah Murdoch (current host of Australia’s Next Top Model & wife of a member of NewsCorp’s Board of Directors)?

The bottom line in terms of Mia, from my point of view, is that her blog is a provincial attempt to replicate the cult of Oprah. In other words, to allow educated Australian middle/upper class women to be socially and outwardly emancipated without any risk to their privileged lifestyle or capitalist existence.

I guess the thing that really raised my shackles was Mia’s post about her trip to Canberra to launch this report ( Even worse than the post on her front page (just below it in fact – see image directly below), was a portion of her web site called Frockwatch. Does she not understand the irony of the Chair of such a Group using the Cult of Celebrity to generate clicks, and thus $$ for Mia to spend on her Witchery obsession? These things are all intertwined.

Mamamia 1453 Oct 28th

As the Chair, is it acceptable to on the one hand ask major (old or new) media to simply abide by a code (National Strategy on Body Image) that goes against their revenue generation methodology (skinny people sell stuff), and then have content like Frockwatch and writing about compulsive shopping as a great cure for stress on your own site?  Should Dentists advertise Coca-Cola on their professional web sites?

There is more to come (I am spent in terms of words for today).


I had a good read through all of the following, prior to writing this post. I would highly recommend your wading through it over the coming days and weeks.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Franksting permalink
    October 29, 2009 22:07

    Pieter. Awesome post. Exactly the conversation I was just having @pharmasal. You saw my frustration yesterday on this one. And my idea today

  2. RealizeBeautyEd permalink
    November 5, 2009 15:08

    Interesting stuff and thanks for sharing so many great links as reference. Being a cosmetic chemist and mother of two girls I am more than a little conscious of the issues surrounding the body image of young girls. I have a daughter who was told that she wasn’t pretty enough to be another girls friend, know another young girl who spent the night crying about her weight (she is only 8) and have had endless conversations with my kids about why emulating video hits is not a good idea. I, along with my group of concerned parent friends will be watching this unfold with interest.

  3. November 5, 2009 16:53

    back in 2002, I had put on a significant amount of weight quite quickly. Cosmo were running articles constantly with “big is beautiful” plastered all over it. one night i was in a nightclub, looking at my messy makeup after dancing til the wee hours and complaining about how awful i looked when the girl next to me turned and said “no!! big is beautiful honey!” i burst into tears, went home and probably ate a lot. the next day i stupidly picked up a Cosmo. after reading the mag i was fired up and wrote to Mia telling her that having once been skinny myself, i know that she had absolutely no idea what it was like to have the world look at you as a fatty. she needed to understand that we didn’t want to hear big is beautiful because it was just a reminder that we were big.

    anyway as it turns out i said my piece quite eloquently (unlike here) and she replied saying she was extremely moved and would i write a piece for Cosmo. i said no but was quite pleased when i noticed the change in tone from “big is beautiful” to “body love” – encompassing all sizes (including those naturally skinny frames that society deems sticky/lanky).

    i used to have a lot of respect for Mia, not one ounce of that remains now. she only gets it if it means she can reach a wider audience – i honestly don’t believe she understood where i was coming from, just that she realised she was alienating a large (no pun intended) demographic.

    what’s my point? i dunno!

  4. November 6, 2009 13:09

    Argh. This is soo tedious. I don’t have time to go through and point out the flaws in every single arguement you made. But basically, Mia Freedman introduced a ‘body love’ policy at Cosmo while she was editor. This was basically an amatuer version of this code of conduct. It ensured women of all different shapes and sizes were represented in every issue. As for the ‘frockwatch’…you seem to want to indicate you are well informed on the issue, but must not have noticed that those photos contained women of all shapes sizes ages degrees of made up. Exactly the kind of thing code code of conduct advocates.

    • Glebe2037 permalink*
      November 6, 2009 14:32

      You are missing the point, and I am not an easy victim for trolls. I am not going to work my way through all of Mia’s Frockwatch archives to statistically formulate a skinny:fat:normal ratio. It would prove a point in my favour, but I won’t.

      Frockwatch is a representation of the cult of celebrity that has slowly dumbed down the media, and allowed many corporations to thrive over the past half a century (probably more). This cult is very firmly rooted as one of the main causes of modern day body image issues (both for men & women).

      I do find it curious that, given the important ground I feel I covered in this post, you only found time (to shoot down my tediousness) via 108 words specifically defending Mia. I suspect that if more fans of MamaOprah had read this post, I would be reading much more of the same.

      Please have a think about the bigger issues I was covering (alluding to) here.


  1. About Bodies. What is wrong with them? « Realize Beauty

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