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Tag: Elizabeth Broderick

The Power Of Image – The Truth About Modelling As Revealed By An “Angel”

Successful model Cameron Russell recently gave an incredibly powerful TED Talk on why looks aren’t everything, and on how in reality, she is merely the lucky recipient of a genetic lottery. This is a must-watch, if only to see the contrast between the images of Cameron taking during professional photo shoots, and what she actually looked like at this same period when performing more everyday tasks.

In a very similar vein, you may also wish to encourage your girls to read the three part series previously posted here on the realities of the modelling industry. Parts one and two were written by Enlighten’s own Nikki Davis, our incredibly talented Senior Presenter and our Program Director for Western Australia. Anyone who has had Nikki work with the girls at their school will know young women simply adore her, and find her stories incredibly powerful.

Modelling – Part 1: Body Image 

Modelling – Part 2: Career Reality Check 

Could I Be A Model? – Part 3

Nikki (right) with Australia’s Human Rights and Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, at the 2012 Australian Human Rights Awards (Enlighten was a Finalist).

Gender Equity – all the cool boys are championing it.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination, Elizabeth Broderick, listed a number of things she believes will contribute to gender diversity in leadership within Australia. I was particularly interested to see her note the vital importance of engaging men in the agenda:

I firmly believe that we will only see significant gains when men start working with men to solve this problem. After all it is men who dominate nearly every institution in this country, particularly in corporate Australia. If there is to be change, male CEOs and business leaders have to champion it…As the beneficiary of a number of male sponsors across my career I am a great believer in it.

Similarly, if we are serious about improving outcomes for young women, we need to engage young men and have them champion the cause. The potential that the “boy effect” has to initiate and support the “girl effect” was beautifully demonstrated by the students at  Sydney Boys High School. As part of their Community Action Project, they chose to “spread the word and change people’s thinking” and have been sharing their message with other high school students. I am hoping this video will inspire all schools who work with young men:

Want more ideas for inspiring young men? I have posted this moving video featuring Jonathon Walton before but I believe it is well worth revisiting. If a formal presentation does not appeal to the boys at your school, what about slam poetry or rap focused on championing the women in their lives? I’d love to feature more positive initiatives aimed at engaging boys and men – if you know of any, please share them here.

Because we’re worth more.

* Trigger Warning -displays and critiques images that may disturb.

Today marks the last day of the annual international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, explains why we all need to act to prevent violence against women:

Many women in Australia experience violence as an everyday reality and the statistics are shocking. The most recent national data shows that one in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, nearly one in five women has experienced sexual assault since the age of 15 and almost every week, one woman is killed by her current or former partner.

One of the first steps an abuser takes in self-justifying their violence against another is to dehumanise them. And all around us—in advertising, on the net, in music videos and TV shows and movies—we are bombarded with images of women who are dehumanised, degraded, reduced to their body parts, or Photoshopped to a machinelike ideal of “perfection”. When degrading images of women become commonplace, what chance is there of building respect? Without respect, can we ever curb violence and abuse?

On the final day of the campaign, I’m calling on marketers and advertisers to think about the way they portray women. Because only by changing cultural attitudes can we change the culture of violence.


I did a workshop with the gorgeous young women at Quakers Hill High School in Sydney a couple of weeks ago. One of their teachers, Jenny Linklater, is an avid reader of this blog and a supporter of Enlighten’s work. She teaches visual arts and wanted to show me an article in the October issue of ProPhoto, a magazine for professional photographers, that had alarmed her. It was a profile on the 2010 Australian Professional Photographer Of The Year, Peter Coulson. Many of the images of women he was applauded for were shocking to say the least, like these “cheeky” (BTW—is it just me or are you also sick of anything offensive against women being dismissed as merely “cheeky”?) Raven shoe advertisements he produced that apparently thrilled and highly amused the client.


In the accompanying article we are told Mr Coulson has an “absolute love of fashion”, which he likes to mix with the macabre: “He has a weird sense of humour.”

I don’t get the joke. And whilst he may love fashion, there is certainly no love for women depicted here.

These images dehumanise women . . . in order to sell shoes.

Are we really worth so little?

Speak up. In your homes, classrooms and online.


Peter Coulson has been asked to present at major industry events as a “mentor” to show other advertising photographers how they too can create “strong” images like this for their clients. Email the editor of ProPhoto, Paul Burrows: and let him know that images like this aren’t “cheeky”, they’re damaging. Let Coulson’s client, Raven Clothing & Accessories, know that consumers are tired of being sold products with degrading images of women. You might also want to express your opinions to the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), which honoured Coulson with the award and organised an industry event he spoke at.

