I won’t be making this a sappy, emotive love letter because I know Ita Buttrose wouldn’t stand for it. This will be a brief, fierce acknowledgement of a woman who has changed the way I look at the world. More specifically, the way I look at the professional world in which I live.
Ita Buttrose (AO, OBE) was the founding Editor of Cleo magazine, and here is a fun fact: Ita is responsible for giving us our first ever nude male centrefold. Yes, Ita was the trailblazer for sealed sections here in Australia. Before the Internet was invented so we could all look at each other’s bits Ita had a small strip of glue placed inside her mag so that those who just wanted to read about fashion could maintain their modesty. Ita went on to edit the Australian Women’s Weekly and be the first female Editor-in-Chief at the Sydney Daily Telegraph. That is one of the most impressive things about Ita – I respect her courage to be one of the first women to enter and successfully navigate the world of media in a time where it was still very much dominated by men. Sadly, not much has changed on that front but like an impressively dressed, immaculate, regal beacon – Ita still stands.
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Ita worked during both of her pregnancies, her second one was while editing Cleo – much to the horror of the Packers. Remember this was a time when women quit their jobs permanently once they were up the spout. Ita became the champion of working mothers everywhere.
Ita was the first female role model I ever had, I studied her in my media class in year 10 – I was 15 and remember thinking “I want to be like her.”
Nineteen years later, I found myself in the extraordinary position of getting to work with my hero. You can only imagine my anxiety! I was auditioning to host alongside Ita on Channel Ten’s new show “Studio Ten”. When I walked into make-up there she sat, like a queen on her throne, lecturing Joe Hilderbrand about his recent article in the Tele. She was absolutely tearing shreds off him, all with a twinkle in her eye. I sat down very quietly and attempted to soak in her poise, she radiates the stuff you know. I am convinced that woman wakes up in her Chanel twin set with immaculate hair and a perfectly made up face.
I have got to know Ita a little bit, having hosted Studio Ten a few times now and she has not been a disappointment in the slightest, as heroes can sometimes be. On a couple of occasions I have been next to her in the make-up chair and been fortunate enough to receive some nuggets of wisdom on my marriage and my career. I’m not going to share them with you, they are mine to keep and cherish. Let’s just say Ita does not believe in Mummy guilt or bowing to the unreasonable wishes of a man! At 72 years old, Ita Buttrose is still as relevant as she ever was.
I appreciate that Ita is the sort of woman that would know which fork to use at a swanky dinner party, what the Dow Jones was sitting at and how our diplomatic relations are with North Korea. Why she never went into politics is beyond me, I’d back her to run this country better than anyone.
So to the woman who can knock you down with the arch of one of her perfectly manicured eyebrows, I say thank you. Thank you for teaching me that women don’t need to apologise for being ambitious, aggressive and direct when it comes to achieving the things they want in life.
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