by Tess Armstrong
It’s 3pm, I’m drinking tea and I check twitter. I see an article in one of Melbourne’s daily papers called, ‘50 Women You Should Admire’. I studied this list thoroughly and for the most part agreed with the humanitarians, politicians and journalists on the list yet what was more interesting to me than who WAS on the list was who wasn’t.
As a child my heroines were Anne Frank, Harriet the Spy, Joan of Arc and of course, The Spice Girls. We don’t have to beat around the bush, I was a total nerd alert. I loved Anne for her wit and confidence, Harriet for her curiosity and search for the truth, Joan for proving that whatever a man could do, a woman could do better and the Spice Girls for teaching me about girl power and self confidence.
Three months ago, during the Spring Carnival, our lucky country was invaded by one of the creatures from the bottom of the pit of inspiration… a Kardashian. A girl sobbing at an airport is asked by a reporter just what it is that she loves about Kim Kardashian. The reply? “She’s just like soooo pretty!!” I died a little bit inside.
So as this article from the tabloid paper that seems to solve life’s problems with the question ‘What Would Warnie Do’ loaded, I felt nervous. There were a number of really inspirational women on this list, yet for every Aung San Suu Kyi there was an Angelina Jolie… really?
The most fascinating entry genuinely shocked me. I needed to do a comical look back to make sure it wasn’t a joke. Tragically, it was not and among the Moira Kellys of the world was the name that made the entire list a farce; Brynne Edelsten. I’ve no personal issue with Brynne but I find it hard to fathom that anyone working at this paper would look at their daughters and think, ‘Gee I hope these girls grow up to be JUST like Brynne Edeslten.’
What was more fascinating than the Brynne factor was who was missing from this list. There was Ellen Johnson Sireleaf, the President of Liberia and I thought, ‘Yep, it’s a really good effort to be a female leader of a country.’ There was Helen Clark, Hilary Clinton and Penny Wong; all of whom are admirable politicians. Yet one groundbreaking female politician was somehow missing from the list; Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Ms Julia Gillard.
Now, I don’t care which billionaire media mogul famous for not-so-nice tactics of journalism OWNS your damn paper or what his political ideology is, being the first female Prime Minister of this country is an AMAZING feat and well worthy of admiration. Much more amazing than marrying into royalty, marrying an old doctor, acting, wearing a meat dress… you know where this is going.
It got me to thinking, what does it mean to be an admirable woman? For me it is those women who inspire and I’m not talking about women who inspire you to buy pedal pushers this season because they’re like SO totally in right now. I’m talking about women who inspire you to pursue your dreams or to think differently or to do good or to voice your opinions.
In the past few years something in society has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Young girls look to the likes of Kim Kardashian for inspiration, values AND entertainment all rolled into one terrible role model. This woman who once spoke of her decision to “sacrifice my digital life to help give real life to millions of people affected by HIV and AIDS” and then followed it up with great wisdom and perspective saying, “I hate when women wear the wrong foundation colour… it might be the worst thing on the planet” is who many young, impressionable females to look up to. Ouch.
As I sit here, I can only hope there are young girls out there seeing right through home-made-pornstars-turned-socialites-turned-reality-tv-stars and are reading, learning and discovering amazing inspirational female role models. I hope these girls look at Lady Gaga and take a lesson in being an individual and being proud of who they are… not that meat dresses and drugs make you cool. If this isn’t the case, I’ll just sob into my cuppa as I read all about Kim Kardashian, Bombshell McGee and Sarah Palin in 2013’s top 50 women to admire.
Tess Armstrong is a twenty-something freelance host, producer and writer who is finally living the dream in the Big Smoke. Follow Tess on twitter here.