The standard we walk past is the standard we set. This week in particular, let’s set higher standards.

Footnote to last week’s post on NZGirl’s “Lovely pair” campaign: Rachel was given the opportunity to debate the founder Jenene Freer on Close Up Tv . During this heated discussion, Jenene made the case that it was a genuine attempt to raise awareness of breast cancer and to raise money for research. On Tuesday of this week the foundation has put it on record that it neither supports nor endorses the NZ Girl campaign in any way. NZGirl have now added the following to their Facebook page: “The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation have requested we clarify any reader confusion and state that the ‘lovely pair’ campaign is in no way supported or endorsed by The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.”

Women in sport hit the grass ceiling

Ms Broderick and I.
Ms Broderick and I.

The following was originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald, May 21st 2010. It is shared  here as a guest blog post with the permission of the author Elizabeth Broderick, the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner. It is an edited version of a speech she gave at the 5th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport.

Despite what many politicians might think, the talk in town isn’t the new resources tax or the coming federal election – it’s actually next week’s State of Origin and who will win the men’s FIFA World Cup in June.

We are ”sports mad”, ”a sporting nation”, ”a nation of sportsmen”. As the Observer’s chief sport writer, Kevin Mitchell, recently remarked about Australia, ”In a country generally blessed with sunshine, sport dominates nearly everything: news bulletins, pub discussions, the timing of weddings and holidays, the standing of politicians.”

The accomplishments of our male and female athletes are extraordinary. At the Beijing Olympics, women made up 45 per cent of Australia’s team and won more than half of our gold medals.

But unfortunately, the achievements of sports women are often invisible. On the data available, the coverage of women’s sport accounts for just 2 per cent of total sports broadcasting on television, 1.4 per cent on radio and 10.7 per cent of total sports reporting in newspapers.

The participation of women in sport at all levels is marked by division and discrimination that is reinforced by negative gender stereotypes. Strict gender segregation marks all levels of sport and elite, professional sport remains the unquestioned domain of men.

When the Associated Press named its top 10 female athletes of 2009, two were racehorses.

And disturbingly, professional sport in Australia has been plagued by allegations of sexual violence and harassment of women by high-profile sportsmen.

While outrage about these allegations may be immediate, it appears to be transitory – it seems the value of these players to the game quickly outweighs their ”transgressions” or ”misconduct”.

Gender stereotypes pervade all levels of sport and these are created and reinforced through the different ways that men and women are able – or even permitted – to participate in sport. This difference creates a profound power imbalance that lies at the heart of all forms of discrimination against women, including violence.

It is for this reason that identifying and addressing these negative stereotypes is crucial. These stereotypes foster a belief that women’s role in sport is an inferior and subordinate one – that women are merely fans, the support team or perhaps most visible when looking ”sexy” and ”alluring” at the awards dinner.

Of course, as we all know, this doesn’t mean that women are not participating in sport, as players, administrators, officials and spectators. A quick survey of the crowd at Homebush or the MCG or any suburban sporting field will show you that.

Women’s participation in sport reflects the issues women face more broadly in society. When we talk about women in sport, we often raise the same issues as when we talk about women in the workplace: pay equity; women in leadership positions; discrimination on the grounds of sex; the celebration of a male ideal and the marginalisation of women as the physically weaker and the caring sex.

Engaging women of all ages in sport is an end in itself. The United Nations has said that, combined with the emotional, psychological and medical benefits that are associated with participation in sport, participation also enables girls and women to increase their self-confidence and self-esteem, enjoy freedom of expression and acquire valuable skills in negotiation, management and decision-making.

But, as sportswomen and men and human rights advocates, we should not lose sight of the power of sport to act as a catalyst for challenging gender stereotypes and violence against women, and as an important vehicle to achieve gender equality.

Nowhere is this more true than in a country such as ours. The wide Australian sports arena provides a significant opportunity to reach out to young boys and men on attitudes about women. The participation of boys and men in sport – from their roles as athletes to fans to organisational leaders and the positioning of sport within the national imagination – means sport has the potential to be a powerful forum for dialogue and change.

There are increasing examples of sporting clubs creating a range of programs to do just that – from the under 5s to the professional teams – and I am hopeful these will contribute to the more positive and balanced participation of young women and men at all levels in the future.

Many commentators have also drawn the link between violence against women by sportsmen and the lack of women in visible positions of sports leadership and governance.

