Not Just Supermodels, They're Super People


I don’t know about you, but when I’m faced with a dilemma about how to proceed in life, I find the most useful thing I can do is turn to a supermodel for guidance. These elfin superbeings, blessed by Almighty God with preternatural physical beauty (all the better to alert us all to their inherent goodness) can help solve literally any problem you may have.

Need to know how to deal with troublesome employees? Go to Naomi Campbell.

Need to know how to telepathically change the structure of your cells? Ask Miranda Kerr.

Need to know how to overcome your fear of dolphins? Tyra Banks is your girl.

Need to know how to utterly fail to do the job for which you’re being highly paid? Why not give Jodhi Meares a call?

Yes, for all these reasons and more, supermodels are the go-to folks for the everyday issues of life.

But there is surely no greater benefactor of the human race — even according to lofty supermodel standards — than Sarah Murdoch.

The first clue lies in her name: if there’s a moniker synonymous with philanthropy, selflessness and wisdom, it’s Murdoch. Rupert revolutionised mass media, not only bringing the world into the living rooms of the common man, but also providing — through his newspapers — invaluable sheltered workshops for the mentally disadvantaged and deranged. And Rupert’s mother Elisabeth has been giving to charity and providing inspiration to her fellow citizens for well over 600 years. And yet, Sarah may outdo all the Murdochs for sheer gutsy public service and social heroism.

Not content with her work patronising breast cancer victims; not content with bringing us joy through her underwear commercials; not content with mentoring aspiring young models in their quest to reach the ultimate dream of gaining an unrealistic idea of their career prospects; not content with looking slightly odd in a pantsuit; Sarah has stepped forward to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of her fellow females: she has agreed to have photographs of herself published without retouching.

I know! Unbelievable, isn’t it? Unbelievable that someone who has already achieved so much could be so damn courageous, putting her wrinkles on the line to save us all from the evil fashion industry that Murdoch has of course spent so much of her life fighting. Phew! I can hear the cries of women ringing out across the nation already: "Oh thank God she is JUST LIKE ME! What a frigging relief!"

Sarah herself says it is "sad" that her decision to go airbrush-free was seen as heroic, which is no doubt why she did her darnedest to avoid any unnecessary publicity for it. No good, Sarah! We’re onto your altruistic shenanigans! You can’t hide your light under a bushel anymore!

The photos themselves will appear in Women’s Weekly, a magazine whose title encapsulates its dedication to feminine issues and bizarre Dadaist misdirection. The Weekly — not to be confused with New Weekly, Who Weekly, or any other magazine that comes out weekly, such as Woman’s Day or Ladies’ Fortnight — has a long record of fighting for women’s rights in the form of chicken salad recipes and interviews with Kerri-Anne Kennerley, and so it is a perfect vehicle for Sarah Murdoch to take her message of positive body image to the people.

And that message, of course, is all part of the Federal Government’s push to make better people of us all, in this case by getting rid of the skinny bitches that plague our days and haunt our dreams. And coincidentally, it was Mia Freedman herself who joined with Our Sarah to launch the report proposing ways to stop attractive people making us feel bad about ourselves.

These ways include things like standardised clothing sizes and a code of conduct encouraging "more diverse body shapes". Excellent proposals, of course, although there must be a limit to just how diverse the body shapes should be. Hourglasses and pears are one thing, but it’s when we get into the area of pumpkins and grizzly bears that we should maybe rein it in a little. There is diverse — and there is just plain revolting.

Make not mistake, the code is important, because body image IS a major problem. I myself have struggled with self-esteem issues related to my physical appearance, as hard as that may be to believe. There is only so long you can be a registered member of and not receive a single expression of interest before you start to wonder if those people who said you looked like Joe Hockey were right, and your mother’s been lying to you all along. But over time, with intensive therapy and an absence of mirrors, I’ve come to realise that I’m wonderful just the way I am, and that there are literally dozens of women who would be overjoyed to have me as a casual online acquaintance as long as I don’t come to their country of residence.

Of course, it took me a while, because I didn’t have Sarah Murdoch to help me along with her magical Wonder-Wrinkles. The young girls of today are truly blessed.

Because after all, why shouldn’t we see women of all shapes and sizes on the catwalks and in our magazines? We have to look at the fat and unfortunately-birthmarked everywhere else — at the shops, at the dentist, through our next-door neighbour’s slightly-ajar bathroom curtains — why should we be spared when flicking through Cosmo or attending an A-list fashion event? Shouldn’t fashion play by the same rules as everyone else? Is fashion some rarefied world where only the beautiful are allowed and the unattractive are somehow "unqualified"?

Of course it is. But as we know, fashion is completely stupid, so anything we can do to wreck it is fine by me.

It’s pretty vital to remember what’s at stake here. I have three sisters, and two daughters. Do I want them living in a world where they are constantly worrying whether they look good enough, whether they’re too fat, too short, too smelly? Do I want them constantly thinking to themselves, "what do I have to do to look more like Giaan Rooney?" and "how does Sigrid Thornton stay so eerily youthful?"? No, I do not.

I would rather they live out their lives as proud, confident human beings, secure in themselves and their own identity, working in a call centre or something. Nothing too ambitious; nobody likes a pushy lass. The point is, they would be themselves, not fake plastic dolls living up to impossible ideals perpetuated by evil corporations that want nothing more than to rape our children of their innocence, stuff them full of cheeseburgers, then make them vomit it all up and dress up as a porn star.

And now that Sarah Murdoch has drawn the line in the sand, I feel like maybe my dream for my immediate family members can be achieved at last. Because finally, for the first time, young girls can look at a strong, successful woman, free from digital trickery and publishing industry flim-flammery, in the pages of a major national magazine, and say happily to themselves, "Wow, even without airbrushing, she has attained a level of physical perfection that will remain completely utterly out of my reach for as long as I live".

And isn’t that what we all want, really?

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.