Indeed, it is my view that increasing the representation of women in leadership and decision-making positions is critical to raising the status of women and gender equality.

Recently, I have been looking at these structures in corporate Australia, but it is just as clear that we seem to have the same problem when it comes to women’s leadership in sport.

A research study conducted by Johanna Adriaanse, an academic at the University of Technology, Sydney, shows that only 21 per cent of board directors of national sport organisations in Australia are women. Just over 20 per cent of national sport organisations have no women directors at all. Those with no women directors include Australian Rugby League, Australian Rugby Union and Cricket Australia – some of our most iconic sports. As one woman put it to me, we have our own grass ceiling.

The International Working Group on Women and Sport, which is meeting in Sydney today, has suggested that it should be a condition of funding grants to national sporting bodies in Australia that they increase the representation of women on their boards. It is truly time that we took such decisive and effective action.

After all, everyone deserves the opportunity to participate in sport and to be recognised for their achievements. Just this week, at the Twenty20 World Cup cricket finals in Barbados, the loss by the Australian men’s team generated far more media coverage than the women’s thrilling victory over New Zealand. I rest my case.

Things I am Loving

Often companies that do the wrong thing are given lots of free publicity by virtue of the fact that activists  speak out in the media against the toxic products or services they are selling.

Whilst I recognise this is vital work, and certainly I am often called upon by the media to comment on companies who are exploitative, I sometimes wonder whether those getting it so very wrong (think those that pitch prosti-tot merchandise for tweens and those who run with slogans that sexualise and objectify women) might not actually relish the free publicity the ensuing consumer outrage sparks. There is no such thing as bad publicity, right?

This week, I want to also share the work of those who are doing the right thing and focus on some of the many positive things happening in girl world. Why is it we so rarely celebrate?

Kudos, then, to the new website aimed at female drivers: Not only are they uploading my blog posts to share, but they are also offering two free signed copies of my book The Butterfly Effect to members in a competition they are currently running. Better yet was Editor Olivia Richardson’s recent decision not to allow promotion on their site of clothing aimed at tweens that featured slogans like “Bad Girl” and “Rebel”. Olivia explained: 

We don’t like to support brands that encourage teen girls/tweens to be “bad girls”, etc. Our web site is a toxic -free zone. We believe girls should not be encouraged to grow up too fast.

Hear, hear.

25884_385479527169_38293082169_3806205_6438447_nBravo, too, to the organisers of the upcoming Insights 2010 National Conference on Girls’ Education to be held in Melbourne in June. They have attracted a stellar line-up of speakers, including one of my personal role models, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner for Age Discrimination, Elizabeth Broderick (I am pictured here with her just before going on set at Mornings with Kerri-Anne earlier this week), Melinda Tankard Reist, Maggie Hamilton and Kaz Cooke amongst others. I am thrilled to be part of this and shall run a session for delegates on Friday, 18 June, as well as one for student participants, too.     

Finally, I am just loving the NSW Department of Education’s free parent web-based magazine School Parents. A browse through old issues turned up some invaluable resources, including facts on tutors, tips on helping your child to successful change schools, advice on hosting teen parties, and interviews with various leaders in education and parenting. I was pleased to be interviewed alongside Dr Michael Carr-Gregg for this month’s issue on managing peer pressure. I thought it apt to reprint the article (with their permission) here:

Girl Power – Saying No To Peer Pressure

fgirlpowerYour daughter’s school friends are their closest confidants and their meanest critics. Experts on teen girl angst, Dannielle Miller and Michael Carr-Gregg, share their wisdom on taking the heat out of peer pressure.


Find out where your daughter gets her messages from

Girls place far more pressure on themselves than they receive from their peers, says Dannielle Miller, author of The Butterfly Effect. Their friends will comment on body image and shape, sexuality and whether she is perceived by the peer group as being beautiful. This adds to the “inner angst” a teenager may be dealing with, says Dannielle. “Peer-girl pressuring is a reflection of the pressure that’s placed on girls more broadly within society,” she says.

Girls are not only meant to be beautiful, popular, smart and successful, there is also pressure on them to act like “Paris Hilton-type wannabes”, she says.

Ask your daughter to think about the media and broader social influences and whether they’re the types of messages she really identifies with. Quite often you will find that they’re not.

Get involved in your daughter’s world

Knowing your daughter’s interests in popular culture can be a springboard to having a really great conversation, Dannielle says.

“If you go in straight away and say, ‘We’re going to have a big talk about how you manage peer pressure at school’, they’re going to switch off. But if you watch a movie with them like Mean Girls, which shows really good examples of that, they’ll want to have a chat about it afterwards to unpack it.”

Perceptions versus reality

Have an honest discussion with your daughter about how often her friends actually engage in risky behaviour, says psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, author of The Princess Bitchface Syndrome and Girlfriend magazine’s agony uncle. Whether it’s binge drinking, smoking or sexual intercourse, a teenage girl’s ideas may be quite different to what’s really going on.

“Most readers of Girlfriend believe they are the absolute last virgin in their high school because all their friends are talking about their sexual experiences,” Michael says.

“Statistics show year after year that only about half of teens in Australian schools have sex by the time they have left high school. Daughters often feel indirect pressure from peers regarding having sex but much of what she is hearing is simply not true.

“Letting your teen know the truth about how often teens are avoiding these risky choices may let her know that she isn’t alone — something that she absolutely needs to hear.”

You are her greatest influence

“Parents need to know that they are one of the biggest influences on their daughters,” Michael says.

“It may seem like they aren’t listening, but they truly are. When parents stay involved in their daughters’ lives, tell them their views and values, they tend to make better choices for themselves. Many studies have backed this claim,” he says.

“Staying interested and involved in what your daughter is doing and continuing to be aware of what she is up to is crucial. Be consistent with your message about your expectations. If you expect that she will not drink, smoke, do drugs or have sex, she is less likely to do so – it’s as simple as that.”

Be straight about the no-go zones

If you suspect your daughter is taking part in illicit behaviour don’t mess around. Model assertiveness and boundary setting and be upfront, says Dannielle.

“Don’t shy away from those tough conversations if it’s something that is really non-negotiable.”

However, parents need to work out what is and what isn’t negotiable, she says. “If everything is going to be non-negotiable you are going to have conflict. You have to pick your battles. You might have to live with the messy bedroom if everything else is working alright, but with things like drinking alcohol and when it comes to her personal safety you have to let her know what is and isn’t okay,” she says.

“You can do it without belittling her but you need to be very strong and definite about your expectations.”

Seek advice from friends and experts

New parents don’t hesitate to seek advice on how to look after their newborn baby yet when our children reach adolescence we seem think we need to parent alone, Dannielle says.

“Parenting is this ongoing journey. A really important thing for parents who don’t feel comfortable and aren’t sure of how to advise their daughter is to find out what other parents are doing and how they’re dealing with this stuff and to brainstorm it,” she says.

“The other thing to realise is that it does takes a village to raise a child, so if there are some subjects that are just too touchy to raise with your daughter then perhaps an aunty, a neighbour, her favourite teacher or another family member could have a chat to her.”

Similarly, let her know that it is okay if she seeks guidance from other adults such as her year adviser or school counsellor if she would be more comfortable speaking to someone outside the family.

Be your daughter’s role model

“Quite often we like to talk the talk but we have to walk the walk,” says Dannielle. “Your daughter will pick up so much from how you manage yourself and how she sees you behaving and interacting, and similarly how you handle pressure.

“One of the key things that will make young people resilient to peer pressure and to toxic messages, whether they be in the playground or in broader society, is having a strong sense of who we are and what we value and that can be beautifully modelled by parents.”

Encourage your daughter to be assertive

Being assertive about what they believe in is critical, says Dannielle.

“We have to encourage them to speak their mind, not in an aggressive or confrontational way, and to not be afraid to set limits.”

When you see examples of your daughter being assertive praise and model it, she says.

“Show them how it looks. If they don’t see women in popular culture being assertive … then it’s going to be very difficult for them to emerge as a centred being who knows herself.”

Be aware of changes in behaviour

If your daughter becomes obsessed with dieting, the phone stops ringing or they begin spending too much time on the internet it may indicate that something’s not right in their world.

“Big dramatic changes in behaviour are always red flags that we need to be closely paying attention to,” Dannielle says.

“We know through research that a catalyst for eating disorders can be the peer group. A group of girls might decide that they all want to go on a diet together or lose a few kilos before the formal. Unfortunately, one girl will continue to get sucked up in that spiral.

“Similarly, if the phone just isn’t ringing for them anymore or if they seem to be online for an inordinate amount of time they might be caught up in a cyber conflict.

“These are indicators that you need to have a conversation and you need to be a bit more aware of what might be going on in her world.”

A phone call to her school to check that all is well there could also provide another source of support.

I’d love to hear what products and services you have found to be girl-friendly.

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